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Updated: May 26, 2021 3:28 PM ET
Best Marketplace
LendingTree

Our Partner

Check Price
Loan Amounts

N/A

Loan Terms

N/A

Minimum Credit Score

Median score above 650

Runner-Up for Best Marketplace
RATEGENIUS

Our Partner

Check Price
Loan Amounts

$12k-$100k

Loan Terms

N/A

Minimum Credit Score

550

Best for Refinance Options
AUTOPAY

Our Partner

Check Price
Loan Amounts

$2.5k-$100k

Loan Terms

24-84 months

Minimum Credit Score

600

Best Auto Refinance Rates
PenFed

Our Partner

Check Price
Loan Amounts

Up to $100k

Loan Terms

36-84 months

Minimum Credit Score

610

Best for Low Credit Refinancing
Auto Credit Express

Our Partner

Check Price
Loan Amounts

N/A

Loan Terms

N/A

Minimum Credit Score

Recommends 580

The best auto refinance companies offer comfortable interest rates and work with transparency and reliability. Not only that, they also feature multiple refinancing options, educational resources and supportive customer service.

Read on to see our top picks in 2021 and learn what you can do to get the best loan terms for your needs.

The 6 Best Auto Refinance Companies of 2021

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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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LendingTree: Best Marketplace for Refinancing Auto Loans

Pros Cons
Compare rates with various lenders You may not qualify for advertised rates
Has its own support staff There may be limits on some loans
Quote request form takes less than five minutes
Loan amounts APR rates Loan terms
Varies by lender Starting at 1.99% 36 to 60 months

LendingTree is a marketplace where you can compare rates for just about any financial product, including auto refinance loans. The company’s approach is simple: you submit a short form online, and the website connects you with up to five different lenders that can help you refinance your car loan.

LendingTree also has its own customer support staff now so you don’t have to depend solely on the lender you’re matched with. If you have any queries about your lender or LendingTree’s services, their staff will be there to help you.

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rateGenius: Runner-up for Best Marketplace

Pros Cons
Loan terms between 24-87 months Requires minimum income of $2,000/month
Over 150 partnered auto refinance companies Requires a hard credit check
Will handle the back-end work for you Approval can take up to 48 hours
Loan amounts APR rates Loan terms
Varies by lender Starting at 1.99% 36 to 60 months

rateGenius, another well-established rate comparison site, focuses on keeping refinances within your existing term length so you won’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.

rateGenius will even handle the 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.

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Autopay: Best for Refinance Options

Pros Cons
Rates as low as 1.99% Vehicle restrictions
94% loan approval rate May require a down payment
Allows co-applicants May charge prepayment penalty
Cash-out refinance and lease buyout available
No application fee
Loan amounts APR rates Loan terms
$2,500 to $100,000 Rates start at 1.99% 24 to 84 months

Autopay offers a multitude of options for refinancing your car, including the industry rarities cash-out refinancing and lease buyouts. The company also promises to work with borrowers with low credit and find them suitable rates.

Buyer beware: The company has not provided timely responses to any of the complaints filed against them in the CFPB. Customers allege misleading information, improper use of personal information and even fraudulent practices. Although the complaints are few when compared to other lenders, these allegations should warrant a prompt response.

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PenFed: Best Auto Refinance Rates

Pros Cons
Ability to refinance 100% of your car loan balance Excellent credit required for best rates
Provides rate discounts for using its car buying service Membership is required
Easy online application takes less than five minutes PenFed auto loans are not eligible
Zero application or processing fees No cash-out refinance or lease buyout
No prepayment penalties
Offers credit counseling
Loan amounts APR rates Loan terms
Up to $100,000 Starting at 1.79% 36 to 84 months

PenFed Credit Union offers some of the lowest auto refinance rates on the market for both new and used cars. Repayment terms range from 36 months to 84 months.

Interest rates start at 2.14% for a new car refinance, and 2.99% for a used car refinance. A new car is one where you are the vehicle’s original loan owner, and the car is a model year 2020 or 2019. The maximum loan amount you can get from PenFed is $100,000.

