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Ally Bank Auto Loan Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

ally bank review

If you’re familiar with online banking products, you’re probably very aware of Ally Bank’s presence in the online banking market.

But contrary to what it may seem, Ally isn’t a direct-to-consumer auto lender. That means you can’t find out whether or not you prequalify for an Ally Bank auto loan unless you go through a dealership. In 2016, Ally Auto served 18,000 auto dealerships and over 4 million auto dealership customers.

The thing is, it’s never a good idea to walk into a dealership before you’ve shopped around to get financing offers from multiple lenders. But with that being said, you might find yourself looking at a financing offer from Ally through a dealership and want to better understand how it works and what some alternatives might be.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the Ally Bank auto loan to let you know what steps are required to borrow and our take on the entire process. We’ll also cover rates and terms of Ally auto financing because we found them to be lacking transparency.

Who Ally Bank auto loan financing is best for

We don’t recommend that anyone chooses an auto loan through a dealership unless you get a ridiculously good deal compared to other offers.

The far better move is to first shop around for interest rates on auto loans with multiple lenders. Then go to the dealership with financing already secured. This way you’ve had time to get preapproved for the most affordable financing you can get, and you won’t fall victim to a subprime auto loan.

When reviewing a dealership auto loan, compare the interest rate, monthly payment, and total costs to other loans to make sure it’s truly a better agreement overall.

Check out this post for an in-depth guide on how to borrow money before car shopping.

Here’s a summary of the steps you should take:

  • Improve your score. Work on your credit score health since a higher credit score is what will get you the best loan offers.
  • Get preapproved. If you’re worried that shopping for several loans will damage your credit score, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Having your credit pulled by several lenders within a 14- to 45-day period can count as a single inquiry and has a limited impact on your score.
  • Take your preapproval with you when car shopping. You can make well-informed buying decisions with a preapproval in hand.

How Ally Bank auto financing works

Ally Bank is an indirect auto lender. An indirect auto lender is one that offers loans through dealerships. You can’t call up Ally Bank directly to get auto loan rate estimates.

Instead, here’s how it works:

  • Step 1: You go to a dealership that has a relationship with Ally Bank.
  • Step 2: You choose a car you want to buy.
  • Step 3: The dealership performs a credit review.
  • Step 4: The dealership crunches numbers and comes up with loan offers you qualify for based on your credit and the car you’re buying.
  • Step 5: You choose between offers, which can include an offer from Ally Bank.

One thing to be highly vigilant of with any indirect auto lender is that they may set a base interest rate and allow the dealership to tack on an additional markup on top of that rate. The interest rate markup can be revenue for the dealership and is an incentive to give you a more expensive loan.

Ultimately, it’s the dealership’s prerogative to make the most money possible regardless of what it costs you. To avoid getting finessed into a bad deal, it’s imperative that you search for auto loans from many lenders before car shopping at a dealership.

Ally Bank auto financing products

Ally Bank has four auto financing options:

Buying. According to Ally Bank, their auto loans have flexible terms. Auto loans come with online account management, auto-payments, and speciality financing for accessibility needs.

Leasing. There are lease financing options as well. A lease is kind of like renting a car for a certain time frame. You may have a limited number of miles you can drive on your lease, and you may be responsible for car repairs. Leasing cars long term can be more expensive than buying. A situation where a lease may make sense is if you want to drive new cars every few years.

Otherwise, you’re likely better off saving to buy a car in cash or financing to own it outright. Learn what you need to know before leasing a car here.

Ally Buyer’s Choice. Ally Bank offers a middle ground option between leasing and buying called Ally Buyer’s Choice. With the Ally Buyer’s Choice program, you make regular payments on an auto loan until the 48th month. At that point, you can decide to sell back the car to Ally Bank, or you can continue making regularly scheduled payments on the car.

Ally Balloon Advantage. Balloon financing is when you have smaller monthly payments and a larger lump-sum payment at the end of the contract. The benefit of a balloon loan is that you can have payments that are lower than a regular term loan. The drawback is obviously the large payment you’ll have to come up with down the road. Learn more about Ally Balloon Advantage loans here.

What we like about Ally Bank auto financing

The educational resources and account management tools. Ally Bank has an online and mobile app that can be convenient for account management. Ally Bank offers some articles on their website that can teach inexperienced car buyers what they need to know about auto loans.

There’s a post on whether it’s better for you to lease or buy. Ally Bank also encourages you to shop for rates with other lenders before car buying in its auto financing guide, which is sound advice.

What we don’t like about the Ally Bank auto loan

Transparency is lacking. Since Ally Bank is primarily an indirect auto lender, there’s hardly any information available online or through Ally Bank customer service about fees, terms, or interest rates. There are no details on what type of cars (make or age) that qualify for financing.

