How to Strategically Manage Your Debt

,Debt. Funny how four little letters can feel so dirty and stressful at the same time. Most of us have it in one shape or another, but none of us like to talk about it. Debt can get us into a lot of trouble, especially if it is unplanned and out of control. And some of us can’t help but feel out of control when it comes to managing our debt. Whether the debt is big or small, owing money can be uncomfortable and stressful, regardless of your financial status. What we often forget is that debt can also be a tool commonly used to get ahead, whether it is borrowing for education, for business or for a home that we assume will appreciate over time.

Of course, debt can be extremely dangerous and detrimental to your financial success if you aren’t careful and diligent about managing it. But if you are, debt doesn’t have to be all bad; in fact, it can even help you reap some serious rewards.

Credit Card Debt

The average household with credit card debt owes just over $15,000. And according to the FINRA Investor Education Foundation, 60 percent of women carry a credit card balance. It is easy to mismanage finances and let credit card debt get out of hand if we aren’t mindful about it. But with some simple strategies, you can gain, rather than lose, from your credit card debt. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Shop around. Plenty of sites can help you narrow down choices based on a variety of criteria you can customize.
  • Negotiate with creditors. Yes, it takes a time commitment and potential frustration dealing with multiple representatives, but the benefits of managing your credit card debt (including better rewards, lower rates, waived fees and higher credit limits) can be worth it.
  • Leverage the payment cycle. If you charge something the day before your statement closes, you get an interest-free period of 20 to 25 days to pay it off. But if you wait until the day after your statement closes, then you can get an extended interest-free period of up to 55 days.
  • Use your cards regularly. Doing so — and making payments on time, of course — will boost your credit score and encourage your creditors to automatically increase your credit limit, helping even more. It will also help you rack up rewards faster.
  • Reap your rewards. Too many people neglect to actually cash in on their available rewards (which can include travel discounts, cash back, concierge services and more). Check your card’s website for details on their particular program and make sure you don’t miss out.
  • Consider a balance transfer. If you are currently nearing the end of a promotional rate period and won’t be able to pay off your total balance in time, or if you are already paying high interest on an existing balance, consider transferring it to another card in exchange for a lower rate. This can buy you extra time to pay off your balance and save you a lot in interest payments. Watch out for balance transfer fees, though, and do the math first.

On the other hand, it is important that you never miss a credit card payment and try not to use up too much of your available credit. Missed payments are the biggest threat to your credit score, followed by a high credit-utilization ratio (under 30 percent is ideal).

Student Loan Debt

Today, two-thirds of American students graduate with student loan debt, and the average grad leaves school with more than $26,000 of debt, according to the Institute for College Access & Success. Student loan debt can seem overwhelming, especially when the average post-grad job only pays around $45,000 a year. However, with its relatively low interest rates and tax-deductible interest, student loan debt is generally considered to be a “good debt.” Here’s what you need to know to manage your student loan debt strategically:

  • Map out career and income goals along with a loan repayment schedule early. Think of it like a business plan with a break-even projection and future profit estimates. This will help you budget accordingly and stay motivated to make that borrowed education pay off sooner than later.
  • Pay private loans first and federal loans second, in order of interest rate (high to low).
  • Understand your repayment options. You may be able to pay a lesser amount based on your current income or even have your debt forgiven in some cases. Explore your options here.
  • Teach or serve your community to save. If you are willing to be strategic about your career path, you can have as much as $17,500 of your loans forgiven through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program or have the balance of your debt forgiven after 120 payments through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
  • Take advantage of loan rewards programs. You can potentially pay off your debt faster just by making your regular purchases. Check out and UPromise Loan Link by SallieMae.
  • Remember your tax deduction. You can deduct up to $2,500 (in 2013) or the total amount you paid in student loan interest (whichever is less, as long as your income is below the IRS limits), saving you money on your tax bill.

If you’re looking to simplify and potentially lower your payments, consider consolidating. Be careful, though. If you aren’t going through the government’s loan servicer, you will likely get stuck paying fees that cost you more in the long run. You also might lose certain benefits offered by your original lender. Before deciding, review this consolidation checklist.

Just like with your credit card, missing a student loan payment can result in fees and penalties that make it harder for you to qualify for other loans, like a mortgage. And if you can afford it, don’t defer your payments. It’ll cost you more in accrued interest, and it’ll take you longer to get out of debt. If you’re having trouble making payments, call your lender and explain your situation. They are much more likely to help you if you are proactive and honest.

Mortgage Debt

The average household today owes over $147,000 in mortgage debt, according to the Federal Reserve. And while some argue that the traditional American dream of owning a home is more of an unrealistic fantasy these days, for those who can afford it, homeownership is still one of the best long-term investments, especially with interest rates at historic lows (approximately 3.5 percent for a 15 year and 4.5 percent for a 30 year). Prior to buying a home though, make sure you can manage the debt of the purchase you are about to make.

  • Keep your housing expense ratio in check. As a general guideline, your monthly mortgage payment, including principal, interest, real estate taxes and homeowners insurance, should not exceed 28 percent of your gross monthly income. To calculate your housing-expense ratio, multiply your annual salary by 0.28, then divide by 12 (months).
  • Go with a 15-year fixed mortgage if possible. It will cost you more per month than a 30-year, interest-only or adjustable loan, but you will pay off the debt much sooner and save big money in the long run that you can invest toward other goals.
  • Consider an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with a low initial interest rate and monthly payment if you are sure you will only be in your home for less than five years. You can save significant money that can (and should) go toward other goals. If there is a chance you might stay in your home longer, an ARM can be too risky.
  • Do the math to see if refinancing makes sense. You might be able to lower your interest rate and monthly payment, but it also means extending the length of your loan and paying thousands of dollars in closing costs in many cases. However, if you plan to stay in your home longer than it takes to break even on a refinance, it can be worth it.

Remember that multiple types of credit inquiries can raise a red flag to lenders, so don’t apply for other loans when you’re home shopping. Once you find the home you love, put at least 20 percent down. Otherwise, you have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). If you can’t afford to put down 20 percent, you can’t afford that home and should steer clear of it.


A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is an option for homeowners willing to use their home’s equity as collateral in exchange for liquidity. Because homes are typically a person’s greatest asset, only use a HELOC to pay for capital investments that add value, such as home improvements, financing other real estate investments, education or business financing. Here’s how to get the most out of your HELOC:

  • Understand the differences between a HELOC and a home equity loan.
  • Shop around. A good place to start is with your current lender, but you might be able to research a better deal.
  • Read all the fine print on loan fees, interest rate, repayment terms and any potential limitations and risks. Most HELOCs come with a variable interest rate, so you need to be prepared to manage fluctuating monthly payments. Some lenders offer a low, fixed promotional interest rate for a period of time (that eventually adjusts to a higher, variable rate) or a fixed rate in exchange for a higher monthly payment.
  • Know that you have the right to cancel. Federal law gives you three days to reconsider a signed credit agreement and cancel the deal without penalty. You can cancel for any reason, but only for loans on your primary home, not a vacation or second home.

Avoid using a HELOC for emergencies if possible (unless a high-interest credit card is your only other option) and don’t use a HELOC to consolidate debt if you aren’t prepared to stop living beyond your means. In some cases, a HELOC can easily enable more overspending leading to serious trouble, including bankruptcy. Don’t give in to the temptation to use a HELOC to buy things that will likely depreciate in value (cars, vacations, clothes or furniture). And don’t forget  to deduct your HELOC interest up to $100,000 come tax time.

