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Nationwide began in auto insurance over 90 years ago and branched into adjacent markets over the years. It offers auto loan refinancing through a partner bank. Caribou Auto Refinancing was founded in 2016 and primarily focuses on its auto loan refinancing products, though it formerly also offered insurance.
Neither company issues loans directly, instead working with other lenders. While Nationwide partners with Axos Bank to provide loans, Caribou works with several lenders and allows customers who prequalify to compare personalized rates.
Nationwide vs. Caribou at a glance
|Loan term lengths
|Up to 96 months
|Varies by lender
|Possible origination fee
|$399 processing fee
|Minimum credit score
|45 states plus Washington, D.C.
|Time to funding
|Varies by lender
Nationwide auto loans
Nationwide has a robust lineup of insurance and financial products, but Nationwide car loans only work for refinancing. Nationwide’s willingness to refinance loans on some cars older than 10 years is rare. However, its minimum rate is middle-of-the-pack among competitors.
Although Nationwide doesn’t offer 24/7 customer support, it does provide an automated web assistant to help customers navigate their accounts and resolve issues. These qualities establish Nationwide as a competitive refinancing option.
- Prequalification available: You can see potential rates with just a soft credit pull.
- High maximum loan amount: While many competitors can match Nationwide’s maximum amount of $100,000, some set a far lower limit.
- No prepayment penalty: If you repay your loan early, you won’t face early repayment fees.
- Vehicle restrictions: While Nationwide’s mileage limit is generous, multiple makes of cars are ineligible for refinancing.
- No rates or fees disclosed: Nationwide’s website doesn’t list its interest rate range or fees — you’ll have to prequalify or reach out to customer service for this information.
- Limited products: You won’t find funding for new and used cars, or even cash-back refinancing, through Nationwide.
Caribou auto loans
Caribou’s auto loan refinancing service matches customers with its partner lenders. Restrictions and requirements can vary between lenders. Still, this model can be a boon for customers who want to compare multiple options after submitting a single application.
As with Nationwide, Caribou’s prequalification process only uses a soft credit pull, which won’t affect your credit score. The complete application process, however, will ultimately use a hard credit pull. Customers who want to preview potential lenders and rates can use this process to see what’s available before financially committing to refinancing through Caribou.
- Co-borrowers allowed: You can add a co-borrower when applying for refinancing with Caribou. If your co-borrower has a higher income or better credit than you, you may qualify for lower rates.
- Ability to compare rates: As a loan aggregator, Caribou may match you with multiple lending options, helping you find the lowest rate available to you.
- Prequalification offered: Your credit score won’t take a hit when you start comparing rates with Caribou.
- Limited availability: If you live in Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Wisconsin or West Virginia, you’re out of luck.
- Potential processing fee: Caribou charges a $399 processing fee, which the lender you’re matched with may pass on to you.
- High maximum APR: Caribou charges up to 28.55 percent — several times higher than Nationwide’s maximum APR. Other refinance lenders, like Upstart and LendingClub, have similarly high max rates.
How to choose between Nationwide and Caribou
Caribou and Nationwide offer similar services, but Nationwide shares more specifics around eligibility and lower maximum rates. In contrast, Caribou offers a broader network of potential lenders — so if you don’t qualify with Nationwide, you might with Caribou.
Choose Nationwide for lower maximum rates and vehicles over 10 years old
Nationwide offers refinancing on some vehicles even when they are 10 or more years old, which is relatively uncommon in the auto loan refinancing industry. But while it accepts older cars, Nationwide’s minimum loan amount of $10,000 and maximum mileage of 125,000 may disqualify many anyway.
Nationwide also offers relatively low minimum and maximum auto loan rates. Even its maximum rate of 8.55 percent falls below the national average rate for used car loans (refinance and used loan rates are usually similar). But you’ll need a good credit score of 680 or higher to qualify at all — and an even higher score for their best rates.
Choose Caribou if you want an array of possible terms and rates for refinancing
Caribou allows borrowers to select from several possible lenders after prequalification. Its lenders’ minimum credit score is set lower than Nationwide’s, too.
Another perk of Caribou may help customers qualify for better rates within this network. Unlike Nationwide, the company allows co-borrowers. If your co-borrower has a better credit score and income than you, they may help you qualify for a lower rate. Caribou — or one of the many other refinancing loan aggregators — may be a wise choice for customers who want options.
Compare more lenders before applying
Both companies refinance auto loans, but they have several differences. Nationwide has lower APRs, offers refinancing for older vehicles and a robust insurance product lineup. Caribou has a vast potential range of APRs, an extensive network of lenders and varied eligibility requirements. While either company might meet your needs, experts often recommend shopping around among several loan refinancers before committing to a financial decision.