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USAA auto loans review

Competitive rates on new and used cars — but a large number of negative reviews.

finder.com’s rating: 3.8 / 5.0

★★★★★

Bottom line: Members of the military and their families might qualify for highly competitive rates and a longer-than usual loan offer with USAA. However, there’s no preapproval process — which means you’ll face a hard credit check when you apply. And long terms and its special deferment period can cost you extra in interest. Read the full review.

$5,000

Min. Loan Amount

$150,000

Max. Loan Amount

As low as 1.89%

APR

Details

Min. Loan Amount$5,000
Max. Loan Amount$150,000
APRAs low as 1.89%
Interest Rate TypeFixed
RequirementsUSAA member, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+

Pros

  • Loan offer lasts 45 days
  • Hold off on repayments for 60 days
  • Special offers for vehicles to accommodate people with disabilities

Cons

  • Only available to military families
  • Interest capitalizes if you delay first repayment
  • Poor customer reviews
  • No preapproval process

Our take on USAA

USAA services military members and their families — and offers great auto loan rates to those who qualify for an account. It’s one of the top banks and insurance companies in the country, which means you can trust that its loan process is secure.

But, unlike many of the car loans I’ve reviewed, USAA isn’t upfront about who is eligible for its products. And its maximum interest rates aren’t listed anywhere online. Worst of all, there’s no information on what vehicles qualify for a loan or what your credit needs to look like. This makes it hard to compare it to other lenders when you’re shopping for a good deal.

Overall, USAA auto loans are a good choice if you already have an account and preapproval offers from other lenders to avoid multiple hits to your credit score. For everyone else, it’s worth looking into other banks or online lenders that are more clear about requirements.

USAA auto loan reviews and complaints

BBB accredited No
BBB rating A
BBB customer reviews 1.24 out of 5 stars, based on 588 customer reviews
BBB customer complaints 1,478 customer complaints
Trustpilot Score 1.3 out of 5 stars, based on 885 customer reviews
App Store Score 4.8 out of 5 stars, based on 1,318,329 customer reviews
Google Play Score 4.5 out of 5 stars, based on 173,072 customer reviews
Customer reviews verified as of 18 June 2021

USAA gets mostly negative online reviews. It also lost half a letter grade from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) after facing multiple government actions from regulators for failing to honor stop payment requests from customers, resolve errors related to payment requests, wrongfully repossessing vehicles and failing to have an effective risk-management program to protect customer data.

In addition, USAA has received multiple complaints about its auto loans since 2018. On the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website, the majority of borrowers’ complaints have to do with managing the loan and making payments. Customers on its BBB and Trustpilot pages frequently state problems with their accounts, making payments and customer service.

How USAA compares to other lenders

PenFed and Carvana are two solid alternatives to USAA. Not only do both get better customer reviews than USAA, they also offer more competitive loan terms for more people.

PenFed works with current and former military members in addition to their families — although anyone can qualify for membership. Like USAA, it offers auto loans up to 84 months. And new auto loans start at a low 1.79%. Plus you can borrow as little as $500, which makes it perfect for those looking to finance less expensive vehicles.

Carvana only offers financing for its inventory of used cars. While this can be limiting, its service is completely online and transparent. Its interest rates are higher than both USAA and PenFed, but it’s also more upfront. People who have lower credit scores or less income may still qualify for a loan. That’s not the case with many other lenders.

USAA auto loan rates, fees and terms

USAA offers a wide variety of car loans at competitive rates — especially compared to other banks.

New, used and private party purchases

The rates you receive — and the loan term you’re eligible for — will depend on how much you plan on spending. Just know that you’ll need to finance at least $5,000 to qualify.

Loan terms of 12 to 60 months are available on both new and used cars, including private party purchases. You can expect an interest rate as low as 1.89% for new cars. USAA used car loan rates start at 2.79%.

If you want a 72-month car loan, USAA requires you to borrow at least $15,000. And for an 84-month loan, you’ll need to borrow at least $25,000 — and buy a vehicle from the model years 2020 to 2022.

USAA also offers lease buyouts, but you’ll need to contact a representative directly for more details on this program.

Keep in mind that the lowest rates include an autopay discount of 0.25%. To determine your potential monthly payment, use our auto loan calculator.

Refinancing

USAA also has competitive refinance rates. You may be eligible for an APR as low as 2.19%. And unlike many lenders, you’ll only need to refinance $5,000 — most banks require you to borrow at least $7,500. You can even refinance a previous USAA auto loan. Reach out to USAA to see if your loan qualifies.

Loan terms range from 12 to 84 months. But be cautious if you plan on extending your current loan term. Longer loan terms mean more paid in interest over the life of the loan.

And unlike many other lenders, the mileage on your car doesn’t matter. Instead, USAA relies on the model year. If you’re refinancing a loan on a car from the 2020 model year, you may still qualify for those low rates. As long as the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio meets USAA’s minimum requirement, you could qualify.

USAA auto loan requirements

USAA isn’t very specific about what you need to do to qualify for its loans. However, here are some general requirements most lenders have.

