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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.

Rachel Morey
Rachel Morey |

Rachel Morey is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Rachel here

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Auto Loan, Reviews

Review: Wells Fargo Auto Loan

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.

Wells Fargo Auto Loan

If it’s time to get a new or used car, it’s time to do your research. Perhaps you’ve picked out the car of your dreams and you want to figure out the best way to pay for it.

When it comes to financing a vehicle, you have a ton of choices. Wells Fargo, founded in 1852, is one of many places to consider getting an auto loan from.

Wells Fargo Auto, a division of Wells Fargo Bank, serves more than 3 million auto loan customers throughout the United States.

About Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo offers new and used vehicle financing through its network of 11,000 active car dealerships, but it’s possible to apply with the bank directly if you’re interested in financing outside of the dealership or refinancing an existing auto loan. You could also use a Wells Fargo personal line of credit or loan to buy a car from a private seller or buy out your leased vehicle, but you may have to pay an annual fee or origination fee. A home equity loan or line of credit is another possibility but puts your home at risk should you default on your car payments.

It’s worth noting that Wells Fargo continues to compensate auto loan customers who were charged for insurance they didn’t need or add-ons after their car loans were repaid or their vehicles repossessed. The bank’s redress program came after a December 2018 settlement with attorneys general from all 50 states calling for $422 million to be repaid to auto loan customers.

Wells Fargo: At a glance

  • Loan terms up to 72 months
  • Loan amounts between $5,000 and $100,000 for new and used auto loans.

Because a majority of Wells Fargo’s loans are through dealerships, what’s known as indirect lending, you may not know your exact rate or terms until you apply through a dealership. A Wells Fargo spokesperson said rates are based on a number of factors, including the borrower’s credit history. While the best rates and terms tend to go to those with the best credit, it’s possible to be approved with less-than-stellar scores at Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo also offers loans for those looking for specialty vehicles like motorcycles or recreational vehicles. Existing customers may be eligible for a discount if they use autopay to make their vehicle payments from a Wells Fargo consumer checking account.

A closer look at Wells Fargo auto loans

Highlights of Wells Fargo auto loans

  • Multiple ways to pay: You could make your car payment through the bank’s online eServices function, automatic loan payments or at any Wells Fargo branch.
  • APR discount: Wells Fargo offers a 0.25% discount for existing customers who use a consumer checking account to make automatic payments on its car loans.

Lowlights of a Wells Fargo auto loan

  • Mix of direct and indirect loans: While it’s possible to apply directly through Wells Fargo for an auto loan, most of its auto lending is through dealerships.
  • Negative press: In addition to fines Wells Fargo has had to pay in regards to its auto loan customers, it has been fined for the way it treated mortgage customers as well. In all, the bank has agreed to pay billions in settlements and consent orders.

How to apply

As we’ve already mentioned, most customers apply through one of 11,000 dealerships in the Wells Fargo network. But applying outside of the dealership is possible — a Wells Fargo spokesperson said customers may call or visit a branch for more options. It’s possible to apply for a refinance loan online, in person or by calling 800-289-8004. We’ll talk more about refinance loans in more detail, below.

Here’s what the bank will want to know about you and your car:

  • Personal information: Address, contact information, date of birth and Social Security number.
  • Country of citizenship information
  • Marital status (Wisconsin only)
  • Housing information: Whether you rent or own and for how much as well as information about previous recent addresses
  • Income information: Your occupation, gross monthly income and previous employer
  • Information about your car: Year, VIN, mileage and remaining loan balance. You can find out your remaining loan balance by calling your current lender.

The fine print on an auto refinance loan

The only way to make sure you’re getting the best deal on a loan for a new car or to refinance the one you have is to shop around. Make sure a refinance really is in your best interest and that you understand Wells Fargo’s criteria before you sign:

  • Minimum loan amount of $7,500
  • Co-signers allowed
  • Not offered in Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, North Dakota or Washington, D.C.
  • May be difficult to get approved if your vehicle has more than 100,000 miles or is 8 years or older.

Once you have applied, Wells Fargo will contact you by phone, mail or email. You’ll have the option of signing and returning the loan package by mail or finishing the process online.

Who is a Wells Fargo auto loan best for?

Wells Fargo auto loans can be a good fit for those in the market for a new or used vehicle, or folks looking to refinance a current loan. It may be the best option for existing Wells Fargo customers looking to refinance — it’s possible to apply directly through the bank, online and, if you’re willing to make auto payments, you may score a lower interest rate.

A Wells Fargo auto loan might be good for anyone shopping for a new or used car as well, but the only way to make sure you’re getting the best rate, particularly if it’s one offered through the dealership, is by comparing it with your preapproval offer from another bank, credit union or online lender.

A Wells Fargo auto loan is not a good fit for anyone interested in a private party auto loan. For those, look to competitors such as Lightstream, Bank of America or a credit union.

Lindsay Martell contributed to this report.

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, Reviews

Review: Bank of America Auto Loan

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.

Bank of America Auto Loan

The history of Bank of America dates back to more than two centuries, but that doesn’t mean its banking services are stuck in the past. In recent years, Bank of America has modernized its service offers by adding mobile auto lending services that allows buyers to choose a car and a car loan in one place. Yes, you can apply for its loans in person at a branch or over the phone, but it’s hard to beat the speed and convenience of applying from home or anywhere you use your smartphone.

