LightStream Auto Purchase, Refinance and Lease Buyout Loans: 2022 Review

LightStream provides low-rate auto loans for purchases and refinancing, but only for borrowers with good credit.

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Auto loan reviews

LightStream
  • New auto purchase loan

  • Used auto purchase loan

  • Auto loan refinancing

  • Auto lease buyout loan

The bottom line:

Best for borrowers with good or excellent credit wanting to buy a new or used car — either from a dealer or private party — or to refinance an existing loan or buy out a lease.

New auto purchase loan review

LightStream

Not yet rated

Est. APR
6.49-12.49%
Loan amount
$5,000-$100,000
Min. credit score
660
Learn more

on LightStream's website

Pros

  • Competitive rates compared with similar lenders.

  • Offers rate discount with automatic payment.

  • Has a loan experience satisfaction guarantee.

  • No origination or late fees.

  • Available in all 50 states.

  • No vehicle restrictions.

Cons

  • Hard credit inquiry required.

  • High minimum credit score required.

Best for borrowers with good or excellent credit looking for a flexible, no-hassle new car loan.

Full Review

LightStream offers new and used car purchase loans, refinance loans and lease buyout loans. It also offers private party purchase loans and financing for classic cars.

With a minimum credit score requirement of 660, LightStream auto loans focus on borrowers with good or excellent credit (690 or higher on the FICO score model). The company says that credit score is not the only indicator of whether a loan is approved. LightStream also looks closely at credit history, assets, savings and other information that would show an applicant’s strong financial position.

The LightStream website provides a “find your rate” feature to check current rates. With this tool, a person can select an auto loan type, enter a loan amount, and see possible rates and estimated payments for various loan terms. The rates shown are for borrowers with excellent credit who opt for automatic payment. LightStream offers a 0.50 percentage point rate discount with automatic payment.

LightStream provides a fast and consumer-friendly loan process for borrowers with good or excellent credit. Auto loan applications are only taken online; they include enough information to allow an approval decision the day an application is submitted. LightStream requires a hard credit pull upfront, which can slightly lower an applicant’s credit score, so it may not be the best option for someone just shopping rates and not ready to move forward with a loan.

Once a loan offer is accepted, applicants can receive funds as soon as the day an application is submitted, if all paperwork is complete by 2:30 p.m. ET. Funds can be directly deposited to the borrower’s personal bank account or sent by wire transfer.

LightStream stands out from other lenders by offering a loan experience guarantee. If borrowers aren’t happy and have had a loan for less than 30 days, they can contact LightStream, complete a questionnaire and receive $100.

LightStream may be a good fit for those who:

  • Have good or excellent credit: LightStream offers low rates for borrowers with good or excellent credit, and a rate discount is available when automatic payment is used.

  • Want fast funding: After loan approval, funds can be available as fast as the same day and sent by direct deposit to a personal bank account.

  • Like maximum flexibility: LightStream has no vehicle restrictions on make, model or mileage. Lightstream auto loans are unsecured, meaning the car is not used as collateral, and LightStream does not hold the title of the car while the loan is being paid off.

LightStream at a glance

Application process
  • Origination fee: None.

  • Personal information needed:  Social Security number or ITIN, address, length of time at address, phone number, email address, citizenship status, birthdate, employment status, employer name, housing status, housing payment amount, driver's license number.

  • Pre-qualification available: No.

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

  • Approval speed: As soon as the same day an application is submitted.

  • Funding: As soon as the day an application is submitted.

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 660.

  • Minimum credit history: No minimum, but credit history is considered for loan approval.

  • Minimum annual gross income: No minimum, but income is considered for loan approval.

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

  • Bankruptcy-related restrictions:  Has restrictions but details not disclosed.

  • States covered:  All 50 states.

  • Maximum vehicle age: None.

  • Maximum vehicle mileage: None.

  • Other vehicle restrictions: None. Used cars can be purchased from franchised dealers, independent dealers and private parties.

  • Loan amount minimum: $5,000.

  • Loan amount maximum: $100,000.

  • Loan terms: 24-84 months.

  • Automatic payment: Available but not required.

  • Rate discount: Yes, 0.50 percentage points if automatic payment is used.

