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Navy Federal auto loans: 2024 review

2024-01-01 14:00:00

At a glance

4.2
Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5

Bankrate Score

  • Availability
    Rating: 4.6 stars out of 5
  • Affordability
    Rating: 4 stars out of 5
  • Customer experience
    Rating: 5 stars out of 5
  • Transparency
    Rating: 3 stars out of 5
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About Navy Federal

  • Moneybag

    Loan amount

    $250 and up

  • Credit Good

    Min. credit score

    Not specified

  • Rates

    APR from

    4.54%

  • Funds available in

    As soon as the same business day following approval

Best for military members

Navy Federal Credit Union is the largest credit union in the United States, primarily because of the excellent benefits and services offered to military members and their families. While you have to be a member in order to benefit from what Navy Federal offers, it can provide low APRs and flexible term lengths.

Navy Federal pros and cons

Navy Federal offers great terms to those who qualify, but membership is required.

PROS

  • Checkmark

    Variety of term lengths

  • Checkmark

    Low APR

  • Checkmark

    Car buying service

CONS

  • Close X

    Membership required

  • Close X

    Restrictions for older used vehicles

  • Close X

    Max rate not disclosed

Navy Federal has been serving military members and their families since 1933 after opening as a credit union for naval employees. It now offers checking accounts, savings accounts, loans, credit cards and more to 11 million members. If you qualify, Navy Federal offers competitive rates and high maximum financing amounts for new and used car loans and auto loan refinancing.

 

Do you qualify?

Navy Federal does not specify any credit or income requirements. However, you will need to become a member of Navy Federal. You may qualify if you’re in one of the following categories:

You must also open and maintain a savings account with Navy Federal with a $5 minimum balance.

Navy Federal versus Skyla Credit Union

As with Navy Federal, you must become a member of Skyla Credit Union (which recently merged with Parsons FCU) to benefit from its excellent rates. However, anyone can become a member of Skyla through the American Consumer Council, compared to Navy Federal’s more restrictive requirements. Both have wide-ranging loan amounts — Skyla's tops out at $150,000, while Navy Federal doesn’t advertise a maximum amount. If you don’t qualify for membership with Navy Federal, Skyla is a great alternative.

Navy Federal versus USAA

Like Navy Federal, USAA serves U.S. military members, veterans and certain relatives of both. The two lenders serve all states and offer similar interest rates, though USAA's start about a percentage point higher. USAA stands out for its flexible payment options. You can make your loan payments biweekly, twice a month or monthly. Choosing biweekly payments can help you pay off your loan faster.

See our USAA vs. Navy Federal guide

What we like and what we don’t like

Navy Federal gives you the freedom to select an auto loan with terms that work for you. However, there are limitations to who can apply for financing and restrictions on the vehicles that can be purchased. 

What we like

  • Variety of term lengths: Navy Federal offers repayment terms from less than 36 months up to 96 months. This wide range means that you can choose a payment option that fits your budget and needs, with a maximum that’s much higher than competitors.
  • Low APR: If you are looking to purchase a new vehicle or refinance your current auto loan, you may qualify for an APR as low as 4.54 percent. This is significantly lower than the minimum APR of many other lenders.
  • Car buying service: Through TrueCar, Navy Federal’s car buying service lets you compare MSRPs, receive price offers on local inventory and even have your car delivered to you — no haggling required.

What we don’t like

  • Membership required: Auto loans are available only to those who qualify for Navy Federal membership: active duty service members, immediate family members, veterans and Department of Defense employees. To become a member of Navy Federal, you must also maintain a Navy Federal savings account with at least a $5 balance.
  • Restrictions for older used vehicles: While used vehicles with 2020, 2021 and 2022 model years qualify for rates as low as 4.54 percent, any car older than that or any car with over 30,000 miles has starting rates of 5.44 percent.
  • Max rate not disclosed: Navy Federal’s starting rate is one of the lowest rates currently available. However, lenders save their best rates for borrowers with excellent credit — and it’s not clear how high Navy Federal’s rates can go. If you have a lower score, you’ll have to apply for preapproval to see your potential rate.

How to contact Navy Federal

Navy Federal has a few different customer service options for its members. Member representatives are available 24/7 over the phone at 888-842-6328, or you can get questions answered through a live chat feature on the website. If you prefer in-person communication, Navy Federal has 350 branches worldwide where you can talk face-to-face with a customer support agent.

Auto loan types offered

Navy Federal offers financing for new and used vehicles, along with auto loan refinancing. A company spokesperson stated there is no maximum amount on auto loans.

New and used auto loans

  • Amounts: $250 and up
  • Terms: 36-96 months, new; 36-72 months, used
  • APR: From 4.54%, new; From 5.44%, used

Navy Federal’s new and used auto loans come with flexible repayment terms. In the current high-rate environment, few lenders can beat Navy Federal’s best rate. You can finance up to 125 percent of the vehicle’s value. That way, you won’t have to pay tax, tag, title and registration fees out of pocket. Just remember that you’ll have to pay interest on any costs you roll into your loan. Terms of 85 to 96 months carry a minimum loan amount of $30,000.

Refinance auto loans

  • Amounts: $250 and up
  • Terms: 36-96 months
  • APR: From 4.54%

You can refinance with Navy Federal, which may save you money on your auto loan if you qualify for a lower interest rate than you currently have. Some borrowers also refinance to extend the loan term to get a more affordable monthly payment or shorten the loan term to pay the balance off sooner.

How to apply for a loan with Navy Federal

You can apply for an auto loan with Navy Federal online, via the Navy Federal app, over the phone or at a branch. In most cases, you should receive a decision within a few minutes of submitting your application.

If you’ve already decided on a vehicle or are refinancing, you’ll also need to supply the vehicle identification number, the registration state, the exact mileage and the dealer name.

Features and perks

Navy Federal offers its members a number of perks, including car buying services provided by TrueCar. Refinancing your auto loan through Navy Federal will net a $200 bonus if certain conditions, including a $5,000 minimum loan amount, are met. Discounted loans are available to active duty and retired military members. You also have the option of purchasing gap insurance.

Fees and penalties

Navy Federal does not charge fees for loan applications, loan origination or early repayment. Late loan payments generate a $29 penalty. 

Navy Federal FAQs

How Bankrate rates Navy Federal

Overall score 4.2
Availability 4.6 Navy Federal auto loans are available for a wide range of amounts and don't require borrowers to use a specific dealership.
Affordability 4 While Navy Federal has a low minimum APR, it also relies on traditional underwriting and doesn't offer an autopay discount.
Customer experience 5 Support is available 24/7 and there are several ways to make payments, including a recurring option.
Transparency 3 Rates, fees and terms are available online. However, prequalification isn't available; you must apply for preapproval to preview rates.

Methodology

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 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.

Written by
Rebecca Betterton
Writer, Auto Loans and Personal Loans
Rebecca Betterton, a Certified Financial Education Instructor℠, is a writer for Bankrate who has been reporting on auto loans since 2021.
Edited by Editor, Personal and Auto Loans