Ally Bank is one of the most popular online banks, thanks to its sky-high deposit rates. But it is more than a place to keep your money. The bank also offers loans, including auto financing, though most car buyers will only be able to apply through a dealership. Are Ally’s lending terms as impressive as its deposit accounts? This review will cover all the key details along with how to apply with Ally Bank.
About Ally Bank
Ally Financial Inc. is one of the largest automotive lenders in the country. Even though its bank is only 10 years old, its history in auto financing goes back a century thanks to its General Motors Acceptance Corp. roots. GMAC was the financing arm of General Motors from the early 1900s leading up to the financial crisis. In 2009, it switched from an industrial loan company into a bank holding company and changed its name to Ally. To this day, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler dealers make up a little more than half of Ally’s auto finance business.
Ally offers loans and leases for both new and used vehicles. However, you don’t apply with Ally directly for auto financing. Instead, you need to visit a local dealership that works with Ally and apply through them.
You can apply for a loan through Clearlane, a subsidiary of Ally. Clearlane does not actually set up auto financing itself but generates offers from lenders from which you can choose. Through Clearlane, you can refinance an existing auto loan or set up a lease buyout if you’re interested in buying a vehicle you’re currently leasing. However, Clearlane doesn’t offer new loans or leases.
Ally Bank auto financing: At a glance
- APRs: Not listed on either website since rates depend on the dealer or the marketplace lender.
- Terms available: Up to 75 months for Ally retail loans. For Clearlane, terms depend on which lender you qualify with.
- Amounts financed: Not listed
- Minimum credit score required: Not listed, though Ally notes it has products for both prime and non-prime applicants. The average FICO Score is 689, squarely in “good” credit territory.
Neither Ally Bank nor Clearlane offer many specifics online about their auto loans. Your actual loan terms will depend on the dealership you apply for Ally or the lenders who make you an offer through the Clearlane marketplace.
How Ally Bank auto financing works
To apply for Ally auto financing, you first need to find a participating dealership. On the Ally website, you can enter your location and the type of car you’d like to buy/lease, then Ally will give you the names and addresses of nearby dealers that offer its products. You can then decide on the vehicle you’d like to buy and apply for your loan/lease.
The exact application process and requirements will depend on the dealer but expect to submit the typical documents for an auto loan, including:
- Proof of identity: Driver’s license, a state ID or passport
- Proof of income: Pay stub or W-2 form
- Proof of residence: A recent bill, bank statement, mortgage/lease statement or other addressed mail
- Banking and credit history: The dealer could ask about your current financial situation, including what kind of debt you owe and how much you have in savings and investments.
As part of the application, the dealer could pull up your credit report through a hard inquiry. Since the dealership is setting up your financing, there is no guarantee that it will recommend an Ally loan, especially if the dealer finds a better option.
Ally even suggests that you shop around before visiting a dealership as it acknowledges the benefit of comparing multiple lenders ahead of time.
How Clearlane auto financing works
With Clearlane, you start the application either online or by calling one of its representatives. They’ll first ask whether you want to refinance your existing loan or to buy your leased vehicle.
From there, the preapproval application will ask for the details about your existing vehicle (type and mileage), the amount you’d like to borrow, your contact information, income and whether you own or rent your home.
With this basic information, Clearlane will research lenders willing to make you an offer. You do not need to submit your Social Security number, which means Clearlane will not do a hard pull on your credit during this preapproval process.
If you receive an offer that you like, you can formally apply with the actual lender and it will pull your credit. The lender will also ask for the loan documents like proof of income, address and identity. The actual requirements will depend on the lender.
Ally Bank auto financing products
Traditional retail financing – For regular auto loans, Ally offers financing for both new and used vehicles as well as certified pre-owned vehicles that are up to 10 model years old and have no more than 120,000 miles. Ally’s loans also offer specialty vehicle financing to help cover special needs like wheelchair lifts and right-hand drive capability.
SmartLease® – Ally also offers leasing for both new and used vehicles but only certain types of used vehicles from a list of approved models found here.
Clearlane auto financing products
Clearlane refinance – Under the refinance program, you could replace your existing car loan with a new one that potentially has a lower APR and monthly payment. According to Clearlane, its average monthly payment savings for refinance customers is $107/month.
Clearlane lease buyout – With the lease buyout program, you replace your vehicle lease with an auto loan so you can eventually own the vehicle outright.
Clearlane publishes little information about its auto financing products, as it is a marketplace. Vehicle restrictions, terms, payment option and interest rate will all depend on the lender with which you’re matched.
What we like about Ally Bank auto loans
- Marketplace system lets you pick the best offer: With Clearlane, it uses your application to track down offers from a list of lenders nationwide — you can pick the one you like best.
- Convenient mobile access: Ally has developed a mobile app that you can use to schedule loan payments, track how much you still owe and check your FICO credit score, free.
- No hard pull for Clearlane: You can receive initial loans offers through Clearlane without a hard pull of your credit report, which knocks points off your score. You only need to go through a hard pull if you accept an offer from a lender.
What we don’t like about Ally Bank auto loans
- Few specifics available online – Both Ally and Clearlane have bare-bones websites that do not cover many details about their loans. You essentially need to apply to learn what you can receive.
- Terms determined by the lender/dealership: The actual terms of your auto financing will depend on what you qualify for with the dealer or lender.
- No face-to-face support: While Ally offers phone and online customer service, you can’t get help face-to-face.
- No specialty vehicle financing: Ally Bank only offers regular auto loans. They don’t provide financing for motorcycles or RVs.
Who Ally Bank auto financing is best for
You may encounter an offer from Ally, especially if you buy your next car through General Motors or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. You may seek out a loan directly through Clearlane if you’re interested in refinancing your current auto loan or buying a car you’re leasing.
With Ally, you need to apply for financing through one of its approved dealerships where the dealer may end up recommending another lender if the terms seem better. This can put you at a negotiating disadvantage — it’s always a good idea to walk into the dealership with your own preapproved auto loan. If the dealer can beat with an Ally loan or other offer, great, you’ll know you’re getting the best deal.
While Clearlane lets you compare offers, it only works for refinancing existing loans and lease buybacks.
Alternatives to Ally Bank
To research your options even further, you could compare Ally’s rates with those from other lenders offering new and used auto loans. Some of the lowest rates can be found at credit unions, and membership might be easier than you think
There are also several other high-quality auto refinance marketplaces besides Clearlane. If you’ve got an existing auto loan and want better terms, rateGenius is another marketplace that focuses only on loan refinances.
LendingTree, AUTOPAY and iLendingDIRECT are three companies where you can apply online and receive preapproval on quotes for auto loans and loan refinancing. (Note: LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney.) Whichever marketplace you use, collecting more quotes ahead of time now will help you qualify for better terms on your future auto financing.
The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.