LightStream Auto Purchase, Refinance and Lease Buyout Loans: 2023 Review

LightStream provides auto loans for new and used car purchases, refinancing and lease buyouts for borrowers with good to excellent credit.
By Shannon Bradley and  Whitney Vandiver 

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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
6.49-14.24%
Loan amount
$5,000-$100,000
Min. credit score
660
Learn more

on LightStream's website

Pros

  • Available in all states.

  • Customer service available on Saturday.

  • No origination fee.

  • Fully online application available.

  • Co-borrowers or co-signers allowed.

  • No vehicle restrictions.

  • No down payment requirements.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer pre-qualification with a soft credit check.

  • Doesn’t provide a Spanish version of website.

Best for borrowers with good or excellent credit wanting to buy a new car.

Full Review

LightStream offers new and used car purchase loans, refinance loans and lease buyout loans. It also offers 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, income-to-debt ratio 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 on a day when banks are open. 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.

  • 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, time at address, phone number, email address, citizenship status, birthdate, employment status, employer name, housing status, housing payment amount and other income, assets, savings and retirement.

  • Pre-qualification available: No.

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

  • Approval speed: Same day if completed in time.

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 660.

  • Minimum credit history: None.

  • Minimum annual gross income: None.

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

  • Bankruptcy-related restrictions: Borrowers cannot have a bankruptcy record within the last 5 years.

  • States covered: All states.

  • Maximum vehicle age: None.

  • Maximum vehicle mileage: None.

  • Other vehicle restrictions: None.

  • Loan amount minimum: $5,000.

  • Loan amount maximum: $100,000.

  • Maximum loan-to-value ratio: Did not disclose.

  • Refinancing restrictions: Borrowers cannot submit an application until the original loan appears on a credit report. There is no wait period after the original loan appears.

  • Loan terms: 24-84 months.

  • Rate discount: 0.5% if automatic payment is used.

  • Greater-than-minimum payments: Accepted and can be made by automatic payment.

  • Biweekly payments: No.

  • Late payment fee: No.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Co-borrowers allowed: Yes.

  • Co-signers allowed: Yes.

  • Payment options: By check through the mail or electronic ACH.

  • Selected payment due date: Can be selected when completing loan paperwork.

  • Cash-out refinancing: No.

  • Hardship plans: Yes. Each borrower’s hardship request is reviewed individually.

  • Existing loan payoff: Electronically with the previous lender.

  • Assistance provided: Customer service is available six days a week, and application processing assistance is available seven days a week.

  • Availability: Customer Service is available Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Sat, noon - 4 p.m. ET. Application processing is available Mon - Fri, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sat - Sun, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

  • Contact options: Phone and email.

How does this loan compare?

LightStream
Ally
Consumers Credit Union
Est. APR

6.49-14.24%

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
6.99-14.74%
Loan amount
$5,000-$100,000
Min. credit score
660
Learn more

on LightStream's website

Pros

  • Available in all states.

  • Customer service available on Saturday.

  • No origination fee.

  • Fully online application available.

  • Co-borrowers or co-signers allowed.

  • No vehicle restrictions.

  • No down payment requirements.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer pre-qualification with a soft credit check.

  • Doesn’t provide a Spanish version of website.

Best for borrowers with good or excellent credit wanting to buy a used car — either from a dealer or private party.

Auto loan refinancing review

LightStream

Not yet rated

Est. APR
6.99-14.74%
Loan amount
$5,000-$100,000
Min. credit score
660
Learn more

on LightStream's website

Pros

  • Available in all states.

  • Customer service available on Saturday.

  • No origination fee.

  • Fully online application available.

  • Co-borrowers or co-signers allowed.

  • No vehicle restrictions.

  • No down payment requirements.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer pre-qualification with a soft credit check.

  • Doesn’t provide a Spanish version of website.

Best for borrowers with good or excellent credit wanting to refinance a vehicle without restrictions on the type, age or mileage of the vehicle.

Auto lease buyout loan review

LightStream

Not yet rated

Est. APR
6.99-14.74%
Loan amount
$5,000-$100,000
Min. credit score
660
Learn more

on LightStream's website

Pros

  • Available in all states.

  • Customer service available on Saturday.

  • No origination fee.

  • Fully online application available.

  • Co-borrowers or co-signers allowed.

  • No vehicle restrictions.

  • No down payment requirements.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer pre-qualification with a soft credit check.

  • Doesn’t provide a Spanish version of website.

Best for borrowers with good or excellent credit wanting to buyout a leased vehicle without restrictions on the type, age or mileage of the vehicle.

More from LightStream

Based in San Diego, California, in addition to new and used auto purchase and auto refinance loans, LightStream offers debt consolidation and personal loans.

LightStream also offers a program to beat competitors’ loan rates on unsecured loans. If you are approved for an unsecured loan with the same terms but a lower rate than what LightStream offered, the company will reduce your offered rate by 0.10 percentage points. There are additional terms to qualify for the reduced rate, so not all offers will qualify.

LightStream auto loan rates

Credit requirements vary by auto lender, but LightStream’s lowest rates are typically available only to borrowers with good or excellent credit (a FICO score of 690 and above). 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.

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