Caribou Auto Loan Refinancing: 2023 Review
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Pros & Cons
Applicants can pre-qualify with a soft credit check.
Application process 100% online including document upload.
Social Security number not required to see pre-qualified offers.
Works with a network of lenders to show multiple offers.
Charges an origination/processing fee of $399.
Not available in all states.
Customer support not available on weekends.
Compare to Other Lenders
Caribou has been in business since 2016, formerly as MotoRefi. Caribou partners with a network of lenders, mainly community banks and credit unions, to provide auto loan refinancing. It does not offer auto purchase loans.
Caribou finds the best lender matches within its network for each applicant. Using a soft credit check, Caribou presents pre-qualified offers with rates, usually within seconds of application submission. Pre-qualification is not approval. Once an offer is selected and submitted, Caribou or the lender will do a hard credit pull, which can affect applicant credit scores.
The entire application process, from pre-qualification to funding and title change, is accessible online — with live customer support available by phone, email and live chat. Live chat appointments can also be scheduled from the Caribou website. After loan closing, servicing transfers to the lender.
Uber drivers wanting to refinance their cars may find Caribou to be a good fit. Caribou has an exclusive Uber partnership to provide drivers expedited access to lenders who can accommodate rideshare vehicles.
Caribou is an auto loan aggregator, meaning it works with a network of lenders to match borrowers with loans. Aspects of your loan — such as fees, service and how your personal information is used — will depend on the lender.
Caribou may be a good fit for those who:
Want to compare rates: Pre-qualification with a soft credit check will not affect an applicant's credit score.
Prefer an online application process: Caribou’s application process is 100% digital, from pre-qualification to e-signing and vehicle title transfer.
Want to receive a car insurance quote too: Caribou bundles car insurance with auto loan refinancing, so applicants can refinance and request a car insurance quote from a national carrier through one application.
Caribou at a glance
Caribou works with many different lenders, so the information provided here is general and can reflect the high or low end available among its lending partners.
- Application process
Origination fee: Yes, there is a fee of $399, which can be financed back into the loan.
Personal information needed: For the initial application, applicants will need their address, time at address, email, citizenship status, birthdate, employment status, housing status, housing payment amount and basic vehicle information. Later in the loan process, a Social Security number is required for a hard credit check.
Pre-qualification available: Yes, borrowers can pre-qualify with a soft credit check. They will receive multiple pre-qualified offers with estimated rates. Offers are good for 30-60 days, depending on the lender.
Online, in-person or both: Process is 100% online, including document upload.
Approval speed: Pre-qualification offers are immediate in most cases. Preapproval is not offered.
Minimum FICO credit score: 620.
Minimum credit history: There is a minimum length of credit history requirement in nearly all cases. Among the lenders with a credit history requirement, the shortest is three months.
Minimum annual gross income: There is a minimum income requirement in nearly all cases. Among lenders with a minimum income requirement, the lowest is $24,000 annual gross income.
Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 60%.
Bankruptcy-related restrictions: There are bankruptcy-related restrictions in nearly all cases. Did not provide details, but says bankruptcy restrictions are handled on a case-by-case basis.
States covered: Not available in MD, MS, NE, NV, MA, WI, WV.
Maximum vehicle age: At least one lender in the Caribou network has no restrictions for maximum vehicle age.
Maximum vehicle mileage: At least one lender in the Caribou network has no restrictions for maximum vehicle mileage.
Other vehicle restrictions: None.
Loan amount minimum: $10,000.
Loan amount maximum: $60,000.
Maximum loan-to-value ratio: 125%.
Refinancing restrictions: Some lending partners will refinance as soon as the vehicle title can be transferred and others require a waiting period. Among lenders with a waiting period, the longest is three months.
- Other loan details
Loan terms: 24-96 months.
Rate discount: A few lenders in the Caribou lending network offer an APR discount when a borrower sets up automatic payment. Discount amount not disclosed.