Car Loan Debt

If you’re someone who is tempted to buy cars and wants to maximize your savings in the short term (and ideally invest the difference!), leasing a car is the way to go. But if you’re committed to driving the same car for five or more years, buying may be for you. Here’s what you need to know before taking out a car loan:

  • Be armed when going to the dealer. Dealers are eager to make extra money by getting you into a loan through their own lenders and pushing a higher rate on you based on their determination of your credit score. Take control and know your credit score from each of the three credit bureaus and research third-party loan options ahead of time. You can get a free, comprehensive report each year at Print out your credit report and a few offers to bring with you to the dealer to help negotiate and save money.
  • Be wary of add-ons. Remember, dealers make the majority of their money by selling credit insurance, extended warranties and other “extras” that aren’t really necessary.
  • Pay more each month if possible. If you’ve been able to manage your finances and don’t have other, higher-interest debt weighing you down, and you have a comfortable emergency fund, you should set up automatic, bi-weekly loan payments. Specify that the extra money should be applied to your loan principal rather than future interest.
  • Consider gap insurance. From the moment you drive a car off the lot, your car insurance is likely inadequate in the event you suffered a total loss from an accident or theft. If you paid cash for your car or have significant equity in it, you don’t need gap insurance, but in many cases, it can be a smart investment for financial protection.

Though it may be tempting, don’t finance a new car, as depreciation is the greatest in the first few years of a car’s life. And before you take out a car loan, make sure your total debt (from mortgage and credit cards, etc.) doesn’t exceed 36 percent of your gross annual income.

In most cases, refinancing a car loan isn’t a smart bet. Excessive fees typically cancel out any short-term savings. The rare exception to this rule is if you happen to have the means to pay more per month in exchange for a shorter loan term, which can save you significant interest.

Investment Debt

Just as banks can lend you money if you have equity in your home, your brokerage firm can lend you money against the value of certain stocks, bonds and mutual funds in your portfolio. This is known as a margin loan. Here’s what you need to do before taking on investment debt:

  • Understand the risks. Borrowing on margin is not for the amateur investor. Margin can result in losing more than your original investment. However, you could also boost your return significantly.
  • Only consider margin if your marginable portfolio is diversified enough and large enough (relative to the level of margin debt) to help reduce risk. In this case, margin can be a convenient, flexible and low-cost borrowing tool to leverage your investments.
  • Opt for margin over other debt if you can. Margin interest rates are typically lower than credit cards and unsecured personal loans, plus there’s no set repayment schedule with a margin loan. Margin interest may be tax deductible if you use the margin to purchase taxable investments. Consult a tax professional about your individual situation.

Don’t borrow the max. Investors can generally borrow up to 50 percent of the purchase price of marginable investments, but pushing the limits can be extremely risky. A decline in the value of securities purchased on margin can require you to provide additional funds to the lending brokerage firm within a short time to avoid the forced sale of those securities or other securities in your account. And remember to double-check your firm’s margin policies, as they can differ between firms.

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The Best Times to Buy Big-Ticket Items

Do you know — or think you know — the best time to buy a car? A laptop? Furniture? A TV? Savvy shoppers know the best time to get linens is during January’s white sales and that July is a great time to buy swimsuits. But how about the purchases that will really dent your wallet?

Evolving retail trends mean that the ideal time to buy many of these items has changed. But knowing when to buy pays off, since in some cases you can cut your purchase price in half. Follow our guide on when to buy.

Home Furnishings

The best time to buy many items for the home tends to be during holiday weekend sales, like Independence Day weekend or Labor Day weekend, says Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing at DealNews. Many department stores host big sales and coupons that stack with discounts for bedding and home goods. This is a particularly good time to look into buying a mattress, as they can be marked up to 50 percent off, Sakraida says.

Look to the end of the summer to find the best deals on seasonal items such as grills and patio furniture. The deals get bigger the longer you wait, but the inventory gets thinner at the same time. If you want to shop from a good selection of styles, consider looking in mid- to late August before inventory has been picked over, says Sakraida, adding that you may find discounts of 60 percent off or more.


Late summer and early fall used to be the best time to buy a car, as dealers tried to make way for the new models. These days, though, many carmakers don’t follow the old seasonal roll-out schedules, says Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at car comparison site They may introduce models at any point during the year.

If you want to get a bargain on a new car, it helps to research when the new models will roll out, Caldwell says, and time your purchase accordingly. The exception is luxury cars, which still follow the old schedule. That makes late summer a great time to buy the current year’s model.

Major Appliances

Even as many carmakers abandoned the practice of always shipping new models in the fall, appliance manufacturers have embraced it. Many unveil their new models during autumn, so stores put previous generations on clearance shortly thereafter. The longer you wait, the better the potential deals. The end of the year and the beginning of the year are thus great times to buy, says DealNews’ Sakraida. “If you can’t wait until that point, these items are frequently also included in holiday weekend sales, and they’re a big ticket item during Black Friday sales for stores like Home Depot and Sears.”


If you’re looking for ridiculously low prices on a barebones model television, you probably can’t do better than Black Friday, Sakraida says. “And with Black Friday moving online more and more each year, these deals are actually accessible for those of us who refuse to enter a store during the busiest shopping day of the year,” she adds. If you want a higher-end set, though, wait until the beginning of the year, after manufacturers debut their new models at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January. Expect to save 30 percent, although sometimes the discounts go as deep as 60 percent. The same holds true for speakers and many other electronics, including computers.


If you want a high-end laptop, hold off until the early adopters start snapping up the latest and greatest versions previewed in January’s Consumer Electronics Show. After CES, many retailers start slashing prices to get rid of the older models. You should be able to save a few hundred dollars, and you may find deals that bundle the laptop with a tablet or other desirable accessory.

If your needs are more basic, the back-to-school shopping season can be a great time to snag a deal. Some of these promotions require that you have a school ID or valid school email address (one that ends in .edu), but most don’t. As with other seasonal gear, expect the discounts to get bigger, but the choices to get thinner, as retailers make a final push in late August and early September to clear their shelves. And if you miss that season, there’s always Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

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HerMoney’s 4 Best Tips for Borrowing in 2019

For savers, that’s welcome news. Interest rates on everything from basic savings to money market accounts and CDs will continue to track upward with the movements of the Federal Reserve. For borrowers, well, it’s another story. But don’t assume that you’re completely at the mercy of the interest rate tides.  There’s much that is in your control when it comes to borrowing cheaply, and smartly, this year and in the years to come. Here’s what you need to do.

Master That Credit Score

You want a good credit score? Or a great one? You should. At current interest rates, someone with a score of 760 and up would qualify for a rate of 4.3% on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, paying $1,484 a month on a $300,000 loan. Someone with a score 100 points lower would pay $1,593 per month. Over the term of the loan,  that’s a difference in interest of nearly $40,000.

And, nailing a good credit score isn’t magic.  It’s good habits:

  • Pay your bills on time every time (automating all the ones you can will help).
  • Don’t use more than 10% to 30% of the credit available to you on each of your credit cards individually or all of your cards combined (pay them down if you’re over these limits).
  • Don’t shop for credit you don’t need.
  • Aim to maintain a mix of different types of credit to show you can repay different types of loans.

