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Capital One Auto Loan review

Capital One Auto loans come from a reputable financial institution that offers a variety of services.

Capital One Auto Loan review
(Image: © Capital One)

Our Verdict

A superb provider of car loans, and one with excellent customer services. It also has competitive APR rates, and a digital pre-approval process.

For

  • Digital prequalification process
  • Application doesn’t affect credit score
  • Competitive APR rates

Against

  • Several vehicle purchase restrictions
  • Required to use Auto Navigator

Capital One Auto Loans have an excellent BBB rating and some really strong customer reviews. It comes out as one of the top leaders on the market not only because it is a stable banking institution with a good reputation, but because its rates are among the best available. If you have a great credit score, you can expect to receive a really good rate for your auto loan. This alone qualifies Capital One as one of the best auto loan services.

When you first apply for your pre-qualification, your credit score won’t take a hit, but this will be required once you start to finalize the details with the dealership. The company will also expect you to use the Auto Navigator tool to search for the car you want and you will be expected to use a Capital One affiliated dealerships. There are quite a few restrictions attached to Capital One, but if you can hurdle these successfully, then you will get competitive rates and great customer service. 

Capital One Auto Loan review: How the process works

Key specs

Application process: Online pre-qualification process  
APR: From 3.99% dependent on loan amount and terms
Fees: None visible
Loan terms: New vehicle, used vehicle, vehicle refinance, up to 84 months payment terms, no pre-payment penalties

  • Efficient pre-qualification application online
  • Easy access to loan information and status

Capital One has ensured that its auto loans section of the website has as much information about the process as possible. From the introduction of the Auto Navigator tool down to buttons that help you to fast track your loan process, it has ensured you can find what you need. 

There are allocated buttons to pre-approval codes, to offer summaries, and to refinance status, so you can access the next stage of your application without having to jump any online hurdles. 

It’s a professionally managed application process that provides information throughout so you can make informed choices. What isn’t clear from the outset is whether or not you have to register for the Auto Navigator tool before you can buy a car. You can get pre-qualification for a specific dealer, but you can only use that at that specific dealer. With Auto Navigator, you can take your pre-approval to any one of the 12,000 registered dealers. 

You can either pre-qualify through Auto Navigator or you can start the process directly from the site, both will lead you to a soft credit check, pre-qualification approval and finances you need to go on and get your car. This means it isn't as fast for approval as something like Bank of America Auto Loans, but it is more thorough.

Capital One Auto Loan review: Ease of use and customer reviews

  • Mostly positive customer reviews
  • Simple and accessible platform

Capital One isn’t easy to use. It’s not a complicated tangle of looping buttons and frustration, but it’s hard to find information about APRs and fees and other vitally important facts that could influence your purchasing decision. 

The FAQs are hidden away, the APRs are only available once you’ve completed the application process or input the figures into the online calculator and the entire application process is governed by Auto Navigator. It’s a helpful tool, of that there is little doubt, but it’s also an extra thing to do and a forced channel for you to use to find a car. 

The customer reviews on ConsumerAffairs are mostly positive, there are quite a few negative reviews but these are balanced out by people primarily enjoying their experiences with the company. It’s hard to find any financial institution or service that isn’t littered with bad reviews, it is money and money is emotive and stressful, but Capital One does better than some of its competitors, especially Alliant Credit Union Auto Loans

A Capital One Auto loan could see you driving away a new car, very soon

A Capital One Auto loan could see you driving away a new car, very soon. (Image credit: Future)

Capital One Auto Loan review: Is it transparent, accessible and usable?

  • Online calculator to instantly assess rates
  • Difficult to find information about fees

Capital One is transparent about how its process works, what you need to do in order to get pre-approval, and the various steps you need to take. It isn’t, however, transparent when it comes to finding the FAQ, the fees, the APRs and the various ins and outs of Auto Navigator. It would be nice to have more insight into APRs before having to fill out forms and register with applications. 

In spite of some hiccups, Capital One does offer a really smart and professional solution that provides you with pre-approval for your auto loan and plenty of guides and information if you get stuck. You can contact the company over the phone, use the FAQs to find answers, access the Auto Learning Center for guides and blog posts, and send an email. The Contact Us section is almost impossible to find, but once there you’ll see all the contact numbers and login options for new and existing customers. There is also a Feedback banner that sits on every page that you can use to contact the company. 

Should you choose a Capital One Auto Loan?

Capital One has mostly positive customer reviews, a well-designed auto loans tool, a reliable pre-approval process that won’t hit your credit score, and a long-standing reputation. As a financial institution, its website is caught in some endless loops where a click on ‘learn more’ takes you to the top of the page you’re already on, but overall the experience is professional, the rates reasonable and the process efficient. These small issues mean it's probably not quite as good as LightStream Auto Loans, but it's easily one of the best out there.