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Published: Mar 01, 2024 37 min read

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  • Minimum credit score of 580
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*Rates and APYs are subject to change. All information provided here is accurate as of March 1, 2024.

The best auto refinance companies offer transparent, reliable service to consumers looking for competitive rates from a variety of lenders, including banks, credit unions and non-depository financial lenders.

Your potential savings depend on several factors, such as your credit score, annual income and the outstanding loan amount. The importance of each factor will depend on the specific auto refinance company.

Read on to see our top picks for the top auto refinance lenders of 2024 and learn how to get the best auto loan terms that fit your needs.

Money’s Main Takeaways

  • LendingTree has the lowest starting auto refinance rate this month at 4.50% APR
  • PenFed is our pick for best direct lender for its competitive APR and lack of extra fees
  • iLending offers excellent customer service by including vehicle title changes and previous loan payoffs in its document fee
  • OpenRoad Lending is the best auto refinance company for borrowers with low credit scores

Why Trust Us?

Our editorial team evaluates the auto loan refinancing industry independently, ensuring we provide readers with accurate and helpful information. Our list of best auto refinance companies is built on more than 300 cumulative research hours, including interviews with company representatives. Read the full methodology to learn more.

  • 30+ auto refinance lenders evaluated
  • 15+ company representatives interviewed
  • Over 30 data points evaluated, including minimum credit score requirement, loan processing fees and customer satisfaction

Our Top Picks for Best Auto Refinance Companies of March 2024

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Best Auto Refinance Company Reviews


Best Marketplace for Fair Credit Scores

Pros
  • Compare up to five auto refinance loan offers
  • Sizeable lender network covers a variety of borrower profiles
  • Minimum credit score, loan terms and other lender details listed
  • Several lenders accept credit scores starting in the low 500s
Cons
  • Document fees may apply
  • Borrowers must complete loan process directly with lender
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
4.50%
Minimum Credit Score
Low 500s
Loan Amounts
Varies by lender
Loan Terms
12 to 84 months

Why we chose it: LendingTree is our pick for best marketplace for its varied lender network, which covers a wide range of credit scores and auto refinance loan needs.

LendingTree offers a network of approximately 40 lenders across the U.S., including banks, credit unions and other financial institutions. When you apply — which requires only a soft credit pull and won’t impact your credit score — you receive up to five matches.

On the website, you can find important lender details, such as starting APRs, loan terms, loan amounts and the minimum credit score required. However, some pertinent information, such as loan closing costs, is not available. Additionally, not all lenders are listed. If you get an offer you like, be sure to check these details before completing the loan application process.

Read our full review of LendingTree Auto Refinance >>>


Pros
  • Marketplace with about 200 lenders
  • Approval decisions in 48 hours or less
  • Co-applicants permitted
  • Positive customer reviews on third-party sites
Cons
  • Origination fees, application fees and other extra charges vary across partner lenders
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
5.99%
Minimum Credit Score
Recommended 660
Loan Amounts
Starting at Starting at $8,000
Loan Terms
24 to 96 months

Why we chose it: RateGenius offers one of the most extensive lender networks in the auto refinance industry for borrowers with credit scores of 660 and higher.

RateGenius auto refinance marketplace stands strong among competitors. Its approximately 200 partner lenders include credit unions, regional banks, national banks and finance companies. The vast majority of these lenders accept credit scores of 660 or higher, according to a RateGenius representative. (FICO designates scores of 670 or higher as good credit.)

You can prequalify for an auto loan refinance on RateGenius with only a soft credit pull. Lease buyouts and cash-out refinance loans are also available through the marketplace’s partner lenders. Additionally, many of these lenders accept co-borrowers, which can improve your chances of approval if the person in question has good to excellent credit.

On its Better Business Bureau (BBB) page, RateGenius has an A+ rating with more than 700 reviews that are almost entirely positive. Many customers were pleased with the service offered and noted the ease of the process from application to loan funding.

