Compare cheap car loans | finder.com
Control key with money behind

How to get a cheap car loan

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

How to keep money in your wallet and out of your lender’s hand.

When you’re ready to buy a car and want to find the least expensive loan, you’ll want to take the time to compare your options — and learn what plays a role in the final price you pay. Finding a cheap car loan takes a bit of elbow grease, but it can be worth it if it keeps money in your wallet and out of your lender’s hand.

car.Loan.com Car Loans

car.Loan.com Car Loans

Get matched with a local car dealership to finance your car purchase. Bad credit, no credit OK

  • Specializing in 'buy here, pay here' car loans. No banks or credit unions.
  • Typically hear back from a rep within 24 hours.
  • Free loan-matching service. No obligation offers.

    How can I get a cheap car loan?

    Regardless of the rates and terms you see advertised, it’s often possible to get a better deal if you’re willing to negotiate. Here are some tips for reducing the interest you pay:

    • Shop around. If you take the time to compare offers, you’ll get a good idea of what interest rates you may qualify for from a range of lenders. This gives you plenty of ammunition when it comes to negotiating with your own lender, and even more when you’re ready to sit down with a dealer to get its potential loan terms.
    • Negotiate with your bank. If you want to stay with your own bank or credit union for your car loan, take your comparison shopping information with you when you apply. This will encourage the lending officer to see if there is any room to take a few extra points off the interest rate they offer you.
    • Negotiate at the dealership. When you apply for a loan through the finance officer at a car dealership, you have plenty of room to negotiate your rate. This is because dealerships often bump up the interest rate you’re offered to give themselves a better commission rate. If you walk in with a loan already in hand, your finance officer is likely more willing to negotiate.
    • Search for discounts. Some banks and credit unions offer a discount off their advertised rates if you have other banking products with them. Others — including online lenders — might offer a discount if you sign up for automatic repayments.

    Compare cheap car loans

    Rates last updated January 18th, 2019

    Reveal your potential loan offers and rates

    Answer two quick questions to filter the loan offers and get the best one for you.

    Select your credit score range

    I don't know my credit score

    Finally, select where you live.

    To get your credit score:

    Experian logo

    Experian is a leading provider of personal and business credit reporting. Find out your FICO score now for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.

    Unfortunately, none of the personal loan providers offer loans for that credit score. If you are in urgent need of a small loan, you might want to consider a short term loan.
    Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Term of Loan Requirements
    car.Loan.com Car Loans
    Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
    300
    Varies by lender
    Must be a US citizen with a current US address and employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income.
    Auto Credit Express Car Loans
    Get connected with an auto lender near you, even if you have bad credit.
    300
    Typically 3 to 6 years
    Must be employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income of at least $1,500/month and be a current resident of the US or Canada.
    LightStream Auto Loans
    Quick car loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with competitive rates for borrowers with strong credit.
    Good to excellent credit
    Flexible terms
    Good or excellent credit, enough income or assets to afford a new loan, US citizen or permanent resident, 18+ years old
    LendingClub Auto Refinancing
    Lower your monthly car payments and save on interest through a fast and easy online application process.
    Fair or better credit
    Minimum of 2 years
    Car must be less than 10 years old with fewer than 120,000 miles. Current loan must have a balance between $5,000 and $55,000 and at least 24 months left in its term.
    RateGenius Auto Loan Refinance
    Connect with a network of over 150 lenders to refinance your car loan.
    510
    Varies
    Income of $2,000+/month, vehicle has less than 150,000 miles and is no older than 8 years, loan balance is between $10,000 and $100,000, debt-to-income ratio is less than 50%
    LendingTree Auto Loans
    Compare multiple financing options for auto refinance, new car purchase, used car purchase and lease buy out.
    Good to excellent credit
    Typically 1 to 7 years
    Must be a US citizen and 18+ years old. Must have good to excellent credit.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How do I compare cheap car loan options?

    Here are some factors to consider when comparing different car loan offers:

    • Interest rate. Your loan’s interest rate plays the biggest role in the total amount you pay. Rates can come in two forms: fixed or variable. Fixed rates stay the same throughout the life of your loan, while variable rates can go lower — or higher — every few months depending on movements in the market.
    • Loan term. Car loans can last anywhere from one to eight years. A shorter loan term can reduce the total amount of interest you pay — but your monthly payments will be higher. Use our car loan calculator to find the shortest term that allows for monthly repayments you can comfortably afford.
    • Prepayment penalties. If you want to reduce the amount you pay in interest, making extra payments can help. However, some lenders charge a fee for making extra payments or paying off your loan before the end of the term.
    • Origination fees. Many lenders charge an origination fee to cover the cost of establishing your loan — typically anywhere from 1% to 2% of the amount you’re borrowing.
    • Insurance requirements. Since your lender is using your car as collateral for your loan, it may insist that you have a full-coverage auto insurance policy or gap insurance in case your car is totaled. This can suck a few hundred dollars a month out of your budget, so take the time to compare insurance rates.

