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RoadLoans Auto Loan Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

RoadLoans Review
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RoadLoans is a subsidiary of Santander Consumer USA that offers financing for new and used cars through dealers, as well as auto loan refinancing direct to applicants. When you’re comparing loan offers, you may want to consider initiating an online application with this company to see its offers.

About RoadLoans

The lender, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has been originating auto loans for consumers since 1997. You can apply on the company’s website, get prequalified, and shop for your next vehicle with financing in hand. Its pre-qualification is good for 30 days if you qualify for a loan. RoadLoans promises “instant” decisions, but it’s worth noting that checking rates with the lender will mean a hard credit inquiry. However, it should not impact your credit to complete multiple auto loan applications any more than it does to apply to one, as long as you do so within a two-week window.

Like most auto lenders, RoadLoans bases its decision about whether to approve your application and how much money it might be willing to lend you on your FICO credit score, your income level and whether you can verify your identity.  RoadLoans does consider applicants with bad credit, previous bankruptcies or no credit history.

If you’re approved, the funds may be available in as little as one business day. Preapproval lets you shop at various car dealerships as if you have cash in hand.

RoadLoans: At a glance

  • Loan amounts between $5,000 and $75,000. Minimum amounts are higher in certain states.
  • Not available in certain states including Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Mississippi and Nevada. There are further restrictions on states where cashback refinancing is available.

RoadLoans offers financing for new and used cars and two types of refinancing: the traditional method and what it calls cashback refinancing, when you refinance your auto loan for more than you owe. RoadLoans lists several advantages to cashback refinancing, like a cash sum up to $5,000 to be used to pay off other debt. However, there are several disadvantages, too — you could wind up “underwater” on your car, owing more than it is worth.

Notably, cashback refinancing is not available in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia or Washington, D.C.

Although RoadLoans says that it offers loans to consumers with credit issues, it does not list a minimum credit score or ranges for rates and terms on its website. “Bad” credit, in this case, may be scores around 600. However, the cost of credit for those with less-than-stellar credit scores may be high: the average APR for Santander loans, including those made through dealers, was 17.2% as of March 31, 2019.

Loan amounts range between $5,000 and $75,000, though minimum amounts are higher in Arizona ($10,001), California ($6,000) and Massachusetts ($6,001). If you decide to apply and RoadLoans approves you, its loan terms are included with the offer.

No matter the condition of your credit or your income level, it’s important to shop around to get the best possible interest rate and terms on your auto loan. Comparing rates from multiple lenders is the only way to know for sure that you aren’t paying unnecessarily high interest rates.

How to apply for financing

Applicants ages 18 years or older may apply online, free. A co-borrower is allowed, which may improve your chances of approval. RoadLoans will ask whether you’d like to purchase from a dealer, refinance your current auto loan or apply for a cashback refinance. The RoadLoans application requires your:

  • Email address
  • Full legal name
  • Phone number
  • Home address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Annual income
  • Any additional income you receive

RoadLoans does not offer refinancing to active-duty service members or their immediate family members.

The fine print

  • RoadLoans doesn’t work with every dealership.
  • Vehicles must meet certain eligibility criteria.
  • RoadLoans does not finance trailers, recreational vehicles, commercial vehicles or motorcycles.

RoadLoans offers fast decisions on an auto loan you could take to the dealership, but not any dealership. The company provides applicants with a list of preferred dealerships where they can choose a vehicle with a price that fits within the loan offer’s parameters. If you don’t see one in your area, you may use your preapproved loan at any franchised dealer, but not at an independent dealer unless it is part of RoadLoans’ network.

Vehicles must also fall within certain parameters. Vehicles to be financed must be nine years old or newer, have less than 120,000 miles, and have clean titles. Vehicles to be refinanced must be seven years or newer with fewer than 105,000 miles. You may only refinance auto loans from companies other than RoadLoans — RoadLoans won’t refinance its own loans.

Pros and cons of financing through RoadLoans

Every auto loan company has pros and cons that affect how appropriate it is for your specific situation. It’s important to research multiple companies and get multiple loan offers so you can compare your options and make sure you can get terms you are comfortable with, including a payment that fits into your budget.