Freeze Your Credit

Even if you’ve got perfect credit behavior, being a victim of identity theft—as millions of people are every year—can mess with your ability to borrow in the future. The easiest way to shut down thieves is to freeze your credit with all three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Once your credit is frozen no one—including you—will be able to qualify for credit in your name. If you want to apply for new credit, you’ll lift the freeze temporarily (we’ve done it, it’s a breeze), but meanwhile you’re safe from pilferers. It’s free, by the way.  And you should do it for your children under 16 as well.

Shop Around Widely

Whether you’re looking for an original loan or a refi, a mortgage, auto loan, student loan or credit card, you should cast a wide net for the best rates. Why? Because certain lenders tend to plant a stake in the ground when it comes to aggressively courting certain types of borrowers—and those stakes move over time. For example, credit unions tend to have some of the best rates for auto loans, and there are a handful of lenders who have made refinancing student loans their primary business. Loan aggregation sites like and can help you search. (Just note: Some aggregators prioritize or only show the listings for issuers of credit that pay them a referral fee.)

Remember My Money Rule No. 26: Just Because Someone Will Lend It To You Doesn’t Mean You Should Borrow It

Whether you’re talking about the size of your mortgage or the limit on your credit card, just because a lender is willing to approve you for a loan doesn’t mean that loan is a good idea for the overall health of your financial life. Keep in mind that every monthly payment you undertake is a choice that may prevent you from using your resources for other things for years to come.  

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You’re Paying Too Much: 3 Ways to Cut High Interest Rates

So what does a Fed rate hike mean to you? If you haven’t already gotten aggressive about locking in the lowest interest rates possible, it’s time.

We’re talking about your mortgage rate, certainly. Mortgage rates have been below 5% for almost a decade, but they’ve been heading north over the past year. Bankrate reported that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages were at 4.83% last week. That’s up more than three-quarters of a percentage point from a year ago. But mortgages aren’t the only loans that offer you a chance to save by locking in lower rates. Car loans and student loans can be refinanced. Credit card interest rates can be lowered, too, sometimes by asking your lender for a break, others by transferring your balance.  

Here are the three things you need to do to put some of these interest-related dollars back into your wallet:

Work Your Credit Score

Your credit score is a major factor in determining the interest rate you’ll pay on a loan. For the best rates, you should have a really good credit score (760 or above) and a near-perfect payment history. Don’t know your score? No problemo. It’s easy to snag for free. Amex, Discover and Capital One are just a few of the companies offering free credit scores as part of their card perks. You can also get your score from sites that want to sell you better deals on credit like Credit Karma and Savvy Money.  

You can (and should—looking at you, mom!) also pull a free copy of your credit report from each of the major credit bureaus once every 12 months. Just head to to get your copies. If you find mistakes, they may be one of the things dragging your score down. Filing a report with the bureau that there’s information on your report that doesn’t belong to you is the first step in getting this remedied.

If you haven’t already gotten aggressive about locking in the lowest interest rates possible, it’s time.

What if your score isn’t where you want it to be? Start paying your bills on time every time (automating payments can help), if you’re revolving debt on your credit cards work up a plan to pay it down. Aim to use no more than 10% to 30% of the credit limits available to you. Don’t apply for credit you don’t need. And don’t close old cards you’re not using unless they have hefty annual fees. Your score won’t pop overnight but it will over 12 to 24 months of good behavior.

Refinance Mortgages and Car Loans

There may be no financial move easier than refinancing an auto loan. Seriously, it can be done in less than an hour, and auto loan rates are likely lower than they were when you got yours (particularly if you didn’t shop for financing strategically). ValuePenguin reports that the average interest rate on a 48-month auto loan from a commercial bank has fallen by more than 40% over the last decade. Credit unions often have the best interest rates, but you can use a number of online auto loan search tools to compare loan rates in your area.  

Refinancing a home loan is likely something you’ve done already if you’ve been in the home a while. But if you’ve been improving your credit score, it could be time to tap the well again to get a better interest rate. Refinancing a home loan is a more involved transaction than a car loan is, but the general rule of thumb is that you should plan to be in the home long enough to recoup the closing costs with the money you save by refinancing to a lower rate. To do the math, try running your numbers through Fannie Mae’s refinance calculator.

Consolidate Your Student Loans

Americans owe more than $1.52 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 45 million borrowers, according to Student Loan Hero. And many of us are paying more than we should in interest. Refinancing your federal student loans—and parent loans, like PLUS loans—with a private lender is worth a look to make sure you’re paying the lowest interest rate possible.

You likely have loans at a variety of interest rates (I know I do) so choose to refinance only the ones that will save you in the long run. And be sure that by refinancing to private loans you’re not giving up something you’d like to keep: Federal loans have protections like a variety of repayment options—plus loan forgiveness for public service workers—that private loans do not.  

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Best Providers of Bad Credit Car Loans

Are you worried you need to buy a car and your credit score isn’t up to the task?

Well, buying a car with a bad credit history is probably more possible now than ever before thanks to the Internet.

Online banking lets auto lenders and car dealerships to network with each another, and it allows car buyers to compare loans.

In this guide, I’ll describe what we believe to be the best providers of bad credit car loans to help you find the financing that will work best for you.

7 Best Providers of Bad Credit Auto Loans

Here are the top providers of bad credit car loans:

  1. Auto Credit Express: Best for Low Down Payments
  2. Best for Borrowers in Bankruptcy
  3. Best for Refinance with No Payment for Up to 90 Days
  4. Capital One: Best for Dealer Network Financing
  5. Carvana: Best for Buying a Car Online
  6. LendingClub: Best for Unrestricted Loan Funds
  7. LendingTree Auto: Best for Online Auto Loan Marketplace

Auto Credit Express

In the old days, buying a car meant filling out a loan application and hoping for the best. Now, with loan matching services like Auto Credit Express, car buyers can know their loan options before showing up at a car dealership.

Auto Credit Express matches car buyers with auto financing they can qualify for. Founded in 1999, this platform is no fly-by-night business.

Its partner lenders can find options for borrowers at all credit levels, including no credit at all. A typical down payment is $500.

  • Credit/credit score requirements: All credit levels, including poor credit and no credit can apply — even if your credit report includes collections, loan defaults, repossessions, or even bankruptcy. There is no minimum credit score requirement. That being said, the better your creditworthiness, the more loan options you’ll see.
  • Minimum income requirement/debt-to-income ratio: $1,500 per month and you must be employed full-time.
  • Interest rate range: varies depending on the partner lender
  • Vehicle requirements: No minimum standards disclosed, all vehicle types considered. Auto Credit Express even offers a Military Auto Loan program to help members of the military, including active duty, reserves, or retired.

Learn More: Read our full Auto Credit Express Review.

Compare Rates with Auto Credit Express says it will extend loans to people “before, during, and after bankruptcy”. This is a significant departure from the industry norm, which is to extend financing only after a bankruptcy has been discharged.

Even if you’re filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can complete a request as soon as you’ve had your initial meeting of the creditors. You can also get financing if you are currently involved in a Chapter 13 repayment program.

And not only does provide the financing, but it also helps you find a participating car dealership in your area.

This service advertises that you’ll get a loan decision within 24 hours of submitting your loan application. That process is slower than some of the lenders on this list, but then this company accepts more challenging credit profiles than most others.

  • Credit/credit score requirements: No minimum credit score. All types of credit accepted, including bad credit and no credit. The company actively advertises financing for those in all stages of bankruptcy.
  • Minimum income requirement/debt-to-income ratio: Not indicated.
  • Interest rate range: Up to 25%, but varies by vehicle type and credit profile.
  • Vehicle requirements: Any vehicle available through the participating network dealership.

