Auto Loans

LightStream Auto Loan Review

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A LightStream auto loan offers few restrictions and low rates starting at 2.49% for customers with strong credit scores (660+).  All of LightStream’s auto loans are unsecured, which means more flexibility for borrowers. The online lender will even beat competitors’ auto loan APRs by 0.10 percentage points, under certain conditions. If you’re not satisfied with the experience, LightStream may pay you $100.

LightStream auto loans at a glance

LightStream offers unsecured financing for new and used cars, as well as auto refinancing and lease buyout loans to borrowers in all 50 states. You may use one of its auto loans at the dealership or to buy a car from a private seller. LightStream also offers specialty vehicle financing for almost anything with an engine, from a motorcycle to an RV to a boat or classic car. This means no mileage, make or model restrictions.

LightStream Auto Loans
APR range 2.49% to 20.49%
Terms 24 to 84 months
Amounts $5,000 to $100,000
Requirements 660+ FICO credit score preferred

To qualify for the lowest APRs, you’ll have to have excellent credit and make payments with autopay. Without autopay, your rate will go up by 0.5 percentage points. The good news is that if you qualify for the lowest rate, it’s possible to apply it to a new or used car or refinance loan — unlike some other lenders, LightStream offers the same starting rate for all three types of auto loans.

Is a LightStream auto loan worth it?

Yes, LightStream is worth an application if you have a FICO credit score of 660 or higher. You may even qualify for the Rate Beat Program if you’ve shopped around with other lenders. See what your own bank or local credit union offers, look at other auto loan reviews, and don’t be afraid to apply to more one than one lender, as long as you complete all applications within a two-week window.

LightStream Rate Beat Program

Here’s a closer look at how the Rate Beat Program could help your bottom line.  A 0.10 percentage point drop may not sound like a lot, but every little bit helps. In our example, the first lender offers a 7% APR which LightStream beats with a 6.9% APR, saving you $71 over the life of the loan.

Example of APR Savings
Loan Amount $25,000 $25,000
APR 7.00% 6.90%
Term 60 months 60 months
Cost of Loan $4,702 $4,631
Savings $71

Don’t rely on a dealership to find the best APR for you. When you apply for car financing through a dealership, dealers may raise your APR by as much as two percentage points. Get a preapproval or, if you already know the vehicle or amount you want to borrow, a loan offer directly from a few lenders.

Pros and cons of a LightStream auto loan

The Rate Beat Program isn’t the only thing to like about a LightStream auto loan. Here’s a look at other highlights, as well as a few drawbacks.

LightStream auto loan pros

 Wide range of car loans: Buy from a dealer, private seller or lease provider with a LightStream auto loan. LightStream also offers refinance loans.

 Competitive rates: Even without the Rate Beat Program, LightStream offers low rates. It’s one of our best auto lenders thanks to some of the lowest average APRs among mid-prime borrowers on the LendingTree platform.

 No fees or prepayment penalties

 Same-day funding: You may be able to get a deposit in your bank account on the same day you apply for the loan.

 Satisfaction guarantee:  If you’re not satisfied with your experience in getting a LightStream loan, notify the company, fill out a survey and potentially receive $100. LightStream auto loan reviews are generally positive — out of 12 recent complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, one involved an auto loan.

LightStream auto loan cons

 Good credit required: LightStream looks for a credit score of 660 or higher though other criteria are taken into consideration. Those with poor credit should look elsewhere.

 Good credit history preferred: If you’re just beginning to build credit, it’s possible to have a good score without a lot of credit history to back it up. LightStream favors applicants with a credit history that includes successfully paid-off car loans or other installment contracts. Here’s a first-time car-buyer guide.

 Lower rates possible elsewhere: LightStream only offers unsecured auto loans, essentially personal loans, which makes sense given it is an online lender and cannot inspect the vehicles. That means you may be able to find lower financing rates, particularly for new cars, from a lender that offers secured loans.

 No preapprovals: To get any type of quote or approval, you’ll need to apply by listing the exact amount you want to borrow. However, you’re under no obligation to accept the loan even if you’re accepted.

 Online service only: LightStream is the online division of Truist, the bank created by the merger of BB&T and SunTrust Bank. Despite it being a subsidiary, you can’t go into a Truist branch and talk to someone about your LightStream loan. There’s not even a LightStream phone number to call — you can reach LightStream through its online form. A SunTrust auto loan application online leads back to LightStream, but it may be possible to apply in person at a BB&T branch.

How to apply for LightStream car financing

If you decided you’d like to take LightStream for a test drive, go to the LightStream website where you’ll be asked to provide:

  • Loan type, amount and preferred term
  • Personal information, including address, Social Security number and the last four digits of your driver’s license.
  • Employment, income and asset information, including how much you have in bank deposits, stocks and bonds, and retirement assets.

If you accept a LightStream auto loan offer, you will receive the car’s title once the loan is approved and the financing will show up on your credit report as a personal loan. This is different from most auto loans, which are examples of secured financing, in which the lender keeps the title and the loan shows specifically as an “auto loan” on your credit history.

What else does LightStream look for in an application?

Besides good credit, LightStream is also looking for:

Low debt-to-income ratio: Lenders want to see that you’ll be able to pay back the loan without a problem. Your debt-to-income ratio shows how much income you have versus how much you pay in debt obligations each month. You have to have income sufficient to pay back the loan comfortably, on top of any other obligations, such as rent or mortgage.

Good set of assets. A healthy savings account shows you’re fiscally responsible. If you’ve saved money for a rainy day, the lender doesn’t have to worry so much about getting paid if an emergency happens. For example, if you have a large medical expense one month that you didn’t expect, you’ll still be able to pay your car loan because you saved money.

 

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