CarsDirect Review: Can you get a good deal?

carsdirect review

If you’re on the hunt for a new or used car, chances are that you’ve come across CarsDirect. CarsDirect connects buyers to its robust network of dealers and lenders, seeking to make the process easy.

Before you jump on board, take a look at what our expert editors have unearthed all we could about using CarsDirect. As avid car guys ourselves, we know what you’re here for: Can you really buy your car online and receive it in as little as 48 hours? Is the process really that simple?

Let’s look at CarsDirect, how it works, and

Let’s look at CarsDirect, how it works, and give you the inside scoop on everything you want to know about CarsDirect.

Key Takeaways for CarsDirect

  • Seamless Connection to Dealers and Lenders
  • Comprehensive Car Buying and Financing Options
  • Attention to User Experience and Customer Support

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 lets 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.

carsdirect browse

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?

zero fee carsdirect

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

  1. Select "Get your rate"
  2. Fill out the 60-Second Loan Request Form and hit "Get my car."
  3. A CarsDirect representative will call you to discuss your options.
  4. 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.
  5. The rep will work with local dealers to find the right car for you.
  6. Purchase your car via CarsDirect within 24-48 hours of submitting your financing application.

carsdirect loan

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.

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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:

  1. Price Request: Request prices for the car you are looking for. Enter the make, model, trim, and price range.
  2. Results Display: 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.
  3. Purchase Options: You can purchase from the dealer with CarsDirect's assistance or directly on
  4. Dealer-Only Purchases: In some cases, you will not be given the option to buy through CarsDirect, and you must go through the dealer.
  5. Cost Estimates: Explore the car buying and leasing options for an estimate of the full cost..

carsdirect car details

CarsDirect Policies

Here are the important policies to keep in mind:

  • Fees. There's no application fee for an auto loan request. The lender or dealer will 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 pricing carsdirect
  • 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

  • solicit carsdirectThere 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.

Customer Complaints and Resolution at CarsDirect

Responsive and Attentive Customer Support

At CarsDirect, customer support is a priority, and they demonstrate this through their attentive and responsive approach to handling complaints. When issues arise, whether it's about vehicle selection, financing options, or post-purchase support, CarsDirect's customer service team is readily available via phone and email. This accessibility ensures that customer concerns are not just heard but addressed promptly.

Effectiveness in Problem-Solving

Many customers have noted the effectiveness of CarsDirect in resolving their issues. Particularly in situations where there are questions about vehicle specifications or financing terms, the team has a track record of providing clear, helpful information and practical solutions. Their proactive stance in addressing concerns underlines their commitment to customer satisfaction.

Areas for Improvement: Timeliness and Clarity

However, some customers have pointed out areas where CarsDirect could improve. Instances of delayed responses and a need for more clarity in communication, especially in resolving complex issues, have been highlighted in customer feedback. These aspects present opportunities for CarsDirect to refine their customer service processes.

Ongoing Efforts To Enhance Service Quality

CarsDirect shows a commitment to continuous improvement by taking customer feedback into account. Negative experiences are not overlooked but are instead used to make necessary adjustments in their service approach. This includes enhancing communication channels and streamlining resolution processes, all aimed at elevating the overall customer experience.

Alternatives to CarsDirect

CarsDirect does offer a wealth of information, but we’ve compiled several competitors to help you find the best option for you. Below this list is a quick guide to help you see how each service compares to the others.

  • 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. 
Costco Auto Program
Competitive pricing with financing options
Fixed, no-haggle pricing
Fixed, no-haggle pricing
No-haggle pricing; often higher than competitors
No-haggle pricing; competitive rates
Member-only pricing; often discounted
Services Offered
Buying, selling, and financing
Online car buying and selling
Online car buying and selling
Car buying, selling, and trade-ins
Buying, selling, and car trade-ins
Car buying, leasing, and special member services
User Experience
User-friendly website; straightforward process
Simple, online-focused process
Easy online car buying experience
User-friendly; physical locations for in-person view
Mixed reviews on ease of use
Exclusive member services and support
Customer Support
Phone and email support; limited hours
24/7 customer service via chat, phone, and email
24/7 customer support
Comprehensive customer support via phone and in store
Customer support available; quality varies
Dedicated call center for Costco members
Delivery options vary
Nationwide delivery; free within certain regions
Free nationwide delivery; 7-day test own
Store pickup; limited home delivery
Nationwide delivery and return policy
Depends on the dealership; often includes special perks
Financing Options
Various financing options; partners with lenders
Provides financing; partners with third-party lenders
In-house financing available
Wide range of financing options
Offers financing options
Partners with lenders for member financing
Return Policy
Varies by dealer
7-day return policy
7-day or 400-mile return policy
7-day return policy
7-day return policy
Varies by dealership; typically flexible
Varies by vehicle
Limited warranty; extended warranties available
100-day/4,189-mile guarantee
90-day/4,000-mile limited warranty
Limited warranty; optional extended warranty
Depends on dealership; often includes special warranties


CarsDirect simplifies your car-buying experience, connecting you seamlessly with dealers and lenders. It's all about quick, easy online transactions, but be ready for a few hiccups along the way.

For the latest insights and in-depth reviews on services like CarsDirect, don't forget to subscribe to the FTBCP newsletter. Keep yourself well-informed and a step ahead in your car-buying adventure.

Carvana Buy & Sell

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.