Learn More: Read our full Review.

Compare Rates with advertises refinances with no car payments for up to 90 days for qualified borrowers. This platform provides financing for both new cars and used cars, including private party purchases and lease buyouts.

Loan terms range from 36 months to 84 months, and the company has very competitive rates if you have good credit.

Like Auto Credit Express, is an online auto loan marketplace. It helps you see loan offers from multiple lenders by completing a single application.

Car buyers in all states except Alaska and Hawaii can use The minimum loan amount is $8,000 on purchases and lease buyouts, and $5,000 for refinances. No maximum loan limit is indicated.

  • Credit/credit score requirements: Minimum credit score 550.
  • Minimum income requirement/debt-to-income ratio: Minimum $21,000 annual income for purchases, private party transactions, and lease buyouts; minimum $18,000 annual income for refinances.
  • Interest rate range: Not indicated – varies by lender, loan amount, geographic location, and credit profile.
  • Vehicle requirements: Must be no more than 10 years old with a maximum of 125,000 miles.

Learn More: Read our full Review.

Compare Rates with

Capital One

Capital One is the lone name-brand lender on our list, which makes it at least somewhat unusual.

After all, most banks insist on good or excellent credit before they’ll even consider making an auto loan or extending any other type of financing. But this is where Capital One has broken ranks with most of its competitors.

Capital One works with a network of more than 12,000 car dealerships, providing “in-house” financing through the dealerships. That also means you will need to purchase your vehicle from a participating dealer, at least if you want a bad credit auto loan.

However, you will be able to prequalify on the Capital One auto loan website. Loan amounts range from $7,500 to a maximum of $50,000. Loan terms are from 36 to 72 months.

Please be aware this service is not available to residents in Alaska or Hawaii. Also, the bank’s fine print makes it clear that a prequalification does not constitute a final approval.

  • Credit/credit score requirements: Minimum FICO score of 500 but you must have an existing Capital One account in good standing.
  • Minimum income requirement/debt-to-income ratio: $1,500 to $1,800 per month.
  • Interest rate range: Not indicated.
  • Vehicle requirements: New or used car loans but used cars can be no more than 10 years old and with no more than 120,000 miles. Refinancing is not available on the following vehicle makes: Oldsmobile, Daewoo, Suzuki, Saab, or Isuzu.

Learn More: Read our full Capital One Auto Finance Review.

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Carvana has popularized the all-online car buying experience. In fact, the process completely eliminates dealerships. You can buy a vehicle online 24 hours a day from your smartphone or computer.

And once you make the purchase, you can have the vehicle delivered to your home. Carvana will even accept a trade-in on your current vehicle. And as you might expect, Carvana also provides the financing.

Once you’re on the Carvana website, you can complete an online loan application in a matter of minutes, and get loan quotes that will be valid for 45 days.

  • Credit/credit score requirements: All credit types, though you won’t be approved if you have no credit at all. Carvana also doesn’t provide financing if you have an active bankruptcy (must be discharged).
  • Minimum income requirement/debt-to-income ratio: Minimum income requirement of $4,000 per year.
  • Interest rate range: Not indicated.
  • Vehicle requirements: Financing is eligible only for vehicles purchased through It is not available for financing on vehicles purchased elsewhere.

Learn More: Read our full Carvana Review.


Lending Club is a peer-to-peer (P2P) online loan source. That means investors fund loans on the platform in exchange for the interest income.

This process eliminates the middleman, which is the bank, and brings investors and borrowers together on the same platform.

This sounds great, but skipping the bank doesn’t make LendingClub a subprime lender that bypasses the credit bureaus. Rather than getting a bank to approve your loan, you’ll have to convince individual investors to take a chance on you.

Technically speaking, LendingClub has no formal auto loans available – only refinances. The minimum loan amount is $5,000, up to a maximum of $55,000, and you must have at least 24 months remaining on your current loan to be eligible.

Even though the platform offers the only auto refinance loans, you can still purchase a vehicle with a LendingClub personal loan.

Personal loans are unsecured term loans available for up to $40,000 — typically at higher interest rates than a secured auto loan. Personal loans can be used for virtually any purpose, including the purchase of a car.

LendingClub loans are available in fixed terms of 36 or 60 months, with fixed interest rates and monthly payments.

  • Credit/credit score requirements: Minimum credit score 600.
  • Minimum income requirement/debt-to-income ratio: No minimum income requirement, but debt to income ratio cannot exceed 40%.
  • Interest rate range: 10.68% to 35.89% APR, with no prepayment penalties. However, you should be aware LendingClub personal loans charge upfront origination fees equal to between 2% and 6% of your loan amount.
  • Vehicle requirements: On refinances, vehicles must be no more than 10 years old and with under 120,000 miles. Since purchases are made with a personal loan, there are no specific vehicle requirements.

Learn More: Read our full Lending Club Review

LendingTree Auto

LendingTree Auto is an online loan marketplace, and probably the best-known such site in the industry. In addition to auto loans, LendingTree also offers mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, business loans, and more.

However, LendingTree is not a direct lender. It’s an online platform where you can solicit loan quotes from multiple lenders by completing a single questionnaire.

Once you choose a lender, you’ll need to make an application with that lender. Specific loan terms and requirements will vary based on the guidelines of that particular lender.

But LendingTree’s website is free to use, and it provides a way to compare loan offers quickly.

And since so many lenders participate on the platform, auto loans are available for all credit levels. Loans are available for purchases, refinances, and lease buyouts. Loan terms range from 1 to 7 years.

  • Credit/credit score requirements: Varies by lender selected.
  • Minimum income requirement/debt-to-income ratio: Varies by lender selected.
  • Interest rate range: Varies by lender selected.
  • Vehicle requirements: Varies by lender selected.

Learn More: Read our full LendingTree Auto Loan Review.

(Rates as of 1/6/21)

What Qualifies as a Bad Credit Car Loan?

There’s no specific definition for a bad credit auto lender.

For most car buyers who use traditional banks and credit unions, getting a car loan requires a minimum credit score of 650. So we can say – at least generally – that “bad credit” for car loans is any credit score below 650.

But your credit score isn’t the only factor lenders consider. Most lenders also have more specific criteria.

This includes the factors making up your credit score. Those can include recent late payments, collections, loan defaults, repossessions, bankruptcies, and even foreclosures.

It’s possible to qualify based on your credit score but be declined a loan because the credit check revealed late payments, missed payments, or an old repossession.

But don’t worry, the lenders in this guide can extend auto financing to just about any credit profile.

Use Bad Credit Loans as a Stepping Stone

You should also be aware that bad credit auto loans can serve as an interim step in your journey to better credit.

You could take out one of these loans to get into a vehicle now. But making all your payments on time could improve your credit going forward.

Within a year, you may be able to refinance at a lower interest rate and loan payment.

Please keep this in mind as you peruse our lender reviews.

How to Increase Your Chance of Approval and Lower Your Rate with Car Loans for Bad Credit

One of the complications with car loans for bad credit is the number of variables. They include:

  • your credit check
  • the vehicle you’re buying
  • the loan amount
  • the loan term
  • your income

Sometimes these variables contradict each other. For example, a lender may approve you but not your vehicle. Or it may approve you but only for a certain loan amount that’s not enough.