Optional add-ons include Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP), an extended warranty, and debt protection.

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Auto Credit Express: Best for Low Credit Auto Refinancing

Pros Cons
Minimal requirements to qualify Partner lenders may have high interest rates for low credit applicants
Specializes in borrowers with low credit score Requirements, rates and loan terms not available online
Military and service members may get lowest rates, down payments, and discounts Options limited to the Auto Credit Express dealership network
Offers cash-out refinancing
Quick online application takes less than 3 minutes, with a soft credit pull
Loan amounts APR rates Loan terms
Not provided online Not provided online Not provided online

Auto Credit Express specializes in helping people with average to poor credit get a better rate on their loans, especially if you’ve been making on-time payments on your current loan for at least 18 months. They do this by connecting you to one of their specialized indirect lenders or via their finance department.

There’s no credit minimum, but a score of 580 is recommended. Additionally, if you’re looking to know more about the lending industry, Auto Credit Express has excellent learning resources, including in-depth blogs and instructional videos.

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MyAutoLoan.com: Best for Fair Credit

Pros Cons
30 days to decide Not available in Alaska or Hawaii
No application fee Maximum vehicle mileage of 125,000 miles (or 120,000 miles for private party loans)
Minimum credit score requirement of 575 Maximum vehicle age: 10 years
Good credentials can get you an APR as low as 1.99%
Loan amounts APR rates Loan terms
Minimum $8,000 APR as low as 1.99% 24 to 72 months

MyAutoLoan.com connects borrowers with fair credit to lenders with competitive rates and a wide variety of financing options focused on low-interest loans, whether you’re buying from a private party, refinancing your car or purchasing a motorcycle.

You will need an income of at least $1,800 per month and a credit score of 575 or higher to submit an online application.

MyAutoLoan.com’s partners don’t offer loans lower than $8,000, and the service will do a hard inquiry on your credit report, so don’t apply unless you’re serious about refinancing your loan.

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Lightstream: Best for Great Credit

Pros Cons
No restrictions on car mileage or age Best for good or excellent credit only
Lease buyout available Hard credit pull required to apply
No fees or prepayment penalties No cash-out refinancing
Rate match available
#1 for customer satisfaction in JD Power’s 2020 Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study
Loan amounts APR rates Loan terms
$5,000 to $100,000 Starting at 2.49% 24 to 84 months

Lightstream is an online loan provider backed by Truist, previously known as SunTrust Bank. The lender stands out for its customer service, low rates, flexible vehicle requirements on auto loans, and the $100 back they offer if you’re not satisfied after finalizing the loan.

The lack of restrictions on car mileage or age means consumers can refinance new cars, used cars and even classic cars.

Applicants who meet the high credit requirements can enjoy same-day funding and fixed, low interest loans.

Other Auto Refinance Companies We Considered

RefiJet

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

Auto Approve

Pros Cons
APR rates start at 2.24% No standout features to rank in our top picks
Terms range from 12 to 84 months
Offers lease buyout option
Pre-qualify with a soft credit check
No application fee

Lendingclub

Pros Cons
Loan marketplace and rate comparison site Vehicles must be less than 10 years old
Pre-qualify and compare rates from multiple lenders Mileage must not exceed 120,000
Subject to FTC enforcement action in 2018 for misleading “no hidden fees” statement, unauthorized double payments, and an unclear privacy policy, among others.

Bank of America

Pros Cons
Rates start at 3.39% APR if you qualify Vehicles must be less than 10 years old
Loan terms range from 48 to 72 months Mileage must not exceed 125,000 miles
Offers lease buyouts Large lender with a high number of complaints filed with the CFPB
Car loan calculator to help determine savings

Capital One

Pros Cons
Online pre-qualification and loan application Minimum monthly income requirement ranges from $1,500 to $1,800
Loan is finalized online Vehicle must be less than 7 years old
Auto loans serviced by Capital One are not eligible
Large lender with a high number of complaints filed with the CFPB

Auto Refinancing Guide

Pros and Cons of Auto Refinancing

Refinancing saves you the most when your credit has improved after taking out your current auto loan. However, it’s not a decision to be made lightly.