Ally Bank points you in the direction of dealerships you can visit to see what loans you qualify for. The dealerships are pretty much the middleman.

In comparison, some lenders will give you more insight on auto loan products. You can also get preapproved for these products before ever stepping foot on the car lot. We’ll give you examples in the next section.

Alternative auto loans

You should always shop around to compare rates before you head to a dealership. The dealer’s financing office may be able to beat your rate from another lender — but they won’t do that unless you’ve got an actual rate for them to see.

Use MagnifyMoney’s auto loan comparison tool to find great offers in your area.

Here are some lenders that will let you shop for loans before going to the dealership:

US Bank – Rates start at 4.59% APR

The maximum you can borrow is $100,000. You can get a 0.50% discount off of your interest rate if you buy an EPA-Certified SmartWay vehicle or sign up for automatic payments.

US Bank lets you get preapproved online to check for rates and terms. The preapproval is free but does require a hard inquiry credit check. Remember, if you shop for auto loan rates with several lenders within a short time frame, it can count as a single credit pull.

LightStream – Rates start at 3.99% APR

You can borrow from $5,000 - $100,000. If you sign up for automatic payments, you can get a 0.50% rate discount. The process of getting a loan is simple. You apply online, accept your loan terms, and receive your funds to make the car purchase.

Your loan can get approved and funded the same day if your application process is complete before 2:30 p.m. ET on a bank business day.

Capital One – Rates start at 3.99% APR

Capital One lets you borrow between $4,000 - $40,000 for new and used cars. The car has to be 12 years old or older with less than 120,000 miles on it.

You can prequalify for rates on the Capital One website without a hard inquiry. Once prequalified, you can search for cars through Capital One partners and personalize your loan terms.

Disclaimer: This article may contain links to LendingTree, our parent company.

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.

Taylor Gordon
Taylor Gordon |

Taylor Gordon is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Taylor here


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What Does Certified Pre-Owned Mean?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Certified pre-owned car
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There are tons of words thrown around in car advertisements: new, brand-new, used and certified pre-owned. Brand-new may be a fancy way to say new, but a certified pre-owned vehicle is much more than a dressed-up definition of used. We break down what it means to buy a CPO, if you should get one, when you should avoid one, pros and cons and alternatives to CPO vehicles.

What does certified pre-owned mean?

A CPO vehicle is a type of used car with the original automaker’s seal of approval.

To be a CPO vehicle, a car should:

  • Be 6 years old or younger and have 80,000 miles or less.
  • Pass inspections done by a technician who is trained and certified by the original automaker. Most inspections to determine if a car is good enough to be a CPO vehicle require that 150 to 200 specific parts pass a check.

When does a certified pre-owned car make sense?

Buying a CPO makes sense if you want extra peace of mind when buying a used vehicle. It may especially be worth it if:

  • It doesn’t cost much more than a used car.
  • It’s less expensive than a new car and provides the same type and length of warranty — or an extended warranty you buy separately.
  • Potential repairs might break your budget — a CPO generally comes with an extended warranty.
  • It makes a big difference in your APR.

Certified pre-owned versus used. Because CPO cars are considered less risky, lenders usually give lower auto loan APRs for CPO vehicles versus used vehicles. The difference may or may not be enough to make a large difference in the bottom line of what you pay in interest, but it’s probably worth asking a loan officer when you begin shopping around for auto loan rates.

How to shop for an auto loan. Don’t simply get a loan through a dealership as dealers regularly increase APRs. You should shop around for the best auto loan rates. Potential lenders could include your credit union, bank or online lender. Don’t make one of the common mistakes people make when they need a car loan and do check out our auto loan marketplace when you’re ready to see potential rates.

Where can you get a CPO car? From a car dealership (not a car lot) of the brand you’re seeking. For example, you could get a CPO Toyota from a Toyota dealership; a CPO Ford from a Ford dealership. You can’t get a CPO Toyota from a Ford dealership.

How do you find the value of a CPO car? To know what you should pay for a CPO vehicle, you can look up its value on a free industry guide website, such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.

When should you skip on a certified pre-owned car?

Despite all the benefits of a CPO vehicle, the price is almost always higher than a regular used car, perhaps thousands of dollars higher.

A CPO car may not be worth it if:

  • It’s much more expensive than a similar used car that passes inspection.
  • It costs the same as a new car.
  • It costs more than a used car with a comparable extended warranty you add on.

Pros and cons of a certified pre-owned car


  • Vehicle is generally younger with fewer miles than other used cars you may find for sale.
  • You may have greater peace of mind knowing it passed a thorough inspection.
  • An extended warranty is often included.
  • Potentially lower APR on your auto loan for a CPO versus a regular used car.


