Editor's choice: Carvana
- Most credit types welcome
- 45-day preapproval
- Seven-day guarantee
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It can take a s little as a few seconds and as long as a few days to get approved for a car loan. How long it takes depends on several factors. These including what type of lender, your personal finances and the type of car you’re interested in buying.
While many lenders offer preapproval when applying for a car loan, not all do. Here’s what you can expect from top car loan providers:
|Lender||Is preapproval available?||How long is the approval process?|
|LightStream||No||Same-day approval may be available|
|Auto Credit Express||Varies by lender||Varies by lender|
|car.Loan.com||Varies by lender||Varies by lender|
|LendingTree||Varies by lender||Varies by lender|
|Bank of America||Yes||60-second approval||Read review|
|USAA||Yes||Same-day approval||Read review|
|Chase||No||From three hours up to three business days||Read review|
|Navy Federal Credit Union||Yes||Five-minute approval||Read review|
|CarFinance.com Car Loans||No||As little as 30 minutes||Read review|
|M&T Bank Auto Loan||No||Up to 1 business day||Read review||Alliant Credit Union Car Loans||Yes||Up to 1 business day||Read review|
It depends on the lender you choose to apply with, the amount you need to borrow and your creditworthiness. Here’s an idea of how long to expect for each step in the application process:
Car loan preapproval generally takes the same amount of time as getting approved — sometimes a few seconds, others a few days. Car loan preapproval is a way to lock in rates with a lender before signing the paperworks so you have time to shop around. This gives you the ability to negotiate down your price and determine exactly how much you need to borrow.
Preapproval generally involves a hard credit check, which briefly lowers your credit score. And you need to submit documents verifying your income, residency and other aspects of your application.
|Type of lender||Typical turnaround|
|Online lenders||One business day to a week|
|Banks and credit unions||One business day to a few weeks|
|Dealerships||The same day to a few business days|
Banks and credit unions tend to take longer than online lenders, while dealerships are often faster than lenders. If you need to provide more documents than usual to verify your identity or income, it could also slow the process down. Buying from a private seller rather than a dealership can also take longer.
This could take a few days to process, and it may take one to three business days for your funds to show up in your account. From start to finish, it can take up to a week to receive a car loan from an online lender.
Others require you to visit a branch, fill out an application and wait days for the more traditional approval process. Because the time varies so widely, talk to your bank or credit union to see how long it might take.
If you don’t have good to excellent credit and a strong income, you might have to renegotiate your loan — usually for a less optimal rate — or return your car. This is commonly referred to as yo-yo financing because the lender promises you one monthly payment or interest rate, then readjusts it if it can’t find a lender to approve you.
Make sure your purchase agreement doesn’t have language that states your loan is subject to approval. If so, your quick loan approval time might not mean much.
If you want to have your loan in hand quickly, avoid these three pitfalls when submitting your application:
Lenders can only fully approve your loan once all the required documents have been received. If yours is waiting on proof of income or residence, it could hold up your application. To speed up the process, check what documents are required and have them on hand before you apply.
Some lenders can offer same-day approval if you apply by a certain time, usually by the end of the business day. If you apply outside of business hours or on the weekend, your application may fall to the back of the queue.
This is especially important if you’re purchasing a used car, as some lenders have year and mileage limits. If you’ve already been preapproved and have found a car, have the dealer send the car’s info to your lender immediately so it can finalize your loan.
Getting rejected for a car loan can slow down the whole process. Make sure you’re eligible before you apply for a car loan by checking your lender’s minimum income requirements, credit score and vehicle standards.
Quick turnaround from a lender means you’ll be in the driver’s seat of your new car faster. Provided you submit all of your documentation and apply during business hours, there are plenty of lenders that can process your application within just a few days.
Want to compare other options? Browse our guide to car loans to learn more about how they work and what else to look for in a lender.
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