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By Noel Dávila
Updated: December 1, 2021 12:55 PM ET
Best Marketplace
Runner-Up for Best MarketplaceBest Variety of Refinance OptionsBest for Low Auto Refinance RatesBest for Low Credit
LendingTreeRATEGENIUSAUTOPAYPenFedAuto Credit Express
Our PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur PartnerOur Partner
APR Rates

Starting at 2.99%

Starting at 1.99%

Starting at 1.99%

Starting at 1.79%

Not provided online

Minimum Credit Score

Median score above 650

550

600

610

Recommends 580

Loan Terms

N/A

N/A

24-84 months

36-84 months

N/A

Maximum Loan Amount

N/A

$100k

$100k

$100k

N/A

Best Marketplace
LendingTree
Our Partner
Check Price
APR Rates

Starting at 2.99%

Minimum Credit Score

Median score above 650

Loan Terms

N/A

Maximum Loan Amount

N/A

Runner-Up for Best Marketplace
RATEGENIUS
Our Partner
Check Price
APR Rates

Starting at 1.99%

Minimum Credit Score

550

Loan Terms

N/A

Maximum Loan Amount

$100k

Best Variety of Refinance Options
AUTOPAY
Our Partner
Check Price
APR Rates

Starting at 1.99%

Minimum Credit Score

600

Loan Terms

24-84 months

Maximum Loan Amount

$100k

Best for Low Auto Refinance Rates
PenFed
Our Partner
Check Price
APR Rates

Starting at 1.79%

Minimum Credit Score

610

Loan Terms

36-84 months

Maximum Loan Amount

$100k

Best for Low Credit
Auto Credit Express
Our Partner
Check Price
APR Rates

Not provided online

Minimum Credit Score

Recommends 580

Loan Terms

N/A

Maximum Loan Amount

N/A

The best auto refinance companies offer competitive interest rates and transparent, reliable service. According to RateGenius’ October Auto Refinance Rate Report, the current car refi interest rate is the lowest it’s been all year at 5.34%, with many borrowers saving an average of $100+ a month.

Read on to see our top picks of December 2021 and learn how to get the best loan terms that fit your needs.

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Refinancing Your Auto Loan Could Lower Your Monthly Payments
An auto refinance loan is a secured loan used to pay the existing balance on a current car loan.
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Our Top Picks for Best Auto Refinance Companies

Best Auto Refinance Company Reviews

Pros
  • Offers in-depth reviews of their partner lenders, with comparison tables for competitor offers
  • Quote request form takes less than five minutes
Cons
  • You may not qualify for the advertised rates, as this depends on the lender
  • Offers may have some limits, depending on the lender
Loan Amounts
Varies by lender
APR Rates
Starting at 2.99%
Loan Terms
36 to 72 months
Loan Amounts
Varies by lender
APR Rates
Starting at 2.99%
Loan Terms
36 to 72 months
Loan Amounts
Varies by lender
APR Rates
Starting at 2.99%
Loan Terms
36 to 72 months

LendingTree is a marketplace where you can compare rates for just about any financial product, including auto refinance loans.

We really liked the company’s Auto Refinance Rates comparison tool, which allows you to input your zip code, loan amount, and estimated credit score, and then get examples of potential offers for refis with terms between 36-72 months (with several offers for each term).

LendingTree also features individual reviews for lenders, a refi calculator, and educational resources to help determine whether a refi is the right choice for you.

Finally, it also has its own customer support team, so borrowers can get help regarding any questions they might have about their potential lenders.

Why we chose it: We chose LendingTree as the best marketplace thanks to its variety of tools and resources to help consumers. We particularly liked how easy it was to compare offers quickly without obligation.

Pros
  • Prequalify with a soft credit check
  • 150+ partnered auto refinance companies
  • Allows co-applicants
Cons
  • Requires a hard credit check
  • Approval can take up to 48 hours
Loan Amounts
Varies by lender
APR Rates
Starting at 1.99%
Loan Terms
36 to 72 months
Loan Amounts
Varies by lender
APR Rates
Starting at 1.99%
Loan Terms
36 to 72 months
Loan Amounts
Varies by lender
APR Rates
Starting at 1.99%
Loan Terms
36 to 72 months

rateGenius, another rate comparison site, offers refinancing options that match your existing term length so you don’t pay more over the life of the loan.