Poor credit

It is possible to get a bad credit auto loan, even with a bankruptcy in your past. Lenders issued 379,100 auto loans to “subprime” car buyers with credit scores below 620 during the first quarter of 2019, according to Equifax. The average loan amount for these subprime accounts was $18,934 during January 2019.

Improved credit

If your credit has improved since taking out your original auto loan, refinancing may help you save money. You may be eligible for a lower interest rate, which will reduce the total amount you pay for your vehicle over the life of your loan so long as the term remains the same. You could also refinance for a longer loan term (hopefully at a lower interest rate) and also save money on your monthly payment, but the longer your term, the more you’ll pay overall in interest.

Here are some specifics about the pros and cons of financing a vehicle through RoadLoans:

Highlights of RoadLoans auto loans

  • No fees — There is no application or early payoff fee.
  • Preapproval — You can get preapproved for a loan before you go car shopping. There is no obligation to “activate” the loan. Pre-approval is good for 30 days.
  • All credit types welcome — RoadLoans may approve all types of credit, including subprime, those with no credit, and those who have been through bankruptcy.
  • Quick approval — “Instant” approval in many cases after filling out a one-page online application.
  • Delay a payment — Depending on how your loan payment due date falls on the calendar, you may be able to delay your first payment up to 60 days.

Lowlights of RoadLoans auto loans

  • Limited information — You must fill out an application in order to see rates and terms, which will involve a hard credit pull.
  • Limited dealerships — If you get approved, your offer will include a list of dealerships in your area that accept RoadLoans’ financing. Although there are 14,000 dealers in its network, you are restricted to shopping at these dealerships or a franchised dealer.
  • Poor reviews — Although the Better Business Bureau gives RoadLoans an A- rating, the lender only received 1 out of 5 stars based on 100 customer reviews.
  • Legal issues — Santander, RoadLoans’ parent company, has been cited for overcharging customers, including auto loan customers who had their vehicles repossessed. In November 2018, Santander settled for nearly $11.8 million in restitution and fees with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after the agency said Santander improperly disclosed terms and conditions of its auto loan add-on product and loan extensions.

The bottom line: Who is a RoadLoans auto loan best for?

RoadLoans describes itself as a subprime lender that will finance consumers with bad credit, no credit, and those who have been through a bankruptcy. It take other factors into consideration like the value of the car, your down payment, whether you have a cosigner with good credit, and your income. This can help borrowers with credit challenges get approved.

Those with credit scores above the mid-600s may get a better deal at their local credit union or with a bank they already work with regularly. If you are shopping for a new car and you have good credit, you may get better terms by taking advantage of dealer incentives, rebates and financing offers.

The rates and fees mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Auto Loan

Westlake Financial Auto Loan Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Westlake Financial Auto Loan Review
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If you are shopping for a new or used car, you may come across Westlake Financial when you discuss your financing options at the dealership. Westlake Financial is what’s known as an indirect lender: It offers auto loans through car dealers instead of directly to consumers. Even though you can’t complete a Westlake application on your own, it’s still a good idea to do your research on the company and what it offers. With more than 30,000 dealers in Westlake’s network, chances are good you may be presented with one of its loans.

Here, we’ll explain how getting an auto loan with Westlake Financial works and what you can expect as you go through the approval process.

About Westlake Financial

Started in 1978 as a “buy here pay here” car dealer in Los Angeles, Westlake Financial has grown to offer car and motorcycle loans in all 50 states. Though it’s known as a company specializing in loans for those with “subprime” or low credit, the company has expanded into loans for those with higher FICO scores, even ones above 750. Westlake also offers car and motorcycle title loans and title loan refinancing, though we won’t be focusing on those in this review.

Even though you’ll need to complete your application at the dealer, you can fill out a form on Westlake Financial’s website to get prequalified. You will be connected with one of Westlake’s dealership partners in your geographical area. You may choose a car from its inventory before stepping foot on the lot. If you end up getting your auto loan financed with Westlake, you may be rewarded with a $300 incentive for starting the loan process online.

Westlake Financial: At a glance

  • Interest rates as low as 2.99%.
  • Terms up to 72 months.
  • Loan amounts up to $50,000, but may be lower in some circumstances.

