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LightStream Auto Loans Review

LightStream provides quick financing for new, used, and classic cars

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Investopedia’s Rating

Our Take

While some auto loan lenders have strict year and mileage vehicle requirements, LightStream works differently. It provides unsecured personal loans, so there are no restrictions on the type of vehicle you can buy. LightStream's best interest rates for auto loans are lower than its rates for other loan types, but still higher than the average secured auto loan (6.58% for new car loans in Q1 2023, according to Experian). It could be a useful option for those who want to buy classic cars or vehicles with a lot of miles on the odometer that wouldn't qualify for traditional financing.?

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
  • No year or mileage restrictions

  • Same-day financing available

  • High autopay discount

  • No origination fees

  • Very good to excellent credit required

  • No loan pre-qualification tool

  • Higher-than-average rates

  • Does not offer gap coverage

Key Takeaways
  • LightStream's auto loans are unsecured, so there are no appraisals required or restrictions on mileage or age.
  • Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $100,000.
  • LightStream's car loans have repayment terms ranging from three to seven years.
  • Loan funds are deposited directly into the borrower’s account, so you can act as a cash buyer when you head to the dealership.
  • LightStream allows borrowers to apply with a co-applicant.
Company Overview

LightStream is part of Truist, a company formed through the merger of SunTrust and BB&T. LightStream is the bank's online consumer lending division, offering unsecured loans to borrowers with good to excellent credit. It issues loans to borrowers nationwide. 

Because LightStream's loans are unsecured personal loans rather than secured auto loans, the company isn’t included in J.D. Power’s Auto Financing surveys. However, it was evaluated and ranked in J.D. Power's 2023 U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study; it was ranked 7th out of 18 lenders, with a score that was slightly below the segment average.?

  • Loan Types Offered New, used, refinance, motorcycle
  • States Available All states and D.C.
  • New/Used APR Range 9.69%–16.44%
  • Refinance APR Range 9.24%–16.69%
  • Loan Amounts $5,000–$100,000
  • Loan Terms 3–7 years
  • Recommended Min. Credit Score 680
  • Maximum Accepted Mileage No limit
  • Maximum Accepted Age No limit
  • Maximum Accepted Loan-to-Value Ratio No limit

Pros Explained

  • No year or mileage restrictions: Car loans are usually secured by the vehicle purchased, so lenders set restrictions on acceptable model years or mileage. Because LightStream's loans are unsecured, there are no restrictions on the type of vehicle you can buy, making it a good choice for buyers of antique or high-mileage vehicles.?
  • Same-day financing available: Whereas some lenders can take several days to process a loan application, LightStream may disburse loan funds as soon as the same day you apply. To be eligible for same-day financing, you must complete an application, be approved, and provide the necessary follow-up information and verification by 2:30 p.m. ET on a banking business day.
  • High autopay discount: Many lenders offer discounts to borrowers that sign up for automatic payments, but the reduction is often limited to 0.25%. LightStream's discount is 0.50%.
  • No origination fees: Some lenders charge origination fees, which can be 1% to 2% of the loan amount. By contrast, LightStream doesn't charge origination fees or prepayment penalties.

Cons Explained

  • Very good to excellent credit required: LightStream generally requires borrowers to have very good to excellent credit, with a minimum recommended score of 680 (according to customer support). Consumers with lower credit scores are unlikely to qualify without a co-signer.
  • No loan pre-qualification tool: Many personal loan lenders allow you to view potential rates and terms without affecting your credit. However, LightStream doesn't have that option, so the only way to check your eligibility is to submit an application and consent to a hard credit inquiry.
  • Higher-than-average rates: Because LightStream's loans are unsecured, they tend to have higher interest rates than the national average for auto loans.
  • Does not offer gap coverage: With many auto financing companies you can add guaranteed asset/auto protection (aka gap insurance) to your loan, a type of insurance that covers the value of your car and what you owe on the loan if it's totaled in an accident. But LightStream doesn't offer gap coverage, so you'll have to buy it elsewhere or self-insure.

The average amount financed for new cars was $40,851 in Q1 of 2023, with an average loan term of 68.64 months and average monthly payment of $725. The average used car loan was $26,420, with an average term of 67.42 months and an average payment of $516.

Types of Auto Loans Offered by LightStream

LightStream offers unsecured loan options for new and used cars (including classic cars), and borrowers can also refinance existing auto loans. You’ll also find loans specifically for motorcycles and RVs (among other purposes). Loan rates and terms vary by loan type, amount borrowed, and the borrower's credit profile.?

New Auto Loans

  • APR: 7.49%–15.94% *with autopay
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Loan terms: 2–7 years

Used Auto Loans

  • APR: 7.49%–16.19% *with autopay
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Loan terms: 2–7 years

If you're shopping for a used car, LightStream loans can be used to purchase vehicles from dealers or private parties

Refinance Auto Loans

  • APR: 7.74%–16.19% *with autopay
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Loan terms: 2–7 years

Because LightStream's loans are unsecured, its refinance loans start with a higher interest rate than other auto loans. But if you have an older vehicle or a car with 150,000 miles or more, you may not be eligible for many other refinancing offers. Through LightStream, borrowers can refinance any car up to $100,000 and have up to seven years to repay their new loan.?