Read our full review of RateGenius Auto Refinance>>>


Pros
  • One of the highest average monthly savings claims on our list at $191
  • Prequalify with a soft credit pull
  • Automatic PenFed membership with loan processing
  • Add-ons available, including GAP insurance, vehicle protection and debt protection
Cons
  • Higher starting APR for vehicles with 7,501 miles or more
  • Borrower is responsible for previous lease payoff and vehicle title change
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
5.94%
Minimum Credit Score
640
Loan Amounts
$500 to $150,000
Loan Terms
36 to 84 months

Why we chose it: PenFed Credit Union takes the title of the best direct lender for auto refinance loans because it doesn’t charge document fees or origination fees, and its annual percentage rates are competitive.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is a direct lender with no extra fees added to its auto refinance loans. Many auto refinance marketplaces impose document fees or origination fees, and in return, the company handles the original loan payoff. With PenFed, you’re responsible for this task, as well as changes to the vehicle title. Still, the lack of fees helps cut your total loan repayment.

You can see loan offers on the credit union's website without negatively impacting your credit score. PenFed allows for auto refinance loans of up to $150,000 or 125% of your current loan balance. However, to qualify, the vehicle cannot have more than 125,000 miles.


Pros
  • Options for borrowers with poor credit
  • Co-borrowers permitted
  • Accepts cars up to 13 years old and 155,000 miles
  • Add-ons include GAP insurance, vehicle service contracts and dent repair
Cons
  • Does not sell add-ons, e.g., GAP insurance
  • $299 processing fee applies to all loans
  • No lease buyouts
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
Starting at 5.99%
Minimum Credit Score
500
Loan Amounts
Starting at $7,500 to $100,000
Loan Terms
36 to 84 months

Why we chose it: OpenRoad Lending connects customers to banks and other financial institutions that accept auto refinance borrowers with credit scores as low as 500.

OpenRoad Lending is one of few auto refinance companies that offers options for consumers with less-than-stellar credit. This includes subprime borrowers, which account for nearly one-third of U.S. consumers, according to a recent study from the credit bureau Experian.
In fact, OpenRoad Lending works with borrowers with credit scores as low as 500.

Additionally, customer service agents are available to anyone in need of guidance throughout the auto refinance process, a company representative tells Money. Co-borrowers are also permitted, which could improve the chances of approval.

Vehicles can be up to 13 years old, which is more flexible than the 10-year industry average. In terms of mileage, OpenRoad is also more generous, accepting vehicles with up to 155,0000.


Pros
  • Accepts borrowers with recent bankruptcies
  • Bad credit borrowers are encouraged to apply
  • Provides educational information for borrowers
  • Lower starting loan amount than other companies on our list
Cons
  • Interest rates and terms are less favorable for poor credit scores
  • Maximum loan amount is lower than other companies on our list
  • No add-on products (e.g., GAP, vehicle service contract)
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
Undisclosed
Minimum Credit Score
525
Loan Amounts
$5,000 to $50,000
Loan Terms
Varies by lender

Why we chose it: Auto Credit Express works with borrowers with credit scores as low as 525 and borrowers with bankruptcies on their credit histories.

Lenders available through Auto Credit Express factor in a borrower’s current financial responsibility when considering loan approvals, which is helpful for individuals still working to improve their credit scores. Additionally, even if you have a bankruptcy or repossession on your credit report, Auto Credit Express may still be able to help you secure an auto refinance loan.

Consistent on-time payments to your original loan for at least six months, for example, show lenders financial discipline. This can help your chances of approval if you have a low credit score.

Auto Credit Express is rated excellent on one third-party review site. The company also has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website.

Read our full review of Auto Credit Express Auto Refinance>>>


Pros
  • Accepts fair credit borrowers
  • Available add-ons include GAP, depreciation protection, vehicle service contract
  • Offers lease buyouts and cash-out refinance loans
  • No documentation fee for loan processing
Cons
  • Not available in Alaska, Rhode Island, Nevada, or Washington, D.C.
  • Personal info (e.g., SSN) required for a quote
  • No online application, must speak to a representative
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
5.99%
Minimum Credit Score
580
Loan Amounts
$10,000 to $150,000
Loan Terms
25 to 84 months

Why we chose it: Gravity Lending partners with lenders that accept fair credit borrowers. Additionally, the company doesn’t charge a documentation fee to process your auto refinance loan.

