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LightStream Review

by Liza Brookfield (2019-09-17)


LightStream Review
LightStream is an online auto lender that’s part of SunTrust Bank. It has some of the best rates and terms of any lender we looked at as well as an easy application process, making it our choice for the best auto lender overall.
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We compared each lender’s advertised rates for new and used cars and found LightStream offers some of the best in both categories. Its new rate is 3.59%, and its used rate is also 3.59%. These reflect a term of 26 months and a loan amount ranging between $10,000 and $24,999. LightStream is one of the better lenders about posting rates, and it has several charts that show rates for different terms and loan amounts. It also shows a range, so you can see what you might get if you aren’t eligible for the best rates.

Remember that these rates aren’t indicative of what you’ll actually get when you apply. Your actual rate depends on your credit score, your income, the loan term and the car you plan on buying. LightStream’s quoted rates also include a discount for enrolling in AutoPay. If you don’t enroll in that program, you pay 0.5% more.

We recommend checking your credit score before you apply. Doing so lets you know what rates you can expect to get or if you need to apply at a lender that specializes in bad credit loans like RoadLoans.com. LightStream has tools on its website to help you estimate your rate and your monthly payment.
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Loan terms range from 24 months to 84 months. Shorter terms have lower rates, but you can expect to have higher monthly payments. Longer term loans have higher rates, but the monthly payments are more manageable. Try to keep your loan term under 60 months – any longer and you will likely end up paying more for your car that it’s worth.

Another area LightStream stands out is it doesn’t have restrictions on the age or mileage of the car you buy. Those factors may influence your loan’s rate, but you can get financing for most vehicles through LightStream.
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The application is quick, and most loans are approved in one business day. Same-day approvals are common. Since this is an online-only lender, you can apply through a smart phone or tablet, and the funds deposit into your bank account. That way, you can buy your car as though you were paying in cash, which can help when negotiating with the dealership. For example, you can avoid having the dealer try to squeeze extra money from you for add-ons.

There are no origination fees or pre-payment penalties on loans through LightStream. If you have an existing auto loan, you can refinance for a lower rate or different term. The refinance application process is like the process for getting a basic auto loan, and you can complete the application online. There are no restrictions on the mileage, age or loan-to-value on the car you refinance.
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