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CarMax: 2023 auto loan review

2023-07-03 00:00:00

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 

The ease of financing your future set of wheels to arrive at your doorstep is a desirable option for borrowers that feel confident in handling their finances online. CarMax offers financing directly on their site with rates presented following prequalification in as soon as five minutes. 

CarMax works with a range of lenders, including Capital One, Chase and Westlake Financial in order 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.


  • Checkmark

    Bad credit loans available

  • Checkmark

    Convenient shopping

  • Checkmark

    Fast financing decision


  • Close X

    Limited inventory

  • Close X

    No negotiation

  • Close X

    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

Known for its car vending machines, Carvana also offers drivers the ability to secure financing and vehicle delivery from the comfort of home. Both encourage borrowers to view potential offers with no impact on your credit score. But both also share little upfront information regarding loan amounts or rates. When comparing the two look out for potential fees.

CarMax versus Shift

Another direct-to-delivery financing option, Shift is a car-buying platform that offers financing through its network of lenders. Both CarMax and Shift carry high maximum amounts, though Shift’s is lower at $80,000. But financing with Shift comes with a number of fees that cannot be negotiated. 

What we like and what we don’t like

Consider the benefits and drawbacks of a loan with CarMax prior to submitting an application.

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 does not have 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.

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. This is very beneficial for drivers interested in comparing different 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.

Used vehicle loans 

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

The large used lending network is very beneficial for drivers interested in comparing different 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 additional perks 

Aside from the primary benefit of having your new car arrive at your doorstep, 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.


Bankrate considers 18 data points when selecting top auto loans. 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 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, Auto Loans