Gravity Lending operates a marketplace of about 70 lenders, which includes credit unions, banks, hedge firms and other financial institutions. Despite not being a direct lender, the company handles loan processing and doesn’t charge any fees for the service.

To qualify, your vehicle can’t be older than 10 years, and mileage cannot exceed 100,000, which is slightly lower than that of other companies we evaluated. Additionally, you need a minimum monthly income of $2,000. Qualified borrowers can also benefit from a payment deferral of up to 90 days.

Positive customer feedback on third-party review websites highlights the personalized assistance provided by loan officers.


Pros
  • Average savings claim of $150 per month is the highest among our top picks
  • Compare four loan offers online within minutes
  • Online application takes only two minutes to complete
  • Starting APR is among the lowest on our list
Cons
  • Not available in Alaska or Hawaii
  • Maximum vehicle mileage of 125,000 miles (or 120,000 miles for private party loans)
  • Some lenders may charge fees or a down payment
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
4.99%
Minimum Credit Score
575
Loan Amounts
$5,000 to $150,000
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months

Why we chose it: myAutoloan

has the highest average monthly savings claim of the companies that made our top picks list.

MyAutoloan advertises an average monthly savings claim of $150, higher than the industry average of $100 to $125. While the company accepts credit scores as low as 575, borrowers with FICO scores of at least 620 receive the most favorable rates, according to myAutoloan representative Staci Bailey. The company also requires a minimum monthly income of $1,800.

To get an idea of your potential APR, try the company’s Auto Loan Interest Rate Calculator, which doesn’t require personal information. You can also prequalify for an auto refinance loan using an online form. MyAutoloan guarantees up to four offers based on the accuracy of the provided information.

MyAutoloan also provides options for lease buyouts and cash-out refinance loans. Depending on your creditworthiness, you may qualify for payment deferral of up to 90 days.

Read our full review of myAutoLoan Auto Refinance>>>


Pros
  • iLending handles title change and paying the previous loan
  • Qualified borrowers can skip up to 90 days of payments
  • High customer satisfaction on third-party review sites
  • Strong average monthly savings claim of $133
  • Spanish-language auto refi process available
Cons
  • Not a fully digital experience, must work with loan consultants
  • Approval time could take up to six days
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
6.59%
Minimum Credit Score
560
Loan Amounts
$7,500 to $150,000
Loan Terms
24 to 84 months

Why we chose it: iLending is one of the few auto refinance companies that handles the necessary vehicle title changes and pays off your previous auto loan. Additionally, iLending offers a fully Spanish-language auto refinance loan process for those who prefer Spanish.

Many companies charge a document fee or origination fee for auto refinance loans. However, iLending stands out for including multiple services in that fee, like changing the title on your vehicle and paying off your previous loan. If your refinance loan is with a credit union and a membership fee is required, that’s covered as well.

The starting APR at iLending is competitive and only a soft credit pull is required to receive potential loan offers. Once you submit your information, a loan consultant will call you to discuss your needs. Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to skip up to 90 days of loan payments.


Pros
  • No restrictions on car mileage, year, make, or model
  • No origination fee for loan processing
  • Co-borrowers permitted
  • Longer terms (up to seven years)
  • No prepayment penalty
Cons
  • Excellent credit required
  • Hard credit check required to apply
  • No cash-out refinance options
  • Must have a Visa or MasterCard credit card for identity verification purposes
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
7.74% with AutoPay discount
Minimum Credit Score
660
Loan Amounts
$5,000 to $100,000
Loan Terms
36 months to 84 months

Why we chose it: LightStream is one of the few lenders with no vehicle restrictions on auto refinance loans. There are no limitations in terms of vehicle age, make, model or mileage, so customers can refinance new, used and even classic cars. LightStream also works with other vehicles, like motorcycles and ATVs.

LightStream is one of the few lenders with no vehicle restrictions on its auto refinance loans. There are no limitations in terms of vehicle age, make, model or mileage, so customers can refinance new, used and even classic cars. LightStream also works with other vehicles, like motorcycles and ATVs.

