I Used Capital One Auto Navigator Car Loan App to Buy My Car

This all-in-one app helps you find your car, apply for financing and see your payment by adjusting your price, downpayment, credit score and loan length, eliminating confusion and keeping things simple.

Capital One Auto Navigator

Capital One Auto NavigatorAnd it was the easiest part of the purchase.

One of the things I hate about buying a car is financing. Talking to my bank, checking my credit score (ugh), filling out forms (double ugh), sifting through finance rates, loan terms and more can be frustrating and confusing.

But, I needed a car.

Hello, Capital One Auto Navigator

I’ve been a fan of Capital One Cafes for a while (half price Peets coffee with your Capital One card!), and a fan of my Capital One credit card, so I decided to give the company’s Auto Navigator car financing service a shot.

I downloaded the car loan app and boom! I was on my way. Frankly, it was so fast and easy that it’s almost hard to remember all the steps. But the highlights are really clear.

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Capital One Auto Navigator

The Capital One Auto Navigator pre-qualify process was simple and easy and didn’t ding my credit.

How Auto Navigator Works

First, I filled out some basic information. Capital One pre-approved a loan limit before I began shopping. This gave me the confidence that I could be flexible and not get stuck negotiating small points to get a set monthly payment or price. Also, it was not a ‘hard’ credit approval, which dings your credit score. My credit would be unaffected if I changed my mind or went with another lender.

I was able to weigh the terms of different loan lengths. In the app, I could see and adjust the downpayment, trade-in value, price of the car, interest rate, and loan length of 4-year, 5-year or 7-year loans (shudder!). I could pick the one that was the best fit for me. 7-year loans are the max that Capital One will finance, but 4 or 5 are best. Longer loans will have you owing money on a car that is worth less than your loan is. That’s financially unhealthy!

Related: How to Buy a Car if You Have Bad Credit: 6 Tips

Capital One Auto Navigator

One great feature of the Capital One Auto Navigator is that you can shop from dealers that accept the loan.

You Can Shop for a Car in the Auto Navigator App, Too

Then I could shop from the cars in the Auto Navigator database. It has a number of filters for different types of cars, prices, features, etc. Also, I could set a distance from home. I liked that I could shop with a dealer that wasn’t close to home. I’m willing to drive far to get a car at the price I want. As it turned out, we drove to a dealer about an hour away, so I was glad to have my financing lined up. It wouldn’t be convenient to come back to process loan paperwork.

Luckily for us, the car we were eyeing was at a dealer in the Auto Navigator database. So, we went to take a test drive.

Even when negotiating the purchase at the dealership, I could adjust the terms of the loan on my Auto Navigator app, changing the downpayment, price and loan length to see the interest rate and monthly payment. This is so great when you’re in a negotiation; the power of the sale is literally in your hands.

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You Still Have to Sit with the Finance Person at the Dealership

Fortunately, the hard part is done. You don’t have to sweat with anxiety wondering if you’re approved for the loan. There’s no pressure while you’re trapped in their office to make changes to the deal. You clearly know your terms.

Once we agreed on the car and price, we headed to the finance office. I let the salesman know that we would be using Capital One for our financing. He suggested the dealership may have a lower finance rate. Of course, I’m up for the lowest rate possible. However, it turned out that the dealer couldn’t beat the interest rate Capital One offered. This was fine — it’s what I was expecting to pay.

Related: Buy a Car With My Phone? Oh, Yes, I Did!

Buyer Beware Caveats—Yes, There Are Some!

From there, the dealership finished the loan process by completing my credit report and printing out all the paperwork for me to sign. One buyer beware note: Make SURE the dealer processes the loan terms you selected; our dealership tried to process a 6-year loan! It had a higher interest rate. Yikes. We insisted they re-work the paperwork with the loan terms I already found on the Auto Navigator app, and they did.

Also, be aware not all dealers participate in Auto Navigator. If you find a car that isn’t in their database, you can’t use the app for this purchase. However, you can visit your Capital One branch to ask about a traditional loan. Auto Navigator’s pre-approval looks for a minimum income and a minimum credit score (generally good to excellent). Also, the Auto Navigator pre-approval doesn’t mean you are fully approved. You still have to go through the loan approval process.

Capital One Auto Navigator

My new car! We got the 2016 Infiniti QX50 we were looking for. Photo: Scotty Reiss

How the Dealer Gets Paid

And yes, they do!  Dealers have a point-share agreement with the finance companies they accept. That means the loan company or bank will give them a point or a share of the interest fees you pay for processing the loan. So, even if you’re not financing through the dealership, the dealer gets paid if they are in the Auto Navigator database.

Overall, it was the simplest transaction we’ve ever had! In the past, we have financed with the dealership. While the rate was good—usually better than the bank’s— it took forever. This time, Capital One made the loan approval process a breeze. It was not Capital One’s fault that the dealer had to print out literally dozens of pieces of paperwork and reprint most of them because I found mistakes on almost every single one.

But maybe it’s their opportunity to make that part better, too.

A Girls Guide To Cars | I Used Capital One Auto Navigator Car Loan App To Buy My Car - Capital One

Capital One Auto Navigator FAQs

How accurate is Capital One auto pre-approval?

The Capital One auto pre-approval is extremely accurate. One dealership told us that 95% of the time the prequalified buyers with a Capital One preapproval leave with a new car.

Can I use a Capital One auto loan anywhere?

No, a Capital One auto loan can only be used at one of the providers in their network. However, their network is huge, so it’s highly likely you can use it where you want. 

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss