How long does it take to get approved for a car loan?

Compare approval times and learn how to speed up the process.

Updated

Fact checked
Motiv

Compare car financing options with Motiv

  • Find great deals to save you money
  • Won't harm your credit score
  • Compare a range of lenders in minutes
Promoted

Warning: late repayments can cause you serious money problems. See our debt help guides.

How long does it take to get approved for a car loan?

It can take as 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 include what type of lender it is, your personal finances and the type of car you’re interested in buying.

How long top providers take to approve a car loan

LenderHow long is the approval process?
HitachiHitachi will make an instant decision on your application and the funds could be in your account within 48 hours.
SantanderYou can expect a decision on your car loan within 24 hours.
CreationCreation makes an instant decision on your application and the funds can be with you within five working days, following the lender’s receipt of a signed loan agreement.
PCF BankPCF Bank aims to respond to all applications within an hour and could have funds transferred within two hours.
MoneybarnYou’ll receive the results of a soft credit check instantly. If you pass, a member of staff will call to discuss your application on the next working day. You’ll be asked to send documents to confirm your identity and financial situation. Once these are sent, you can expect to receive funds within two to three working days.
Amigo LoansIf you complete your application online and all checks are completed without any problems, you can expect to receive funds within 24–48 hours.

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

How long does the car loan application process take?

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:

  • Submitting your application. It usually only takes 10–15 minutes to complete an online application. However, if you have to visit a lender’s office to apply in person, it could take longer.
  • Immediate response. Some lenders offer instant pre-approval after you submit your application. Those that don’t could take a few days to get back to you.
  • Full approval. The turnaround time for full approval differs, as you can see from the table above.
  • Loan funding. After receiving full approval from your lender, you can generally expect to receive your funds within one to three business days. However, it’s best to confirm the specific timing with your lender.

How long does it take to get pre-approved for a car loan?

Car loan pre-approval generally takes the same amount of time as getting approved – sometimes a few seconds, sometimes a few days. Car loan pre-approval is a way to lock in rates with a lender before signing the paperwork 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.

Pre-approval 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.

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.

What can slow down my application?

If you want to have your loan in hand quickly, avoid these three pitfalls when submitting your application:

  • Not submitting all required documents

    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 which documents are required and have them on hand before you apply.

  • Applying late in the day

    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.

  • Not providing enough info about your vehicle

    This is especially important if you’re purchasing a used car, as some lenders have year and mileage limits. If you’ve already been pre-approved and have found a car, have the dealer send the car’s info to your lender immediately so it can finalise your loan.

  • Not checking if you qualify

    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.

Other factors to consider when getting a car loan

  • APR. Your annual percentage rate (APR) includes both interest and fees. It’s the easiest way to compare the cost of car loans with similar terms.
  • Down payment. Lenders generally recommend that you make at least a 20% down payment on your car to offset the cost of financing.
  • Loan term. Go for the shortest loan term you can afford to save on interest.
  • Availability. Many lenders have restrictions on which cars they’ll work with. Make sure yours can finance that vehicle you’ve had your eye on.

Frequently asked questions

The bottom line

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.

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

More guides on Finder

  • How to get a £200,000 loan

    If you’re considering applying for a £200,000 personal loan, check out this guide which explains how to compare lenders and find the best deal.

  • How to get a £150,000 loan

    If you’re considering applying for a £150,000 personal loan, check out this guide which explains how to compare lenders and find the best deal.

  • How to get a £100,000 loan

    If you’re considering applying for a £100,000 personal loan, check out this guide which explains how to compare lenders and find the best deal.

  • Car insurance group 38

    Find out which cars are placed in insurance group 38 and how much it might cost to insure them.

  • Car insurance group 40

    Find out which cars are placed in insurance group 40 and how much it might cost to insure them.

  • Car insurance group 33

    Find out which cars are placed in insurance group 33 and how much it might cost to insure them by driver age and location.

  • Car insurance group 28

    Find out the cars listed in insurance group 28 and how much it might cost to insure them.

  • Car insurance group 25

    Find out which cars are listed in insurance group 25 and how much it costs to insure them.

  • Car insurance group 22

    Find out which cars are available in insurance group 22 and how much it might cost to insure them based on the driver’s age and location.

  • Car insurance group 23

    Find out which cars are listed in insurance group 23 and how much it might cost to insure them based on your age and location.

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