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. It’s a bad-credit car loan service that could possibly connect you with a decent deal. But as with all bad-credit loans, yours might be much more costly than a standard option.
Anna Serio is a trusted loans expert who's published more than 800 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Fundera, Business.com, and ValueWalk feature her professional advice, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
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. You must
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 an online referral service designed to help you get started when shopping for a car loan, especially if you have bad credit, 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. You may be able to find better rates than if you’d visited a local dealership, but you’re also 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.
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Updated March 29th, 2020
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 nothing 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 become a 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?
For a subprime resource, CarsDirect has relatively high customer satisfaction — it scores a 7.7 out of 10 on Trustpilot as of June 2019. It gets an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau based on factors like time in business. Only one customer left a 1-star review and two customers have filed a complaint against it.
The main complaints were over the repeated phone calls customers received from lenders after siging up. Some were also unpleasantly surprised by hard credit checks when they applied. With that being said, CarsDirect did take the time to personalize responses to negative reviews on Trustpilot — a good sign of its customer 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.
Go to CarsDirect’s website and click Get Started.
Complete the 60 Second Loan Request form and click Get my car.
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?
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.
Based on your finances, a rep will work with local dealers to find the car you want at a price that fits your budget.
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.
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 are no 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 pay 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:
Go to the CarsDirect website and click New Cars or Used Cars.
Select the make and model you’re interested in.
Click Find Your Next Car.
Narrow your search by selecting a vehicle type.
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.
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.
Not always. There’s a chance you can get a car loan without paying money upfront, but you’ll likely need a down payment if you have bad credit. Down payments with CarsDirect can be around 10% of the car’s value.
Bad-credit car loans typically come with starting interest rates around 10% to 13%, though it ultimately depends on your finances. There’s always a chance your interest could be higher.
It depends on your needs and options. With a car loan, you’ll typically sign on for 12-month increments that last from two to eight years. With most loans, you can pay more toward your monthly principal with each monthly payment — just make sure you won’t pay any prepayment fee or penalty.
You can, but it might not always be a good deal. 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, the you’ll have some funds left over that you can put toward a new car.
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