If you can get a better rate with one of their lenders, you’ll work directly with rateGenius’ lending specialists to complete your loan application process. The broker attempts to streamline this process, though borrowers with lower credit scores may find that their lender requires more paperwork.

rateGenius also handles back-end work, such as making sure your old loan gets paid off on time and that your new auto loan is set up correctly.

Be mindful that rateGenius is best suited to people who are serious about refinancing rather than looking around for rates, as the broker does require a hard credit pull. If rateGenius considers you ineligible for an offer from their partner lenders, they won’t perform the pull.

Why we chose it: We chose rateGenius as runner-up for best marketplace because of its large network of lenders, handling of back-end work, and acceptance of co-applicants.

Pros
  • Rates as low as 1.99% with no application fee
  • 94% loan approval rate
  • Allows co-applicants
Cons
  • Vehicle restrictions
  • May require a down payment
  • May charge a prepayment penalty
Loan Amounts
$2,500 to $100,000
APR Rates
Rates start at 1.99%
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months
Loan Amounts
$2,500 to $100,000
APR Rates
Rates start at 1.99%
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months
Loan Amounts
$2,500 to $100,000
APR Rates
Rates start at 1.99%
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months

Online marketplace Autopay has a large variety of available offers, thanks to a wide lender network of credit unions, banks, and other financial institutions.

Autopay offers various loan options for refinancing your car, including industry rarities such as cash-out refinance loans and lease buyouts. The company also promises to work with borrowers with credit scores as low as 600 to help find them suitable rates.

Moreover, if you’ve improved your credit score since taking out your original loan, Autopay may offer you lower interest rates, lower monthly payments or shorter loan terms.

Note that accessing the lender comparison requires a soft credit check, which won’t affect your score. Once an offer is chosen, then they’ll perform a hard credit pull, which may change the quoted terms if there were any inaccuracies in the income or vehicle data.

Why we chose it: We chose Autopay as best for the largest variety of refinance options because its large network of lenders allows the company to access a wide array of loan options.

Pros
  • Ability to refinance 100% of your car loan balance
  • Provides rate discounts for using its car buying service
  • Easy online application takes less than five minutes
  • No prepayment penalties
Cons
  • Excellent credit required for best rates
  • Membership required
  • PenFed auto loans aren't eligible
  • No cash-out refinance or lease buyout
Loan Amounts
Up to $100,000
APR Rates
Starting at 1.79%
Loan Terms
36 to 84 months
Loan Amounts
Up to $100,000
APR Rates
Starting at 1.79%
Loan Terms
36 to 84 months
Loan Amounts
Up to $100,000
APR Rates
Starting at 1.79%
Loan Terms
36 to 84 months

Pentagon Federal Credit Union offers some of the lowest rates for auto loan refinance on the market, starting at 1.79% for a new car refinance and 2.39% for a used car refinance.

If you’re the vehicle's original owner and the car is a 2020 model or newer, you could even qualify for a new car refinance loan. Optional add-ons include Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP), an extended warranty and debt protection.

PenFed membership is open to everyone. To become a member you must:

  • Go online and enter your name, phone number and email address
  • Open a savings/share account with a $5 deposit

Why we chose it: We chose PenFed as best for low auto refinance rates because not only are they some of the lowest available, the credit union also offers good perks, such as rate discounts and zero prepayment penalties

Pros
  • No credit minimum
  • Specializes in borrowers with bad credit
  • Offers cash-out refinancing
Cons
  • Partner lenders may have high interest rates for low credit applicants
  • Requirements, rates and loan terms not available online
  • Options limited to the Auto Credit Express dealership network
Loan Amounts
Not provided online
APR Rates
Not provided online
Loan Terms
Not provided online
Loan Amounts
Not provided online
APR Rates
Not provided online
Loan Terms
Not provided online
Loan Amounts
Not provided online
APR Rates
Not provided online
Loan Terms
Not provided online

Auto Credit Express specializes in helping applicants with poor to average credit get better loan rates — including those who owe more than their car is worth.

