Navy Federal auto loan review
Military members and their families may qualify for some of the lowest rates on the market.
finder.com’s rating: 3.8 / 5.0
Bottom line: Navy Federal is a solid option if you qualify for membership. However, previous government action does detract from its standing as a top credit union for current and former military members. Read our full review or get our 30-second take.
1.79% (As low as)
- 90-day preapproval period
- Coapplicants accepted
- Discounts for active-duty and retired military members
- Financing for leisure vehicles
- Narrow membership eligibility
- Mixed customer reviews
- Previous CFPB action
Our take on Navy Federal auto loans
Navy Federal Credit Union is a good choice for established members who haven’t had problems with its customer service. Compared to other lenders I’ve reviewed, it does have some of the most competitive starting rates on its new and used car loans. It also has one of the longest preapproval periods I’ve seen: 90 days to shop around and compare vehicles is extremely generous.
But it’s also one of the few banks that has faced recent action from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). I go into more detail in the full review, but you should know that Navy Federal has previously lied to borrowers and frozen online accounts for delinquent payments.
In recent years, it seems that Navy Federal has cleaned up its act. So while it does receive mixed reviews, it’s still a legitimate choice. Just be aware of its past before you apply for an auto loan.
Navy Federal auto loan reviews and complaints
|BBB customer reviews||1.2 out of 5 stars, based on 132 customer reviews|
|BBB customer complaints||904 customer complaints|
|Trustpilot Score||4.7 out of 5 stars, based on 5,317 customer reviews|
|App Store Score||4.8 out of 5 stars, based on 105,220 customer reviews|
|Google Play Score||3.9 out of 5 stars, based on 73,660 customer reviews|
|Customer reviews verified as of||03 August 2021|
Navy Federal receives mixed reviews. And unfortunately, its negative reviews are much more detailed than its positive ones. There are plenty of 4- and 5-star reviews praising NFCU for decent customer service and products. However, negative reviews cite frequent mistakes and problems that aren’t fixed after multiple attempts to work with NFCU.
Because its positive reviews are typically vague, take them with a grain of salt. For its negative reviews, understand that Navy Federal has faced government action in the past for misleading customers and closing accounts. While you should always consider customer reviews carefully, NFCU’s spotty history means you may be better off working with a lender that has a proven track record of good customer service.
How an NFCU auto loan compares to PenFed and USAA
Navy Federal, PenFed and USAA all have annual percentage rates (APRs) starting under 2% for borrowers with good to excellent credit.
If you’re looking for lenders that work with the military, both PenFed and USAA are top alternatives to Navy Federal.
Compare more auto lenders
Navy Federal auto loan rates, fees and terms
You can expect competitive interest rates and long terms from NFCU. But it isn’t upfront about the fees you might have to pay.
New and used vehicles
Navy Federal allows you to finance new and used vehicles up to $100,000. It also has a 90-day preapproval period — most lenders only offer preapproval up to 30 days. Plus its used cars come with a free Carfax report.
New vehicle loans
|Starting APR||Loan term|
|1.79%||Up to 36 months|
Late model used vehicle loans
|Starting APR||Loan term|
|2.19%||Up to 36 months|
Used vehicle loans
|Starting APR||Loan term|
|3.79%||Up to 36 months|
Navy Federal auto refinance has the same low starting rates as its new and used vehicle loans. Provided your vehicle falls within NFCU’s requirements — and you meet its eligibility criteria — you may be able to refinance your vehicle for up to 96 months.
Navy Federal requirements
You must be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union to apply for one of its auto loans — although those eligible for membership may also be able to apply.
While there are no specific eligibility criteria for a Navy Federal car loan, you will likely need to meet these minimums to qualify for the best rates:
- Regular source of income
- Good to excellent credit
Navy Federal offers exclusive membership to the military
To become a member of NFCU, you will need to fall into one of these categories:
- Active duty member of the military
- Participant in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP)
- Veteran, retiree or annuitant
- Department of Defense (DoD) officer candidate or ROTC member
- DoD reservist
- DoD civilian employee
- US government employee assigned to a DoD installation
- DoD contractor assigned to a US government installation
- DoD civilian retiree or annuitant
Immediate family members or household members also qualify for NFCU membership.
NFCU doesn’t list any specific requirements for new cars. But it does have two categories for used cars:
- Late model used vehicles: Model year 2020, 2021 or 2022 with 7,500 to 30,000 miles
- Used vehicles: Model year 2019 or older — or any vehicle with 30,000+ miles
You may also be able to finance a classic or antique vehicle that is older than 20 years, but expect a higher interest rate.
Apply using your online banking account
If you aren’t already a member, you can also become one and start the application after.
You can also choose to apply in person at a Navy Federal location. Since NFCU isn’t upfront about the exact requirements you’ll need to meet, this option may make the most sense for new members.
What sets it apart
Beyond exclusively serving military members, DoD employees and their families, Navy Federal Credit Union has a few unique features that separate it from other banks and credit unions.
Loans for leisure vehicles
Unlike most banks, Navy Federal offers financing for leisure vehicles, including:
- Motorcycles and mopeds
- Boats and personal watercraft
- Campers and RVs
- Travel trailers
Each vehicle has its own requirements, but you can expect interest rates starting around 7% to 8%.
|36 months||37–60 months||61–72 months||73–84 months||85–180 months|
|New boat loans||5.95%||7.95%||7.95%||7.95%||7.95%|
|Used boat loans||7.45%||8%||8%||8.9%||8.9%|
|New motorcycle loans||6.95%||6.95%||6.95%||8.3%||Not available|
|Used motorcycle loans||6.99%||9.05%||9.05%||Not available||Not available|
96-month terms available
Navy Federal offers 96-month — eight-year — terms for new cars. Most lenders won’t offer terms longer than seven years. This is a pretty unique feature, but for many, it isn’t the right choice.
Although a long loan term means lower monthly payments, it also means you pay more in interest. If you qualify for NFCU’s lowest rates, this may not be a problem. If you don’t, it could mean paying hundreds of dollars more in interest over the life of your loan.
Car-buying service through TrueCar
Navy Federal has partnered with TrueCar to offer a car-buying service. With it, you can see what others have paid for similar vehicles and get personalized offers from dealerships in your area. This isn’t an uncommon option — many large banks and credit unions have partnered with TrueCar.
According to NFCU’s website, its borrowers saved around $3,500 on new vehicles in 2020. Your actual savings will vary based on incentives and the manufacturer you buy from.
Faced CFPB action in 2016
It’s not all good, though. Navy Federal paid a fine of $28.5 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in 2016. The CFPB states that Navy Federal falsely threatened legal action, wage garnishment and contact to commanding officers — in addition to illegally freezing member accounts after they failed to repay loans.
You should compare current auto loan rates to see how Navy Federal stacks up against other lenders.
Car loan ratings
★★★★★ — Excellent
★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor
We rate car loan providers on a scale of 1 to 5 stars based on factors like transparency, costs and customer experience. We don’t take into account elements like eligibility criteria, state availability or payment frequency — we save that for our reviews.
Read the full methodology of how we rate car loan providers to get a better picture of what goes into each star rating.