Motorcycle Loans

  • APR: 7.49%–16.14% *with autopay
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Loan terms: 2–7 years

RV Loans

  • APR: 7.49%–16.14% *with autopay
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Loan terms: 2–7 years

Time to Receive Funds

LightStream provides same-day funding under certain conditions. LightStream may disburse your loan funds the same day you apply if the following are completed by 2:30 p.m. ET on a banking business day:

  • You submit your application
  • Your application is approved
  • You sign the loan agreement
  • You provide banking information and complete personal verification

Take note that your access to the funds will also depend on your own bank’s processing time.

Borrower Requirements

  • Minimum recommended credit score: 680
  • State availability: 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Membership requirements: None

Vehicle Requirements

  • Maximum accepted mileage: No maximum
  • Maximum accepted age: No maximum
  • Maximum loan-to-value ratio: No maximum
  • Vehicle restrictions: No restrictions

LightStream Auto Loan Features

  • Rate Beat program: LightStream’s Rate Beat program will beat the rate of any competing eligible unsecured loan offer by 0.10 percentage points; you must be approved for the other offer by 2 p.m. ET prior to the funding of your LightStream loan, and other terms apply. Take note that secured and collateralized loans (like typical auto loans) are excluded.
  • Origination fee: LightStream doesn't charge an origination fee. 
  • Prepayment fee: There is no prepayment penalty. 
  • Discounts: LightStream provides a 0.50% autopay discount.
  • Pays creditors directly for refinance loans: LightStream doesn't offer direct creditor payments.
  • Due date is fixed: After the loan is disbursed, you cannot change the payment due date.
  • Mobile app: LightStream offers a mobile app to manage your account and make payments.
  • Car-buying service: There is no car-buying service available through LightStream, nor does LightStream partner with any dealers.

Co-Signers and Co-Applicants

LightStream allows joint applicants. If you have less-than-perfect credit, adding a co-applicant improves your chances of qualifying for an auto loan. But take note that LightStream only allows joint applicants, not co-signers; a joint applicant shares full responsibility for the loan and its payments, unlike a co-signer, who only becomes responsible if the principal borrower defaults.

Customer Service

LightStream's customer support team can be reached through email. Unlike some other lenders, LighStream doesn’t offer phone or live chat support.

Customer Satisfaction

J.D. Power ranked LightStream 7th out of 18 lenders in its 2023 U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study, and it had a score that was slightly below the segment average.

How to Apply for a LightStream Auto Loan

  1. Fill out the loan application: LightStream doesn't have a pre-qualification tool, so you must fill out an application and undergo a hard credit check to start the process. The application is simple and easy to complete online. It asks for your personal information, including your Social Security number, address, income, employer details, and the amount of money you'd like to borrow. The lender will prompt you to consent to a credit inquiry.?
  2. Sign the loan agreement: If you are approved, LightStream will send you an email notifying you with your loan agreement attached. Review the agreement carefully so you understand the loan's terms, repayment schedule, and payment amount. If you're comfortable with the terms, sign and return the agreement.?
  3. Provide banking information: LightStream will electronically deposit your loan funds directly into your bank account. To do so, the lender will ask you for your bank account number and routing number.?
  4. Wait for confirmation: You will receive a confirmation that the loan funds have been disbursed. You can then use that money to buy any car at a dealership or from a private party.

Alternatives to LightStream

LightStream AUTOPAY Consumers Credit Union
Loan Types Offered New, used, classic, motorcycle New, used, refinance, cash-out refinance, lease buyout, motorcycle New, used, refinance, cash-out refinance, motorcycle, RV
States Available All states and D.C. All states and D.C. All states and D.C.
Used APR Range 7.49%–16.19% APR 2.99% and up 5.49% and up
Used Loan Amounts $5,000–$100,000 $2,500–$100,000 $500–$350,000
Used Loan Terms 24–84 months 24–96 months 60–84 months
Minimum Time to Receive Loan 1 day Not disclosed 1 day
Recommended Minimum Credit Score 680 500 Not disclosed
Maximum Accepted Mileage No limit 150,000 miles None
Maximum Accepted Age No limit 10 years None
Maximum Accepted Loan-to-Value Ratio No limit Not disclosed 125%

Final Verdict

For borrowers looking to buy vehicles that don’t meet other lenders' requirements due to age or mileage, LightStream can be a helpful alternative. It has no vehicle restrictions, so you can use the loan to purchase new or classic cars, motorcycles, or even recreational vehicles. However, LightStream's rates are typically higher than average for auto loans since they're unsecured. No matter what vehicle you want to buy, take the time to explore your options because you may be able to qualify for a secured auto loan with lower rates


Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of auto loan lenders. To rate providers, we collected hundreds of data points across more than 20 auto loan lenders, including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, borrower requirements, and vehicle requirements, to ensure that our reviews help users make informed decisions for their borrowing needs. We also conducted a survey of 1,016 auto loan borrowers for attitudes and opinions about lenders and the loan approval and disbursement process. See our full auto loan review methodology for more information.

Article Sources
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  1. Experian. "State of the Automotive Finance Market Q1 2023."

  2. LightStream. "New Car Loans."

  3. J.D. Power. "How Do I Determine a Finance Charge on a Car Loan?."

  4. LightStream. "Frequently Asked Questions."

  5. LightStream. “Used Car Loans.

  6. LightStream. “Auto Refinancing.

  7. LightStream. “Motorcycle Loans.”

  8. LightStream. “RV Loans.

  9. J.D. Power. "U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study.”

  10. LightStream. “LightStream Loan Application.”