This flexibility is possible because LightStream offers unsecured loans. This means you’ll keep your vehicle title, unlike when purchasing a secure loan. LightStream representatives explained to Money that the company is underwriting the borrower, not the vehicle.

Lightstream’s annual percentage rates are higher compared to other companies we evaluated, and the lowest rates are available only to borrowers with excellent credit. Still, the lender’s lack of limitations on vehicle requirements is unparalleled. For those with older, high-mileage vehicles who have a high-rate auto loan, a refinance with LightStream could still mean significant savings. Use LightStream’s online rate calculator to get an idea of potential rates for your specific situation.

A bonus in working with LightStream is the lender’s commitment to social responsibility. Through its partnership with American Forest, LightStream plants a tree for every loan funded.

Read our full review of LightStream Auto Refinance>>>


Pros
  • New-to-credit program available
  • No make, model, or year restrictions on vehicles
  • Easy membership process: Open a savings account with a minimum of $5
Cons
  • Direct deposit required for APR discount
  • Electronic payments required for APR discount
HIGHLIGHTS
Starting APR
6.74%
Minimum Credit Score
New-to-credit program available
Loan Amounts
No minimum, max $500,000
Loan Terms
12 to 84 months

Why we chose it: DCU is our pick for best auto refinance for newcomers to credit building because it works with borrowers who don’t have strong credit histories.

A fully digital auto loan refinance experience can be a plus, but for some borrowers, some guidance goes a long way. Digital Federal Credit Union, or DCU, offers personalized help for auto loan refinance shoppers with little or no credit history. This can include a phone call from a representative who might suggest adding a co-borrower.

Note that the starting APR at DCU reflects enrollment in electronic payments as well as recurring direct deposits to a DCU account. An extra discount of 0.25% is available to vehicles considered energy efficient, like electric vehicles or cars with a 35 mpg average. Additionally, a 60-day deferment on the first payment is standard for any DCU auto loan refinance.

DCU also works with motorcycles, boats, RVs and ATVs, plus salvaged vehicles, though these do require an appraisal and further investigation. The credit union’s mileage maximum is 200,000, which is a bit higher than other companies — another factor we appreciate about refinancing an auto loan with DCU.

Read our full review of Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) Auto Refinance>>>

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Other Auto Refinance Companies We Considered


Caribou

Pros
  • Starting APR 5.99%
  • Compare rates without a hard credit check or Social Security number
  • Multitude of add-ons available (e.g. GAP, Extended Vehicle Protection)
Cons
  • The $399 processing fee charged to lenders may be passed to the borrower
  • Not available in Mississippi, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, Wisconsin or West Virginia
  • No lenders offering auto lease buyouts

Caribou is a digital platform that connects borrowers with a vast network of partner lenders — primarily credit unions and community banks — offering some of the best auto refinance loans. However, Caribou charges a document fee for its service, and there’s no guarantee the lender you ultimately work with won’t charge additional fees on top of that.

Why Caribou didn’t make the cut: Caribou’s document fee of $399 is higher compared to other companies we evaluated, and the company doesn’t offer any services (title change, previous loan payoff) with that fee.

Read our full review of Caribou Auto Refinance>>>


Consumers Credit Union (CCU)

Pros
  • Detailed auto refinance calculator to check your potential savings
  • CCU membership unlocks savings on other financial products, such as home loans and business loans
Cons
  • Starting APR of 6.54% is slightly higher than other companies we evaluated
  • No information about applicant requirements, such as minimum credit score
  • No information available about loan closing fees

Consumers Credit Union (CCU) is a direct lender for auto refinance loans. You must be a member of CCU to receive a loan, but the process is relatively easy: Pay $5 to the Consumers Cooperative Association, then open and maintain a CCU savings account ($5 minimum). However, the company hasn’t responded to our requests for an interview, so we can’t confirm important auto refinance details, such as documentation fees or credit score requirements.

Why Consumers Credit Union didn’t make the cut: Consumers Credit Union lacks transparency about its credit score requirements, loan terms and fees, so we can’t adequately compare it to other auto refinance companies.