Finding a lender that lines up as a “yes” on all the variables you need can limit your loan options. That’s how people get into auto loans with interest rates approaching 30%.

The auto loan finders on the list above can help you avoid this scenario since they work with so many different lenders.

Steps to Help Yourself Get a Better Car Loan

You owe it to yourself to take steps that will

  • a) increase the likelihood your application will be approved
  • b) get you the lowest interest rate possible.

You can do that by taking one or more of these steps:

  • Improve Your Credit: Do what you can to improve your credit history and your credit score before applying for an auto loan. Increasing your score by just 20 or 30 points can make a huge difference on the interest rate you’ll pay. Since your payment history influences your FICO score, try to make on-time payments 100% of the time.
  • Bring Your Own Money: Plan to make a down payment, and make the largest one you can. This can often be solved by trading in your existing vehicle. But if you don’t have a trade-in, even scraping together $500 or $1,000 for the down payment can be the difference between approval and denial. It can also help avoid those high interest rates.
  • Limit Loan Amounts: Buy less car than you can afford. For example, if your income or low credit score suggests you can buy a $10,000 car, you’ll likely get a lower interest rate if you keep the vehicle under $8,000.
  • Ask for Help: Bring in a cosigner if you’re unable to qualify on your own credit and income, or if you want to get a better deal on the interest rate and terms.
  • Compare Lenders: Shop between multiple different lenders. You may find one lender offering a rate at several points lower than the competition. But you won’t know that unless you shop around.
  • Avoid Hard Credit Checks: Try to get a pre-approval rather than applying for multiple loans. Each time a lender checks your credit, you risk making your bad credit even worse. Check your own credit history with Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion before applying for a loan. (Visit to see your reports.)
  • Don’t Finance a Warranty: Avoid financing the costs of a used car warranty into your loan. Adding the expense of a warranty to your loan amount could push your purchase price beyond the loan limits of your ideal auto lender.

Any one of the above steps will increase your chance of being approved, and decrease the interest rate you’ll pay. But if you can combine two or more, the benefits will be that much greater.

Which Bad Credit Car Loan Provider is Best For You?

Seeing at least seven possibilities for bad credit car loans shows you can almost certainly get financing for a car regardless of your credit situation.

If you do have bad credit, or even no credit at all, make an application with one or more of the above online lenders or auto loan comparison sites. You could be driving a new or used car sooner than you think.

But don’t stop there. Keep working on your credit so you’ll never have to Google “bad credit car loans” ever again.

Like I said above, a bad credit car loan can be a stepping stone to better borrowing options in the future — including a new car loan at a competitively low APR.

Shoot for a perfect payment history on your next loan. Financial institutions pay attention when borrowers have perfect payment histories. That’s why your FICO score emphasizes payment history so much.

The FICO scoring model also emphasizes your credit utilization ratio. By paying down your credit cards and keeping some accounts open even after you’ve paid off the entire balance, you’ll be helping your credit score.

MaxCarLoan Review

MaxCarLoan connects people in need of an auto loan with lenders.

The company serves as a broker to find rates and terms that work based on an individual’s specific budget and requirements.

Customers do not have to waste time fruitlessly shopping around between lenders to find the best deal in an already saturated industry.

As an online marketplace for auto loans, MaxCarLoan gives applicants access to hundreds of different offers.

It can include options for pre-approval, competitive APRs, and more.

If you are interested in acquiring a loan through MaxCarLoan, here is what you need to know.

Table of Contents:

  • About MaxCarLoan
  • Fees
  • Security
  • Pros
  • Cons

How MaxCarLoan Works

MaxCarLoan has a straightforward loan process that requires three steps.

First, applicants must fill out an online application, which includes some basic questions about residence, salary, and contact information.

There are also sections on whether you have a cosigner or if you have previously declared bankruptcy.

Next, MaxCarLoan will then take the time to review the contents of the application.

They will reach you via phone or email to inform you of the results.

Finally, if you receive approval, you can purchase your vehicle later that day.

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How Much Can I Borrow From MaxCarLoan?

Since MaxCarLoan plays the role of a broker, the amount you can borrow will depend entirely on the lender you select.

A myriad of other factors also influences the details, like your down payment capacity, personal financial situation, and credit score.

MaxCarLoan APR

The APR that applicants receive from lenders depends on a multitude of factors.

It can include annual salary, debt to income ratio, and credit history, among other elements.

If an applicant has a high credit score (above 700), they are more likely to receive a low or favorable APR.

MaxCarLoan does not determine the APR on its offers.

Instead, it forwards the rate of lenders or dealerships to the applicant. The APR can be anything.

APR might be as low as two to four percent, depending on the length and size of the loan.

Some lenders may have a special offer going, which features zero APR as a way to entice customers into purchasing a new vehicle.

MaxCarLoan Fees

MaxCarLoan does not have any fees associated with its auto financing service.

Applicants also do not have to accept the terms of an offer from participating lenders or car dealerships.

MaxCarLoan even specifies on their website, “Our service is completely free to use!”

Is MaxCarLoan Safe?

MaxCarLoan is a safe and effective way to shop for auto financing.

The company leverages experience in the auto industry as a way of finding customers the best possible terms on their loans.

This broker arrangement is useful for people who do not have the expertise or time to research car loans extensively.

MaxCarLoan does not directly lend money to applicants, so it is impossible to comment on their financial security. The information will depend on the offer you choose to accept.

If you are interested in learning more about the credit and financial ratings of a lender, peruse their scores from reputable agencies, such as A.M. Best, Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and Fitch

Pros of MaxCarLoan

Quick Approval

Immediacy is the name of the game when it comes to surviving in the modern auto loan industry. MaxCarLoan stands out with instantaneous results on whether applicants are eligible. You do not have to waste time waiting for a response from the lender.

Poor Credit Eligibility

If you have no credit or poor credit, MaxCarLoan can be an appealing option. They work with auto dealerships and lenders, and they know in advance where you are most likely to get approval. The industry insight can be especially useful when it comes to saving time and effort on researching loans.

Poor credit comes with a range of limitations, such as higher APRs. Being able to compare several options where you have guaranteed approval can make wading through these limitations much easier. The online application process is also fast and straightforward, so you can get the results you need quickly.

No Application Fees or Obligations

Prepayment fees. Late fees. Origination fees. Services fees. None of these apply to MaxCarLoan.

The company explicitly states that its service is free to use for all applicants. The caveat is that the lender or loan provider may stipulate fees in the offer, though, so take this pro with a grain of salt.

Applicants do not have to accept offers that MaxCarLoan presents. It is possible to continue shopping around after receiving prospective loan approvals if they believe there is an opportunity for a better deal. Typically, an offer will expire within a month of its origination.


The intermediate nature of MaxCarLoan means there is no limits to the terms, rates, and other features of your loan. If you are set on having a cosigner or getting pre-approval, MaxCarLoan will be able to search for loans with those precise specifications. Similarly, there are no restrictions on the make, model, or mileage of your vehicle.

Cons of MaxCarLoan

Not a Direct Lender

MaxCarLoan does not provide applicants with funding. Instead, they work as an intermediary between the applicant and the lender. The fact that they work as a middleman may be a deterrent for people who want to work directly with loan providers.

The “About Us” Section

If you visit the MaxCarLoan website, you will find a sleek landing page and intuitive design. Conspicuously missing from the site, though, is an “About Us” section. The omission is not a red flag, necessarily, but it may raise some eyebrows.