Pros Cons
Refinancing with a longer term decreases your monthly car payments Extending the loan term will increase the total interest you’ll be paying
Short-term refinancing saves you money in the long run Shortening the loan term increases your monthly payments
Lower interest rates Prepayment penalties and refinancing fees can offset any interest rate savings
A down-payment isn’t necessary Lenders may charge an origination fee on the new loan
Older cars or cars with high mileage may not be eligible

How Refinancing Affects Your Credit

When you submit a formal application, lenders will do a “hard inquiry” or “hard pull” on your credit to check your creditworthiness. This decreases your credit score, although minimally and temporarily.

Fortunately, credit bureaus and the VantageScore and FICO Score systems encourage loan shopping by preventing continuous inquiries from harming your score. Multiple credit pulls will only count as one if they’re done within a 14-45 day window.

Some lenders allow you to apply for pre-qualification, and look at your credit with a “soft inquiry.” This won’t impact your credit score.

Unauthorized hard inquiries are not unheard of, even from lenders that advertise “no hard inquiries,” so make sure the lender is trustworthy. If you find unauthorized inquiries on your report, here are steps you can take to remove them on your own.

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

How to Find a Good Auto Refinance Company

A suitable lender will help you understand all your options, including those that best fit your long-term financial goals. Take the time to research a lender, whether you found the company on your own or through a marketplace. Start with the following steps:

Look at financial stability

Credit rating agencies like Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch Group help you assess your lender’s financial health. Healthier financial institutions tend to offer the best auto loan rates, especially if you’re a highly qualified borrower.

 

Check customer complaints and regulatory actions

Consumers often file complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The CFPB’s complaint database is public and you can read all the past complaints filed against the company. Try and be thorough, since there’s a big difference between “this company had rude customer service” and “this company was sued for $20 million in a class-action suit.”

The FTC does not publish individual complaints, but you can search case documents to see if a lender has been subject to FTC regulatory actions and the reasons behind it.

Expect transparency

Legitimate companies will be transparent about their operations, partners, and underwriters. If this information is incomplete or missing, always move on to another company.

 

Be wary of upfront fees

Look out for companies that require you to pay upfront for their services. These platforms are trying to make money off of you instead of making sure you’re connected with a quality lender.

 

Look into privacy policies

Find out how the lender or marketplace protects your privacy before submitting personal information. Legitimate sites will publish their privacy policies online.

 

 

Keep your eyes open

If something feels off with a company, or if the terms of the loan seem too good to be true, chances are they are. Avoid these companies at all costs.

Common Pre-qualification Requirements

To refinance an auto loan, you need to meet your new lender’s requirements. Make sure you learn what these are before submitting a formal application.

Current loan payments must be up to date

You must be up to date with your current car loan payments or it will be impossible to qualify for a new loan.

Current loan cannot be upside down

Being upside-down on a car loan means you owe more than the car is worth. If this is the case, you won’t be able to refinance your loan. You need to have equity in your vehicle to qualify for auto loan refinancing.

Lender specific car-age and mileage requirements

Each lender will have requirements for your car’s age and mileage. If it’s too old or has too many miles on it, you won’t qualify for refinancing.

Lender-specific minimum balance requirement

Each lender has a minimum and maximum amount they’ll refinance. If your loan’s current balance is too low or too high, you won’t qualify.

Car should not be “branded”

Lenders won’t refinance cars that are “branded,” such as rebuilt or salvaged vehicles or commercial vehicles.

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Cash-Out Refinance

If there is enough equity in your current loan, you can refinance for more than you’d need to pay off the existing loan, and keep the extra cash. This is called a “cash-out” refinance.

Pros Cons
Lower interest rates than other quick cash options, like personal loans or credit cards Higher risk of going “upside down”
Immediate access to cash to settle other debts Higher monthly payments
Fewer lender options, since not all auto lenders offer cash-out refinancing

An “upside down” auto loan means you owe more than the car is worth. This becomes a problem if you ever need to sell the car. The sale price probably wouldn’t generate enough to pay off your negative equity and you’d have to come up with the rest of the money somehow.

