Credit Direct and LightStream are unlike most lenders. Instead of offering an auto loan secured by the vehicle you purchase, you can qualify for an unsecured personal loan to buy your next car.

Credit Direct is a loan marketplace that can help you find lenders that match your needs. This makes it ideal for funding vehicles that may not meet the minimum requirements set by other lenders and for those looking to purchase a cheaper car. LightStream, on the other hand, is designed for borrowers who have excellent credit and are looking to refinance their current loan.

Credit Direct vs. LightStream at a glance

Credit Direct offers a lower starting APR, but LightStream’s autopay discount and lower maximum rate may level the playing field.

Credit Direct LightStream
Bankrate score 4 4.1
Better for
  • Smaller loans
  • Borrowers with less-than-perfect credit
  • Refinancing secured auto loans
  • Large vehicle purchases
Loans offered Personal loans for vehicle purchases Personal loans for vehicle purchases, auto loan refinance, lease buyouts
Loan amounts $1,000-$40,000 $5,000-$100,000
APRs 6.99%-29.99% 7.49%-15.69% with autopay
Loan term lengths 12-60 months 24-84 months
Fees Not specified None
Minimum credit score Not specified Not specified
State footprint 14 states All states
Time to funding 2-3 days 1 day
Autopay discount? Not specified 0.50%
Refinancing restrictions N/A Not specified

Credit Direct auto loans
Best for: Purchasing a less expensive vehicle

Credit Direct auto loans

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Learn more in our Bankrate review

LightStream auto loans
Best for: Auto loan refinancing

LightStream auto loans

Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5
Learn more in our Bankrate review

How to choose between Credit Direct and LightStream

While both lenders offer personal loans for car purchases, they fill different needs. Credit Direct is a better choice for smaller loans. LightStream is better for funding pricier vehicles or refinancing.

Choose Credit Direct for cheaper cars

Credit Direct is a good choice for smaller loans for unusual, older and discontinued vehicles. Because its loans are capped at $40,000, you will struggle to finance a more expensive vehicle.

However, Credit Direct does not place restrictions on the vehicle you buy. You may be able to finance a car with a salvage title, vehicles older than a decade and other vehicles a traditional lender may be unwilling to finance.

However, you will need to be prepared for a higher interest rate. Credit Direct’s APR is not as high as some bad credit auto loans out there, but it could cost you hundreds more in interest than standard auto loans. Combined with its limited state availability, Credit Direct can help select borrowers — but it’s worth considering other options as well.

Choose LightStream if you want to refinance

Between LightStream’s autopay rate discount and its APR cap, borrowers with good credit may still be able to snag a competitive rate. Those with excellent credit can likely find better rates elsewhere.

However, LightStream is the better option to refinance your auto loan. Since it offers personal loans, you can stop using your vehicle as an asset and risking repossession. And since you can borrow as little as $5,000, it may be easier to refinance a loan you’re close to paying off than with a more traditional lender.

As with any refinancing — or new or used purchase, for that matter — calculate the cost and determine your potential savings. With no prequalification process, your credit score will dip after you submit an application, making it more difficult to check your rates with other lenders.

Compare more lenders before applying

Credit Direct and LightStream are both worth considering if you want to finance a nontraditional vehicle or want to avoid secured loans. But because neither offers the most competitive rates, you should compare more auto loans to see how these two lenders stack up against lenders that offer more traditional options.