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CarMax auto loans: 2024 review

2024-01-01 13:59:00

At a glance

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Bankrate Score

  • Availability
    Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
  • Affordability
    Rating: 3.3 stars out of 5
  • Customer Experience
    Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
  • Transparency
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
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About CarMax

  • Moneybag

    Loan amount

    $500 to $100,000

  • Credit Good

    Min. credit score

    Not specified

  • Rates

    APR from

    Not specified

  • Funds available in

    As soon as the day you apply

CarMax auto loans are best for a fully remote purchase 

Borrowers who feel confident handling their finances online may love the ease of having their new car show up at their doorstep. CarMax offers financing on its site with rates presented following prequalification in as soon as five minutes. 

CarMax works with multiple lenders, including Capital One, Chase and Westlake Financial, to secure funding for borrowers. And with over 230 brick-and-mortar stores across the country, CarMax is also a great option if you want to check out your vehicle in person before purchasing.

CarMax pros and cons

CarMax serves as a one-stop shop for drivers looking to purchase and finance their vehicle all in one place.

Green circle with a checkmark inside


  • Bad credit loans available
  • Convenient shopping
  • Fast financing decision
Red circle with an X inside


  • Limited inventory
  • No negotiation
  • Unavailable in nine states

CarMax serves drivers across the country who want to purchase used vehicles. It offers remote purchasing, providing drivers with the ease of vehicle delivery and financing all on one site. You can prequalify for a loan with no impact to your credit, and most loan decisions are available in five minutes or less.

Do you qualify? 

CarMax offers financing for used car loans through its direct lending platform, CarMax Auto Finance, or through one of its many partners. This means that requirements vary based on which lender you are matched with.

CarMax versus Carvana

Like CarMax, Carvana is an online used car platform offering funding through lending partners that cater to a range of credit profiles. Buyers can have vehicles delivered or pick them up from one of 39 “vending machines” scattered across the U.S. Carvana’s loan terms start at an unusually low 12 months.

Both offer similar limited warranties — 100 days for Carvana and 90 days for CarMax. But CarMax has the advantage for buyers who want extra time to decide whether to keep a car. Carvana’s return period lasts only seven days, while CarMax’s stretches to 30. Additionally, CarMax offers in-person shoppers the option to test-drive a car for 24 hours before purchasing it. Carvana has no equivalent program.

CarMax versus CarsDirect

Like CarMax, CarsDirect serves consumers looking to shop and finance for their next vehicle from the comfort of home. Both lenders work with an extensive network of lenders, which can help those with fair or poor credit secure good rates and terms. Unlike CarsDirect, CarMax has brick-and-mortar offices nationwide for those who want to couple the online and in-person experience.

What we like and what we don’t like

While the convenience is appealing, CarMax has a limited vehicle inventory. 

What we like 

  • Bad-credit loans available. You don't need perfect credit to finance through CarMax.
  • Convenient shopping. You can purchase and finance a used vehicle all in one place.
  • Fast financing decision. Application decisions can take as little as five minutes. And if you find a better offer later, you can use CarMax’s Three-day Payoff Program.

What we don’t like 

  • Limited inventory. You must purchase your vehicle through CarMax.
  • No negotiation. While CarMax boasts no haggling, it does not mean what you are offered will be the lowest available price.
  • Unavailable in some states. CarMax lacks store locations in nine states: Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.

How to contact CarMax

CarMax boasts an easy-to-navigate website and customer service via chat function, phone call or in-person appointment. While phone support is only available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, its app provides assistance 24/7. 

Although CarMax isn’t accredited by the Better Business Bureau, it holds an A based on customer reviews.

Auto loan types offered 

CarMax only offers used auto loans for its vehicles. These loans can be through its direct financing arm or one of its partners. 

Used vehicle loans 

  • Amounts: $500-$100,000
  • Terms: 36-72 months
  • APR: Not specified  

CarMax's extensive used lending network is beneficial for drivers interested in comparing auto loan options, especially because these lenders all cater to a range of credit profiles to give you a better chance of finding a good fit. 

How to apply for a loan with CarMax 

The online application process is fairly simple with CarMax. You can either find a vehicle from its online inventory — searching by type, brand, style or ZIP code — or apply for financing before you shop. Either way, take advantage of a car payment calculator to estimate your potential monthly cost. And if you are trading in your vehicle, CarMax lets you see potential offers either in person or online. 

If you want to prequalify first, you can apply for a specific vehicle or a general dollar amount. You will then be matched with a lender from one of CarMax’s partners or its in-house option, CarMax Auto Finance.

Features and perks

Aside from the primary benefit of having your new car delivered, CarMax also boasts a return program if the vehicle has issues, within a 30-day or 1,500-mile window. And if you find better financing within three days of buying, you can replace the loan with no extra fees from CarMax. 

CarMax also allows you to apply with a co-borrower and encourages prequalification. 

Fees and penalties  

CarMax charges a $399 processing fee and shipping fees. Partner lenders may charge additional fees. You will also have to pay registration fees based on the state you reside in.

CarMax FAQs

How Bankrate rates CarMax

Overall score 4.0
Availability 4.4 CarMax scores high for its state availability and repayment options but restricts drivers to shop only at network dealerships.
Affordability 3.3 You’ll have to apply to learn what APR and fees you could face when financing through CarMax.
Customer experience 4.4 With an easy-to-use website and chat function on its app, CarMax ranks high for overall customer service.
Transparency 4 Rates and fees are not disclosed but prequalification is available.


The Bankrate team assessed more than 35 auto lenders to find the best. Bankrate considered 18 criteria, such as acceptance criteria, loan amounts and APR range. These scores are broken into four categories.

  • Availability: Loan amounts, repayment options, dealership requirements and state availability all contribute to this category. Lenders that serve customers nationwide with flexible loan amounts rank higher.
  • Affordability: This section houses APR ranges, acceptance criteria, fees and discounts. Lenders with the lowest rates, fewer fees and most generous acceptance criteria receive higher scores.
  • Customer experience: Our team looked at how easy it is for customers to apply for and manage their loans. Criteria include how long you have to shop, customer service hours, whether there’s an app and autopay availability.
  • Transparency: This includes prequalification and disclosure of rates and fees. We favored lenders that make it easy for customers to preview possible costs.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by 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.

Written by
Rebecca Betterton
Writer, Auto Loans and Personal Loans

Rebecca Betterton is a writer for Bankrate who has been reporting on auto loans since 2021. Through her writing, Rebecca aims to provide clarity and accessibility to the automotive loans industry as the cost to finance new and used vehicles continues to climb due to steep inflation.

Edited by Editor, Personal and Auto Loans