We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.
Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.
Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.
|Will beat competing APR offers by .10 percentage points (with conditions)||Best rates are only for people with strong credit|
|Secured and unsecured auto loans||No phone or email applications|
|No prepayment penalties||No preapprovals|
What you should know about LightStream auto loans
An online lender, LightStream is a division of Truist Financial Corp.
A variety of loan options
One of LightStream’s main selling points is that it offers a variety of auto loans. You can apply for a loan for a new or used car from a dealer or from a private party. You can also go to LightStream for less-common borrowing options, including unsecured loans for a car purchase — meaning your car won’t be used as collateral.
LightStream also offers a loan option for classic cars, with no restrictions on age or mileage. You can use its loans to refinance, buy out a lease, and even finance a motorcycle or RV.
An offer to beat competitor rates
LightStream doesn’t advertise the most-competitive interest rates upfront, but its “Rate Beat” program promises to beat other lenders’ offers by .10 of a percentage point if the loan meets certain conditions. This means you can compare lenders and bring your best offer back to LightStream for a slightly better deal if approved.
Just keep in mind that the additional percentage off your rate doesn’t necessarily mean big savings. The more you borrow and the higher your loan rate, the more it can potentially save you. But it still may not add up to a lot. Here’s an example.
|Competitor interest rate||6%||5.9%|
|Loan term||5 years||5 years|
|Total cost of loan||$23,199||$23,144|
Other banks or credit unions may offer bigger rate discounts to customers who qualify or meet special conditions.
Potential for quick funding
If you’re approved for a LightStream loan, you may be able to receive your loan funds the same business day you apply. LightStream deposits the money directly into your bank account, so you can make an offer on a car as a “cash” buyer. This means you may have the opportunity to negotiate for a better purchase price.
No loan preapprovals
Many lenders will give you the opportunity to be preapproved for a loan before you accept a final offer. Preapproval gives you an idea of how much money you’ll be able to borrow, what your interest rate might be and other terms of your loan. This information may allow you to compare offers and negotiate. Just remember that these are only estimates — you’ll have to officially apply to finalize your rate and other terms.
With LightStream, the only way to get an offer is to submit an application for a car loan, which will trigger a hard credit inquiry by LightStream. If you don’t like the offer, you can choose not to accept the loan, but the credit inquiry could still cost your credit scores a few points.
A closer look at LightStream auto loans
Here are some other LightStream auto loan features to consider as you compare them to other lenders.
- Fixed-rate loans only: Variable rate loans aren’t available. And LightStream only offers its Rate Beat program on fixed-rate loans from other lenders.
- Rate quotes include an AutoPay discount: If you opt out of auto pay for your monthly payments, your rate will be .50% higher.
- $100 loan experience guarantee: If you receive a loan and you’re not completely satisfied with the process, fill out a survey within 30 days of receiving your loan and LightStream will send you $100.
- A tree planted for every loan: LightStream has planted more than 1,500 acres of trees: one tree for each loan. The lender also offers “virtually paperless” loan processing and services.
Is a LightStream auto loan right for you?
LightStream targets people with solid credit and gives the best rates and terms to those who fit that profile. People with the strongest credit may even be approved for an unsecured loan.
Lenders can define excellent credit in different ways. LightStream says its customers usually have …
- Several years of credit history
- A mixture of installment loans and credit cards
- A record of on-time payments
- The ability to save money
- A stable income
LightStream offers its lowest rates for new and used cars when you borrow between $10,000 and $24,999.
If you’re looking for a used car or a different amount of financing, you may still be able to get a good rate through LightStream’s Rate Beat program, but you’ll have to do the extra work to shop around and bring back your offer from another lender.
How to apply for a loan from LightStream
You can apply online for a LightStream auto loan.
If you’re approved, you’re required to have a MasterCard or Visa credit card for verification purposes, but your card won’t be charged. You’ll then have 30 days to submit your bank account information so that LightStream can transfer the loan funds into your account.
But before you apply for an auto loan with LightStream, it’s a good idea to check your credit and compare other loan offers. Understanding your credit can help set expectations — in general, lower credit scores will result in higher interest rates. And shopping around can help you find the best loan rate and terms for your needs. Read our article on how to get a car loan to learn more about the process.
Auto loan alternatives to consider
It’s worth considering another option if LightStream doesn’t seem like the best one for you. Here are two more to consider.
- Capital One Auto Finance auto loan: Capital One Auto Finance could be great for someone who’s rebuilding their credit.
- Alliant Credit Union auto loan: Alliant may be a good choice if you want to apply for a loan preapproval online or use the credit union’s car-buying service.