According to Bank of America, you could receive a loan decision within 60 seconds of applying, which is about as fast an approval as you can get from any lender, whether in person or online. But don’t be so quick to gloss over the details. While you may get approval decision within a minute, you might not be getting your lowest rates. Bank of America offers competitive rates for new car financing and a discount for certain customers, but other lenders may be able to beat Bank of America when it comes to used car loans and refinancing.

About Bank of America

Bank of America’s online auto buying experience starts when you submit an electronic application through its website where you have the option to use your loan approval to shop for and buy your car through Bank of America’s network of participating dealerships. Once you get your loan approval you can visit the Bank of America website or use the banking app to search a national inventory of more than one million cars, then visit dealerships for test drives and to finish the paperwork.

You can also use a Bank of America loan to buy a vehicle outside of the network. The bank offers loans for:

For specific rates for used and new cars as well as loans you could use to refinance your existing car or to buy out your leased vehicle, see the chart below.

Bank of America: At a glance

  • Loan amounts starting at $7,500
  • Terms between 12 and 60 months

Bank of America offers a wide variety of loans, but its loans aren’t available for specialty vehicles such as motorcycles or RVs. Financing is available to residents of all 50 U.S. states who borrow a minimum of $7,500 ($8,000 in Minnesota), but it can’t be used to buy cars that are over 10 years old or with more than 125,000 miles.

Advertised rates for new car loans are comparatively low, but to find the lowest APR for your loan you’ll need to do some comparison shopping. Rates vary depending on what kind of purchase you’re making, where you shop and the condition of your credit, with the lowest rates available for buyers with excellent credit when they purchase a new car from a dealer. Bank of America advertises much higher rates for private party purchases.

Compare Auto Loans
 New from dealerUsed from dealerUsed from private party*RefinanceLease buyout*
Bank of America3.19%3.39%5.99%3.99%4.19%
*Bank of America lease buyout and private party loan rates are current as of Sept. 18, 2019.

If you bank with Bank of America or have an investment account with its wealth management subsidiary, Merrill, you may be eligible for lower rates. Preferred Rewards members get a rate discount at 0.25% for Gold members, 0.35% for Platinum members and 0.50% for Platinum Honors members.

Your eligibility for Preferred Rewards is based on the average asset balances held by Bank of America and/or Merrill over the three months prior to your application, with a minimum average balance requirement of $20,000. You can enroll for free to see if you’re eligible.

A closer look at Bank of America auto loans

Advantages of Bank of America auto loans

  • Loan approval offers lock in your terms for 30 days. That gives you time to shop around and find the car you want.
  • No application or origination fees, unlike some other lenders.
  • No prepayment penalty, meaning you can pay off your loan early and potentially save on interest charges without being penalized.

Disadvantages of Bank of America auto loan

  • Other lenders’ rate discounts may be easier to qualify for than the Preferred Rewards’ discount. PenFed Credit Union, for example, offers a discount to customers who use its car buying service, which can mean new car loan rates as low as 1.49%*.
  • Loan preapproval isn’t available. That means you’ll likely have to take a hard inquiry into your credit, and possibly lose a few points from your credit scores, just to see the loan terms you’re being offered. However, it’s always a good idea to compare auto loan rates and applying to multiple lenders doesn’t hurt your credit any more than it does to apply to one, as long as you do so within a 14-day window.

How to apply for a Bank of America auto loan

Completing an application online is a straightforward process, and if you’re already a bank member you can choose to have some of the application prefilled. Whether you apply online, in person or over the phone by calling 844-892-6002, you’ll need to submit the following information to complete an application:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Income
  • U.S. citizenship status
  • Email address

You may be asked to submit some of the following information to complete your application, if applicable:

  • Purchase agreement/bill of sale
  • Registration
  • Title
  • Vehicle make, model and year
  • Mileage
  • VIN number
  • Lease buyout instructions
  • Proof of income
  • Federal tax returns
  • W-2s

To apply in person, you can make an appointment through the website or walk into a bank branch and talk to a representative. Setting an appointment allows you to avoid waiting and helps ensure a specialist will be prepared with the information you need.

Once you’ve submitted your application, loan decisions are quick. Even if further review is needed after you submit your application, you’ll receive an email with your decision by the end of the following business day.

The fine print

  • Loans are only for cars purchased through franchise dealerships or private parties, which does not include independent dealerships except for CarMax, Hertz Car Sales, Enterprise Car Sales and Carvana.
  • If you apply online, you’ll get the details of your approval via email. Make sure to look them over, including interest rates and repayment terms for new versus used car purchases, before you begin car shopping.
  • Loans are available with payment terms lasting up to 60 months. While a longer term can lower your monthly payment, it can cost a lot more in interest charges. Make sure to do the math before agreeing to a long-term repayment.

Who is a Bank of America auto loan best for?

Savvy car shoppers know that using bank or credit union-backed financing for an auto purchase is generally a better option than going through a dealership. But it can be difficult to arrange bank financing and complete a car purchase without putting in the time to contact several different lenders and visit multiple lots.

If you want the security of financing with a large bank with branches around the country, or even from your pre-existing Bank of America account profile, Bank of America auto loans might be the solution for you. They offer some of the same perks as dealership financing, allowing you to apply for a loan and shop for a car, all within the same platform.

But some extra legwork usually pays off: Comparing rates with other banks, plus credit unions and online lenders is the only way to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

*Rate and offer current as of June 1, 2019 and are subject to change. Promotional rate is not available to refinance existing PenFed car loans. Terms apply.

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.

Sarah Brady
Sarah Brady |

Sarah Brady is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Sarah here