  • Greater-than-minimum payments: Accepted and can be made by automatic payment. Surplus is automatically applied directly to principal.

  • Biweekly payments: Accepted but not through automatic payment.

  • Late payment fee: None.

  • Prepayment penalty: None.

  • Co-borrowers allowed: Yes.

  • Co-signers allowed: Yes.

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

  • Selected payment due date: Borrower can select payment due date up until date loan is funded.

  • Cash-out refinancing: Not offered.

  • Hardship plans: Yes. Varies by individual.

  • Assistance provided: The only customer service option on the LightStream website is an email form with the promise of a response during normal business hours. According to LightStream, borrowers receive a phone number for customer service after their loan is approved.

  • Availability: Customer service: Monday to Friday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. ET, Saturday noon to 4 p.m. ET. Loan application processing: Monday to Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ET, Saturday and Sunday 1 p.m.-6 p.m. ET. (Customer calls and emails may not be answered during application processing hours.)

  • Contact options: Phone, email, social media.

How does this loan compare?

LightStream
Ally Clearlane
Consumers Credit Union
Est. APR

6.49-12.49%

Est. APR

7.29-22.24%

Est. APR

3.49-21.24%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Loan amount

$5,000-$99,999

Loan amount

$7,500-$500,000

Min. credit score

660

Min. credit score

520

Min. credit score

620

Used auto purchase loan review

LightStream

Not yet rated

Est. APR
6.49-12.49%
Loan amount
$5,000-$100,000
Min. credit score
660
Learn more

on LightStream's website

Pros

  • Competitive rates, with used car rates the same as new car rates.

  • No vehicle or mileage restrictions.

  • Finances purchases from private parties.

  • Offers rate discount with automatic payment.

  • Has loan experience satisfaction guarantee.

  • No origination or late fees.

Cons

  • Hard credit inquiry required.

  • High minimum credit score required.

Best for borrowers with good or excellent credit looking for a flexible, no-hassle used car loan.

Auto loan refinancing review

LightStream

Not yet rated

Est. APR
6.99-12.99%
Loan amount
$5,000-$100,000
Min. credit score
660
Learn more

on LightStream's website

Pros

  • Competitive rates compared to similar lenders.

  • Offers rate discount with automatic payment.

  • Has a loan experience satisfaction guarantee.

  • No origination or late fees.

  • Available in all 50 states.

  • No vehicle restrictions.

Cons

  • Hard credit inquiry required.

  • High minimum credit score required.

Best for borrowers with good credit looking for fast, flexible auto refinancing.

Auto lease buyout loan review

LightStream

Not yet rated

Est. APR
6.99-12.99%
Loan amount
$5,000-$100,000
Min. credit score
660
Learn more

on LightStream's website

Pros

  • Offers rate discount with automatic payment.

  • Has a loan experience satisfaction guarantee.

  • No origination or late fees.

  • Available in all 50 states.

  • No vehicle restrictions.

Cons

  • Rate for excellent-credit borrowers higher than similar lenders.

  • Hard credit inquiry required.

  • High minimum credit score required.

Best for borrowers with good or excellent credit looking for fast, flexible financing to purchase their leased vehicle.

More from LightStream

LightStream offers personal loans for many purposes. LightStream will finance home improvements, recreational vehicles, weddings, adoptions, debt consolidation and even horses and horse trailers.

Lightstream offers a “rate beat program,” and says it will beat a competitor’s interest rate by 0.10 percentage points if the competing offer is for an unsecured loan, is within a certain timeframe and meets other designated requirements.

Through its “One loan. One tree” program, LightStream plants a tree each time it funds a loan for a customer. This partnership with the organization American Forests has resulted in more than a million trees being planted.

LightStream auto loan rates

LightStream has a narrow band of interest rates because of its focus on customers with good and excellent credit. LightStream’s lowest rates are available only for borrowers with excellent credit. Borrowers with less than excellent credit will typically receive a higher interest rate, which results in a higher monthly payment and more interest paid over time.

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 661-780, a car loan of$20,000, a repayment term of 48 months, an interest rate of 4.5%, and a down payment of $0 would have monthly payments of $457.

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

Frequently asked questions