4 alternatives to Citizens One auto loans

Young couple looking at new car in showroomImage: Young couple looking at new car in showroom

In a Nutshell

While Citizens One auto loans are available through some car dealerships across the United States, Citizens One doesn’t offer them directly to consumers, either online or over the phone. If you want to shop around for a loan or secure financing before you arrive at the dealership, here are some other banks to consider — sorted by features such as competitive interest rates, a range of loan options and the ability to apply for prequalification.
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Citizens One — the lending division of Citizens Bank — only offers auto loans through some car dealerships. If you want to shop around for a car loan before you arrive at the dealer, there are other large banks that provide auto loans directly to consumers through their branches or online.

Whether you’re looking for the ability to apply for prequalification, a specific type of auto loan, help finding a car or a range of loan term options, we’ve rounded up some alternatives to Citizens One.

LightStream: Good for a wide range of loan options

Why LightStream is a good alternative: LightStream, which is an online division of Truist Bank, offers loans for new and used vehicles, along with a range of other loan options. These include used cars bought from private parties, refinance loans, classic car loans, lease buyout loans, and motorcycle and RV purchase and refinance loans.

Here are some more things to know about LightStream auto financing.

  • Targets people with strong credit — LightStream notes on its website that its customers tend to have several years of credit history with a mix of account types, demonstrate an ability to save based on their assets, have stable income and a history of on-time payments. People with the most solid credit may qualify for LightStream’s unsecured auto loan, which has lower rates than its secured loans.
  • No-fee promise — The lender doesn’t charge any fees or prepayment penalties on its auto loans. That could be ideal if you plan to pay off your car loan early.
  • “Rate Beat” program — LightStream says it will beat a competitor’s interest rate offer by 0.1 percentage point if certain conditions are met.
  • Shop like a cash buyer — In some cases, LightStream will deposit your loan funds into your account as quickly as the day you apply, allowing you to shop like a cash buyer at the dealership or among private sellers. But keep in mind that depending on your bank, there may be a wait before you can access your cash.

Read our LightStream auto loan review to learn more.

Capital One Auto Finance: Good for ability to apply for prequalification

Why Capital One Auto Finance is a good alternative: Similar to Citizens One, Capital One Auto Finance may consider you for an auto loan if you have less-than-perfect credit. But unlike Citizens One, you have the ability to apply for prequalification with Capital One. Getting prequalified can make it easier to compare potential loans across lenders. If you’re prequalified, you’ll be able to see the estimated loan rate and terms you might qualify for without your credit scores taking a hit. Just keep in mind that prequalification isn’t a guarantee of loan approval, and you may end up getting approved for different loan terms, based on the information you provide during the application process.

Here’s some more info about Capital One Auto Finance.

  • Considers borrowers with less-than-stellar credit — In 2019, 52% of people who got auto loans had a FICO score of 660 or lower, according to Capital One’s 2019 annual report.
  • Must buy from a partner dealership — You’ll be limited to shopping for a car at one of Capital One’s participating dealers. The good news is that the lender’s network consists of more than 12,000 dealerships, so you may have multiple options.
  • Limited loan options — Beyond financing for new and used cars bought at a participating dealer, Capital One Auto Finance only offers refinance loans. If you plan to buy from a private party or want to buy out your lease, you’ll need to consider a different lender.
  • Shop for cars with Auto Navigator — If you’re prequalified, you can use the Auto Navigator tool to shop for a car and see your estimated loan rate and monthly payment based on the terms you prequalified for. This information can help you find a car that fits your budget before you head to the dealership. Note that prequalifcation isn’t a guarantee of approval, and you may be offered different terms after completing a full application.

For more details, check out our Capital One Auto Finance review.

Chase: Good for flexible loan options

Why Chase is a good alternative: Chase offers a range of loan options. Loan amounts range from as low as $4,000 to as high as $600,000 — significantly more than most other lenders offer. The bank also offers loan terms ranging from 36 months to 84 months. A longer loan term (like up to 84 months) can reduce your monthly loan payment — but be aware that you could end up paying more in interest over the length of the loan.

Here are some more things to know about Chase auto loans.

  • No down payment required — Chase may not require you to put money down on a loan. But remember that making a down payment on an auto loan can reduce your car payment and the amount of interest you pay by lowering your total loan amount.
  • Limited loan options — Chase only offers auto loans for new and used vehicles from a partner dealership as well as refinance loans. The lender won’t finance a car bought from a private party, motorcycles, RVs, vehicles used as taxis, limousines, or to provide ride-share services.

To learn more, read our Chase auto loan review.

U.S. Bank: Good for competitive new- and used-car rates

Why U.S. Bank is a good alternative: Like Citizens One, U.S. Bank offers loans for new- and used-vehicle purchases. But what makes U.S. Bank unusual is that it offers the same interest rates for both new and used cars up to six years old. Rates are typically higher for used-car loans.

If you’re thinking about a U.S. Bank car loan, here are more details to consider.

  • Loan fees — The bank notes that it charges loan fees, including a prepayment penalty of 1% of the original loan amount — up to $100 — if you pay off your loan within one year.
  • Limited availability — You can apply for car-loan preapproval online, but you must head to a bank branch to finish your application. Branches are located in only 26 states.
  • Ability to borrow more than the car’s value — If you qualify, the bank may allow you to borrow up to 120% of your vehicle’s value, with no down payment required. Borrowing more than the value of the car you plan to buy can help cover any extra costs associated with your purchase, such as registration and vehicle title fees or an extended warranty. But doing this puts you at immediate risk of having negative equity — owing more on your loan than your car is worth. Negative equity can make selling or trading in the vehicle down the road more complicated.

Read our U.S. Bank auto loans review to learn more.

As you consider these alternatives to Citizens One auto loans, remember to shop around and compare loan rates and terms from several lenders. Whether you’re buying a new car or want to refinance your existing auto loan, taking the time to do this research could pay off by helping you identify the best deal for your budget and needs.

About the author: Rebecca Giantonio Moran is a managing editor at Credit Karma. She has more than 20 years of experience in brand development, content and website strategy, copywriting, marketing and public relations. Throughout her ca… Read more.