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Auto loans lender reviews methodology

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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .

Borrowers can secure vehicle financing for new, used or refinance from online lenders, banks, credit unions or dealerships. But not all lenders are created equal. Some may be better fits for a certain driver's needs and financial history. 

While Bankrate does have partnerships with some lenders reviewed, those relationships do not influence scoring. All scores present are based on concrete data and expert analysis from the Bankrate editorial team. The goal is to provide borrowers with transparent and helpful ratings so  you can walk away with the best loan for your future set of wheels. 

Bankrate considers 18 different factors when selecting top auto loans and calculating Bankrate Scores. Lenders are graded on each factor using a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. These factors cover all aspects of the financing experience and fit four main categories: Availability, affordability, customer experience and transparency.


  • Loan amounts.
  • Repayment options.
  • Dealership requirements.
  • State availability.

Why we consider this

Availability helps us understand how well a lender's product caters to a range of different borrowers’ needs. This also helps inform which type of driver might best fit with a specific lender.


  • APR ranges.
  • Acceptance criteria.
  • Fees during or following application.
  • Available discounts.

Why we consider this

Here we measure how competitive a product is in the larger auto loan landscape, beyond just interest rates.

Customer experience

  • Shopping timeline.
  • Application process.
  • Customer service hours and options.
  • App availability.
  • Autopay.

Why we consider this

Customer experience considers all aspects of the funding process, including the ease of applying and making payments. On top of that, customer service is measured by available hours and support types.


  • Disclosure of rates and fees.
  • Loan prequalification.

Why we consider this

Transparency helps borrowers borrowers compare loan costs and know what to expect when working with a specific lender. For example, lenders with disclosure of rates and fees score higher in this section.