RateGenius Auto Refinance Loans: 2017 Review

Auto Loans, Loans
rategenius-auto-refinance-loans-2017-review-story

Best for: Good credit applicants looking for a streamlined process to refinance an auto loan

RateGenius is a “vehicle refinance loan broker,” which means that the company does most of the work of shopping for a refinance loan for you.

When you apply, rateGenius searches its network of lender partners to find you the best offer and helps you complete the loan approval process with that lender.

If you qualify for a lower rate, refinancing your auto loan can save you a sizable chunk of money over the life of your loan — get an idea of how much by using our refinance calculator. According to data on the rateGenius website, refinance customers save an average of $89 per month.

The company

  • Helps borrowers find refinance auto loans, not purchase loans
  • Matches applicants with lenders and helps handle the paperwork
  • Has 149 lender partners, a majority of which are credit unions
  • Is available in all 50 states

RateGenius auto refinance loans at a glance

APRMinimum: 2.49%


Average: 4.98%


Maximum: 18%
Loan amounts$10,000 - $90,000
Time to funding3-10 business days
Application feeNone
Soft credit check with application?No; hard pull is required

RateGenius review details

To review rateGenius, 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.

RateGenius is good for

RateGenius takes the reins in matching you to a lender to refinance your car loan. It’s helpful for customers with good credit who value a streamlined, hands-off process, but who still want the benefit of comparison shopping. Because a hard credit inquiry is required to receive a preapproved loan offer, rateGenius is best for serious shoppers who intend to get an auto refinance loan.

Minimum requirements

The company doesn’t require sky-high credit and income to apply, but good credit is a plus. RateGenius mostly works with credit unions, which tend to have higher credit requirements than other lenders, but it also partners with a few larger financial institutions that lend on a broader credit spectrum.

To apply to refinance through rateGenius, you must have minimum income of $2,000 per month and a minimum credit score of 525. However, the average rateGenius customer’s credit score is 690.

Application process

The rateGenius application asks for your current loan information (name of the current lien holder and monthly payment) and vehicle information (make, model, style and current mileage). This can be completed online or by phone.

RateGenius compares your application to the lending criteria of its partners, including factors like years of employment and whether you meet a credit union’s membership requirements. A rateGenius loan officer reviews potential lenders and then submits your application to the one with the best rate.

At this point, the lender performs a hard pull, which will slightly lower your credit score, to provide a preapproved loan offer. If your application is denied, rateGenius will try up to two more lenders. Additional hard pulls will be performed by those lenders, but credit reporting agencies generally consider these as one hard inquiry because they occur within the rate shopping window (14-30 days).

However, if rateGenius reviews an application and doesn’t think a lender will approve the loan, there won’t be a hard credit pull. Instead, rateGenius will contact you to review the loan information.

Finalizing the loan

Once you accept a loan offer, rateGenius will collect the necessary documents and finalize the new loan in your name. Finally, the funds are released to rateGenius, which pays off the previous lien holder and handles the title work for the new lender.

You could be preapproved for a loan in as little as two to three hours. However, from application to funding, the entire process takes three to 10 days. This depends on how quickly borrowers are able to gather and deliver the necessary documents to rateGenius and how quickly lenders can finalize the loan.

The company tries to streamline the process as much as possible, but some lenders require more paperwork than others, says Jonathan Olsen, who works on business development for rateGenius. “Generally, the further down the credit tier, the more documents are needed to finalize the loan,” he says.

Restrictions

Restrictions vary by lender, so more details may come in when you apply for your loan with the recommended company. For rateGenius’ application, the maximum vehicle age is 10 years, but there are some lenders that refinance regardless of age. However, this is rare and typically only for customers with excellent credit, Olsen says. Similarly, rateGenius’ preferred maximum mileage is 100,000, but some lenders may refinance cars with up to 150,000 miles.

Loan terms range from 24 to 87 months, but NerdWallet does not typically recommend loans over 60 months.

Fees

RateGenius does not charge any application fees and you’re not obligated to accept its loan offer. But some lenders may impose loan processing or late fees, so be sure to check your loan agreement for details.

Rate shopping

It’s smart to comparison shop when you want to get an auto loan of any kind. That can, however, lead to being contacted by lenders and even dealers. If you’re concerned about your data, review rateGenius’ privacy settings before submitting an application to see if there’s anything you want to opt out of. Note that rateGenius is also an insurance broker (rateGenius Insurance Agency) and may contact you with offers once approved for a loan.

In general, read the privacy information on a provider’s website if you’re worried about getting overwhelmed by calls and emails. To help with that, create a new email account and get a Google Voice phone number that you can check separately. Both options are free and can be used for other shopping needs.

Before you refinance

Thanks to the internet and competition in the marketplace, many auto loan refinance opportunities are available to you. But just because you qualify for a new loan doesn’t mean you have to take it. When shopping for a refinance loan, select the one that fits into your budget and helps you achieve your long-term financial goals.

More from NerdWallet

See more car loan providers
See more auto loan refinance options
See if auto loan refinancing is right for you

Nicole Arata is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: narata@nerdwallet.com.