Autopay Car Loans: 2017 Review

Auto Loans, Loans
AutoPay Car Loans: 2017 Review

Best for: rate shoppers who want to quickly compare multiple auto loan refinancing offers without affecting their credit

Autopay is an online auto loan marketplace. It was founded 10 years ago and has focused increasingly on refinancing for borrowers who’ve built their credit since taking out the original car loan. A company spokesperson said 85% of loans through Autopay are for refinancing, but it also matches borrowers with loans for car purchases.

Prospective borrowers can complete Autopay’s application process in minutes, and pre-qualification requires only a soft credit pull that won’t ding their credit. Autopay presents applications to its “lender marketplace” and then presents borrowers with a range of offers.

The company:

  • Specializes in auto loan refinancing, but also offers purchase loans
  • Requires a soft credit pull to provide multiple loan offers
  • Responds to many loan applications within minutes
  • Allows co-signers
  • Is available in all states

Autopay refinance loans at a glance

APRMinimum: 1.99%


Average: 5.4%


Maximum: 17.99%
Loan amounts$5,000 - $100,000 (average: $21,000)
Time to funding14 days
Application feeNone
Soft credit check with application?Yes

Autopay review details

To review Autopay, NerdWallet collected more than 24 data points from the lender, interviewed two company representatives, completed the online loan application process with sample data, and compared the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar product.

Autopay is good for

Autopay borrowers don’t all have perfect credit, but the company focuses on refinancing for those who’ve been building their credit. This is quite possible if you’ve made on-time payments on an auto loan for six to 12 months. Having a better credit score means you could receive a lower rate on your auto loan by refinancing, which could save you hundreds of dollars per year.

Almost 85% percent of Autopay’s refinance loans go to people who are only 18 months into their initial loan, says Jeff Hutcheson, Autopay co-founder and managing partner. If that first loan was through a dealer, Autopay might provide a lower one because it reaches multiple lenders. On average, Autopay cuts its refinance customers’ rates in half and saves them $165 per month, according to data on the company’s site.

Application process

Prospective borrowers can fill out Autopay’s pre-qualification application in minutes on a smartphone or computer. Autopay matches applications to its “network of trusted credit unions and financing institutions across the country,” according to the company’s site. Each lender has different criteria for approving loans, so a single application might qualify for interest rates ranging from 1.99% to 17.99%.

If you accept a loan offer from one of Autopay’s lenders, you’ll provide your Social Security number and agree to a hard credit pull. This temporarily lowers your score, often by a few points. But additional hard pulls related to a refinance application won’t lower your credit score further, as long as they take place within a time period specified by the scoring model, generally 14-30 days.

The quoted terms of the loan might change after the hard pull if the vehicle information or applicant’s income provided was inaccurate, Hutcheson says. But “our objective is to have 100% accuracy in penny perfect rates and payments in what someone is prequalified for and what is available to them,” he adds.

Minimum requirements

To qualify for a loan from an Autopay lender, applicants must have a credit score of at least 600, though Autopay customers’ average score is 706. Applicants must have a minimum income of $2,000 per month, but the average for loan recipients is $6,000 per month. Autopay grants loans for vehicles up to 11 years old with a maximum of 125,000 miles, on the high end for most lenders.

Restrictions

Autopay offers loans in all 50 states, though there may be some restrictions in certain states.

Loan terms range from 24 to 84 months, but NerdWallet doesn’t typically recommend loan terms longer than 60 months.

Documentation

Once a lender approves your loan, Autopay handles the paperwork. You can transmit most of the documents electronically.

You might be required to produce these documents:

  • Driver’s license
  • Proof of insurance
  • Income verification: pay stubs, tax returns, etc.
  • Proof of residency, such as a utility bill or apartment rental agreement
  • Payoff letter from your current lender for refinance loans

Many refinance borrowers can make automatic payments to their new lender through Autopay.

Fees

Autopay doesn’t charge an application fee, and applicants aren’t obligated to select any of its offers, which expire after 30 days. Late payment fees vary by lender.

Rate shopping

It’s smart to comparison shop before you buy a car or take out an auto loan. Companies such as Autopay do the rate shopping for you. To get you the best possible deal, the company eventually shares your information with lenders and partners. This might mean you’ll receive emails and phone calls from lenders. However, according to Hutcheson, to get pre-qualified, an applicant’s information isn’t shared with other lenders.

Still, read the privacy information on a provider’s website if you’re worried about being overwhelmed by calls and emails. You can also create a new email account and set up a Google Voice phone number specifically for your loan application. Both options are free and can be used for other applications or online purchases.

Before you take a car loan

Loan shoppers have lots of options, thanks to the internet and competition in the marketplace. It’s important to review several rate quotes to make sure you’re getting the best deal — but you don’t have to stretch your budget. When choosing a car, pick one that suits your lifestyle. And select a loan that fits into your budget and helps you achieve your long-term financial goals. If your financial picture changes, you can re-evaluate.

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Philip Reed is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: preed@nerdwallet.com.

Updated May 31, 2017.