Personal requirements

  • USAA member
  • Regular source of income
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • At least 18 years old

To become a USAA member, you must either be a member of the military or a military family. USAA considers factors like your credit score and income when you apply, though it doesn’t advertise a minimum credit score for its auto loans.

Vehicle requirements

USAA also isn’t clear about the criteria vehicles must meet to be eligible for a new or used auto loan. Beside borrowing at least $5,000 — or more for longer terms — you’ll need to reach out to USAA to confirm your vehicle qualifies. This is especially true for used vehicles and refinancing.

You will need to provide a few details to refinance your current loan, including:

  • Vehicle model year and mileage
  • 10-day payoff quote
  • Current loan APR
  • Current loan account number

How the application works

The easiest way to apply is online. You can even apply on your phone while you’re at the dealership. Once you have an offer, you have 45 days to shop around before you sign the loan.

Once you sign your loan documents, you have the option to defer payments for up to 60 days. Just know that interest, also called finance charges, will still accrue during this deferral period.

You should also consider signing up for autopay to qualify for a 0.25% rate discount.

USAA car buying service no longer available

USAA discontinued its car buying service through TrueCar on September 30, 2020. While it was running, USAA members could get a 0.5% discount on financing for a car through this service.

There are other banks that offer car buying services through their loan programs. But unlike USAA, most don’t offer a discount when you use these programs.

What sets it apart

USAA auto loans come with highly favorable rates and a wider-than-average range of loan terms. And it allows borrowers to stay prequalified for as long as 45 days — 15 days longer than what most lenders will allow. On top of this, you can defer your repayments for 60 days after taking out the loan, though that will increase your monthly and total loan cost.

There are also loans for motorcycles and other leisure vehicles like RVs and boats. And USAA has a special program for financing vehicles that accommodate special needs. Interested borrowers should call USAA for details on how this program works.

Still not sure about USAA? See current car loan rates from the best lenders to make an informed decision.

Name Product Filter Values Minimum credit score APR Loan term Requirements
PenFed Auto Loans
Varies
Starting at 1.79%
3 to 7 years
Active membership with PenFed
Low APR car loans from a well-known credit union.
Carvana
No minimum credit score
3.9% to 27.9%
Varies
18+ years old, annual income of $4,000+, no active bankruptcies
Get pre-qualified for used car financing and receive competitive, personalized rates.
car.Loan.com Car Loans
300
Varies by network lender
Varies by lender
Must be a US citizen with a current US address and employed full-time or have guaranteed fixed income.
Apply with a simple online application to get paired with a local auto lender. No credit and bad credit accepted.
CarsDirect auto loans
No minimum credit score
Varies by network lender
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.
Auto Credit Express Car Loans
300
Varies
Varies
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.
Get connected with an auto lender near you, even if you have bad credit.
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6 Comments

    Default Gravatar
    Montavious
    July 25, 2019

    I would like to apply for a car loan. I have a recent Chapter 7 bankruptcy but my father (who is also a member) has agreed to cosign. What do I need to do ?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangco
      July 26, 2019

      Hi Montavious,

      Thanks for your question.

      I’m sorry to hear you have a recent Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcies remain on your credit report for up to 10 years. Lenders may view your application as risky since you’ve demonstrated your inability to pay back your debts in the past. There may be loans you can apply for after bankruptcy you could be limited to lenders that charge very high interest rates.

      If you want to assess your eligibility and chances of being approved for an auto loan with USAA, it’s best to contact them directly so they can advise you further with matters concerning your application.

      Hope this helps.

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    Lyndall
    July 22, 2019

    I work for the US Navy as a civilian specialist on aircraft carriers, my wife is retired Air Force. WE have car, home and flood insurance through USAA. Am I eligible to get a car loan?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      fayemanuel
      July 23, 2019

      Hi Lyndall,

      Thanks for contacting Finder.

      To qualify for an auto loan with USAA, you must meet the following requirements:

      -18+ years old
      -US citizen or permanent resident
      -USAA member

      Please know that USAA considers factors like your credit score and income when you apply, though it doesn’t advertise a minimum credit score requirement.

      You may apply online, please see steps below:

      -Go to the USAA website.
      -Click Products in the main menu and select Auto Loans.
      -Click How much do I qualify for?
      -Log in with your member ID or apply to join.
      -If approved for membership, follow the instructions to complete the application.

      Before applying, please ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and read through the details of the needed requirements as well as the relevant Product Disclosure Statements/Terms and Conditions when comparing your options before making a decision on whether it is right for you. You can also contact the provider if you have specific questions.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind Regards,

      Faye

    Default Gravatar
    Sarah
    October 26, 2018

    What are the fees for USAA auto loan?

      Default Gravatar
      joelmarcelo
      October 26, 2018

      Hi Sarah,

      Thanks for leaving a question on finder.

      Loan terms last between 12 to 84 months, and you may be able to score an APR as low as 2.79% when you purchase a new vehicle through USAA’s car buying service. There are no hidden fees with USAA but I suggest you speak to them first before applying for a loan to be sure.

      Please send me a message if you need anything else. :)

      Cheers,
      Joel

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