Westlake Financial offers auto and motorcycle loans for all credit situations, but it does not refinance existing vehicle loans. You may qualify with no credit history or if you have a bankruptcy or repossession on your credit history. The average weighted FICO score of approved Westlake Financial auto loans is 602, according to S&P Global Ratings.

There are no limits on vehicle age or mileage — Westlake may even finance cars that other lenders wouldn’t, including salvage vehicles. In general, the most it will lend is $50,000, which may limit your vehicle choices if you’re considering certain luxury cars; however, there are situations where the maximum amount could be much lower, as low as $25,000.

Down payment requirements and interest rates may also be determined by your credit score. Though Westlake rates start at 2.99%, the rate you may receive could be much higher with an average weighted APR of 19%, according to S&P. Those with the best credit scores aren’t required to put money down, while others will be required to put down between 5% to 10%, according to DealerCenter, which provides software to auto dealers. If you’re thinking of getting a loan with Westlake Financial, make sure you communicate with a representative to find out if there may be any fees charged for your application, and if so, how much they cost.

Shop around. No matter your credit situation, comparing multiple offers from auto loan companies ensures that you get the best possible deal on financing. Dealerships have a vested interest in connecting buyers to their finance partners — they may get kickbacks from the company, or add percentage points to the interest rate to help them make extra money on the deal. The best way to make sure you’re getting the best rate is possible is to apply to more than one lender — it will not hurt your credit to fill out multiple applications any more than it does to fill out one, as long as you do so within a 14-day window.

How to apply for financing

If you want to be proactive about working with Westlake Financial to get a car loan, you can fill out the form on its website to get in touch with one of its partner dealers. You can then choose from the cars for sale on the dealer’s lot. You may also get connected to Westlake Financial through a car dealership’s finance and insurance (F&I) office if this is one of the finance companies they work with. Westlake Financial works with both franchise dealers and independent dealers.

After choosing a vehicle, you’ll fill out the formal application for financing with the help of the F&I department employees at the dealership. Prequalifying for financing on Westlake’s website before you visit a dealership requires only a soft pull of credit information; however, this full application triggers a hard pull. It may require the following information:

  • Full legal name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number or Tax ID
  • Address
  • Length of time at residence
  • Home phone
  • Cell phone
  • Rent or mortgage payment amount
  • Landlord contact information
  • Previous address
  • Current, previous, and secondary employment information
  • Gross monthly salary
  • Occupation or job title
  • Sources and amounts of other income
  • Signature granting permission to use the information in the application to evaluate eligibility for credit and to verify spouse’s information.

Westlake Financial may count many types of income for purposes of qualifying an applicant including income from Uber or Lyft, student grant money, short-term disability payments, state or government assistance for dependents of the applicant, Social Security payments and self-employment income.

The fine print

Westlake Finance offers auto loans for all types of credit, but it’s notable in that it offers loans for those searching for bad credit auto loans. Even so, there are some rules that will eliminate certain applicants from getting their car loan with this company.

  • Financing is not available for buyers with a revoked or suspended driver’s license.
  • Employees of repossession companies or auto finance collectors are not eligible for financing with Westlake.
  • Borrowers with delinquent mortgage payments of less than 60 days must prove their loan payments are up to date before applying for financing with Westlake.
  • Applicants must prove they have comprehensive and collision insurance coverage with a minimum term of six months and a $500 deductible before they can finalize the purchase of the car.
  • Previous bankruptcies are OK, provided the applicant meets all other requirements; open bankruptcies require additional documentation.
  • Applicants are restricted to a total of two open auto loans, including the pending Westlake loan.

It may be possible to borrow more than the car is worth — Westlake Financial finances up to 150% of the car’s loan-to-value, depending on the borrower’s credit score. So, if a car’s value is $10,000, Westlake Financial may lend $14,000 to $15,000.

You might be considering this if you’re “rolling over” negative equity from a previous auto loan, but owing more money on a car than it’s worth (or being “upside down”) on your car loan has some serious downsides. For example, if you had to sell the car quickly or it was wrecked or stolen, you may have to come up with the extra cash.

Pros and cons of financing through Westlake Financial

Westlake Financial has some of the least-restrictive requirements to get a loan, but it may not be your only choice even if your credit is poor. Those with good or better credit may receive better terms elsewhere — you may even qualify for 0% financing or other incentives from the manufacturer.

