CarsDirect Review: Can you get a good deal?
Here's my honest review of CarsDirect, the online platform aimed at helping people buy and finance new and used cars. CarsDirect connects buyers to its robust network of dealers and lenders, seeking to make the process easy.
With CarsDirect, you can buy your car online and receive it in as little as 48 hours. But is the process really that simple?
In this post, we review CarsDirect, how it works, and go over the good and the bad.
Table of Contents
- What is CarsDirect?
- Is CarsDirect Legit?
- How Much Does CarsDirect Cost?
- Does CarsDirect Offer Financing?
- How to Apply for a Loan through CarsDirect
- Does CarsDirect Check Your Credit Score?
- How to Buy a Car on CarsDirect
- CarsDirect Policies
- CarsDirect Review- The Benefits and Drawbacks
- Alternatives to CarsDirect
- Best Car Deals by Category
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is CarsDirect?
CarsDirect is a car-buying website. As a user, you can trade in an old car and even acquire financing for your new car. Essentially, CarsDirect helps you shop online for the right car and loan. CarsDirect provides car buying advice, car reviews, and let's you request car prices.
CarsDirect also connects you with lenders for car loans, particularly loans for people with bad credit. Typically, customers can purchase their vehicle within 24-48 hours after completing the application process with a lender.
Is CarsDirect Legit?
Yes, CarsDirect is a legitimate business owned by Internet Brands, a huge media company that operates websites in a number of verticals. Based out of Segundo California, CarsDirect was founded in 1988 by Scott Painter.
How Much Does CarsDirect Cost?
CarsDirect is free for consumers. They provide information and car buying advice to equip car buyers and they will connect you with local dealers and lenders.
How Does CarsDirect Make Money?
CarsDirect is free to consumers and makes their money from referrals to dealerships and lending institutions.
Does CarsDirect Offer Financing?
CarsDirect doesn't offer financing directly, but they do connect customers with local lenders and dealerships for financing. They also specialize in helping consumers with bad credit find car dealers.
How to Apply for a Loan through CarsDirect
- Select "Get your rate"
- Fill out the 60 Second Loan Request Form and hit "Get my car."
- A CarsDirect representative will call you to discuss your options.
- The specific dealership you are connected with will determine which documents you must submit. Typically, you'll need proof of identity, proof of income, proof of insurance, and proof of residence.
- The rep will work with local dealers to find the right car for you.
- Purchase your car via CarsDirect within 24-48 hours of submitting your financing application.
The Pros of CarsDirect Financing
- Flexible lenders
- No service fee for connecting you with lenders
- Bad credit is OK
- Save time finding a loan
- Paired with the car-buying service
The Cons of CarsDirect Financing
- Financing rates are not visible prior to connecting with dealer-lenders.
- Limited to the CarsDirect network. Lenders must pay to be part of their network, so you can only see the options from those lenders.
- As with most loans for individuals with bad credit, interest rates are much higher than those with good credit.
Does CarsDirect Check Your Credit Score?
To qualify for loans through CarsDirect, you must be employed or receive a guaranteed income, be 18+, and be a US resident. However, individual borrowers will also have to meet the qualifications set by the finance companies and banks that CarsDirect refers to.
CarsDirect will try to help you connect with the right lenders for your situation. Just keep in mind that the lenders will still do a hard credit check and base your interest rate on that information.
How to Buy a Car on CarsDirect
Buying a car on CarsDirect is quite similar to doing so from other car buying websites. To do so you:
- Request prices for the car you are looking for. Enter the make, model, trim, and price range.
- CarsDirect produces a results page with vehicles that closely match your search. The results display a photo as well as the price, mileage, and distance to the dealership where the car currently is.
- You can purchase from the dealer with CarsDirect's assistance or directly on CarsDirect.com.
- In some cases, you will not be given the option to buy through CarsDirect and you must go through the dealer.
- Explore the car buying and leasing options for an estimate of the full cost.
Here are the important policies to keep in mind:
- Fees. There's no application fee for an auto loan request. The lender or dealer still charge you a fee.
- Credit Check. The matched lenders will likely perform a hard credit inquiry and pull your credit reports.
- Co-signers. You can get a co-signer to increase your approval chances or better your loan terms.
- Refinance. CarsDirect can offer a refinancing referral to help you refinance your current auto loan. RELATED: Is it a good time to refinance your car loan?
CarsDirect Review- The Benefits and Drawbacks
CarsDirect Pros: Here's What I Like
- A wealth of information. They offer great details about each car on the site. It's a very helpful car buying resource.
- Target pricing. A feature that allows you to get a price close to what others have paid in your area.
- Easy to use. Simple car shopping on a user-friendly website. The site is easy to use and much simpler than some other car-buying websites because of the "recently viewed" tab.
- Save. Compare the best deals to ensure you get a competitive rate.
- Finance. Pre-approval financing which can help you negotiate.
- All-in-one. You can apply for financing, shop for cars, and get a quote for your trade-in all in one place.
- Low credit. A very helpful resource for borrowers with lower credit as there are lots of financing options.
- Simple. It's easy to negotiate on CarsDirect to ensure you get the best deal.
CarsDirect Cons: Here's What I Don't Like
- There are better lending options out there for folks with good credit. CarsDirect is not always the best option for those with good credit. People with high credit scores may find a better financing deal through a credit union, bank, or another online lender.
- Solicitation. One of the biggest complaints from customers is that multiple lenders will contact you to vie for your business, oftentimes even after you've completed the process. You may get many calls and emails that you don't want.
- Trade-in estimates are not guaranteed. CarsDirect does provide an estimated trade-in amount for your vehicle, but dealers can still generate their own final offers.
Alternatives to CarsDirect
CarsDirect does offer a wealth of information, but some alternatives include:
- Vroom: Buy and sell online without the haggling of a dealership. Shop low-mileage pre-owned vehicles and enjoy delivery right to your door. Read our full review in this post.
- Carvana. An online used-car dealership that also offers financing options. Read our review of Carvana or Carvana vs Vroom.
- Carmax. Use Carmax to buy or sell certified vehicles online. Choose from curbside pickup or delivery. Read our review of CarMax here.
- Shift. Shift is a digitally-driven company that offers car buying and selling. Shift owns all the cars they sell and offers haggle-free pricing. Read our guide and review of Shift here.
- Online marketplaces from dealerships. Many physical dealerships also offer online platforms now. You may even be able to visit the dealership to test drive the car you found online before buying.
- Local marketplaces. Buy and sell directly with private parties via marketplaces like eBay, Facebook, and Craigslist.
- Costco Auto Program. The Costco Auto Program is available for Costco Members. It provides them with prearranged special membership pricing on vehicles in dealerships across the country. Read our full review here.
- Rental Car Companies. Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis are the leading rental car companies, and you can find a good deal on a well-maintained used vehicle. Check out our full comparison here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I buy a car online from CarsDirect?
CarsDirect offers a ton of detail for the cars in their marketplace. However, CarsDirect does not actually sell the cars or the financing options, they simply connect you to third-parties. This does help you compare many options but also exposes you to many unwanted calls.
Can I get financing on CarsDirect with bad credit?
Yes, CarsDirect can help connect buyers with lower credit scores with lenders. Keep in mind that the lender will still perform a hard credit check and that your credit score will impact your interest rates. You can also opt for a co-signer to help.
Is there an application fee for CarsDirect?
No, they do not charge an application fee for submitting an auto loan request. The lenders must pay to join their network.
Is CarsDirect a good deal?
You do not have to pay to use CarsDirect. They are often a great option for borrowers with lower credit. Those with great credit may be able to find a better financing deal from a bank, credit union, or different lender.