It is impossible to know how rigorously the company holds to standards for customer service or its origins. By the same token, MaxCarLoan has virtually zero online presence. Organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau and, do not currently have reviews of the company.

If you want to read reviews about customer’s experience working with MaxCarLoan, you are out of luck.

lightstream auto loans logo

LightStream Auto Loan Review

According to Finder, as many as 44 percent of Americans rely on an auto loan to pay for both new cars and used cars.

Procuring an auto loan makes sense, too, especially if you do not have the immediate financial resources to purchase the car in cash. Borrowing money also has added benefits, such as building up your credit score on your FICO credit report.

Not all personal loans are equal, though. The loan products will differ based on a range of factors, including whether the car is new and the state of your finances (do you have excellent credit or just meet the minimum credit score?).

LightStream caters to borrowers looking for financial services regarding a classic car purchase.

LightStream also provides other financial products for different loan purposes like debt consolidation, home improvement, or other major expenses.

They offer their lowest rates for all loan types to borrowers with the highest credit scores and the lowest length of terms.

Here is everything you need to know about the auto loan provider LightStream to ensure you have the information at hand to make wise financial decisions.

Table of Contents:

  • How LightStream Works
  • Loan Amounts
  • LightStream APR
  • Fees
  • Pros & Cons

How Does LightStream Work?

lightstream auto loans logo

LightStream’s personal loans are the online lending division of SunTrust Bank and are registered with the NMLS (Truist who just merged with BB&T).

The arm is best suited for customers with “good credit” or “excellent” credit profiles or with years of credit history, who want a straightforward auto loan process.

If you would like to be considered for a loan, all you have to do is fill out an online loan application, providing information like your social security number, email address, phone number, and driver’s license number.

As an online lender, LightStream can complete the quick online application process in as little as a business day.

Additionally, LightStream offers eligible customers certain perks, such as the Rate Beat Program, Autopay discounts, and Loan Experience Guarantee programs.

This stage does come with a hard credit check with the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion), however, and there is no pre-approval process for prospective customers.

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How Much Can You Borrow From LightStream?

You will have a variety of options when it comes to APR range, loan amount or size, and other terms.

Borrowers can receive anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 with loan term lengths (repayment terms) from 24 to 84  months.

What Is the APR with LightStream?

The annual percentage rate or APR is the interest rate per year associated with a loan.

The APR is an essential part of researching auto loans as it includes origination fees and other additional costs.

Put another way, the rate will tell you how much money it will cost you to take out a loan.

According to ValuePenguin, the average auto loan APR falls between three and ten percent.

The figure will fluctuate on several factors, including credit history, annual income, job history, and the final terms of the loan.

It is important to show you can build liquid assets and retirement savings as well as the means to place down cash down payment.

For instance, if you have a low amount of debt (like credit card debt) and a high salary, you will receive more favorable conditions.

Depending on the type and length of the loan, APR will be as low as 2.49 percent.

They back up their claim of having the best rates, promising if you find another lender offering low rates, LightStream will come in .10 percentage points beneath the other lender’s loan rate.

Current APR’s With LightStream:

  • New Auto Purchase: 2.49% to 9.49%
  • Used Auto Purchase from Dealer: 2.49% to 9.49%
  • Used Auto Purchase from Individual: 3.49% to 10.49%
  • Auto Lease Buyout: 3.49% to 10.49%
  • Auto Loan Refinance: 2.49% to 9.49%
  • Motorcycle Purchase or Refinance: 4.29% to 11.89%

*rates current as of 12/31/2020*

Are There Any Fees?

There are different types of loan agreements, depending on whether you are purchasing a new or used vehicle, or if you want to refinance your current one.

When you look into auto loans at LightStream, each one lists the terms beneath the APR table.

Each of these points includes the phrase, “no fees or prepayment penalties.”

LightStream also does not have fees for the origination of the loan or late fees. There are no other extra expenses either.

When you combine the absence of fees and their competitive interest rates, LightStream comes through as a worthwhile option for anyone in need of a car loan without the hassle of various fees.

Pros & Cons of LightStream


  • Flexibility: The most significant benefit of working with LightStream is its flexibility on both sides of the aisle. For instance, the loan terms with various ranges of length, APRs, and amounts to borrow. Applicants do not face restrictions when it comes to the make, model, or mileage of their vehicle.
  • Available in All Fifty States: No matter where you are in the United States, you can work with LightStream. The company is a worthwhile option for customers with strong credit scores (typically above 660), and those who want a competitive interest rate. Customers also have access to LightStream services if they purchase or own a car in Washington, D.C.
  • No Fees: LightStream does not have any prepayment, origination, or late payment fees. The same cannot be said of other loan providers, especially when it comes to refinancing a vehicle. You and your wallet can rest easy.
  • Discount: There is even a 0.5 percent discount rate for people using autopay monthly payments.
  • Convenience: LightStream has set up the auto loan process to be as simple as possible for its customers. That includes an intuitive online application with responses that come as quickly as one day later. If you prefer to fax or complete your form in person, this pro may be a con.
  • 30 Day Review Period: Customers have the opportunity to review their loan offer for up to thirty days. Applicants do not have to accept the terms of the offer, BCB though. If they do, they can receive a direct deposit to their bank account within 24 hours.
  • Co-Signer Option: LightStream allows for co-signers as a way to bolster the applicant’s credit strength and improve their overall terms.


  • Hard Credit Check: When you apply for an auto loan with LightStream, they will perform a hard credit check. Also known as a “hard pull,” this process is a way to thoroughly access a lending decision on the part of a lender. Hard credit checks can lower your credit score potentially, so it is an incentive for buyers to have an active interest or commitment to LightStream as opposed to shopping around for rates. This step may also deter people who are on the fence about whether their credit score is “good enough” to qualify for an auto loan from LightStream.

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Are LightStream Car Loans Safe?

LightStream is a reliable source for car loans. The company is progressive and customer-forward in its loans with accessible online applications and proprietary technology.

They also have a range of different auto loans to service various vehicular needs, including unsecured loans.

LightStream has a respectable financial track record. Its parent company, SunTrust Banks, maintains positive scores from the heavyweight credit rating agencies, ranging from BBB+ to A as of December of last year.

SunTrust Banks has a lower to upper-medium grade as an institution.

Car.Loan.Com Review

Buying a car requires a few key things – time, money, and decent credit scores.

In today’s financial climate and job market, it’s not surprising that so many people struggle with credit issues. Not to mention, it’s tough to build up credit when you’re first making your way in the adult world.

Unfortunately, credit issues can make owning a car impossible, as lousy credit sends your annual percentage rate (APR) through the roof, often making car payments out of reach. Or in some cases, low credits scores mean you won’t qualify for financing and, as a result, can’t buy a car.

But getting to work without a car can be timely, costly, and unreliable. It can make taking the kids to school challenging and getting to and from medical appointments stressful. A personal vehicle often improves your overall quality of life, giving you the freedom to go where you need to go when you need to go. has been helping people in tough credit situations obtain an affordable car loan since 1994. Bad credit, no credit, and even bankruptcy aren’t a problem when you partner with

Plus, they can complete your approval before you even begin shopping so that you can get your car the same day.

Table of Contents:

  • How Does Work?
  • Is Safe?
  • How Much Can You Borrow?
  • What Is The APR?
  • Are There Any Fees?
  • Pros & Cons

How Does Work?