LendingClub

Pros
  • Loan amount minimum is $4,000 (lower than most companies)
  • No specific income requirement
  • APR starting at 4.99%
Cons
  • No add-ons
  • No lenders for credit scores below low 600
  • APR could be as high as 24.99%

While its average customer has a FICO score close to 700, LendingClub has a network of lenders in its auto refinance marketplace, many of which consider borrowers with credit scores in the low 600s. (These numbers were provided to Money by a LendingClub representative.)

LendingClub charges no origination fee, processing fee or down payments on its auto refinance loans. However, loans may be subject to fees from the loan lenders.

Why LendingClub didn’t make the cut: Its average monthly savings claim of $78 is lower than the companies in our top picks.


RefiJet

Pros
  • Full-spectrum credit lender
  • Average monthly savings claim of $150
  • APR starting at 5.29%
Cons
  • Rates for bad credit borrowers are less favorable
  • Full coverage insurance required
  • Document fee of $498 required

RefiJet almost made our top picks for its slightly higher-than-most maximum mileage (150,000) and low starting annual percentage rate for borrowers with excellent credit. The company offers loan options for borrowers with poor credit, too. Also, depending on creditworthiness, borrowers may be eligible to defer up to three months of payments on their refinanced loan.

Why RefiJet didn’t make the cut: RefiJet’s document fee includes paying off the previous lienholder and changing your vehicle title, but the fee ($495) is slightly higher than other companies that offer the same service.


Upstart

Pros
  • Loans starting at $9,000 with terms from 24 to 84 months
  • Approval based on more factors than just credit score
  • No application fee, no origination fee, no prepayment penalty
Cons
  • Potential borrowers get a single best rate, so there's no opportunity to compare offers
  • No cash-out refinance or lease buyouts
  • No co-borrowers

Creditworthiness at Upstart is determined not only by your FICO score, Auto Refinance General Manager Val Gui tells Money. The company’s proprietary AI also considers 1,000-plus other factors, like your savings, employment and the highest level of education you’ve completed.

Why Upstart didn’t make the cut: Because Upstart doesn’t provide a starting APR without entering personal information, we’ve decided to leave it off our top picks for now.


Auto Approve

Pros
  • APR starting at 5.24%
  • Loan terms from 12 - 120 months
  • Title change handled by Auto Approve
  • Add-ons like GAP and 24/7 roadside assistance available
Cons
  • FICO score required for lowest APR is 730 or higher
  • Document fee at loan processing is $488
  • Terms for low credit applicants are less favorable

Borrowers approved for auto loan refinance through Auto Approve save an average of $148 monthly, company representatives tell Money. You’re not required to provide your Social Security number to receive a quote. Auto Approve’s minimum FICO score allows for low credit applicants; the minimum score required to apply is 580. For monthly income, the company requires a $2,000 minimum.

Why Auto Approve didn’t make the cut: The document fee of $488 is a little higher than what’s charged by other companies.


Bank of America

Pros
  • Lease buyouts for qualifying borrowers
  • Refinance car loan calculator for quotes requires no personally identifying information
  • Bank of America customers may qualify for Preferred Rewards discounts of 0.25% - 0.50%
Cons
  • Starting APR of 7.44% is higher than other companies we evaluated
  • Car must be valued at $6,000 or more
  • May require a down payment for refinancing

Bank of America offers auto refinance loans starting at $7,500, or $8,000 in Minnesota. Loan terms are 42 - 72 months. Its average monthly savings claim is $60, which is significantly lower than other companies we evaluated.

Why Bank of America didn’t make the cut: Its annual percentage rates are higher and its monthly savings claim is lower than many other companies in our top picks.


Capital One

Pros
  • 90% of prequalified applicants are ultimately approved
  • Capital One handles paying off previous lienholder
  • Minimum monthly income requirement is low at $1,500
Cons
  • May require payment to the current loan before approval
  • No lease buyouts or cash-back refinancing options
  • Current loan amount capped at $50,000

Capital One offers potential customers the opportunity to pre-qualify for an auto loan refinance with only a soft credit pull. The online application for an auto refinance loan takes only about five minutes to complete. Capital One also has an app available (called the “Auto Navigator”) for iOS and Android, through which potential customers can shop for cars and financing options.

