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CarsDirect auto loans review

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Find a bad-credit car loan through this service — but be prepared for lots of phone calls.

If you've had trouble finding a lender that accepts your credit score, CarsDirect might save you some time. This car buying service can also help you find a lender to finance your new wheels — even with bad-credit. But as with all bad-credit loans, yours might be much more costly than a standard option.


  • Bad credit OK
  • No-fee service
  • More flexible lenders
  • Saves time
  • Car buying service


  • Not much transparency
  • Limited network
  • Lots of calls from lenders
  • Potentially high interest rates

In this guide

  • Review
  • Details
    • Product details
  • Your reviews
  • Ask a question


Product details

APR Varies by network lender
Interest Rate Type Variable
Requirements Must provide proof of income, proof of residence, and proof of insurance.

First, do I qualify?

While CarsDirect doesn’t have any eligibility requirements to use its referral service, you’ll still need to meet some basic eligibility criteria in order to be connected with a lender.

  • Be employed or receiving a guaranteed income
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a US citizen or current resident

How does CarsDirect work?

CarsDirect is a car-buying service that can also connect shoppers with a car loan from a third-party lender. It works with all credit types — even if you have a credit score under 580, no credit or a past bankruptcy.

Rather than go through banks, credit unions or other traditional lenders — which can be wary of customers with bad credit — CarsDirect’s network includes car dealerships that offer in-house financing without running a credit check.

How does CarsDirect make money?

CarsDirect makes money by exchanging its traffic to dealerships for lower fees and better deals for the people it refers. But you may be able to find better rates than if you visit a local dealership, and you’re limited to CarsDirect’s network.

What types of car loans does CarsDirect offer?

  • Bad-credit car loans. CarsDirect puts you in touch with dealers offering in-house financing without running a credit check.
  • Car leasing. Rather than buy a car, you can lease one for an extended time. You may be required to put down some money upfront, but your monthly payment may be lower.
  • Car refinancing. Refinancing allows you to swap your old car loan for a new one with better rates, terms and fees. You could save money by refinancing, even if you have bad credit.

Compare more car loan providers

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Filter Values Minimum credit score APR Loan term Requirements
LightStream Auto Loans
Good to excellent credit
2 to 7 years
Must have a good to excellent credit profile, be a US citizen or a permanent resident with a valid green card, have a valid Social Security number, credit card verification requested upon loan approval and have a valid US address.
Quick car loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with competitive rates for borrowers with strong credit.
Varies depending on the lender
3 to 6 years
Varies depending on the lender
CarsDirect auto loans
No minimum credit score
Varies by network lender
Must provide proof of income, proof of residence, and proof of insurance.
Save time and effort with this lending service specializing in beginner-friendly or subprime car loan.
No minimum credit score
3.9% to 27.9%
1 to 6 years
18+ years old, annual income of $4,000+, no active bankruptcies
Get pre-qualified for used car financing and receive competitive, personalized rates.

What are the benefits of getting a car loan from CarsDirect?

  • Bad credit OK. A credit check won’t be all its lenders use to determine your eligibility. Lenders may also look at your debt-to-income ratio and monthly expenses.
  • No-fee service. Rather than charging you a fee, CarsDirect makes its money from lenders that pay a fee to be a part of its network.
  • More flexible lenders. Dealerships tend to offer more flexibility than traditional lenders. You may even be able to negotiate better terms than you’d find at a bank or credit union.
  • Saves time. Finding a lender that offers decent deals on bad-credit car loans can take a lot of time. CarsDirect cuts down your research, connecting you to lenders you might qualify for so you don’t have to do the comparisons yourself.
  • Car buying service. This site’s car-buying service also makes it easy to get an estimate of what the vehicle you’re interested in costs — and compare financing with leasing options.

What to watch out for

  • Not much transparency. There’s more information about CarsDirect on its website than some of its competitors provide — but that’s not much to brag about. You still won’t learn about the rates you can expect from its dealers beforehand.
  • Limited network. CarsDirect makes its money by charging lenders to be part of its network. You might not get the best deal out there, just the best its network offers.
  • Lots of calls from lenders. A top complaint from CarsDirect users is the barrage of calls from lenders they to deal with — even well after signing paperwork for a car purchase.
  • Potentially high interest rates. Bad-credit loans generally come with high interest rates and fees that could land you in a cycle of debt if you’re late on a payment or default.

Is applying for a car loan through CarsDirect safe?

Yes. As a referral service, CarsDirect will share your information with car dealers so they can make approval decisions for your car loan. You’re under no obligation to accept an offer.

What do customers say?

CarsDirect has a Trustpilot score of 1.5 out of 5 stars as of June 2020. Despite 81% of the reviews being positive, most of the recent ones are negative. Customers complain of high down payment costs, repeat phone calls after signing up and one claims the car bought was received in poor condition.