It does this by connecting you to one of its specialized indirect lenders from what they call “the largest selection of bad credit car dealers across the country” or via its finance department. However, a score of 580 is recommended.

Auto Credit Express also has excellent resources, including in-depth blogs and instructional videos for those looking to learn more about the lending industry.

Why we chose it: We chose Auto Credit Express as best for low credit because it’s one of the few companies that specializes in borrowers with poor credit scores.

Pros
  • 30 days to decide
  • No application fee
  • Minimum credit score requirement of 575
Cons
  • Not available in Alaska or Hawaii
  • Maximum vehicle mileage of 125,000 miles (or 120,000 miles for private party loans)
  • Maximum vehicle age: 10 years
Loan Amounts
Minimum $8,000
APR Rates
APR as low as 1.99%
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months
Loan Amounts
Minimum $8,000
APR Rates
APR as low as 1.99%
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months
Loan Amounts
Minimum $8,000
APR Rates
APR as low as 1.99%
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months

MyAutoLoan.com connects borrowers with fair credit with lenders offering competitive rates and a wide variety of auto financing options.

The company’s main focus is low-interest loans, whether you’re buying from a private party, refinancing your car or purchasing a motorcycle.

Before submitting an online application, MyAutoLoan recommends having a minimum income of at least $1,800 per month and a credit score of 575 or higher.

MyAutoLoan.com’s partners don’t offer loans lower than $8,000, and the service will carry out a hard credit inquiry. With that in mind, don’t apply unless you’re serious about refinancing your loan.

Why we chose it: We chose MyAutoLoan.com as best for fair credit thanks to its competitive rates, range of financing choices, all of which are available to borrowers with a minimum credit score of 575.

Pros
  • No restrictions on car mileage or age
  • Lease buyout available
  • No fees or prepayment penalties
Cons
  • High credit requirement
  • Hard credit pull required to apply
  • No cash-out refinancing
Loan Amounts
$5,000 to $100,000
APR Rates
Starting at 2.49%
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months
Loan Amounts
$5,000 to $100,000
APR Rates
Starting at 2.49%
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months
Loan Amounts
$5,000 to $100,000
APR Rates
Starting at 2.49%
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months

Lightstream is an online lender backed by Truist Bank, previously known as SunTrust Bank. It stands out for its low rates and flexible vehicle requirements on auto loans. The lack of car mileage or age restrictions means customers can refinance new, used and even classic cars.

Furthermore, its Loan Experience Guarantee features a $100 reimbursement if you’re not satisfied after finalizing the loan.

Applicants who meet the high credit requirements (good credit to excellent) can also enjoy same-day funding and fixed, low-interest loans.

Why we chose it: We chose Lighstream as best for great credit because of its low rates, lack of vehicle restrictions, and Loan Experience Guarantee — all of which are only available to applicants with good credit.

Other Auto Refinance Companies We Considered

RefiJet

Pros
  • The annual percentage rate (APR) starts at 2.49%
  • Offers lease buyout and cash-out refinance loans
  • Pre-qualify with soft credit pull
Cons
  • Vehicles must be less than 10 years old
  • Mileage must not exceed 150,000 miles
  • No consumer experience data on the CFPB database

While RefiJet considers a range of credit histories, the company’s requirements considerably limit the type of cars that can be refinanced.

Auto Approve

Pros
  • Low starting rate and no application fee
  • Terms range from 12 to 72 months
  • Offers lease buyout option
  • Pre-qualify with a soft credit check
  • No application fee
Cons
  • No standout features to rank in our top picks
  • Minimum monthly income requirement of $1,500
  • 2.25% APR only applies to vehicles from 2019 or newer
  • Vehicles must be less than 10 years old

Auto Approve didn’t make our top picks because it didn’t have any standout features that differentiated the company from its competition.

Lendingclub

Pros
  • Loan marketplace favorable to lower credit scores
  • Pre-qualify and compare rates from multiple lenders
  • Performs soft credit check for pre-qualification purposes
Cons
  • Vehicles must be less than 10 years old
  • Mileage must not exceed 120,000
  • Wide range of APR rates: 3.99% APR to 24.99%

Lendingclub did not make the cut due to its high APR rates and limiting requirements for refinancing cars.

