Carvana Review 2022: Buying, Selling, Financing

Carvana is an online used-car retailer that also offers financing for the cars it sells.
Apr 11, 2022

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Our Take

The bottom line:

Best for used-car shoppers wanting a simple online car shopping and financing experience. Bad- or fair-credit borrowers may qualify.

Carvana
Est. APR
3.90-27.90%
Loan amount
$1,000-$100,000
Min. credit score
450
Learn more

on Carvana's website

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers pre-qualification with a soft credit check.
  • Customer service available seven days a week.
  • Borrowers can change their payment due date via the Carvana app.
  • Application process 100% online including document upload.
  • Minimum loan amount is lower than other lenders.

Cons

  • Maximum APR possible is higher than many other lenders.
  • Only finances vehicles sold through Carvana.
  • Not available in Alaska or Hawaii.

Compare to Other Lenders

Carvana
Consumers Credit Union
MyAutoloan
Est. APR

3.90-27.90%

Est. APR

3.99-18.54%

Est. APR

1.99-21.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$100,000

Loan amount

$7,500-No max.

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

450

Min. credit score

620

Min. credit score

575

Full Review

How does Carvana work?

Carvana is an online-only used car retailer that also offers financing and warranties for the vehicles it sells. Online car buyers can choose a car from the Carvana website, select financing terms and complete loan paperwork — all from home.

Carvana keeps an inventory of more than 25,000 vehicles, most with low mileage. Each receives a 150-point inspection and comes with a free Carfax vehicle history report. Carvana prices are non-negotiable.

Carvana also accepts trade-ins and buys cars outright. (You may save money on sales tax with a trade-in.)

When buying a car outside Carvana's local markets, you pay shipping costs. If you're trading or selling, you must take your vehicle to one of Carvana’s service areas.

This review looks first at Carvana financing options and then at buying or selling through Carvana.

Carvana financing

Carvana is unlike most car dealerships because it lends directly to consumers. Most car dealers don’t make loans; instead, they find you a loan from a bank or other lender. Carvana offers third-party financing, but it says 80% of its buyers use Carvana in-house financing.

Carvana has no minimum credit score or credit history requirements and says it extends credit to customers with a broad range of credit profiles. This includes car buyers with bad credit — typically FICO scores below 630 — who may have trouble getting loans from traditional dealerships and lenders.

Carvana does require that borrowers have an annual gross income of at least $4,000 and no active bankruptcies. Carvana shoppers can pre-qualify with a soft credit inquiry, which does not affect credit scores.

Carvana does not allow loan co-signers, which eliminates an option to help some borrowers qualify. However, customers can pay with cash or finance with an outside lender that allows co-signers. You’ll need to provide the lender’s information to Carvana when you begin the buying process. Carvana has a list of lenders it does not work with, including Chase Bank, Wells Fargo and Ally Bank.

NerdWallet strongly recommends getting a preapproved auto loan before shopping, so you can compare the rate with Carvana’s offer. (Check out Nerdwallet's comparison of auto loans, rates and lenders.) If you finance with Carvana, consider whether refinancing your auto loan with another lender after a few payments could lower your rate.

Carvana may be a good fit for those who:

  • Want a simple process for buying and financing a car. Carvana enables car buyers to browse and select used cars, arrange financing and schedule pickup or delivery from one website.

  • Have good or excellent credit. While Carvana does provide financing for car buyers with bad credit, loans for these borrowers may have a much higher APR than rates available from other lenders.

  • Want more choices when buying a used car. Carvana provides access to a large inventory of used vehicles, along with a seven-day, money-back guarantee.

Carvana financing at a glance

Note that Carvana serves as a direct lender but also allows third-party financing. Information below pertains to Carvana financing.

Application process
  • Origination fee: None.

  • Personal information needed: Address, phone number, email address, employment status, income.

  • Pre-qualification available: Yes, applicants receive pre-qualification terms in two minutes with a soft credit inquiry. Offers are good for 45 days.

  • Online, in-person or both: Process is 100% online, including document upload.

  • Approval speed: Two to three minutes from application submission.

  • Funding: Same day as loan closing.

Qualifications
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 450.

  • Minimum credit history: None.

  • Minimum annual gross income: $4,000.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.

  • Bankruptcy-related restrictions: No active bankruptcies.

  • States covered: All except AK, HI.

Restrictions
  • Maximum vehicle age: Did not disclose.

  • Maximum vehicle mileage: Did not disclose.

  • Other vehicle restrictions: Only vehicles purchased through Carvana.

  • Loan amount minimum: $1,000.

  • Loan amount maximum: $100,000.

Other loan details
  • Loan terms: 12-72 months.

  • Automatic payment: Available but not required.

  • Rate discount: Discount possible with autopay.

  • Greater-than-minimum payments: Yes, and can be made through automatic payment.

  • Biweekly payments: Not accepted by automatic payment.