While there are Better Business Bureau profiles for two different companies with the names “Cars Direct,” neither are the same as this specific CarsDirect car buying and auto loans service.

How do I apply with CarsDirect?

CarsDirect is mainly for those who have bad credit. And because it’s a connection service, you’ll only have to fill out a basic application to be connected with lenders.

  1. Go to CarsDirect’s website by clicking Get your rate. Then select . Cars Direct Application step one
  2. Complete the 60 Second Loan Request form and click Get my car. Cars Direct loan application step two

What documents will I need to apply?

The information you’ll need to provide will depend on the specific dealership you’re connected with. However, CarsDirect lenders typically ask for:

  • Proof of identity. Government-issued ID like your driver’s license or passport, or even a title for your home or other vehicles.
  • Proof of income. Generally pay stubs or bank statements are enough, although you may need to provide your employer’s contact information.
  • Proof of insurance. You can usually purchase insurance at the dealership, but getting it ahead of time allows you to shop around for the best deal.
  • Proof of residence. For instance, a recent utility bill mailed to the address on your ID.

What happens after I apply?

  1. Depending on the time and day you apply, you’ll receive a call from a CarsDirect representative within a few hours to discuss your options.
  2. Based on your finances, a rep will work with local dealers to find the car you want at a price that fits your budget.
  3. Visit the dealer’s location or accept a car delivery to your home or office for a test drive, which may come with a fee.
  4. Sign the agreement and pay any upfront fees required by your lender.

CarsDirect claims that people who use its service are generally able purchase their car from 24 to 48 hours after submitting their online application.

I got a car loan from CarsDirect. Now what?

Once you’re connected sign up for autopay — if your lender offers it — to avoid late fees because you forgot to make a payment. Just make sure to sign up with an account that won’t be short on funds when your payment is due.

Stay in touch with your car dealer. Keeping your lender in the loop on any financial difficulties you’re having could help you avoid paying extra fees or defaulting if you can’t make your payments.

I didn’t get a loan. What do I do?

Just because you weren’t connected to a lender through CarsDirect doesn’t mean there aren’t lenders in your area that you qualify for, just that there are none that match your needs within CarsDirect’s network.

Try applying with other online referral services or consider looking into other types of car financing. If you have poor credit, you might be able to qualify for a credit union loan and get better rates than you can find at other lenders, although this might take more time.

Taking steps to improve your credit and paying off your debts can also help make you a more competitive candidate, giving you more — and better — options.

How to use CarsDirect’s car buying tool

You don’t have to necessarily take out a loan to use CarsDirect. Its car-buying tool can help you find a vehicle without committing to financing. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Go to the CarsDirect website and click New cars or Used cars.
  2. Select the make and model you’re interested in.
  3. Click Find your next car.
  4. Narrow your search by selecting a vehicle type.
  5. Compare vehicles and click on the car you’re interested in.

From here you can explore car buying and leasing options, and customize the type of car you’d like to get an estimate of the full cost.

Bottom line

CarsDirect provides easy access to nontraditional car loans for people who don’t have the time to do the research themselves. You could find a decent subprime loan if you have bad credit. However, subprime borrowers tend to receive subprime rates, so your loan may cost more than a traditional car loan.

Even if you feel your options are limited, you may want to consider other auto financing options before committing to a loan.

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April 21, 2019

I net $3600.00 per month, but I’m a 1099 worker. Would I be able to get a car loan?


Jeni Finder

April 23, 2019

Hi Trac,

Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

Please see details below for the basic eligibility criteria in order to be connected with a lender.

-Be employed or receiving a guaranteed income

-Be at least 18 years old

-Be a US citizen or current resident

If you consider getting a car loan with CarsDirect please visit their official page. Please make sure that you’ve read the relevant T&Cs or PDS of the loan products before making a decision and consider whether the product is right for you.

I hope this helps.

Thank you and have a wonderful day!



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December 10, 2018

Can I trade in my current auto that is still under finance?


Val Finder

December 12, 2018

Hi Florence,

Thanks for leaving a question.

You can. If you owe more on your car than the trade-in value is worth, you’ll have to pay off that difference first. If you owe less than your car’s value, then you’ll have some funds left over that you can put toward a new car. Hope this helps!



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April 04, 2018

Can I trade in my current auto that is still under finance?


jenivelasco Finder

April 04, 2018

Hi Yvonne,

Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

Yes, you can sell a car that’s under finance. However, there are two big problems to get around:

-Most people are wary about buying a car with money owed on it.

-You must pay off the loan in full before you’re allowed to sell the car.

As you can see, solving the second problem also solves the first, so try to pay off your loan before selling.

I hope this helps.

Have a great day!



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