Why Capital One didn’t make the cut: Auto refinance borrowers may be required to pay down the balance of their current car loan if their payoff amount is higher than the company’s limits. There’s also no information about starting annual percentage rates for auto refinance loans on its website.


Navy Federal Credit Union

Pros
  • Cash bonus of $200 may be available
  • Competitive starting APRs: 4.54% for new vehicles, 5.44% for used vehicles
Cons
  • Membership restricted to members of the armed forces, veterans, their families and household members, Department of Defense personnel
  • Average savings of $62 per month is lower than other companies we evaluated
  • Best annual percentage rates only available to excellent credit borrowers

Navy Federal Credit Union offers auto refinance loans at competitive rates, especially for borrowers with excellent credit. Rates vary by mileage and model year, with lower rates for vehicle model years 2022 and newer with 30,000 miles or less. Vehicles that are more than 20 years old may be eligible for auto refinance loans, but starting APRs are significantly higher.

Why Navy Federal Credit Union didn’t make the cut: Navy Federal’s average savings claim of $62 is lower than many other companies we evaluated.


PNC Bank

Pros
  • Auto refinance loans from $5,000 to $100,000
  • Check potential rates using online calculator
  • Co-borrowers allowed
Cons
  • Starting APR of 6.99% is slightly higher than other companies we reviewed
  • PNC Bank does not handle title transfer
  • Rate estimates via calculator are higher than other companies we evaluated

PNC Bank is a regional bank that lends directly to borrowers. You can pre-qualify for an auto refinance loan with only a soft credit pull for loans from $5,000 to $100,000. Loan terms range from 12 to 84 months. While PNC Bank does not offer title transfer services for its borrowers, the lender does handle paying off the existing loan with the previous lienholder.

Why PNC Bank didn’t make the cut: Compared to other companies in our top picks, starting annual percentage rates for auto loan refinance at PNC Bank are a bit higher than average.

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.

How does refinancing a car work?

Refinancing a car works in two ways: traditional auto refinance and cash-out refinance.

Traditional auto refinance is when you replace your existing auto loan with a new car loan that has a better annual percentage rate or lower monthly payments. You pay off your previous loan using the new auto loan.

With a cash-out refinance, you take out a new loan to cover your original loan, but you also receive an additional amount of money that can be used for any purpose.

Traditional auto refinance

Refinancing a car generally means taking out a new loan to pay off the balance on your existing vehicle 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.

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 a cash-out refinance 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.

Auto refinancing pros and cons

Pros
  • Longer refinancing terms decrease your monthly car payments
  • Shorter refinancing terms can save you money in the long run
  • May obtain lower interest rates
  • No down payment necessary
  • Most manufacturer warranty policies still apply after refinancing
Cons
  • Total interest will go up if you extend loan repayment terms
  • A shorter loan term will increase your monthly payments
  • Prepayment penalties and refinancing fees can offset any interest rate savings
  • Lenders may charge an origination fee on the new loan

Auto refinancing requirements

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

  • Your existing loan’s prepayment protocol - Check your existing auto loan agreement to find out if you’ll be penalized for paying early. (This is called a prepayment penalty.) If so, crunch the numbers to see whether an auto refinance makes sense.
  • Loan balance versus your car’s market value - Your loan balance is higher than the car’s market value. If you’re “underwater,” or owe more than the car is worth, many lenders won’t consider you for an auto refinance loan. (You can check your car’s value on Kelley Blue Book.)
  • Vehicle age and its mileage - Auto refinance lenders have restrictions you’ll have to meet. Many won’t offer loans for cars more than 10 years old or that have over 120,000 miles.
  • The status of your current loan payments - Your loan payments should be up to date. If you’re behind on payments, many lenders won’t consider you a viable candidate.
  • The balance of your current loan - 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.
  • The kind of car you have - Generally, auto refinance companies won’t refinance cars that are “branded,” meaning rebuilt, salvaged or commercial vehicles.

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.

When your current deal isn’t great

Thanks to global shipping issues and high demand, and if you didn’t do some careful comparison shopping between lenders or dealerships when you bought your car, your loan may not have the best repayment 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.