  • Late payment fee: Yes, amount not provided.

  • Prepayment penalty: None.

  • Co-borrowers allowed: No.

  • Co-signers allowed: No.

  • Payment options: Mailed-in check, mobile app, online, ACH, in person.

  • Selected payment due date: Yes, after signing loan agreement. After first payment, borrowers can change their payment due date by logging into their account on the web or through the Carvana app.

  • Hardship plans: Not available.

Customer service
  • Availability: Monday-Sunday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. ET.

  • Contact options: Phone, online chat, text.

Buying a car from Carvana

Key facts

  • No-haggle pricing. No negotiations on sales or trade-in offers.

  • 7-day money-back guarantee.

  • Delivery fees up to $599 outside local Carvana markets.

  • Does not accept credit cards for down payments.

Carvana keeps an inventory of more than 25,000 vehicles, most with low mileage. You can verify a vehicle's condition with a free Carfax report, 360-degree photos and the results of Carvana's 150-point inspection process. All vehicles have clean titles, no reported accidents, fire, frame or flood damage.

Carvana operates in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. If you live in one of Carvana’s local markets, you may be able to pick up a car from a Carvana “vending machine.” Otherwise you will pay to have a car shipped to you.

Does Carvana sell new cars?

Carvana sells used cars, but much of its inventory is low-mileage, late-model vehicles.

Can you negotiate with Carvana?

No, Carvana says it does not negotiate on pricing.

Costs and fees

No deposit is required to hold a vehicle. A "Purchase Pending" message signals an order in process for a listed vehicle. Carvana does accept $100 deposits by credit card to hold vehicles not yet prepared for sale.

There is a nonrefundable delivery charge of up to $599 that appears automatically if you select a car that requires shipment. You can also filter for free delivery. If you fly to a pickup city, Carvana will subsidize up to $200 of your airfare, and pick you up from the airport.

Guarantees and warranties

Carvana offers a seven-day money-back guarantee, with a limit of 400 miles. A returned vehicle may be exchanged for another vehicle or for a refund, minus delivery fees. NerdWallet strongly recommends you pay for a vehicle inspection during this period.

For all cars purchased through Carvana, any balance of the factory's warranty carries over. Also, Carvana offers a 100 day/4,189-mile warranty against mechanical and electrical failures on all vehicles.

Other car-buying details
  • Does Carvana accept credit cards for down payments? No. You can link a bank account, set up an ACH withdrawal from your bank account, or use a cashier's check.

  • Is extended warranty coverage available? Yes, it's called CarvanaCare, and it has a $0 deductible on covered repairs; price varies by vehicle and coverage level.

  • Is gap insurance available? Yes.

Selling or trading in a car with Carvana

Key facts

  • No negotiations on sales or trade-in offers.

  • Offers are good for 7 days.

  • No free pickup outside local Carvana markets.

  • Leased cars, negative equity accepted.

If you're looking to sell your car online, Carvana accepts trade-ins and buys cars outright. Trading in a car may reduce the amount of sales tax you pay.

You'll need to provide your car's 17-digit VIN or license plate number, mileage, vehicle options, and loan or lease information. You'll also need to provide your ZIP code and email address, and fill out a condition questionnaire.

Carvana operates in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. If you're trading or selling a car, you must get your vehicle to one of Carvana’s service areas.

Can you negotiate with Carvana?

No. Carvana says it makes its best offer upfront and will not match another price or negotiate. If Carvana makes an offer on your car, that offer is good for seven days.

Will Carvana buy my car if I owe on it?

If you owe more than Carvana offers, you will need to provide a cashier's check for any shortage. If you're trading the car for a Carvana vehicle, you may be able to finance the negative equity by increasing your loan amount by up to $2,500.

Does Carvana buy leased vehicles?

Yes, if the leasing company allows third-party transactions. If not, you can buy out your lease at its residual price, obtain a new title in your name, and get a new offer.

Other car-selling details
  • Does Carvana have restrictions on trade-in vehicles? Yes, cars must be newer than model year 1992, safe to drive, and have a working odometer. If you live outside a Carvana delivery market, you'll need to get to one, even if you're purchasing a Carvana car. Carvana buys cars with previous accidents or branded titles but does not sell them on its site.

  • What more is needed to complete a sale? A photo showing current odometer reading, and driver's license photos of persons listed on the title and registration. If you own the car, you'll need a picture of the front and back of your paper title. If your title still reflects a lien, you'll need to upload a lien release document. If you have a loan, you'll need a photo of your registration and of the 10-day payoff statement from the lender.

  • Will Carvana pick up my car? In markets it serves locally, yes. Otherwise you will need to drive to meet a Carvana representative in one of the areas it does serve.

To review Carvana, NerdWallet sent a survey to Carvana requesting more than 60 data points and followed up with company representatives. The information was compared with other lenders that seek the same customer or offer a similar product.

Learn more

on Carvana's website

Frequently asked questions