Highlights of Westlake Financial auto loans

  • No minimum credit score required for loan approval
  • No restrictions on the vehicle mileage or age
  • Approval available for discharged and open bankruptcies
  • No rules about time at residence or job
  • No minimum income requirements
  • Can get preapproved with only a soft pull of credit information

Lowlights of Westlake Financial auto loan

  • Low loan amounts: Depending on the dealership and your unique circumstances, the maximum amount Westlake will finance is $50,000.
  • Bad reviews: It’s worth noting that despite a solid rating, Westlake Financial is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau where the company has received 1 out of 5 stars based on 56 customer reviews.
  • Government action: Westlake Financial Services agreed to settle two separate complaints, one as a result of violating the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and another brought by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, both occurring in 2017.
  • Website isn’t informative: It’s hard to find specific information about interest rates and terms. However, you may get a same-day quote by filling out Westlake’s online form.

The bottom line: Who is Westlake Financial Auto Loan best for?

For those with bad credit who need auto financing but are currently going through bankruptcy, have non-traditional or hard-to-prove income, or have recently changed jobs, Westlake Financial may be one of your few options.

Westlake Financial may also be a good option for those with solid credit. With rates starting as low as 2.99%, Westlake is on par with other lender offers we’ve seen — but that doesn’t mean it’s your only option. With Westlake, you will be directed to its network of dealers. By getting your own preapproved loan from your bank, credit union or online lender, you could take that loan to any dealer. It’s crucial to shop around for the best possible rates and terms, no matter your credit situation.

The rates and fees mentioned in this article are accurate as of the date of publishing.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Auto Loan

How to Refinance a Car Loan in 5 Quick Steps

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Refinancing your auto loan can be an attractive option if it saves you money over the life of the loan or reduces your monthly payments.

Does refinancing your car loan make sense?

There are a few scenarios where refinancing your car loan makes good financial sense:

  • If your credit has improved since you took out your car loan and you could get a better interest rate. As a result, it could decrease your monthly payment.
  • You’d like to shorten your loan term — this way you’ll pay the debt off sooner, forking over less in interest over the life of the loan. Keep in mind, this may have the effect of raising your monthly payment.
  • Or, you need to stretch out your loan term. This has the benefit of a potentially lower monthly payment but you’ll probably pay more in interest overall. In general, it’s best to avoid this scenario, unless your financial situation has changed for the worse and you can’t make the original payments.

You could be better off sticking with your original plan if your loan has an early termination fee or early payoff penalty.

How to refinance your car loan in 5 steps

#1 Check your credit and make necessary improvements

Take a look at your credit scores. Late payments, using more than 30% of your available credit on revolving accounts, and having a lot of credit inquiries in the past two years could hurt your credit score. Making even small improvements to your credit file could help you get a lower interest rate on your new car loan, which may result in lower monthly payments. People with the highest credit scores generally receive the lowest rates. In 2018, the median credit score of auto loan borrowers at the time they took out a loan was 704.

If your credit utilization ratio is high and you can afford to pay down your credit card balances, do so before applying to refinance your car loan. Each time a lender asks for your credit score, it recalculates using the most recent information in your credit report. Since credit card companies report to credit bureaus once every 30 days, it could take a month or more to see an improvement in your score if you decide to pay down your card balances.

#2 Get your documents in order and apply for a loan

It may be possible to get a better deal with your current lender. Check with them first to see if you are eligible for an interest rate modification. This could decrease your payments immediately without the need for a new loan.

If your current lender can’t offer a better interest rate on your current loan, it’s time to shop around for better terms. Your new lender will need some information from you to process your application for a car loan:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN): This helps the lender verify that your car is valuable enough to secure a new loan for the amount you’ll borrow, since your vehicle serves as collateral for the loan. The VIN lets your lender know the car’s year, make, model, color, and engine type.
  • Payoff amount for your current loan: This number may change frequently, so get the most recent figure by calling your current lender.
  • Current odometer reading: Your new lender will use this as a factor in determining the value of your vehicle.
  • Proof of current auto insurance
  • Account number with current lender
  • Contact information for the current lender
  • Your personal information: This may include your contact information, Social Security number, address, employer’s contact information, your income, and your residence status.