When your credit score has gone up

An improved credit score will likely give you access to much better repayment terms and lower interest rates. If your score was 640 when you received your original vehicle loan, your credit score was considered fair by FICO standards, and you likely committed to a high annual percentage rate. However, once you reach good credit (670) status or better, auto loan refinance companies may offer a better annual percentage rate and more favorable repayment terms.

When your current loan payments are too high

An auto loan refinance provides an opportunity to lower your monthly car payment. This is achieved through extending the life of your loan, which means you’ll pay more interest over the long run. But for those who need more room in their monthly budget, a drop in their car payment could be helpful.

For example, consider an original loan for $45,000 with a term length of 60 months at a 6.3% annual percentage rate. The monthly payment for this loan would be $876. If you refinance at 84 months at the same annual percentage rate, your payment drops to $664 — a savings of more than $200 monthly.

However, this longer loan term means you’ll pay more interest than you would have with the original loan. In the first scenario, the interest total is $14,175. Extending the loan term to seven years as opposed to the original five years means you’ll accrue $19,845 in interest owed — an increase of $5,670.

How to refinance a car loan

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

  • Check your credit score - If you have good credit, you'll likely get a better deal. This may be a good time to ensure there is no incorrect information in your credit report.
  • Gather all the information about your current auto loan - Having all your information at hand will help speed the application process.
  • Research new lenders and compare rates - While it may take some time, thoroughly researching auto loan refinance lenders and loan offers to find the best offer 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 auto loan refinance option, but keep in mind that some lenders will not refinance loans from their own company.
  • File for prequalification - Getting a pre-approval, when available, presents you as a good candidate for a refinance.
  • Submit an application - Once you've gathered all your documents and have chosen a lender, it's time to apply. Many lenders offer an online application.
  • Evaluate the terms - Carefully read the fine print about loan terms. Check whether you can keep your current insurance policy under the new lender’s requirements.
  • Finalize the loan - Remember to keep making your payments on your existing auto loan until the new auto refinance loan 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

Does refinancing a car hurt your credit?

Refinancing a car can have a temporary impact on your credit score. When you apply for prequalification to assess potential offers, lenders typically conduct a soft pull, which won’t hurt your credit score. However, when you formally apply for an auto refinance loan, lenders will perform a hard pull, or a hard inquiry, which may lower your credit score.

To mitigate the potential impact on your credit score, make sure to shop for loans within a 14 to 45-day window. Credit bureaus will count these inquiries as a single pull, minimizing the impact. Additionally, the effect of a credit pull typically drops off in about two years.

Note that making on-time payments on your auto refinance loan can actually improve your credit score in the long run; this shows lenders you’re a responsible borrower.

If you’re still unsure about the difference between a hard or soft credit inquiry, read our explainer here.

How to refinance a car loan with bad credit

You must have a minimum credit score of 640 if you hope to get the best rate on an auto refinance loan. However, just like when you seek to get a car loan with bad credit, there are lenders that specialize in auto loan refinance for bad credit borrowers. Here are some cases in which refinancing may still be helpful, even if you have poor credit:

  • If auto loan rates have gone down - Even with bad credit, you may still be able to find a lower rate or better loan terms if the market has improved since you purchased your original loan.
  • If your goal is a lower monthly payment - If your main driver in refinancing your auto loan is decreasing your monthly payment, this may mean extending your loan term. The downside is that this will extend the life of the loan, 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 an online marketplace of lenders that refinance auto loans, such as LendingTree or RateGenius. You may also be able to get better rates with a lender that allows you to add a co-signer to your loan.

Another option is to consider debt consolidation, which can streamline your loan payoff strategy.

Finally, if you can’t find a good deal, taking steps to fix your credit may end up being your best move in the long run. An improved credit score will affect every area of your finances, not just your auto loan refinance offers. 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.

Auto Refinance Glossary

Loan-to-value - This is how much you’ve borrowed (also called the principal) that remains unpaid versus the car’s current value. Calculate LTV by dividing your unpaid loan balance by the car value, then multiply the result by 100 for a percentage.