For more than 20 years, has provided car loans to people who could not find financing anywhere else. Owned and operated by Internet Brands (a consumer advice site), the company puts applicants first.

As one of a few online sites that work with people with less-than-ideal credit scores, has a few requirements for applicants. But they’re not substantial. Requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Co-applicants must also be at least 18 years old.
  • Must be a citizen of the United States with documentation to prove it.
  • You aren’t required to have a monthly income, but making at least $1,000 helps.
  • The vehicle must be no more than eight years old.
  • You must present a government-issued ID.
  • If you are looking for a 60-month loan, you can’t purchase a car with more than 100,000 miles on it.
  • If you are looking for a 72-month loan, you can’t purchase a car with more than 70,000 miles on it.

Meet those requirements? If so, all that’s left is to fill out a three-minute form!

Compare Rates Now links you with the dealership best suited for your needs. The company does do a credit check. But you can rest assured that your information is not sent to hundreds of places that wouldn’t even consider your loan. creates a hassle-free experience that draws extensive positive reviews. The company helps you get loan approval before you even get to a dealership to shop for your car.

This preapproval saves you time and enables you to drive away with your new or used vehicle the same day if it’s on the lot.

Are Car Loans Safe?

Yes, is safe. Though the company shares personally identifiable information with lenders, it is done so only with your consent and gets securely transmitted to third parties.

As with anything, clear your browser when you’re done to ensure your information is not auto-saved to it.

How Much Can You Borrow From allows you to connect with auto loan lenders offering anywhere from $7,500 to $45,000.

The highest amounts might be lower than many competitors. But if you have bad credit, no credit, or are a first-time buyer, you probably can’t finance more than that every month, anyway.

What Is The APR With

Because works with no-credit borrowers, the interest rates are a bit higher than some financing companies. But considering that many streamlined lenders won’t finance people with bad credit, the rates are not too bad.

As of 1/6/21, annual percentage rates can range anywhere from 0% to 25%. compares well to other similar services. Ideally, you’ll want your car payment to be no more than 10 percent of your monthly income to ensure you can pay it off.

Are There Any Fees?

No fees. is a free service connecting you to a car lender that will get you on the road with a payment you can afford — even if you have bad credit.

As with any contract, you must review all of the conditions a lender sets forth – including any fees – before signing on the dotted line.

Pros & Cons can seem like a dream come true if you are struggling to find a car loan.

Before working with any financial institution, it’s good to learn the pros and cons of the service so that you can make an informed decision:


  • Allows co-applicants for all loan types.
  • It helps those who would otherwise be unable to take out a loan.
  • The quick and easy form takes minutes to fill out and submit.
  • Perfect for applicants who are first-time car buyers or who have filed for bankruptcy.
  • does not require a monthly income.
  • You can get approval in 30 minutes or less.
  • A loan estimator on helps you estimate your payments and rates before having the company do a hard credit check.
  • Standard lease terms range from 36 to 72 months.


  • Not available for purchases in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, or Oregon.
  • does require a hard credit check, which can affect your credit score. This hit can be problematic for an applicant who already has a low credit score.
  • The APR for no-credit loans is typically at the top of the legal limit – though it’s still better than not being eligible for a vehicle at all.
  • Sparse information online makes it challenging to know what to expect until you apply and get in contact with one of the company’s agents.

At, you’ll find experienced representatives and enjoy an easy process and quick results. It’s everything you could want from a no-credit financing process.

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AUTOPAY Car Loans Review

Whether you’re buying a new car or used car, it often comes with one dreaded process – financing.

Aside from adding hours onto the application process comes the trepidation about a high APR driving up your monthly car payments.

What if you could get a loan approved at a low-interest rate before you even start test-driving cars?

Or refinance an existing loan to save on your existing monthly payments, or possibly get cashback with an auto refinance?

Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s all possible. Bottom line, AUTOPAY can help!

Table of Contents:

  • How AUTOPAY Works
  • Requirements
  • Is AUTOPAY Safe?
  • How Much You Can Borrow
  • APR
  • Fees
  • Pros & Cons

How Does AUTOPAY Work?

Headquartered in Denver, CO, AUTOPAY is not a bank, credit union, or a lender, it acts as a middleman to help you get the lowest rates and have the smoothest auto loan or refinancing experience possible.

You go to AUTOPAY, and the company does all the footwork for you.

Are you trying to decide whether AUTOPAY is the right option for you? Start by thinking about your finances.

Have you recently earned a raise? Has your credit score risen? Or maybe you just got a lousy rate due to dealer terms when you purchased your vehicle. That’s okay. Autopay is excellent if you are amid any of these situations.

AUTOPAY’s application process is hassle-free, easy to fill out, and doesn’t require a hard credit check until you’ve selected a lender. The process is quick and easy, but there are some things you and your vehicle must match if you want to see success.

AUTOPAY Requirements

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Co-applicants must also be at least 18 years old.
  • You must have a credit score of at least 600.
  • Must have an income of at least $2,000 a month.
  • You can live anywhere in the United States.
  • Your vehicle must be no more than 11 years old.
  • Your car must not have more than 125,000 miles on it.
  • You must find loan terms of 24 to 84 months acceptable.

How do you fit those requirements? If you can say yes to everything, you’re good to get started with AUTOPAY.

Specifications may vary slightly for cash-back refinancing or lease-payoff loans.

Compare Rates Now


Yes, AUTOPAY is safe! You don’t even need to input your Social Security number to get started.

Once you decide to go with a lender, your information remains safe and secure throughout the process.

During the soft credit check or soft pull through Credit Karma, AUTOPAY doesn’t even use your Social Security number.

Why is this important? If you’re paying for credit monitoring, you’ll notice there are two types of credit pulls or credit inquiries.

A hard pull allows lenders to gather all the relevant credit information about you, however, it will ding your score slightly for a few months, just like when you open a new credit card account.

A soft pull allows creditors to use your credit report to decipher if you have excellent credit, moderate, or poor credit without impacting your overall score

How Much Can You Borrow From AUTOPAY?

Whether you’re refinancing an existing car loan or looking to get a new loan through AUTOPAY, if a lender approves of the make and model of your vehicle, loan amounts range from $2,500 to $100,000.


Unlike others in the industry, AUTOPAY offers the most competitive APR’s in the industry. As of 1/6/21 rates begin as low as 1.99%.

The AUTOPAY rates are a full 6% lower than most of its competitors. On average, you’ll save about $1,000 a year.

Whether you use that money to pay off your loan faster or just for extra cash, that is a tremendous amount that goes back in your pocket.

On average, an AUTOPAY refinance customer can save $95/month due to lower interest rates offered.


There are no fees associated with applying for a loan through AUTOPAY. However, individual lenders might charge late fees or early payoff penalties.

Be sure to read through all of the contract terms carefully, as the lender will not be part of AUTOPAY and might charge other fees.

Pros & Cons

We’ve covered the basics of AUTOPAY, but you might still have questions as to whether this is the route for your particular situation.

With that in mind, we’ll provide you with a list of basic pros and cons to help finalize your decision-making process:


  • The initial credit check is “soft,” this is great if you want to shop around for various quotes before committing.
  • Vehicle requirements are more lenient than those of most other companies.
  • You get a prequalification decision in minutes.
  • All documents signed through Docusign and can finish up through emails or phone calls.
  • Loan offers are valid for 30 days, so you don’t have to feel rushed into a deal.
  • Allows for co-signers.
  • Offers gap insurance
  • It provides various types of loans, not just refinancing.
  • APR is more competitive than many other businesses & offers more money at the end of the day, even with the highest 17.99%.
  • Application and approval processes are quick – with approval often coming the same day.
  • AUTOPAY is available in all 50 states.
  • The website features a handy calculator to test rates before you even apply.
  • Cash-back refinancing can net you as much as $12,000 in cash.


