Skip to Main Content

Capital One: 2023 Auto loan review

2023-07-05 00:00:00

At a glance

4.1
Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5

Bankrate Score

  • Availability
    Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
  • Affordability
    Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
  • Customer Experience
    Rating: 4.8 stars out of 5
  • Transparency
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Compare auto loan rates
See rates

About Capital One

  • Moneybag

    Loan amount

    $4,000 to $75,000

  • Credit Good

    Min. credit score

    Not specified

  • Rates

    APR from

    Not specified

  • Funds available in

    As soon as the same day

Capital One auto loans are best for borrowers with fair credit who want to prequalify

Capital One allows borrowers who don’t have perfect credit to qualify for an auto loan, which may be appealing to many people. If you’re unsure whether you qualify for an auto loan, you can go through the prequalification process without impacting your credit.

If you do, you can move forward with the full application. But if Capital One won’t prequalify you, you can move on to another lender without damaging your credit. Consider a credit union, which may have more flexible lending requirements.

Pros and cons of Capital One auto loans

Capital One auto loans are great for people who don’t have perfect credit, offering no-risk prequalifications. However, using one makes it hard to shop around for cars and you may not live in a state where the loans are available.

PROS

  • Checkmark

    Prequalification available

  • Checkmark

    Personalized financing options

  • Checkmark

    Low income requirement

CONS

  • Close X

    Two applications required

  • Close X

    Limited to cars from approved dealerships

  • Close X

    Not available in all states

Capital One offers auto loans for new and used car purchases. The entire loan process is handled online through the Auto Navigator. You can view real rates and monthly payment quotes on specific vehicles available for sale through participating dealers. 

Refinancing is also available, but your vehicle — and your current loan — will need to meet a few requirements in order to qualify.

Do you qualify?

Capital One doesn’t share specific credit score requirements. But it does state that to be eligible for a loan or refinancing, you must:

  • Make at least $1,500 per month
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have an address within the contiguous U.S. (those residing in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico are ineligible)

If you’re buying a used car, the amount you want to finance must be at least $4,000 and the vehicle cannot be older than 10 years or have more than 120,000 miles. These requirements are comparable with requirements from other lenders.

To refinance, your outstanding loan amount must be at least $7,500 and have 12 months remaining. Your car must also be less than 10 years old — though there is no maximum mileage — and your current loan servicer cannot be Capital One. The loan servicer requirement is unusual, limiting the usefulness of the company’s auto refinancing offers.

If you own a vehicle that’s no longer being manufactured, it’s ineligible for refinancing. Commercial vehicles are also ineligible.

Capital One versus PNC

Unlike Capital One, fellow bank PNC is more transparent with its pricing before you prequalify. You can see rate ranges just by plugging in your zip code and loan amount. It also has a nationwide network of branches, which Capital One lacks. And it doesn’t require you to shop from approved dealerships.

However, while neither bank lists credit score requirements, Capital One’s minimum monthly income is unusually low. If you’re in a low income bracket, Capital One might be more likely to approve your loan. Capital One also has a lower loan minimum, making it more useful for borrowers looking to buy an inexpensive vehicle.

Capital One versus U.S. Bank

Like PNC, U.S. Bank lacks Capital One’s dealership restrictions — making it much easier to shop around for the best car. Its max loan amount of $100,000 exceeds Capital One’s $75,000 max. And unlike Capital One, U.S. Bank offers lease buyout loans, allowing you to finance the purchase of your leased vehicle. 

However, U.S. Bank has strict requirements around who gets their best rates — you’ll need a sky-high credit score of 800 or higher. For those with more average scores, Capital One might be a better choice. But there’s no harm in prequalifying for both and seeing which gives a better offer.

What we like and what we don’t like

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of Capital One auto loans.

