Good for: borrowers with good credit looking for a no-hassle loan from a well-known bank
LightStream provides a full spectrum of auto loans to borrowers with strong credit and healthy finances. An online lending division of SunTrust Bank, LightStream offers auto loans for new and used dealer purchases, private party purchases, refinancing, classic cars, lease buyouts and even unsecured loans for people with very good credit.
LightStream is a good fit for those who:
- Have top-tier credit and a “background of solid financial management” (more on that below)
- Want a response within the day when application is filed during business hours
- Like maximum flexibility; LightStream has no restrictions on make, model or mileage
LightStream auto loans at a glance
|APR*||Dealer purchase: 3.09% to 7.69%
Private party purchase: 3.89% to 9.29%
Refinance: 3.09% to 8.69%
Lease buyout: 3.39% to 9.79%
(with AutoPay discount)
|Loan amounts||$5,000 to $100,000|
|Minimum requirements||Credit score: 660|
|Hard credit check with application?||Yes|
|Availability||All 50 states|
LightStream auto loans review details
LightStream is tailored to customers with strong credentials — even promising to beat some competitors’ rates to get those customers. The minimum credit score is 660 for auto loan applicants, but loan decisions aren’t based on this alone. “We look closely at an applicant’s credit history, assets, savings and other information that indicate a strong background of solid financial management,” says LightStream business development officer Todd Nelson.
LightStream requires a “hard pull” of your credit upfront, which slightly lowers your credit score. So applicants should be prepared to accept a loan, and not just casually shop rates. Once your loan is complete, the lender delivers the funds to your bank account.
Car loan rates
Although the best interest rate offered by LightStream is 3.09%, this is only available if you have very good credit. Lenders can set their own requirements, but excellent credit is generally considered 720 or better, while 690 to 719 is generally considered good. If your credit is less than top-tier, your interest rate will be higher, which means your monthly payment will be more and, over time, you’ll pay more interest.
However, LightStream has a rather narrow band of interest rates because of its focus on customers with solid credit. For example, the maximum interest rate it lists for a new car purchase is 7.69% (for a loan of $9,999 for 72 months with the AutoPay discount of 0.5%). If you know your credit score, you can get an idea of the interest rate you might qualify for.
Applying to LightStream
- Loan offers good for up to 30 days; applicants are not obligated to accept
- No application or late payment fee
- Co-signers allowed
- Once you accept an offer, funds can be directly deposited within one business day (if all documents are completed by 2:30 p.m. ET)
- Loan terms: 24 to 84 months (NerdWallet doesn’t recommend loans over 60 months)
- No restrictions on vehicle age/mileage
- Available in all 50 states
- Online applications only (no email, fax or telephone applications)
How LightStream compares
A big difference between LightStream and other lenders we reviewed is flexibility. LightStream has few restrictions and even offers unsecured loans for borrowers with excellent credit. These auto loans eliminate the need to complete extra lien holder paperwork, and you can use the funds to purchase any vehicle from any seller.
The table below shows how LightStream compares with other lenders that offer purchase loans. (Some companies provide loans directly while others may shop for loans for you from a network of lender partners.)
|Lender||APRs||Minimum FICO||Loan amount||Hard pull to see rates?|
|LightStream||3.09%* to 7.69%*||660||$5,000 to $100,000||Yes|
|MyAutoloan||1.99% to 24.9%||500||$7,500 to $100,000||Yes|
|Capital One||As low as 3.24%**||500||$4,000 to $40,000||No|
|SpringboardAuto.com||5% and up*** ||500||$7,500 to $45,000||No|
More from LightStream
LightStream offers personal loans as well as financing for things like weddings, swimming pools, boats, horses and horse trailers and home improvement — “a fixed rate loan for practically anything,” the website states.
LightStream has a customer satisfaction guarantee: $100 back if you’re not satisfied with your experience after receiving a loan. The company also says it will beat a competitor’s interest rate by one-tenth of a percentage point (0.10) if your competing offer meets certain requirements.
Shopping for an auto loan
To review LightStream, NerdWallet collected more than 30 data points from the lender, interviewed company executives, 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.