As the second largest auto finance company in the U.S., Capital One has come a long way since being founded in 1994. With technology a key part of its focus and enjoying a reputation for excellent customer service, Capital One also has all the credentials required of a company that looks to offer the best auto loans (opens in new tab).
Capital One provides auto loans for new and used car purchases or will refinance your current auto loan. However, while most auto loan providers are happy for you to take a loan and use the funds to buy whatever car you want, Capital One is rather different. Its proposition requires you to use its Auto Navigator tool to search for your new car, with the potential loan options and terms following from there. What this means is that you can only buy from a dealership that is affiliated with Capital One, but with the company working with over 12,000 participating dealerships, there is terrific choice to be had.
The mission of Capital One is to “change banking for good”, and with credit cards (opens in new tab) and checking and savings accounts among its other consumer-facing offerings, it should be a familiar name to anyone looking to secure a top auto loan.
Capital One Auto Loan review: Eligibility
In terms of the type of credit rating you might need to secure an auto loan with Credit One, there is little upfront detail to be found. However, what it does have in its favor is the option to pre-qualify without impacting your credit score, and this is when you’ll find out what you might be eligible for. It is only when you start to finalize the details with the dealership that a hard pull credit inquiry will be made.
Capital One Auto Loan review: Application process
Application process: Online pre-qualification process
APR: Dependent on credit rating, loan amount and terms
Fees: No application fee, but late fees could be charged
Loan terms: 24 - 84 months, minimum $4,000
- Attractive and informative website
- Well-managed process
The auto loans section of Capital One’s website is easy on the eye and goes into great detail about how everything works and what you can expect. There’s a video introduction to the Auto Navigator tool and you can search straight away for the type and model of vehicle you’re interested in buying. You also have the option of heading straight to pre-qualification, if you’d prefer.
As you would expect from a company so focused on technology, it’s generally a professionally managed application process that provides information and direction throughout. That said, there are times when the website appears to take you on a bit of a loop, with every click of a ‘learn more’ button taking you to the top of the page you’re already on. It’s a little frustrating, but eventually you should be able to complete everything online, and customer service is contactable by phone on all days except Sunday if you need help.
Capital One Auto Loan review: Essential details
- Little upfront APR information
- Maximum term of 84 months
What we can tell you is that loan terms at Capital One range from 24 to 84 months, and the minimum new or used car loan amount is $4,000. There is no application fee either, and late fees are also likely if you fall behind with payments.
What we can’t tell you is much about the rates you might be charged. Beyond knowing that the APR you will pay will depend on your credit application and vehicle, basic rate information is difficult to find too - there certainly isn’t the level of transparency that is available with LightStream (opens in new tab), for example.
Essentially, you’ll only get an idea of the APR and payment terms once you’ve pre-qualified and selected a car. If you qualify, also be aware that this offer isn’t a loan approval. It is only once you’re at the dealer to start the car-buying process and complete a formal loan application that your offer will be finalized. This means that there is a chance that your rate and terms could change, and your credit report will have undergone a hard inquiry at this point too.
Capital One Auto Loan review: Service
- Online account management
- Comprehensive resources
Despite the unknowns, if you’re happy to commit to the Capital One way of doing things, an impressive and professional auto loan service awaits. As a new or existing customer, you can access your auto loan account online or contact the company over the phone.
There is a well-stocked FAQ section too, while the Auto Learning Center contains numerous guides and blog posts. You can also make use of the payment calculator to give you an idea of your monthly payment, although you will need to input your own APR to get a result.
Capital One has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau (opens in new tab) since 1995 and enjoys an A rating too. As you would expect with a company of its size, there are some mixed customer reviews, but some really positive feedback as well.
Should you choose a Capital One Auto Loan?
If you like a good-looking website and want an auto loan process that is slightly different from the norm, then head to Capital One. The pre-qualification option is great if you’re concerned about your credit report taking a hit, while the standard of service you can expect should be first class.
There are annoyances in that you won’t know the final loan terms until much later down the car buying process and the way Auto Navigator works means you can only shop at participating dealers. Overall, though, if you need an auto loan, and want to browse the car options that you might be able to buy at the same time, Capital One is definitely the place to go.