If you’re in the market to buy or lease a new or used car, you’ll likely be looking for the best auto loan companies. There’s no short-cut to this process: you’ll simply have to do the legwork. The best auto loan companies aren’t always the ones with the splashiest advertising. You need to do some specific things to figure out which ones are the best.

  • Check financial ratings. – One proven way to figure out which are the best auto loan companies is to check their financial ratings. Go to A.M. Best Company and do a ratings and analysis search of banks.
  • Check Bankrate.com – An excellent site to check and compare rates from multiple auto loan companies is Bankrate.com. The easy-to-use calculator on the site allows you to compare annual percentage rate, loan term, and other factors, such as whether you can pay off the loan early to avoid penalties. The site also has an area where you can check the star rating of the bank where you’re considering getting your car loan to see where it fits.
  • Go with the big names. – Major financial institutions and companies that specialize in car loans like Bank of America and Wachovia/Wells Fargo are good to check out. Don’t forget the financial arms of the automakers themselves, such as Ford Credit, Ally (previously GMAC), General Motors Financial Company (GM Financial Company, formerly Americredit), and Toyota Financial Services, to name just a few.  These so-called captive finance companies may offer the best deals – or they may not. And you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice if you neglect to check the big Internet auto loan companies such as E-Loan, Lending Tree, and instantcarloan.com (a sponsor on iSeeCars.com).
  • Don’t forget credit unions and your own bank. – Best auto loan companies may be right in your backyard. Be sure to check with your local credit union (joining is easy, and the interest rates you’ll get for a car loan may be worth it), the bank where you have your mortgage and multiple accounts.

Remember that the best auto loan companies may be the biggest, or they may be the ones that are the closest to where you live and do business. In the end, the best auto loan companies are the ones who will go the extra mile to earn your business, offer you competitive rates, and be there when you need help. Do your work ahead of time to find the one that’s just right for you.

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