LightStream Auto Loans Review

While you might not have heard of LightStream before, you’ve surely heard of the mega-bank SunTrust, now merged with BB&T to form Truist. LightStream car loans are responsible for financing well over $13 billion worth of new and used car auto loans. Around now for nearly a decade, LightStream car loans are already making a positive splash on the industry with competitive interest rates, the availability of same-day funding and an impressive rate-beating program.

How LightStream stacks up

Pros

  • Same-day funding available
  • Up to $100,000 available
  • Will beat competitor rates by 0.10%

Cons

  • Smallest loan offered is $5,000
  • Higher rates without auto-pay
  • Strict credit criteria for qualifying

What’s interesting about LightStream

A LightStream car loan is attractive compared to the other industry options for several reasons. First, while the company was founded in 2013, its a division fully backed by SunTrust Bank as it merges to form Truist bank.

While many auto loan companies don’t advertise high-dollar financing options, LightStream offers car loans on new and used vehicles up to $100,000. This is important for specialty car collectors or buyers looking for a very expensive car.

The cherry on top, though, is LightStream’s Rate Beat Program. The company is willing to beat any competitor’s rate by 0.10% as long as it meets a few reasonable criteria and is the same amount and terms as the loan LightStream originally offered. This program is the only rate-beating program offered by lenders, so take advantage of it if you can in the loan-shopping process.

Things to consider

Those looking for small loans under $5,000, such as with a private seller, will need to choose a different lender as the company’s smallest advertised loan is $5,000. Additionally, those looking to pay car payments by invoice instead of setting up auto-pay will pay 0.50% more in interest. LightStream also has strict eligibility criteria and no pre-approvals, so customers have to be confident that they’ll meet the lender’s qualification before applying or lest they waste a hard credit pull.

Auto loans

LightStream car loans are available on new or used cars from $5,000 to $100,000 with terms ranging from 24 to 84 months. Car rates are available from 3.99% up to 8.34% for both new and used vehicles. Compared to the industry, this is right in line with some of the top lenders.

Here’s the even better news, though. If you’re able to secure a better rate on a comparable loan at another lender, LightStream will beat that rate by 0.10%. You will need to provide proof of approval within a particular time frame, the loan must meet a few important criteria and the loan must be readily available to other customers with a similar credit profile.

Once approved, LightStream offers same-day funding, so customers can head straight to the dealership and drive off with their new car. Unlike some other lenders, the company deposits your funds directly into your bank account — often the same day — to make the purchasing process that much simpler. You’ll be able to purchase just like a cash buyer, which brings significant negotiation power against the dealership or a private seller.

Auto loan refinancing

Refinancing an existing loan is an option through LightStream for those looking for a better deal. Refinancing rates are available from 3.99% to 8.34% on term lengths of 24 months to 84 months. As is the case with new and used car loans, LightStream will beat any competitor rate by 0.10% as long as it meets the approval criteria.

The company requires no appraisals on refinanced cars and has no restrictions on car age or mileage. Refinanced funds are deposited directly into your bank account for greater ease of access. As advertised by the company as “Lending Uncomplicated,” LightStream is clearly trying to make the process as simple as possible.

LightStream vs. Capital One

Capital One’s proprietary Auto Navigator tool makes shopping for a car easy. Customers can search through the thousands of Capital One’s partnered dealerships to find a car and then finance it through the bank all online. Rates are not disclosed without a pre-qualification check, but terms vary between 24 and 84 months. Through its Auto Navigator tool, customers can also search for used cars, but a used car financed with Capital One must have less than 120,000 miles and a 2010 or newer model. At LightStream, however, rates are made easily available on the lender’s main page but no pre-approval process is available.

LightStream vs. Bank of America

Auto loans with Bank of America start at 2.99% for new cars, 3.49% for used cars, and 3.99% for refinancing. For those that are Preferred Rewards Members with Bank of America, 0.25% and 0.50% rate discounts are available, based on accounts. However, compared to the terms outlined on LightStream’s website, these additional discounts would not be matched as they are not readily available to all customers with similar credit profiles.

LightStream vs. Carvana

The company famous for the car vending machine also offers financing to those looking to purchase. According to the Carvana’s website, you can get a certified rate quote within two minutes that’s good for 45 days and does not impact your credit score. The major drawback, though, is that Carvana financing can only be used for vehicles purchased through Carvana. If you’re looking to buy from a private seller or at a dealership, LightStream car loans are the clear winner. If you’re purchasing through Carvana, though, you may want to take the time to see what they can offer on that specific car.

The final word

With the strong backing of the financial giant SunTrust Bank, LightStream has quickly catapulted forward as a leading auto loan competitor in just under a decade. While you can compare rates across different companies all day, LightStream is ready to beat that rate with the Rate Beat Program.

Additionally, the company puts your required funds directly into your bank account, often on the same day. These features lend themselves very well to the company’s goal of delivering “Lending Uncomplicated.” Unless you’re able to get a specialized interest rate deal not readily available to the public or someone with a similar credit profile, a LightStream car loan should be at the top of your options list.

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