    Case study: The cheapest rate doesn't mean the cheapest loan

    Imagine this scenario: Say John found a car loan for $35,000. Taking into account his down payment and the trade-in value of his old vehicle, he knows he’ll need a car loan for $25,000. He checks out two different lenders’ websites to compare his options. The first lender offers an interest rate of 8.5%, while the second lender charges a higher interest rate of 8.75%. He doesn’t bother to compare other fees and goes with the first lender.

    DescriptionLender ALender B
    Loan amount$25,000$25,000
    Fixed interest rate8.5%8.75%
    Loan term5 years5 years
    Monthly payment$512.91$515.93
    Origination fee$500$250
    Prepayment penalty$1,000None
    Total amount paid$32,274.60$31,205.80

    John chose to go with the first lender because of its cheaper interest rate, but it wasn’t necessarily the best deal. He plans to make extra payments off his car loan each month, but he didn’t take into account the prepayment penalty he’d be charged for doing this. He also didn’t check how much the origination fee was. Those additional fees ended up costing him an extra $1,068.80 overall.

    In this case, the loan with the slightly higher rate but far better loan terms ends up being the cheaper option overall.

    How can I reduce my monthly payments?

    Sometimes a cheap car loan means one that won’t take up a huge chunk of your budget each month — even if the amount you pay in interest ends up being a bit higher at the end of your loan. Here are some ways you can reduce your minimum monthly payments:

    • Find the lowest interest rate. By reducing your interest rate even a little, you should end up paying less on your monthly payments as well as less overall. This is one of the primary reasons why you should always take the time to compare rates before you apply for any kind of loan.
    • Borrow less money. It might sound obvious, but it’s true. If you can borrow less on your car loan — either with a good trade-in deal or a high down payment — you’ll owe less overall, lowering your monthly payment. For example, cutting your loan amount by $5,000 over a 5-year term adds up to $1,000 per year extra you don’t have to pay back, not including the interest you skip out on. This adds up to around $90 per month saved.
    • Choose a longer loan term. By extending your loan term, you’re spreading the amount you borrow out over an extra year or two. This reduces the amount you need to pay each month, but it also means you’re in debt longer. And you’ll end up paying more in interest than you would have with a shorter loan term that had higher monthly payments.

    What are my cheap car loan options?

    The type of loan you borrow plays a role in the total cost of financing your car. While there are a few routes you can take, the cheapest option is usually taking out a car loan secured by the car you’re buying.

      • Secured car loans. Most new and used car loans are secured, meaning your lender uses your car as collateral. Because they’re less risky for the lender — should you default, your car will be repossessed — you can generally expect a lower interest rate.
      • Unsecured car loans. Unsecured car loans are also available, though these are much harder to come by. Unless you have good to excellent credit, this will be one of your most expensive options since your lender has little recourse if you default. If you want a cheap car loan, unsecured is probably not the way to go.
      • Car leases. Leasing your vehicle isn’t always the best long-term financial option since you won’t actually own the car you’re driving. But if you want to drive a new car every few years and don’t mind not having any trade-in value, leasing can be an easy way to keep your monthly payments low. However, over the course of a few leases, it may end up costing you more than purchasing a car.
      • Personal loans. While not meant specifically for the purchase of a car, you can usually use a personal loan to finance a vehicle. Unless you opt for a secured personal loan, you’re unlikely to get a low interest rate or exceptional terms. Like with unsecured car loans, this typically won’t be the best way to go if you want a cheap deal.

      What will I need to apply for a cheap car loan?

      While the information and documents you need to provide varies by lender, you’ll likely be asked for the following:

      • Government-issued ID. This can include your driver’s license, passport, non-driver identification card or any other government-issued ID.
      • Proof of income. Recent pay stubs, tax returns from the past few years or bank account statements will typically suffice.
      • Employment details. This can include your employer’s name, address and contact details as well as your title within the company, how long you’ve worked there and your annual income. If you’ve only worked at your current job for a short time, your lender may want information about your work history for the past few years to show you’re able to maintain steady employment.

      You can often speed up the application process by having all of your documents on hand before you apply. Many lenders offer preapproval, which means you can check the rates and terms you might qualify for before completing a full application. This gives you the chance to compare cheap car loans to find the best one for you.

      Bottom line

      Finding a cheap car loan can make the difference between having a little extra cash to spend each month and cutting things a bit too close for comfort. When you’re on the hunt, comparing interest rates and terms from multiple lenders is key to finding the best deal out there.

      And don’t forget to check out our guide to car loans to learn more about how it all works.

      Frequently asked questions about cheap car loans

      Image source: shutterstock

      Kellye Guinan

      Kellye Guinan is a writer and editor with finder.com and has years of experience in academic writing and research. Between her passion for books and her love of language, she works on creating stories and volunteering her time on worthy causes. She lives in the woods and likes to find new bug friends in between reading just a little too much nonfiction.

      Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

      Ask an Expert

      You are about to post a question on finder.com:

      • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
      • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
      • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
      • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

      Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

      By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

      Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
      Go to site