Bank of America

Pros
  • Rates start at 3.19% APR
  • Loan terms range from 48 to 72 months
  • Offers lease buyouts
  • Car loan calculator to help determine savings
Cons
  • Vehicles must be less than 10 years old
  • Mileage must not exceed 125,000 miles
  • Your car must be valued at $6,000 or more

While Bank of America offers good starting terms, these are only for qualified applicants.

Capital One

Pros
  • Online pre-qualification and loan application
  • Soft credit inquiry
  • No prepayment penalties
Cons
  • Minimum monthly income requirement ranges from $1,500 to $1,800
  • Vehicle must be less than 7 years old
  • Late payments are met with fees

Capital One may require that borrowers pay down the balance of their current car loan if their payoff amount is higher than the company’s limits.

Tresl

Pros
  • 100% digital experience
  • Once you receive an offer, a Tresl financial advisor guides you through the process, according to your needs
Cons
  • Some partner lenders may charge an application fee
  • Requires an application to disclose partner lenders, sample terms and even minimum requirements
  • No 24-month terms

We didn't like Tresl's lack of transparency, as it requires potential borrowers to input their data to give any information on potential offers or requirements.

OpenRoad

Pros
  • Loan terms of up to 72 months
  • Co-applicants allowed
Cons
  • Best rates only for borrowers with good credit- if not, they can go as high as 24.00%APR
  • Maximum vehicle age of 8 years
  • Specific car makes are ineligible, including smart cars, Daewoo, and Isuzu among others

OpenRoad didn't make our cut because of their limiting requirements - we also don't recommend loan terms over 60 months.

Ally Clearlane

Pros
  • Prequalify with a soft credit pull
  • Allows cosigners
  • Provides auto refis through Ally Direct Lending
Cons
  • Vehicles must be less than ten years old
  • Not available in Nevada, Vermont, or Washington D.C.
  • Minimum monthly income of $2,000
  • Must fill out an online application to get info on terms

We didn't include Ally Clearlane in our top list due to its lack of transparency, which requires potential borrowers to go through a pre-qualification to get any information.

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Auto Refinancing Guide

Refinancing can give access to better interest rates when your credit history has improved since taking out your current auto loan. However, it’s not a decision to be made lightly, as it may mean additional fees and a hit to your credit score. Read on to learn more.

How does refinancing a car work?

There are two main ways to refinance your car: traditional and cash-out refinance.

Traditional auto refinance

Refinancing a car generally means taking out a new loan to pay off the balance on your existing auto loan, ideally for a lower rate. Since your original loan is replaced by a new financial obligation, you gain a new APR and new term length. As an added bonus, your car insurance premiums are likely to go down as well. If you’re looking to change insurers, you can also check out our list of the best car insurance companies of December 2021.

Cash-out auto refinance

A few auto refinance companies also offer cash-out auto refinances, in which your new loan covers your existing balance and provides an additional amount of money. While this may have lower interest rates than other options, such as personal loans or credit cards, your monthly payments will go up. This type of loan also has a higher risk of going upside-down.

Before beginning the process, make sure it’s the right solution for you and whether you meet the qualification requirements. Carefully consider the following:

- Does your existing loan have a prepayment penalty? If so, crunch the numbers to see whether an auto refi makes sense.

- Is your loan balance higher than the car’s market value? First, check your car’s value on Kelley Blue Book. If you’re underwater, or owe more than the car is worth, it’ll be very difficult to refinance.

- How old is your car and how much mileage does it have? Auto refinance lenders have restrictions you’ll have to meet. Many won’t offer loans for cars older than 10 years or that have over 120,000 miles.

- Are your loan payments up to date? If you’re behind on payments, many lenders won’t consider you a viable candidate.

- Do you meet the lender’s minimum balance requirements? Each lender has a maximum and a minimum loan amount they’ll refinance. If your loan’s current balance is too low or too high, you may not qualify. Many loan providers also have minimum loan amounts (and maximums) to consider.

- Is your car “branded”? Auto refinance companies won’t refinance cars that are branded, such as rebuilt, salvaged or commercial vehicles.

