The Top Refinancing Companies for Car Loans in April, 2023
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We analyzed 22 well-known auto refinance companies using 16 data points across four categories: loan specifics; loan costs; eligibility and accessibility; customer service; and the application process. No lender was accepted if they did not publish their loan terms, including the minimum and maximum amounts they would lend and the number of years they would finance the loan for. Based on the relative importance we placed on each factor, we selected the top lenders.
- Financing Fees: 30%
- Acceptable and available: 25%
- Terms of Loan: 20%
- Customer satisfaction: 15%
- Procedure for applying: 10%
Several characteristics, such as loan amounts, repayment terms, APR ranges, applicable fees, and discounts, were taken into account within each primary classification. We also considered the lenders' geographical availability, minimum credit score requirements, maximum loan-to-value ratios, mileage acceptance, and co-signer/co-borrower policies.
In the end, we compared each service's customer support options, borrower benefits, and features that streamline the borrowing process, such as online application forms, mobile apps, and processing times.
We awarded lenders partial points where appropriate based on how well they met each criterion. Companies that partner with multiple lenders or offer a lending marketplace are not included in these rankings because they do not provide direct loans to consumers.
Check out our Loans Rating & Review Methodology for more information on how we come up with our ratings and reviews.
Refinancing a car loan is similar to the original car loan application process. The interest rate isn't the only thing to think about when getting a car loan; other considerations include the lender's fees, the amount you can borrow, the turnaround time, and the minimum credit score required. To refinance, follow these simple procedures:
- Get together your loan paperwork. Collect the vehicle's VIN and current mileage along with the loan documents you currently have.
- Consider multiple loan options. Lenders that provide regular auto loans will often also refinance loans. A good place to start is with the bank or credit union you already work with or the lender who services your current loan.
- Fill out the application for the loan. The application process is typically straightforward. Before you are required to sign anything, the lender will go over the terms of the loan with you.
- Check the fine print before you sign. Avoid signing anything hastily. Don't be afraid to clarify things if you're confused. Before signing anything, make sure you fully grasp all of the terms, including all associated costs.
- Get the loan closed. The lender will pay off your current auto loan and give you the final paperwork once your loan is approved. The new lender now receives all payments. Keep a duplicate for your files.
Although requirements for refinancing an automobile loan vary by lender, most establishments will necessitate the following paperwork and details.
- You'll need to show proof of who you are, like a driver's license or utility bill to verify your address, and a Social Security card or other identifying number to verify your identity. Lenders need assurances that you'll be able to pay back a loan, so they'll inquire about things like your salary, other financial obligations, and place of employment. Paycheck stubs, tax returns, and/or verification of past employment could also be requested.
- Information about the vehicle that will be financed, including the vehicle identification number (VIN), manufacturer, model, year, mileage, and registration number. Proof of current auto insurance coverage may also be required.
- Make sure you know the name of your current auto lender, your loan number, the amount you owe, how much you pay each month, and how much you owe to pay off your loan. Lenders prefer applicants with a two-year track record of on-time payments before they consider their application for a refinancing. However, it is best to confirm this with your lender.
To refinance means to apply for a new auto loan in order to pay off an existing auto loan. What this does is create a brand-new loan agreement for you, complete with a different interest rate and term (the number of months for which you'll be paying back the loan).
After you have paid off your current loan, you will begin making payments toward your new loan. Confirm with your previous lender that they have received payment in full for the prior loan.
You should consider refinancing your auto loan if any of the following apply to you:
- Either your finances or income have improved. You probably weren't able to get a good interest rate when you first got your car loan if your credit was bad. However, your credit rating may have risen if you have a history of paying monthly bills on time. Maybe your credit score went up because you cleared up some errors. If your credit is better, you may be able to refinance at a lower interest rate. A lower monthly payment, a shorter term, or both may result from the new rate.
- The interest rate has dropped. There is constant change in interest rates. It could be beneficial to refinance your loan if interest rates have dropped since you first got the money. You can save money on both your monthly payment and interest with a lower rate.
- Reduce your regular payments immediately. Refinancing for a longer term can reduce your monthly payments, giving you some breathing room in your budget if you've recently lost your job or are experiencing some other financial hardship. Although adding years to your loan's term will increase interest payments, it may help your monthly budget.
- You wish to speed up the process of paying off your car loan. Interest rates are typically lower when one refinances into a shorter term. You could pay off the car sooner and save money by refinancing to a shorter term if you have some spare cash. You'd pay less interest and principal over the life of the loan, and you'd pay off the debt faster.
Although there are times when refinancing a car loan is the best option, there are also times when it is not a good idea:
- Your car loan is almost done. In the beginning of a loan's repayment period, refinancing can save you the most money. Most of your payment will go toward interest in the beginning of the loan, and only a small portion will go toward principal and equity. However, the situation reverses itself as the loan's maturity date approaches, and more of each payment is applied toward principal than interest. Therefore, any potential savings from refinancing to a lower rate are extremely small.
- A prepayment penalty will be assessed. You should read your contract carefully before refinancing your car loan because some lenders have prepayment penalties. The purpose of the prepayment penalties is to discourage you from refinancing before the term is up.
- Your credit score has dropped. If your credit score was excellent when you got your car loan but has since dropped to the fair or poor range, you probably won't save much money by refinancing. Additionally, the lender will pull your credit when you apply for a refinance, which can further lower your score.
- You've put way too many miles on your car. One of the signs of a vehicle's deterioration is high mileage. Your vehicle's resale price and refinancing options may be negatively impacted by an abnormally high mileage. It may be futile to refinance if you find a rate that is lower than your current one.
- It's worth less to you now than what you owe on your car. Refinancing is probably not a good idea if this is the case. You could potentially get the financing, but at a much higher interest rate, which will increase your overall repayment costs.
- You are submitting a mortgage application. When applying for a mortgage and a car loan at the same time, it may affect your credit score. Separate the two loans by a few months to reduce the impact on your credit report. In addition, your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio may change if you apply for a mortgage and a car loan in the same calendar year.
You can still get a car loan even if you have a low credit score, but interest rates and terms will be more expensive. It may be more challenging to find a lender willing to refinance your car with favorable terms if you have poor credit.
Lenders have varying minimum credit score requirements, but some accept borrowers with scores as low as 520. However, a good interest rate is likely only if your credit score is 670 or higher.
Negative equity, also known as being "upside down," occurs when a car loan balance is greater than the vehicle's fair market value. It may be difficult to find a new lender who is willing to refinance that loan.
You have a better chance of getting a loan modification if interest rates have dropped since you took out the loan for your car. This will help you pay off your car loan sooner and build some equity.
Deferrals and penalty fee reductions are two alternatives that some lenders may offer. However, if you're in a jam financially or have an upside-down loan, you should give them a call. Most lenders will attempt to be accommodating.
Fees and charges to finalize the refinancing are additional expenses that can be incurred when getting a car loan refinanced.
- Both your current lender and the new refinancing lender may charge you a transaction fee, which may also be called a processing or application fee. It's always a good idea to inquire about a possible fee waiver from the lending institution.
- Some states impose a fee to transfer title from one lender to another.
- Cost of registering vehicle again after refinancing may be incurred. It's best to double-check with your local DMV.
- Lenders can and will charge late fees if you are late making a payment. Take a look at the due date and the grace period. After that time, it's considered late and could result in additional fees.
- Rarely, but some lenders will hit you with a prepayment penalty or early termination fee if you pay off your loan before it's due.
Loan Rates for Automobiles
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