  • A hard inquiry on your credit does occur to determine interest rates after you choose a lender.
  • Though AUTOPAY advertises rates as low as 1.99% APR, those rates are available only to people with excellent (720 or above) credit scores.
  • It requires a minimum credit score of 630, and the best rates are for those who have a 720 or higher.
  • Must have a minimum monthly income of $2,000 to get matched with lenders.
  • Since it is initially a soft inquiry, loan rates might change after the hard inquiry.
  • While you are required to have a minimum credit score of 600 and make $2,000 a month, loans are most common for those with an average credit score of 706 and a monthly income of $6,000.

Is AUTOPAY The Best Option For You?

AUTOPAY is an intermediary loan marketplace company, like Lendingtree, that connects shoppers with lenders both for new loans, auto-loan refinancing, lease-payoff refinancing, and cash-back refinance loans.

Whatever your needs, an AUTOPAY loan specialist can help you with your car loan at any stage of the buying process – or even years after the purchase!

On average, customers save $95 a month and see their rates cut in half. What would you do with more money each month? We’re sure you can think of a few things.

With that said, AUTOPAY is a fantastic option to kick start your car-buying, refinancing, or lease-payoff process and saves you time and hassle at the dealership.

So, are you ready to start saving money? If so, check out AUTOPAY today!

rateGenius logo

RateGenius Auto Refinance Review

Buying a car is a big commitment. Unless you have the full amount of cash on hand, you commit to auto financing, whether that is a lease or a new loan.

A loan will enable you to take your car off the lot and call it yours – as long as you don’t miss a car payment.

Sometimes, those loans can leave you with a high-interest rate, leading to monthly payments that can be hard on your budget.

It adds stress not only to the car buying process but to the way you spend money throughout the length of the loan.

The good news is that you have options to lower the ding on your wallet from your old loan.

Auto-loan refinancing helps put money back in your pocket by reducing your Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for interest – not the principal of the loan.

It’s possible to get lower rates through a big bank or any other lender network, but you will more likely accomplish it if you have an expert on your side.

An expert will guide you through the loan application and keep your best interests in mind.

RateGenius, a company based in Austin, Texas, is an online auto loan refinance company that can help you refinance your current loan or provide a lease buyout on your car.

The goal is to snag a lower interest rate and put money back in your pocket! What could be better than that?

Table of Contents

  • How RateGenius Works
  • How Much Can You Borrow?
  • APR
  • Fees
  • Will RateGenius affect my Credit Score?
  • Pros & Cons

How Does RateGenius Work?

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RateGenius is not a direct lender, but an intermediary that connects you to a lender to which you likely would not otherwise have access.

From small credit unions to banks, RateGenius searches a wide array of lenders for every application, saving you money on your car, truck, or suv.

RateGenius is an online company that partners with Lendingtree and requires only an internet connection and personally identifiable information to help lenders determine if you are qualified.

After you provide your phone number and other relevant vehicle information, the vin, make, and model, you’re quite on your way. From there, it’s all about you and the lender they choose.

Not sure if RateGenius is for you? Answer these questions:

  • Have you seen a rise in your credit score since purchasing your vehicle?
  • Is your current APR more than 6%?
  • Have you had financial setbacks?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, an auto refinance loan very well may be right for you.

RateGenius is easy to work with, fast, and has few requirements from you before you can connect with a lender.

RateGenius Requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • Must have a credit score of a least 550
  • Must have an income of at least $2,000 a month
  • Can live anywhere in the United States
  • Your vehicle must be no more than 7 years old
  • Your car must not have more than 100,000 miles

If you’re still a match with this information, applying is as simple as going to the RateGenius website and filling out a form.

Rest assured that your loan information is safe and secured throughout the application and lending process. Third parties do not retain any data such as your social security number or driver’s license number unless you select them as your new lender.

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How Much Can You Borrow from RateGenius?

The great news? RateGenius auto refinancing options work for almost all vehicles.

The company allows you to borrow various loan amounts anywhere from $10,000 to $90,000. Plus, it is not limited to a single-vehicle per applicant.

What is the APR with RateGenius?

RateGenius helps to connect you with other lenders – smaller credit unions who remove the big bank. It will help you secure the best refinance options for your budget.

Though it’s important to note that the lender determines interest rates and based on credit score, applicants can expect an APR of as low as 2.99 percent or as high as 25.87 percent.

So, why does this matter? Well, on average, RateGenius users save $76 after refinancing with a lower APR.

For example, if you’ve taken out a $20,000 loan with a 10 percent APR, your interest amount will be $5,000. With help from RateGenius, however, you could get that APR lowered to 5 percent, which amounts to just over $2,500 on the same loan!

Are There Any Fees?

RateGenius acts as a middleman, connecting applicants with lenders with the lowest rates. Though RateGenius does not require a fee to use its services, a lender they connect you with might charge fees.

So, it’s essential to read through all documents to identify any application fees before selecting your auto refinance lender.

Is RateGenius A Hard Inquiry?

Yes, using RateGenius requires a hard inquiry on your credit report or a deep look at your credit history, connecting you with proper lenders. This credit check is the most efficient way to get it done.

A hard credit pull can, but does not always, lead to a change in your credit score. As a result, we recommended that you only go through the RateGenius process if you are a serious auto loan shopper.

It goes without saying but the better the credit, the lower the rate. Good credit is generally considered to be a credit score of 720 or higher. Not sure what your credit score is? Experian is one of the three credit that produces reports on your borrowing history, such as credit cards or any other loans.

Pros & Cons of RateGenius

As with any service, there are both pros and cons of doing business with RateGenius.

Overall, it is a reliable option for serious applicants with a steady income and an average or better credit score.


  • Vehicle requirements are standard and not outside of the excepted wear-and-tear on a car, which aligns with other auto-financing businesses.
  • RateGenius checks more than 150 lenders nationwide, giving you the potential for multiple, reliable options for your refinancing.
  • You are not required to accept a loan offer simply because a company approves you for it.
  • The application process is simple, straightforward, and quick to complete.
  • Loan terms range from 24 to 87 months, which are longer than many initial car-loan options.
  • Has an affiliated insurance broker that can provide gap insurance. This helps protect a new car owner from any depreciation should the car be totaled, leaving you with a loan amount greater than the car value.


  • RateGenius accounts for a hard inquiry on your credit score. Only serious shoppers should apply.
  • The company’s approval rate might go as low as credit scores of 550 but favors applicants in the 690 range, on average. So, this is not for people with “bad credit.”
  • RateGenius does require that you have a minimum income of $2,000 a month.
  • Loan approval can take up to 48 hours, making it one of the slower refinancing sites for awaiting approval.
  • RateGenius also has an affiliated insurance company. You are likely to hear from an insurance representative after you go complete your refinance, but you don’t have to work with them.

Is RateGenius Best For You?

If you’re interested in saving money and paying off your auto loan quicker, RateGenius is likely what you’ve been trying to find.

Get started today and get some more money back in your pocket for the truly important things in your life!

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