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LightStream: 2023 Auto loan review

2023-01-01 00:00:00

At a glance

Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5

Bankrate Score

  • Availability
    Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5
  • Affordability
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
  • Customer Experience
    Rating: 4.6 stars out of 5
  • Transparency
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
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About LightStream

  • Moneybag

    Loan amount

    $5,000 to $100,000

  • Credit Good

    Min. credit score

    Not specified

  • Rates

    APR from

    8.49%* with AutoPay

  • Funds available in

    As soon as the day you apply

LightStream features

Consider these benefits and drawbacks of an auto loan with LightStream before applying.


  • Checkmark

    Good user experience

  • Checkmark

    Fast funding timeline

  • Checkmark

    Loan terms up to 84 months


  • Close X

    Unsecured loan

  • Close X

    High minimum loan amount

  • Close X

    No prequalification

LightStream is an online lender that offers unsecured auto loans for new and used car purchases. It also offers auto loan refinancing and lease buyouts. Each option can be funded the same day you apply.

Because LightStream’s auto loans are unsecured, your car is not used as collateral — but it still has competitive rates and a variety of repayment options.

Do you qualify?

LightStream does not provide specific eligibility requirements for its loans. However, the company does look for borrowers with several years of credit history, a credit history with a variety of account types, a good payment history, a proven ability to save and stable income. The lowest rates go to borrowers with an excellent credit score, which is typically defined as a FICO Score above 740.

What we like and what we don’t like

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of LightStream auto loans.

What we like

  • Good user experience. LightStream operates entirely online, and its website is simple and easy to navigate. The application is quick and can be completed using a phone, tablet or computer.
  • Fast funding timeline. You can receive funding as soon as the day that you apply for a loan with LightStream, and the funds are deposited directly into your bank account.
  • Loan terms up to 84 months. You can apply for repayment terms from 24 months to 84 months, which gives you more flexibility in finding an affordable monthly payment.

What we don't like

  • Unsecured loan. LightStream’s auto loan essentially functions as an unsecured personal loan, so you don’t use your vehicle as collateral. This could translate to higher interest rates than what you’d find with a lender offering traditional auto loans.
  • High minimum loan amount. LightStream has much higher loan minimums than those of its competitors. The minimum to refinance or finance a new or used vehicle is $5,000, so LightStream may not be a good option if you’re looking to buy a cheap used car or you’re refinancing a few thousand dollars at the end of your existing auto loan.
  • No prequalification. When you submit your application with LightStream, you’ll go through a hard credit check. Unlike with other lenders, there’s no way to check your rate and eligibility beforehand.

How to contact LightStream 

LightStream offers customer assistance via an online form but does not have a phone number for general queries. Business hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET and Saturday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. Information regarding your application or loan can be found 24/7 on LightStream’s website or app.

Auto loan types offered

LightStream offers auto loans for new and used vehicles. It also offers loans for refinancing and for buying out your lease.

New and used auto loans

Although LightStream’s auto loans are technically unsecured, they have decently competitive rates. You may be able to score a lower rate with a bank, but LightStream may still be a better option for most people than dealership financing. And with terms up to 84 months, you should be able to find a payment plan that works for your budget.


LightStream’s refinance option has a lower starting amount than many banks — which makes it good if you are near the end of your current loan. However, the starting APR is high. So if you financed your car when rates were lower, you may want to hold off on refinancing unless you need a longer payment term. In that case, LightStream’s 84-month term could be useful, but it will end up costing you more in interest.

Lease buyout

LightStream is one of the more competitive options when it comes to buying out your lease, especially since many banks and other online lenders don’t offer it. Like with its new and used auto loans and refinancing program, you will have flexible loan terms and the ability to finance a large amount, which can be handy if you leased a more expensive model.

How to apply for a loan with LightStream

You can apply for a loan with LightStream on its website. You may need to provide identifying documents after completing your application. If you apply within business hours, you could receive a response, sign your loan documents electronically and receive funding within the same day.

LightStream FAQs

How Bankrate rates LightStream

Overall score 4.2
Availability 4.8 LightStream has a high minimum loan amount but lets you choose from a wide range of repayment terms.
Affordability 4.8 While LightStream offers low APRs, it does not disclose its eligibility requirements.
Customer experience 4.4 LightStream stands out for its fast funding timeline, but it does not have customer support via phone, and its support hours are limited.
Transparency 3 Fees are listed on its website, but LightStream does not offer prequalification.


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 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
Auto Loans Reporter

Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers in navigating the ins and outs of securely borrowing money to purchase a car.

Edited by Auto loans editor