Refinancing a Car Lease

Refinancing a car lease can be used to reduce the high rates on a leasing agreement. However, before deciding, consider the pros and the cons:

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

Speak with your lender about a lease replacement if refinancing isn’t the best option for you. This just means swapping out your current lease for one with more favorable terms and interest rates.

Options for breaking your car lease include transferring the lease, selling your car back to the dealership, or selling the vehicle to another person. Each of these has associated costs, so evaluate each alternative thoroughly before deciding to refinance or break a lease.

Tips to Remember about Refinancing Auto Loans

  • Check refinance options with your current lender, especially if you have a long credit history with the company
  • Check that there are no prepayment penalties with your current lender
  • Check if the new lender does soft or hard credit checks before submitting any personal information to online lenders
  • Keep paying your old vehicle loan until you get confirmation from your previous lender that the loan has been refinanced
  • Make sure the benefits of a “cash-out “refinance justify higher payments for the next several years and determine the use of your cash. If the money eliminates a high-interest debt, it may be worth it, but if it leaves you further in debt, reconsider.
  • Your new lender will require proof of insurance. You can stay with your current insurance policy if it fits the new lender’s requirements, but if you want to change, look for the best auto insurance companies and the most affordable providers.

Steps to Apply for Auto Refinance

If you have good credit, you’ll likely get a better deal.

Having all your information at hand will help speed the application process.

While it may take some time, thoroughly researching your new lenders can not only help you compare rates, but also id any red flags.

Getting prequalified, when available, presents you as a good candidate for refinance.

Once you’ve gathered all your documents and have chosen a lender, it’s time to apply.

Carefully read the loan’s fine print and terms.

Documents you will need:

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

COVID-19 and the Auto Loan Industry

Unemployment rates have remained stagnant at 6.1%, meaning that many people are most likely struggling with loan payments, including car loans.

Auto loans were omitted from the CARES act because these loans aren’t secured — or guaranteed — by the federal government. However, this doesn’t mean that help isn’t available, as many lenders are offering relief for customers in some form or another.

On the upside, car loan interest rates have dropped nationwide, so it may be a good time to refinance your car loan if you can afford it and have good credit.

Lenders were more cautious approving car loans and refinancing because economic prospects were still unstable at the start of the pandemic, but now, lenders are easing up requirements in certain areas, including auto loans.

Auto Refinance Companies FAQ

How to refinance a car?

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 should I refinance my car?

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 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?

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, and set your rates accordingly. People with low credit will have higher rates than those with a good or excellent credit score.

Some lenders do specialize on loans for customers with fair to poor credit, like MyAutoLoan.com and Auto Credit Express.

What is auto refinance?

Auto refinancing replaces existing debt with a new loan, better terms and better interest rates. It is common to go with a new lender, but you can refinance through your current one, as long as they offer the option. Take the time to shop around because there is a chance that the rates provided by them aren’t the cheapest on the market. Auto refinancing will also give you the chance to apply for a cash-out refinance and earn extra money, or to buy out the lease on your car.

How many times can you refinance a car?

Legally, you can refinance a car as many times as you want if you find a lender willing to extend you a new loan. 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.

Can I transfer my car loan to another person?

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.

How We Chose the Best Auto Refinance Companies

With more than 100 hours of research and after vetting 15 companies, we based our evaluations on two categories: loan details and customer experience.

Loan details

Loan types

Auto refinance companies and marketplace should offer more than just your typical car loan refinance options, such as used auto loans, lease buyouts, and cash refinancing

Qualification requirements

Credit scores are highly important for auto refinancing, so we made sure that our list offers options for people with high or low credit scores.

Customer Experience

Reputability

We required companies to be transparent regarding partners, loan offers, contracts, and possible rates– otherwise, they were discarded immediately. To check for complaints, we searched the databases of the CFPB and the FTC. Those with the least complaints made our list.

Accessibility

We made sure that companies had multiple lines of communication, including live chat, phone calls, emails, and fillable request forms.

Summary of Money’s Best Auto Refinance Companies