Upside-down or Underwater - If your auto loan balance is more than your vehicle is worth, you’ve gone upside-down or underwater on your loan. Typically, auto refinance lenders will not sell refinance loans to customers who are currently upside-down on their existing car loans.

Interest rate - This is the annual cost of borrowing from a lender. It’s expressed as a percentage and added to the principal (total loan amount). Note: The interest rate is not the same as the annual percentage rate.

Annual percentage rate (APR) - This percentage reflects the total cost of borrowing from a lender. It includes the interest rate and any fees, such as origination fees, lender compensation fees (also called prepaid finance charges) and sales tax.

Debt-to-income (DTI) - DTI is how money you have available to spend, and lenders usually look for DTIs of 36% or lower. Calculate DTI by adding up monthly debt payments (e.g. rent, loan payments, insurance premiums, credit cards), then divide that number by your monthly gross income (total amount you earn before taxes), and multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage.

Lease - A car lease contract permits you to drive a vehicle for a set amount of time for a set cost, with stipulations including mileage limitations and maintenance requirements. Most car leases are acquired through dealerships, though some banks and credit unions offer facilitation services. When your lease expires, you may be able to buy the car or sign a new lease for a new vehicle.

Loan Pre-Approval - A loan pre-approval is not an official offer, but it does provide you with an estimated loan rate and terms based on a superficial review of your financial situation. If you move forward with your loan application, you’ll be asked for additional details, which will be analyzed with more scrutiny. Subsequently, your loan offer could look very different from your pre-approval offer.

Loan Approval - A loan approval requires underwriting, or the process of conducting a hard credit check and a review of your financials (e.g. income, employment history). The offer you receive via loan approval is a guaranteed offer — unlike a pre-approval, which is an estimate and not a guaranteed offer. However, you can still decline to accept a loan offer for any reason.

Cash-out refinance - Also called a cash-back loan, an auto loan cash-out refinance is similar to a mortgage cash-out refinance. For example, if your car is worth $15,000 and you still owe $8,000 on your auto loan, a cash-out auto refinance from a lender for 80% of the car’s value would mean you borrow $12,000. You use those funds to pay off the remaining balance of the original loan, and the amount you’re left with — in this case, $4,000 — can be used for any purpose.

Auto Refinance Companies FAQs

How to refinance a car

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To refinance an auto loan, shop around and compare offers from different auto refinance 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 old loan and start your loan payments with the new lender.

When can I refinance my car?

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You can refinance your car loan as soon as two months after closing on the original auto loan. However, if your financial situation hasn't improved or interest rates haven't changed, it's unlikely you'll see any savings. Read our tips for when to refinance a car loan to learn more.

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 FICO scores (670 or higher). People with lower scores will have higher rates than those with a good or excellent credit score. Some lenders specialize in loans for customers with fair to poor credit, such as 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 different 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, which means your loan balance is greater than the market value of your car. 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.

How soon can you refinance an auto loan?

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Some auto refinance companies will work with auto loans as fresh as 30 days from origination. This varies by lender, though, so be sure to check the company's requirements.

How We Chose the Best Auto Refinance Companies

To create our list of the best auto refinance companies, we conducted more than 300 hours of research and vetted companies according to multiple data points. When looking for the different auto refinance companies in the industry, we:

  • Compare annual percentage rates - We search for the most competitive rates in the industry.
  • Research company offerings - Not all auto refinance companies are the same, and so we investigate each company’s offerings independently.
  • Analyze eligibility requirements - We categorize auto refinance companies based on eligibility requirements, making sure we offer options for a range of financial situations.
  • Evaluate the customer experience - We review each company’s complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). We also study third-party review sites for customer feedback.
  • Conduct interviews with company representatives - We regularly speak directly with representatives from multiple auto refinance companies to confirm data and get additional details about fees, the application process and more.
  • Audit financial stability - We consider each company’s financial stability to ensure the company can meet their refinancing obligations.

Although we always try to include accurate and up-to-date information on regulatory and legal actions, we don’t claim this information is complete or fully up to date. Annual percentage rates are subject to change. As always, we recommend you do your own research as well.

Summary of Money’s 10 Best Auto Refinance Companies of March 2024