  • Higher prices
  • You can only get a CPO from a dealership, which may not provide the best shopping experience if you prefer to buy a car completely online

Alternatives to a certified pre-owned car

If a CPO doesn’t seem worth the extra cost, there are other ways to buy a new-to-you set of wheels:

Buy a used car. A regular used car can be just as good as a CPO car and has a lower price tag. If you are concerned about the quality of a used car that hasn’t been certified, you could have it inspected by an independent mechanic, most likely for a fee. We tell you what to look for when buying a used car.

Buy your own extended warranty. Plenty of third-party companies offer extended warranties for almost any type of vehicle. But make sure you understand what you’re paying for: Extended warranties typically begin after the manufacturer’s warranty ends but refer to the entire length of time the car is covered.

For example, if you buy an extended car warranty of six years, 72,000 miles on a Toyota, the car would be covered for a total of six years or 72,000 miles, not an additional six years and 72,000 on top of Toyota’s usual 36-month, 36,000 mile warranty.

There are several companies that sell auto extended warranties and you could get a few different quotes to determine what’s best for you and your car.

Buy new instead. If you are that worried about potential repairs you may have on a used car, consider a new car. Yes, new cars are typically more expensive than used, but you could wait and watch for sales and rebates, consider less expensive models or look at different trim options of a model you like. A lower trim level could mean getting cloth seating instead of leather, but you would still have that model of car.

Lease a new car. New car leasing almost always has lower payments than new car financing. And, of course, a new car is covered by a new car warranty. You can check here for more on leasing.

The bottom line

A CPO car can be a smart purchase if it’s less expensive than a new car and comes with almost all the benefits of one. A CPO car may not be a smart purchase if a regular used car with a less expensive price tag provides just as many benefits. To see which offers you may qualify for on a potential auto loan, consider starting with LendingTree.


As low as


24 To 84





on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

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.

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.

Jenn Jones
Jenn Jones |

Jenn Jones is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jenn at


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Buying a Car on Craigslist: What to Watch Out For

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Buying car on Craigslist
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Few of us consider buying a used car as a fun experience. It can mean countless hours visiting car dealers or combing through used car ads from private sellers on websites like Craigslist. Buying a car on Craigslist isn’t a bad thing — you’ll typically get a lower price from a private seller than you would at the dealer. But you also have to be on your toes for possible scams. Here’s what you need to know when looking to buy a used car on Craigslist.

Things to be wary of in Craigslist used car ads

As you look for vehicles, it’s important to understand that Craigslist is simply a place for private sellers and car dealers to list vehicles. There are no guarantees that you’ll be dealing with reputable people, and Craigslist doesn’t offer buyer protections. You could check the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker, which tracks all types of scams, including those involving auto sales. Here are a few red flags that should warn you away from a seller:

You can’t get a vehicle history report. When answering a car dealer ad, it’s important to find out if you can pull a vehicle history report, according to Justin Osburn, a consultant with the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association (NIADA) — Carfax is one popular website offering such reports.

“The dealer should email it to you,” Osburn said. “And if you’re working with a private seller, they should provide you with a vehicle identification number (VIN). If they won’t give you this number, it’s a red flag.” For more, check out our used car checklist.

There aren’t any available pictures. “If there aren’t images, what are they hiding?” said Geoff Cudd, whose years of experience buying cars led him to found the education website Find the Best Car Price. He warns that a lack of pictures — or the use of only stock images — could mean problems down the road.

Too-good-to-be-true pricing. Osburn noted that sometimes used car dealers list a price that seems very low, and when you show up, you find out that it’s just the down payment. “We all have a sense [when] something’s off,” he said. “Pay attention to that.”

Dealer invoice or MSRP. According to Cudd, these phrases relate to buying a new car — so if you’re in the market for a used car, listings that include these terms probably aren’t going to fit the bill.

Seller asks to be paid by wire transfer. When a seller asks to be paid by wire transfer, that should set off alarm bells — especially if they want a portion of the money before they’ll meet you. They could easily take the money and leave you with nothing.

While combing through Craigslist, focus on listings with authentic images, and specific details about the car. You want to verify as much as possible ahead of time.

Tips for communicating with a Craigslist car seller

“You really don’t know what you’re getting with a private seller on Craigslist,” Cudd said. “You want to make sure you’re clear in your communication.” He also recommended starting out by using the seller’s preferred method of communication. Here are some of his other tips for communicating with a Craigslist car seller:

Communicate in writing when possible. Messages via email can be a good way to make sure that you understand what you’re getting. It’s easy to forget things or misunderstand what a seller says. However, when you communicate over email, you can refer back to information and terms.

Be polite and ask questions. Whether you’re on the phone or communicating over email, it’s important to be polite and ask questions. Keep communication professional and don’t be afraid to ask questions — you want to get all the information possible before making a transaction.