The documentation required to qualify and execute the loan depends on the bank, credit union, or online lender you choose. Pay particular attention to their requests to avoid processing delays.

#3 Research your options and understand your current loan

You can compare rates online or visit lenders in person to fill out refinancing applications. Before you can compare new loan options, you’ll need to fully understand the terms of your current loan.

Make sure you understand whether your current lender charges penalties for paying off your loan early. Figure those penalties into your calculations when deciding whether refinancing is in your best interests.

Verify the structure of your loan contract to understand whether you pay simple interest or pre-computed interest. Simple interest, calculated on the amount you owe, means the quicker you pay off the loan, the less interest you’ll pay. Pre-computed interest is a fixed amount, calculated and added at the beginning of the contract. Even if you pay off the loan early, you still pay 100% of the interest. Auto loans are usually simple interest loans.

Understanding the structure of your current loan will help you compare your options as you seek to refinance the payoff amount. Choose terms that best fit your individual financial situation. Make sure potential lenders offer a low or no-fee simple interest loan with an interest rate lower than your current loan.

#4 Decide on a lender and accept the terms of your new loan

Upon approval, you’ll receive loan details like the total amount, fees, interest rate, length of the loan, and monthly payment. It’s up to you to decide whether the loan fits your budget and your financial goals.

When you decide to accept the terms of a loan, your new lender will pay off the previous loan. Keep your former lender informed about the situation so you can avoid late fees and penalties during the transition.

Fees. Unlike refinancing a mortgage, the fees to refinance an auto loan are typically modest. Lenders may not charge an application fee, and though you may have to pay a fee to transfer your car title with your county or state, those fees are typically less than $75.

#5 Set up payments

Your new lender provides information to help you understand your payment options. Authorizing automatic payments from your bank account is the best way to avoid late fees and protect your credit rating. Late payments have a negative impact on your credit score, which could trigger interest rate increases on other accounts. You may also be eligible for a decreased interest rate or smaller loan fees if you agree to automatic payments.

Check with your former lender to verify that it closed the account. If you made monthly payments via automatic withdrawal, make sure to terminate that arrangement.

What to watch out for when refinancing a car loan

Interest rates on car loans are rising

The Federal Reserve made the most significant increase to the federal funds rate in 10 years in September 2018. In January 2019, interest rates on new vehicle loans averaged 6.19% — this is the second-highest recorded rate in about a decade. In response to a federal funds rate increase, auto lenders often raise interest rates on car loans incrementally. More recently, the Fed decided to hold the federal funds rate at the previous level.

With generally higher auto loan rates, it may be more difficult to find a lower interest rate than your current loan. When you explore the option of refinancing your vehicle, make sure that you can secure better terms with a lower interest rate than your current loan.

You could get financing for more than your car’s value

While this may seem like great news, accepting a loan for more than your car is worth is known as being “upside down” on your loan. If you can afford to make extra payments to reduce the amount you owe, do so. Owing more money on your vehicle than it’s worth could make it difficult to purchase a new car in the future.

Read and understand the contract to avoid misunderstanding the terms of your car loan

Before accepting a loan offer, look carefully at the terms. Watch out for excessive loan origination fees and early payoff penalties. Take note of late payment penalties. Look for information about whether there’s a grace period after the monthly due date during which you won’t get charged a fee.

Ask questions about anything that isn’t clear in the paperwork. This document represents a legal commitment, so it’s crucial to avoid surprises and verify that the loan includes the terms you want most.

The bottom line

Refinancing an auto loan isn’t for everyone. If you can secure a new loan with a lower interest rate or a payment that fits more easily into your budget, refinancing could be the best way to reach your financial goals. Here are four good places to look for auto refinancing in 2019.

LendingTree
APR

As low as
2.99%

Terms

24 To 84

months

Fees

Varies

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

Advertiser Disclosure

LendingTree is our parent company. LendingTree is unique in that they allow you to compare multiple, auto loan offers within minutes. Everything is done online. LendingTree is not a lender, but their service connects you with up to five offers from auto loan lenders based on your creditworthiness.


Advertised rate is for new and used auto loans for 36 month term.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.