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U.S. Bank Auto Loan review

U.S. Bank is great for used car loan rates, but can still frustrate.

U.S. Bank Auto Loan review
(Image: © US Bank)

Our Verdict

U.S. Bank can elate and frustrate in similar measure. The offer of the same interest rate for new and used cars is ideal if you’re not certain about the vehicle you’re going to choose, but you’ll need a very good credit score to get the best APR. Similarly, applying can be straightforward and fast, but the time you save will likely be spent searching for the basic loan information that can be hard to find. You'll probably need to make use of the 0.5% discount to get near the best APRs available elsewhere, but if you want a reliable and established auto loan provider, U.S. Bank is definitely worth a look.

For

  • Same rates for new and used cars (under 6 years old)
  • Offers in-person applications
  • Discounts for U.S. Bank account holders

Against

  • Likely to need a good credit score
  • Loan information hard to find

U.S. Bank is the ideal choice if you want an experienced hand to guide you towards the best auto loans. Established in 1863 and the fifth largest bank in the US, few - if any - auto loan providers will be as familiar to American consumers than U.S. Bank. With almost $500 billion in assets, it is also a bank built on the firmest foundations and one that you can trust.

As well as providing auto loans, U.S Bank offers numerous financial solutions to consumers, including checking and savings accounts, credit cards and personal loans. It is also regarded as one of the best refinance mortgage companies for American homeowners. 

U.S. Bank Auto Loan review: Eligibility

  • 'Very good' credit score
  • Quick and simple pre-approval

To be eligible for an auto loan with U.S. Bank, you’ll definitely need to be at least 18 years old and a U.S. resident. If you want to secure the very best auto loan rates, you’ll also likely need a decent credit score too - according to the bank’s latest financial results, the average FICO credit score of borrowers securing an auto loan through U.S. Bank was 781, which equates to a rating of “Very Good”.

As this is an average, it means some borrowers will still be eligible for a U.S Bank auto loan with a much lower credit score. If you want an indication of whether you will be eligible - and of how much you could potentially borrow - U.S. Bank offers a pre-approval option that includes a credit check, but doesn’t require you to provide information about the vehicle you might want to buy. The bank says the online pre-approval form should take no longer than five minutes to complete, and that a decision is usually delivered within seconds. 

U.S. Bank Auto Loan review: Application process

Key Features

Application process:  Online, by phone, and in-store 
APR: From 2.84%, dependent on amount, terms, creditworthiness, and other factors
Fees: No pre-approval fee, but charges apply for prepayment
Loan terms: 12 - 72 months

  • Various application options 
  • Credit decision in two hours

You are free to apply for an auto loan from U.S. Bank in almost any way that you wish. If you want to apply in branch, the automated mapping tool will locate all U.S. Bank branches within 50 miles of your location, while there’s a contact number readily available if you’re happier speaking to someone over the phone. 

The online application route is usually the fastest path to an auto loan that you can take. You will need to have all the usual information to hand, including Social Security number, your employer's details, and your annual gross income. 

In most instances, a credit decision is delivered in two hours or less - it’s nowhere near as fast as the 60 second turn around at Bank of America, but should be quick enough to satisfy most needs. 

U.S. Bank Auto Loan review: Essential details

  • Rate discount for U.S. Bank customers
  • Prepayment fees for paying off early

Auto loans from U.S. Bank must be for a minimum of $3,000 and over a loan term of between 12 and 72 months. As to the rates that you can expect to pay, there is a payment calculator online that can provide a quick estimate of the APR and monthly payment that a loan of a given size and over a specified term could involve. Obviously, final rates will be determined by the combination of all these factors and more, including your credit rating. However, you can get a 0.5% rate discount if you set up automatic payments from a U.S. Bank personal checking or savings account, and the type of criteria a borrower might need to qualify for the best auto loan rates is made clear too. These include:  

  • A term of 36 months or less
  • A loan for $10,000 or more
  • Financing of 80% or less of the car’s value
  • A credit score of 800 or higher
  • A vehicle that is less than 12 months old
  • Automatic payments from a U.S. Bank personal checking or savings account.

At the time of writing, this gives rise to a loan rate of 2.84% APR, which is still higher than some of the lowest auto loan rates available, perhaps from Alliant Credit Union. However, what U.S. Bank does offer - and which is distinct to most other auto loan providers - is the same loan rate for used vehicles, up to six years old, as for new vehicles. So if you’re yet to decide between a brand new car and one with a few more miles on the clock, you’ll still know where you stand in terms of rate.

While there is no cost to apply for a pre-approval of an auto loan, be aware that there may be a title registration fee to pay. Also, if you’re thinking of paying the loan off early, a prepayment penalty of 1% of the original loan amount will be applied if the account is closed within one year, subject to a minimum of $50 and a maximum of $100. 

U.S. Bank Auto Loan review

(Image credit: U.S. Bank)

U.S. Bank Auto Loan review: Service

  • Information can be difficult to find
  • Lackluster customer reviews

The rather strange thing about the U.S. Bank website is that while it plays host to reams of information, it is not always in the order - or place - that you would expect.  So although the auto loans landing page can quickly point you in the direction of the auto loan calculator, it isn’t immediately apparent where you should go to get more detail about the loans on offer. When you do manage to figure this out - you’ll need to click ‘Get started’ under ‘Apply for an auto loan’ - the information on the next page is relatively sparse too. It is a shame, because when you do start stumbling across the guidance you’re searching for, it is generally useful. Most of the best stuff can be found sitting unassumingly at the side of the page beneath an understated banner titled ‘More resources’, but would be much useful under a dedicated auto loan FAQ heading. 

In terms of managing your auto loan, there is the option to log in online, call or go to one of the many U.S. Bank branches. While the service you can expect is likely to be more than acceptable, this is not necessarily reflected in the customer reviews it receives. So although U.S. Bank has been an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1970 and has an A rating, customers award it just one star out of five. A slightly better score of around 1.5 out of five can be found on ConsumerAffairs, but bear in mind that low marking is a common theme among the major banks, with the ratings reflecting the views of customers across the entire range of services on offer, rather than just auto loans. 

Should you choose a U.S. Bank Auto Loan?

U.S. Bank has all the makings of a top auto loan company, but falls down slightly in certain areas. So while applying is relatively quick and easy, and can be done in a variety of ways, the essential information you might like to find first can be hard to track down. 

Similarly, the auto loan rates are competitive, especially if you have a favorable credit score, qualify for the 0.5% discount, or want the convenience of knowing you’ll be charged the same rate regardless of whether you opt for a new or slightly older car. However, if you want to pay your loan off early, you’ll need to pay a prepayment fee for the privilege, something that most of the very best auto loan providers do not charge.