Best auto loan refinance rates for May 2022
Once you find the right refinance auto loan for your situation, follow these steps:1
Review your current loan.Determine how much you are currently paying in interest and what rate you can afford.2
Check your credit score.Check to see if your credit has improved since loan approval. The higher your score, the better your rate will be.3
Determine the value of your car.Estimate the worth of your vehicle in order to determine if lenders will be willing to refinance.4
Shop around.Available interest rates vary by lender so shop around with at least three different providers. Be sure to compare potential rates with your current loan.5
Sign off on the new loan.Gather the necessary documentation and details of the current loan so you can walk away with better rates and terms.
Choosing the best lender comes down to saving you money. It’s recommended that you get quotes from at least three lenders before deciding which is right for you. Pay close attention to the following factors:1
Approval requirementsEvery lender has different requirements to receive approval. Lenders will consider aspects like your credit history, income and debt-to-income ratio. But refinance loans have their own specifications on vehicle requirements. Look out for acceptance criteria based on factors like vehicle age, mileage or time you’ve had the loan.2
Your current loanThe goal of a refinance auto loan is to walk away with a more affordable monthly payment. So be sure to compare the specifics of your new loan with your current rate. Keep in mind that a longer term is not always the best idea because you can potentially pay more interest.3
Repayment optionsThrough refinancing you can extend the lifetime of your loan and lower the monthly payments or pay off the loan more quickly. Consider which fits your budget better when determining which lender offers the best terms.
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The Bankrate guide to choosing the best refinance auto loan
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What to know first
When shopping for an auto loan, compare APRs (annual percentage rates) across multiple lenders to make sure you’re getting a competitive rate. Look for lenders that keep fees to a minimum and offer repayment terms that fit your needs. Loan details presented here are current as of May 2, 2022. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The auto loan lenders listed here are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements and more.
Compare auto loan refinance rates in May 2022
Details: Best Auto Loan Refinance Rates of May 2022
LightStream: Best for fast funding
- Fast funding
- Mobile application available
- High loan amount
- Unsecured loans
- Must refinance at least $5,000
- No prequalification
Autopay: Best for dedicated customer support
- Large range of acceptance criteria
- Cash-back refinancing offered
- Ability to compare multiple loans
- Lowest APR only for excellent credit borrowers
- Possible down payment
- Unspecified credit requirements
Caribou: Best online experience
- Customer service available seven days a week
- Insurance bundling option
- Prequalification offered
- Not available in all states
- Processing fees
- Undisclosed requirements
Upstart: Best for people with bad credit
- APR caps out at 17.99 percent
- Prequalification available
- Flexible acceptance criteria
- No minimum APR stated
- Must borrow at least $9,000
- No co-borrowers
RefiJet: Best for loan comparison
- Direct customer support
- Bilingual site availability
- Cash-back refinance
- Traditional underwriting criteria
- Potential lender fees
- Must speak with a representative to prequalify
What are refinance car loans and how do they work?
Refinancing a car loan is essentially just taking out a new car loan — so the steps for applying are mostly the same. You'll need your driver's license, Social Security number and proof of income, as well as details about your car. If approved, you'll use the funds from your new loan to pay off your old car loan, then begin making monthly payments with your new interest rate and terms.
When should you refinance your car loan?
Refinancing your car loan comes down to saving you money. If you are struggling to afford your vehicle payments or think you could receive more favorable terms, it’s a good idea to consider refinancing your current loan. Here are the three main scenarios where refinance is the right choice.
- Your credit has improved. Competitive rates are reserved for drivers with good or excellent credit — scores of 670 and above. So if your credit score has risen in points since you signed off on your initial loan agreement, refinancing could save you money on your monthly payments.
- You financed through a dealership. Dealer financing likely did not present you with the best available rates and terms. You might be able to get a better deal if you shop elsewhere and refinance your initial vehicle loan.
- You can’t afford your monthly payments. If you are struggling to make your monthly vehicle payments and are at the risk of losing your vehicle it is a good idea to refinance your loan. This way you can extend your terms to lower your monthly cost. Keep in mind that you will have to pay more interest over the lifetime of the loan.
What to know before applying for a refinance auto loan
As with any loan, it is best to shop around to different lenders before making your final decision. Each lender has its own methodology when determining your interest rates and terms — so compare to see which best fits your needs.
While every lender measures risk differently, interest rates depend greatly on your credit. Do your homework ahead of time to understand your credit history to get a clear picture of what lenders are looking for and what type of terms you will be offered.
FAQs about refinance
One problem with longer car loans is the fact that you often wind up “underwater” or "upside down" on your loan. This is because cars tend to depreciate faster than you can pay off your loan.
A 72-month car loan means you’re paying off your loan more slowly and have the potential to owe more than your car is worth. However, longer car loans let you secure a more affordable monthly payment, which is likely an important consideration for your budget.
The process of refinancing can temporarily lower your score. When you apply for a loan and a hard inquiry is submitted, your credit score will drop a few points. Following approval, a new loan account will lower the average age that your credit score holds which can lead to a lower score.
But these two factors are a small part of what makes up your credit score and sticking with a monthly payment you cannot afford will likely lead to larger credit issues down the road.
It is best to refinance your loan in the early stages of your loan. The interest gradually declines over the lifetime of your loan, so your potential to save money is much higher at the start of your loan. Be mindful that you likely won't be able to refinance within the first six months.
Refinancing does start your auto loan over, but it is not a perfectly clean slate. You will sign off on new, more competitive rates in order to save money on your monthly payments. It will make paying off the loan easier, but it is not a reset.
To select the top refinance car loans, Bankrate considers 16 different factors. These factors range in consideration from the loan amount, disclosed APR and acceptance criteria. Each lender holds a score based on four categories.
- Availability: This accounts for loan amounts, vehicle restrictions and availability in each state.
- Affordability: Primarily, this section covers expected APR, acceptance criteria, discounts for autopay and the number of fees.
- Customer experience: This category includes online access, support availability, funding timeline, option for automatic payment and app availability.
- Transparency: Here prequalification and disclosure of rates and fees are accounted for.