Pros
  • Refinancing with a longer term decreases your monthly car payments
  • Can save you money in the long run if you refinance to a shorter term
  • May obtain lower interest rates
  • No down payment necessary
Cons
  • Extending the loan repayment term will increase the total interest you'll be paying
  • Shortening the loan term increases your monthly payments
  • Prepayment penalties and refinancing fees can offset any interest rate savings
  • Lenders may charge an origination fee on the new loan
  • Older cars or cars with high mileage may not be eligible
  • A "cash-out" refinance will result in higher payments over the next several years

When can you refinance a car loan?

Deciding when you should refinance your loan depends on a number of factors. While a refinance is technically possible even on a new loan, there are some conditions under which it makes the most sense.

  • Your current deal isn’t great: It’s currently the worst time to buy a car, thanks to global shipping issues and high demand, and if you didn’t do some careful comparison shopping between dealers when you bought your car, your loan may not have the best terms or rates. For instance, if your current APR is around 20-25%, you might be able to get a better offer by shopping around. This is particularly true if your loan is two years older or more, as many loans with high APRs charge most of the interest amount during that time period.
  • Your credit score has gone up: An improved credit score will likely give you access to much better terms and lower interest rates.
  • Your current loan payments are too high: Whether you’ve lost your job or your budget changed, a refinance can lower your monthly payment by extending the loan’s term length. This does mean you’ll pay more in interest over the long run, but sometimes that may be the least bad choice.

How to refinance a car loan

Once you’ve weighed your options and decided a refi is the way to go, follow these simple steps.

7 steps to apply for an auto refinance

  1. Check the health of your credit score - If you have good credit, you'll likely get a better deal. This may be a good time to find and dispute any incorrect information in your credit report.
  2. Gather all the information about your current loan - Having all your information at hand will help speed the application process.
  3. Research new lenders and compare rates - While it may take some time, thoroughly researching your new lenders and loan offers to find the best auto loan can not only help you compare rates, but also identify any potential red flags. You can also see whether your current lender offers a competitive refinance option.
  4. File for prequalification - Getting a pre-approval, when available, presents you as a good candidate for a refinance.
  5. Submit an application - Once you've gathered all your documents and have chosen a lender, it's time to apply.
  6. Evaluate the terms - Carefully read the loan's fine print and terms. Check whether you can keep your current insurance policy under the new lender’s requirements.
  7. Finalize the loan - Remember to make sure to keep making your payments until the refinance is finalized.

Documents Needed To Refinance Your Auto Loan

To refinance any kind of loan, some documentation is required. These pertain to personally identifiable information, income, residence and your car’s specifications, among others.

Here’s a detailed list:

☑ Social security number
☑ Employment information
☑ Residence information
☑ Driver’s license
☑ Car registration and mileage information
☑ Proof of insurance

Auto refinance and your credit score

Refinance lenders typically conduct a soft pull on your credit for pre-qualification, and then a hard inquiry or hard pull on your credit when you actually apply. The former will have no effect on your score, but the latter will drag you down by a few points.

To minimize the drop, make sure to loan shop within a 14-45 day window, as credit bureaus and the VantageScore and FICO Score systems will count these as one single pull.

Unauthorized hard inquiries aren’t unheard of, so make sure the lender is trustworthy. If you find unauthorized inquiries on your report, here are steps you can take to remove negative items from your credit report.

Your credit score will also drop slightly after finalizing the loan because a refinance counts as new debt. Since this new account is effectively replacing an older debt, the credit drop should be negligible.

In any case, remember to keep making your payments on your current loan until the refinance has gone through. Otherwise, your credit could be affected.

How to refinance a car loan with bad credit

Even if your credit score has gone up, if it’s still under 640, getting the best rates on an auto refinance is unlikely. There may be, however, some cases in which refinancing may be beneficial:

If auto loan rates have gone down - While new-car rates are different from refinance rates, you may have some wiggle room.
If your goal is a lower monthly payment - If your main refi driver is decreasing your monthly payment, this may mean extending your loan term. The downside is that this will extend the life of your debt, and you’ll therefore pay more in interest as well.

If you’re determined to refinance your car loan despite a spotty credit history, follow the steps outlined above. It may make sense to check out competing offers on a marketplace website such as LendingTree or rateGenius. You may also be able to get a better deal with a lender that allows you to add a co-signer to your loan.

Finally, if you can’t find a good deal, taking steps to fix your credit may end up your best move in the long run. An improved credit score will affect every area of your finances, not just your auto loan refinancing. While most credit repair strategies are possible to do yourself, if the time commitment is too high, you may want to check out our list of the best credit repair companies.

How to refinance a car lease

Refinancing a car lease can reduce the high rates on a leasing agreement. Before deciding, however, consider the pros and the cons:

Pros
  • Reduce high interest rates
  • Lower monthly payment
Cons
  • Lose out on the money that you already paid into the lease
  • Pay more in prepayment penalties

If refinancing isn’t the best option for you, speak with your lender about a lease replacement — swapping out your current lease for one with more favorable terms and rates.

Options for breaking your car lease include:

  • Transferring the lease
  • Selling your car back to the dealership
  • Selling the vehicle to another person

Each of these has associated costs, so evaluate each alternative thoroughly before deciding how to proceed.

Auto Refinance Companies FAQ
How to refinance a car
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To refinance an auto loan, gather all the necessary documents. Then, evaluate your credit profile, your car's information to determine if refinancing is beneficial and if you qualify. Lenders will post their requirements online and some even allow you to file for pre-qualification.

Before starting the application process, shop around and compare offers from different lenders. When you settle on the best one, submit a formal application and wait for the lender's formal offer. If accepted, you can finalize the document, settle the previous loan, and start your loan payments with the new lender.

When can I refinance my car?
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You should refinance an auto loan if it helps you save money, when you have a good credit score or when your score has improved. Refinancing your car loan with better credit can get you better loan interest rates, and help you negotiate for a reduced loan term length.

You shouldn't consider refinancing your car loan if you're financially stressed or if your loan value goes underwater, meaning that the loan's value is higher than what your car is worth. This type of loan will impact your loan to value ratio, and significantly reduce the chances of receiving favorable loan terms for a refinance.

Can I get a loan with bad credit?
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You can get a car loan with bad credit, but it will be more challenging. Lenders use credit scores to evaluate a borrower's risk, so the best car refinance rates tend to go to those with good-to-excellent credit. People with low credit will have higher rates than those with a good or excellent credit score. Some lenders do specialize in loans for customers with fair to poor credit, like MyAutoLoan.com and Auto Credit Express.
How many times can you refinance a car?
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Legally, you can refinance a car as many times as you want if you find a lender willing to extend you a new loan. Auto lenders may be apprehensive about refinancing if they see multiple past refinances on your vehicle and even if you get approved, there are other financial risks to consider. Repeated refinances and loan term extensions increase the risk of going "upside-down" on your loan. You may also end up paying more than the original loan amount, just in interest rates.
How to transfer a car loan to another person
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You can transfer your car loan to someone else if the new lender allows it. Loan transfers may come with a transferring and/or merchant fee and lenders always check that the transferee has good credit and income, to prevent loan defaults. The transfer won't be approved if the person's creditworthiness and income aren't up to par.
What is auto refinance?
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To refinance an auto loan, gather all the necessary documents. Then, evaluate your credit profile, your car's information to determine if refinancing is beneficial and if you qualify. Lenders will post their requirements online and some even allow you to file for pre-qualification.

Before starting the application process, shop around and compare offers from different lenders. When you settle on the best one, submit a formal application and wait for the lender's formal offer. If accepted, you can finalize the document, settle the previous loan, and start your loan payments with the new lender.

How We Chose the Best Auto Refinance Companies

When looking for the different auto refinance companies in the industry, we considered several criteria. First, we looked at each company’s financial stability to make sure they’d be able to meet their obligations. Then we looked at their privacy policies, valuing transparency and protection.

Loan options

We looked for companies that offered competitive interest rates, zero to no upfront fees, and flexible or reasonable vehicle restrictions.

Customer experience

We looked at each company’s complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). We also checked whether each company was transparent regarding its partners, underwriters and fees.

Summary of Money’s Best Auto Refinance Companies of December 2021