USAA caters specifically to military members and their families. If you can get a membership, there's great customer service and rates with USAA auto loans.
Min. New Car Rate5
Min. Used Car Rate5
Our Two Cents — If you've served your country, then USAA will serve you with top-of-the-line auto loans that will get you on the road with money in your pocket.
USAA at a glance
|Lender||Loan Amount||APR||Terms||Key Benefit|
|USAA||$5,000–$50,000||As low as 2.39%||12–84 months||Borrowers can get extra discounts|
*Rates accurate as of August 10, 2020
What we like about it
Since USAA is a one-stop-shop for financial services for military members and their families, getting an auto loan with USAA is convenient for members who already bank with the lender or use its other services.
USAA enables you to lower your auto loans rates by up to 0.75% when signing up for automatic payments (saving 0.25%) and when purchasing a new or used car through the USAA Car Buying Service (saving 0.50%). According to USAA, members saved an average of $3,537 off MSRP on new vehicles purchased through the USAA Car Buying Service, which enables car buyers to compare prices with recent sales in their area.
Things to consider
USAA restricts those who can get an auto loan to USAA members, their spouses and their children. Unless you or your immediate family member is a military member, you will not be eligible for USAA auto loans.
To get the lowest rates possible, you’ll have to set up automatic payments and purchase a car through the USAA Car Buying Service. These restrictions may not appeal to some borrowers, especially those who want to purchase a car through the seller of their choice.
Also, if you already have a USAA auto loan, you won’t be able to refinance it with USAA. USAA only allows refinancing auto loans from other lenders.
[Read: Best Auto Loan Rates of 2020]
What you need to know
USAA provides auto loans so you can purchase a vehicle from a dealer, purchase a vehicle from an individual or refinance a non-USAA loan. As of June 2020, the lowest rates were offered for newer vehicles, with a collateral model year of 2019 to 2021. USAA auto loans ratings generally go up for collateral model years of 2013 to 2018, and they generally increase again for collateral model years of 2012 and older.
USAA auto loans rates APR start at as low as 2.59%. Borrowers can up to $3 million, with the minimum auto loan amount being $5,000. Loan terms range between 12 to 84 months.
There are no penalties for prepaying a loan. You won’t owe any payments for up to 60 days, which may help some borrowers. Borrowers also get the assurance that in the case of a natural disaster, USAA Bank offers payment deferment.
Here’s how to apply for a USAA auto loan:
- 1. First, you’ll need to become a USAA member.
- You’ll need to provide your date of birth, contact information, Social Security number and details about your or your family member’s military service. For non-U.S. citizens, you’ll also need a permanent resident card or passport.
- From there, USAA members can head to the USAA auto loans website to apply for an auto loan. It’s free to apply, and the loan offer is available for 45 days, which is a benefit since you’ll be able to use it to shop around, compare auto loan offerings and possibly lower your auto loan rate with another lender.
- After you e-sign your loan, you’ll receive a loan check that you can use to purchase your car.
Criteria and eligibility
USAA auto loans are available to USAA members, who must be U.S. military members or their spouses, as well as USAA members’ children. To become a USAA member, you’ll have to provide military experience documentation and personal identifying information (like Social Security number) to validate you or your family member is a military member and qualifies for USAA membership.
There aren’t restrictions on buying or refinancing used vehicles, but the older the vehicle is, the higher the rates tend to be. Also, when refinancing a used vehicle, USAA members can only refinance an auto loan that comes from a different lender.
[Related: How Much Car Can I Afford?]
USAA auto loans vs. the competition
Navy Federal Credit Union, like USAA, serves members of all military branches. Navy Federal Credit Union offers rate options lower than USAA, at 1.79% APR for new or used auto loans and auto loan refinancing. You can also get a $200 bonus when you refinance an auto loan with Navy Federal Credit Union. When comparing Navy Federal Credit Union’s auto loan rates to USAA’s using USAA’s auto loan calculator, most Navy Federal Credit Union loan rates tend to be lower.
You’ll have to be a Navy Federal Credit Union member to apply for an auto loan. To become a Navy Federal Credit Union member, just like with USAA, you’ll have to provide proof of your or your family member’s military service. Department of Defense civilians and contractors may also be eligible for Navy Federal Credit Union membership, which makes Navy Federal Credit Union auto loans accessible to more qualifying members than USAA.
LightStream SimpleScore: 4.2/5
LightStream offers auto loans for all types of applicants, not just military members. The unique value LightStream provides is its Rate Beat Program. You can bring the rate you’ve been approved for by a competing lender to LightStream, which will offer a rate .1% point lower than that rate. Since USAA auto loans are free to apply for, borrowers have nothing to lose by getting a rate from USAA then bringing it to LightStream for an even lower rate.
The current auto loan APR rates offered by LightStream don’t beat USAA’s lowest offerings. To get the lowest LightStream APR of 3.49%, you’d need to take out a loan amount of $10,000 to $24,999 for between 24 to 36 months.
Too long, didn’t read?
If you’re a USAA member, you have nothing to lose by applying for an auto loan with the lender since it’s a free process. You’ll get a rate quote you can use to compare loan rates from other lenders. Borrowers will want to compare car prices through the USAA Car Buying Service as well to calculate overall savings.
The SimpleScore is our proprietary scoring metric to compare products and services at The Simple Dollar in a transparent, evidence-based way. Our editorial team identifies five quantifiable aspects to compare for every brand, determines the rating criteria for each aspect score, then averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore. For auto loans, we compared new car rates, used car rates, loan size, customer satisfaction and fees for every major lender. Our ratings are meant to be a directional tool to help you in the process of choosing an auto loan provider. Be sure to continue your research and shop around for the best auto loan that fits your specific needs.
We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the auto loans we recommend. Contact us at email@example.com with comments or questions.