What we like

  • Get prequalified. You can use the Auto Navigator to get prequalified in minutes with no hard pull to your credit.  
  • Personalized financing options. The mobile app lets you view the monthly payment and interest rate on specific vehicles.  
  • Low income requirement. Though not all lenders list income requirements, Capital One’s minimum of $1,500 per month stands out as unusually low. 

What we don't like

  • Two applications are required. You must complete a credit application when you arrive at the dealership even if you have already been preapproved by Capital One.  
  • Limited to cars from approved dealerships. You are only permitted to finance vehicles from dealerships that work with Capital One. 
  • Not available in all states. Auto loans are not offered to residents of Alaska and Hawaii. 

How to contact Capital One

Support from Capital One is available by phone or online chat.
 

For those with existing loans, representatives are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.

If you’re applying for a loan, representatives are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET.

Auto loan types offered

Capital One offers financing for new and used cars as well as auto refinance loans.
 

New and used auto loans

  • Amounts: $4,000 or more
  • Terms: 24 to 84 months
  • APR: Not specified

Capital One offers financing for new and used car purchases at over 12,000 participating dealerships. You can prequalify online and know what terms you’re eligible for before you start shopping for the perfect ride. Furthermore, the Auto Navigator lets you adjust terms to build a car loan that works for your budget.If you plan on buying a used vehicle, it must have less than 120,000 miles and be within 10 model years. There are some exceptions, but you will need to discuss your vehicle choice directly with Capital One.

Refinance

  • Amounts: $7,500 to $75,000
  • Terms: 24 to 84 months
  • APR: Not specified

Auto loan refinancing from Capital One is ideal if you want to lower your monthly payments or APR. Both options will help you save money, either monthly or over time, as you work towards paying off your auto loan. Keep in mind that you’ll only save money if you can qualify for better rates and terms based on your credit score and finances. 

You can also refinance through Capital One to shorten your loan term and pay off your auto loan faster.

How to apply for a loan with Capital One

You can start your application by getting prequalified without a hard credit pull. If you are prequalified, you can view the monthly payment and interest rate on specific cars you’re considering. You will also have the luxury of changing the loan term or down payment to create a deal that works for you. Your prequalification lasts for 30 days before expiring, giving you plenty of time to shop for the ideal car.

The next step is to visit the dealership and complete a credit application. Capital One will pull your credit report and score to issue a final approval. The last step is to upload any requested documents and e-sign your contract to seal the deal. Needing to complete a second application can be a bit annoying, but isn’t much more difficult than the processes used by other lenders.

Features and additional perks 

Capital One doesn’t offer much detail about any additional features or perks it offers. One unique feature however, is its Auto Navigator, which can help you locate a car that fits your needs. 

Fees and penalties 

Capital One does not charge an origination fee for its loans. It may charge other penalty fees, such as late or missed payment fees.

Capital One FAQs

How Bankrate rates Capital One

Overall score 4.1
Availability 4.2 The minimum loan amounts offered by Capital One are fairly middle of the road, but it has a number of options for repayment terms and has wide state availability.
Affordability 3.5 Capital One's minimum and maximum APRs aren't available, and it doesn't advertise a discount for autopay.
Customer experience 4.8 Prequalification rates are valid for 30 days, and Capital One offers an online chat function once you sign up. It also has an app, and customer service is available six days a week.
Transparency 4 While it does offer prequalification, Capital One doesn't offer a full APR range before you hand over your information.

Methodology

Bankrate considers 18 data points when rating auto loan lenders. Acceptance criteria, whether rates and fees are available and APR range all influence lender scores. These scores are broken up into four categories.

  • Availability: Loan amounts, repayment options, dealership requirements and state availability all contribute to this category.
  • Affordability: This section houses APR ranges, acceptance criteria, fees and discounts. 
  • Customer experience: How long you have to shop, customer service availability, whether there’s an app and autopay availability are accounted for in this section.
  • Transparency: This category accounts for the availability of fees and rates along with whether prequalification is available.
Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.