Find out why they want to sell the car. One of the best things you can do is ask why they want to sell the car. The answer can be instructive — and may even throw up a red flag.

Be sure to follow up quickly as needed. A truly good deal can be gone fast on Craigslist, so if you find something that looks promising, call or email as soon as possible.

Researching a car for sale on Craigslist

When you research a car for sale on Craigslist, you need to do more of the legwork. At a dealership, you have the ability to ask for a vehicle history report and see the cars immediately. When buying a new car, you have the posted price to start from. But with a private seller on Craigslist, you may or may not know the asking price or the vehicle’s history right away.

As you research a car on Craigslist, there some things to pay special attention to, according to Osburn:

Ask for the VIN and pull a vehicle history report on your own. For a fee, you can check out a car’s history through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or sites like Carfax or AutoCheck. “It’s worth getting this information so you’re aware of any problems,” said Osburn. “You might even be able to see service records and find out how well the car has been taken care of.”

Check for a “branded” or “salvage” car title. At a dealership, you can be fairly certain you’re working with a clean title. However, when you buy from a private seller, that might not be the case. Osburn advised to watch out for a “branded” or “salvage” title, words that indicate a car might have been totaled, or written off, in the past. “These cars should be worth less because of this situation and some sellers will try to hide that.”

Have the seller show you the title. Another problem, according to Osburn, is that some buyers don’t register the cars they bought. “It might have been a cash deal and the seller didn’t bother to go through the hassle of registration,” he points out. “However, you can’t register the car with the state if you don’t get the sign off of the person on the title.” Make sure the name on the title matches the name of the person selling the car.

Take the car to a mechanic. If you’re buying from a dealer that sells “certified pre-owned” or has some other guarantee, it might not be as important to take the car to a mechanic. However, when you work with a private seller, it’s vital to have the car checked out before you hand over your money. “Many mechanics will review the major components for a small price,” said Osburn. “They’re invested in doing a good job and maybe earning your service, and they can help you be reasonably confident you’re not getting a lemon.”

Research the price. Whether you buy from a dealer or a private seller, get an idea of the value of the car ahead of time. Use a website like Edmunds or Kelley Blue Book to enter car details and see what price range you can expect. This will help you decide how to proceed when you negotiate a final purchase price.

It’s also important to remember that sometimes used-car dealers post listings on Craigslist, points out Osburn. “Most dealers identify themselves in the ad,” he said. “Do a quick Google search to find reviews. You can find out a lot by the reviews and experiences of others.”

How to close the deal on a Craigslist car

Now that you’ve done your research, you know which car you want and you’re ready to complete a deal, it’s important to make sure you’re safe. You don’t want to get scammed — so as Cudd suggested, on the day of the deal, you should take the following precautions:

Don’t tell the seller you’re bringing cash. While robbery is rare, Cudd noted, the reality is that you don’t want to advertise that you’re showing up with thousands in cash. “You can also bring a cashier’s check, or use a service like to help you protect your money.”

Bring a friend. Rather than meeting someone alone, it’s a good idea to bring someone with you — especially if you’re a woman. “You’re more likely to be physically safe with a friend for backup,” said Cudd. “Plus the seller is less likely to try to pull one over on you when there’s another set of eyes.”

Meet in a public location during daylight hours. A public location offers you visibility, as does meeting in daylight. Additionally, you can see the car clearly during the day. You’ll want to go over the car carefully before handing over the cash.

Go for a test drive. See how the car drives on local roads and highways. You can also use this time to take the car to a mechanic for an inspection.

Get a bill of sale. Don’t just hand over the money and drive away — you’ll want proper paperwork for the state you’re in. “You can find sample bills of sale online,” said Cudd. “Bring one that can be filled out, just in case the seller isn’t prepared.”

Cudd also suggests asking to see a driver’s license so you can verify that the name on the title matches the name of the seller.

“Don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t feel comfortable,” said Cudd. “If things aren’t going the way you planned, or if you think you might be getting scammed, just leave.”

Alternatives to buying a car on Craigslist

Your choices aren’t limited to a dealership or to buying a car on Craigslist, though. You can also find good used cars by looking on Facebook’s local marketplace. In many places, it’s still possible to see cars with posted “for sale” signs parked around town.

There are also many websites that specialize in used cars., Autotrader, TrueCar, and eBay Motors are all good places to start, Cudd suggested. Most of these sites offer listings that include some sort of payment and buyer protection that can help you avoid scams.

The bottom line

“For the most part, Craigslist can be a fine place to locate a used car to buy,” said Osburn. “Just be careful.”

Anytime you look for a car, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare prices — as well as used auto loan options.

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.

Miranda Marquit
Miranda Marquit |

Miranda Marquit is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Miranda here