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LightStream Auto Loans: 2018 Review

Oct. 10, 2018
Auto Loans, Loans
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.
5.0 NerdWallet rating

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

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*
New dealer purchase: 3.34% to 8.34%
Used dealer purchase: 3.34% to 8.19%
Private party purchase: 4.39% to 9.79%
Refinance: 3.34% to 9.19%
Lease buyout: 3.64% to 10.29%

(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
*APR is used to evaluate the true cost of borrowing money and includes the interest rate.

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 3.34%, 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 8.34% (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)

Restrictions

  • 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.


CompanyMin credit scoreMin monthly incomeAPRsHard pull?Get started
MyAutoloan
3.5 NerdWallet rating
500$1,1001.99% - 24.9% Yes
CarFinance.com
3.5 NerdWallet rating
525None7.99% - 14.99% Yes
Consumers Credit Union
3.0 NerdWallet rating
640$500; $2,000 preferred2.24% - 21.99%Yes
LightStream
5.0 NerdWallet rating
660None3.34% - 8.34%***Yes
Capital One
4.0 NerdWallet rating
500$1,500 - $1,800As low as 3.99%*No
SpringboardAuto
3.0 NerdWallet rating
500$2,0005% and up**No
*For excellent credit **Max varies by state ***With autopay discount


CompanyMin credit score, monthly incomeGet started
MyAutoloan
3.5 NerdWallet rating
500

$1,100
CarFinance.com
3.5 NerdWallet rating
525

None
Consumers Credit Union
3.0 NerdWallet rating
640

$500; $2,000 preferred
LightStream
5.0 NerdWallet rating
660

None
Capital One
4.0 NerdWallet rating
500

$1,500 - $1,800
SpringboardAuto
3.0 NerdWallet rating
500

$2,000

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


Auto Loans Ratings Methodology

NerdWallet’s auto loans ratings reward lenders offering the most transparency and consumer-friendly features. Ratings are based on weighted averages of several categories, including flexibility of loan options, clarity of borrower requirements, accessibility, speed of funding and fees. Using our editorial discretion, we also consider consumer reviews and complaints. These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around to find the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

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