best military auto loans review

The Best Military Auto Loans of 2018

If you are a member of the military — whether active, retired, or in the Reserves — you qualify for military discounts when financing your car. Military auto loans can make your dream car a reality.

But who offers the best auto loan rates? And how can you ensure that you’re getting the best deal on your military auto loan?

What is a military loan?

A military loan is a loan designed for members of the military and their direct relatives. It can be a personal loan, auto loan, mortgage, or other loan type.

Military loan lenders offer competitive rates and special features. However, make sure to compare the loan options exclusive to military members with the other options available to all consumers. The more you know about the loan ecosystem, the easier it will be to find the best deal.

Do military members get discounts on cars?

Yes, they do! Many automakers, including Acura, Ford, General Motors, Harley Davidson, Hyundai, and Nissan, offer discounts and incentives for military members.

Once you figure out which car you want, be sure to find out if the manufacturer offers a discount.

Even if your manufacturer of choice doesn’t have any applicable offers, you can find lenders that offer military discounts. These discounts can take the form of low interest rates, low down payments, easier approval, or longer payment periods.

But who has the best auto loan rates and offers? Let’s take a look.

The Best Military Auto Loans

Here are our the top picks that can help you get into a new set of wheels quickly and easily.

Pioneer Services

Pioneer Services is a division of MidCountry Bank that has been providing lending and financial services to the military community for over 25 years. It serves all ranks and branches of the U.S. military, from veterans to retired members to members of the National Guard. They don’t offer auto loans specifically, but offer personal loans which can be applied to an automobile purchase.

Pioneer knows that low credit scores or limited credit histories can make it difficult for military families to get the financing they need. As a result, it evaluates applicants using its own proprietary Military Scoring Model. This adjusted model considers factors unique to military members, like frequent relocation.

Further, the loans are set up with a fixed interest rate and fixed payments, so you won’t have to worry about fluctuations. The interest rate you get is determined by your credit history, income, and debt-to-income ratio.

Pioneer charges an origination fee based on your loan amount and credit profile.

There’s also a 15-day “Change Your Mind Guarantee.” This allows you to return the money and cancel the loan within 15 days of initiating it, without any negative consequences.

Pros and cons of Pioneer:

PROS

  • Proprietary military scoring model
  • Easier approval
  • Predictable payments
  • 15-day “Change Your Mind Guarantee”
  • Operates in all 50 states
  • Several decades of experience
  • Fast application and funding
  • Loan is directly deposited into bank account
  • Reports to credit bureaus

CONS

  • Origination fee
  • Interest rates can be high as 36% APR

Navy Federal Credit Union

The Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) was established in 1933 and has grown to include over 7 million members.

The NFCU aims to be the financial institution that military members and their families prefer. It provides a wide range of financial services and loans, including auto loans.

Navy Federal Credit Union’s auto loans provide perks such as low interest rates and 100% financing. However, your exact rates, terms, and conditions will depend on your credit and income profiles. Loan terms range from 36 to 96 months, and interest rates start at 1.99%.

NFCU also offers an Auto Buying Program to help you find a low-priced vehicle. To use it, go the program’s website and enter your zip code. You can then browse used vehicles or customize a new vehicle to your desired specifications.

If you are interested in buying a car while in the military and away from home, there’s also a program to help those who are buying from overseas.

Pros and cons of NFCU:

PROS

  • Low interest rates
  • 100% financing available
  • Auto Buying Program streamlines the process
  • Overseas Auto Buying Programs makes it easy to buy from anywhere
  • Long history of serving military families
  • 24/7 live customer service
  • Serves all 50 states
  • Highest interest rate is 18% APR

CONS

  • No origination fee
  • Check is sent via mail to present to seller

United Services Automobile Association

The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is a financial services company that serves military members and their families. Founded in 1922 by 25 U.S. Army members, it now has over 11 million members.

Its military auto loan offerings include loans for new cars, used cars, and refinancing for existing loans.

The lowest military auto loan rates are available for new cars. For used cars, you will receive better rates if you finance an amount over $15,000.

Military auto loan terms range from 12 to 84 months. As with the other lenders, the exact rate and terms you get will depend on your credit. Although USAA considers applicants of all credit types, you’ll need excellent credit to get the best rates.

Like NFCU, this lender also provides a car buying service that will help you find the right vehicle at a good price. This service reportedly saves customers an average of $3,335 on their purchases. And if you use it, you also get a .50% discount on your interest rate. A comparable discount is also available if you set up automatic payments.

Pros and cons of USAA:

PROS

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Long history of helping members of the military and their families
  • Discounts on interest rates are available
  • Car buying service helps to streamline process and save
  • No payment for up to 60 days
  • Products available to protect purchase
  • Apply online and print out check instantly
  • Not required to use their car buying service to get a loan
  • Reputation for great customer service

CONS

  • Interest rates will vary depending on term and creditworthiness

Other auto loan lenders to consider

While the above are some of the top military auto loan lenders, it’s always smart to shop around.

Some non-military lenders offer great deals, too. They may even beat out what the military-exclusive companies offer.

Here are our top non-military recommendations for all credit types:

For excellent credit: LightStream

LightStream offers some of the lowest interest rates in the auto loan lending business. All its rates are fixed and there are no origination fees. Loan amounts range from $5,000 up to $100,000.

To get approved, you’ll need good to excellent credit. But if you qualify, you’ll see excellent customer service and loan offerings.

For fair to good credit: Autopay

Autopay is a great lender. It offers competitive interest rates and charges no origination fees. Autopay has terms up to 84 months, serves all 50 states, and offers auto loans up to $100,000.

To qualify, you need a minimum credit score of 620 and $24,000 in annual income.

For bad credit: Auto Credit Express

If your credit is not so great, consider Auto Credit Express. It offers auto loans for applicants with credit scores as low as 450.

Loan terms last up to 72 months, interest rates depend on your credit and financial profile, and there are no origination fees.

See more auto loan lenders for bad credit.

Preapproval tips

To make the process even more quick and easy, you can get without hurting your credit score. Just answer a few questions to receive personalized offers from lenders competing for your business.

Knowing some of your options ahead of time will give you clearer a direction when researching and comparing lenders.

For more information on how to find the right auto loan for you, or for personalized offers, SuperMoney can help.

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