Greater-than-minimum payments: They are accepted by all Caribou lending partners and can be made by automatic payment. The surplus is applied directly to principal as designated by the customer with each payment.
Bi-weekly payments: They are accepted by most Caribou lenders and can be made by automatic payment in most cases.
Late payment fee: Does not know if lenders charge a late payment fee.
Prepayment penalty: None.
Co-applicants allowed: Co-signers and co-borrowers are allowed. Co-applicants can apply at the same time.
Payment options: Vary by lender, but may include payments made by mailed check, phone, online banking or portal, mobile app or ACH (electronic bank-to-bank)
Selected payment date: Borrowers are able to select their payment due date in most cases. Can be done when signing paperwork to complete the loan.
Cash-out refinancing: Not offered.
Hardship plans: Does not know if lenders offer hardship plans.
Existing loan payoff: Funds are sent directly to the previous lender, electronically if possible.
- Customer service
Assistance provided: During the application process, borrowers work with Caribou's customer service team. Afterward, loan servicing (payments, questions, issues, etc.) are handled by the lender.
Availability: Caribou's customer service hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.
Contact options: Phone, email, chat through website or online portal, website form.
More from Caribou
Caribou also offers the option to bundle auto insurance with an auto refinance loan. When submitting an auto refinance loan application, borrowers are given the option to also request a car insurance quote. Additional products offered are total loss protection or gap insurance, extended vehicle protection, key replacement and cosmetic care packages. Borrowers who want to reduce car expenses should consider how adding services can increase the cost of their loan.
Many lenders quantify how much money they save customers, and Caribou says it saves clients an average of $110 monthly in car payments. NerdWallet is unable to verify these claims. The Caribou website also offers a tool where you can search for the average payment savings by make and model of vehicle.
Caribou auto loan rates
Credit requirements vary by lender, but Caribou's lowest rates are typically available only to borrowers with good or excellent credit (a FICO score of 690 or higher). With fair or bad credit, you won’t get the lowest interest rates, which means your monthly payment and total interest paid will be more.
You can check your credit score before applying for a car loan.
Loan example: According to NerdWallet's auto loan calculator that uses the VantageScore credit model, a borrower with a credit score of 300-499 (considered deep subprime), a $20,000 used car loan, repayment term of 72 months, interest rate of 18% APR and $0 down payment would have monthly payments of $456. One year later, if all payments were made on time, the borrower will have paid the loan down to a balance of $17,963. If the borrower is able to then refinance at 12% APR for the remaining 60 months, the payment would drop to $399 and result in interest savings of $3,394 over the life of the loan.
How do we review auto loan aggregators?
NerdWallet's review process surveys companies that offer any combination of new car purchase loans, used car purchase loans, auto refinance loans (traditional and/or cash-out) and lease buyout loans. These companies include direct lenders and aggregators; the latter group doesn't have in-house loan products but matches borrowers to third-party lenders within a network. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.
Because aggregators are not the actual lender and servicing of the loan passes to the lender in most cases, NerdWallet focuses most heavily on the front end of the loan process. This includes level of service/support and transparency, with less focus on the actual loan product. In all, our survey for aggregators includes more than 60 data points. NerdWallet independently confirms product details and, when necessary, follows up with company representatives. At least two writers and an editor verify the facts for every lender review to ensure data are accurate.
To receive a star rating, an aggregator must respond to NerdWallet’s annual auto loans survey. Star ratings are then assessed from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars).
For more details about the categories considered when rating aggregators and our process, read our full methodology.
Frequently asked questions
- Who is MotoRefi?
MotoRefi is the former name of Caribou, a provider of auto refinancing loans and car insurance.
- Is Caribou a legitimate company?
Caribou, formerly MotoRefi, is an auto loan refinancing company based in Washington, D.C. The company was founded in 2016 and is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, where it has received an A+ rating. It provides loans through a network of lenders, primarily community banks and credit unions.
Caribou has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot, a business review and reputation management platform.
- Does Caribou share personal information?