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Find the Best Auto Loan Companies in Madison, WI

Thousands of people in Madison rely on cars, trucks and motorcycles to get them to school, work and other destinations. Car loans make it possible for Madison residents to afford safe and reliable transportation. Madison.com has partnered with ConsumerAffairs to create this guide by comparing customer reviews and loan offers of 41 businesses and choosing seven favorites from the top car financing companies in Madison.

Companies pay ConsumerAffairs to be accredited, and Madison.com and/or ConsumerAffairs may receive compensation when you click a link, call a number or fill out a form on this site.

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Comparing auto loans in Madison

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As you begin your search for an auto loan in Madison, it's important to ask the right questions and shop around. Every lender — whether it's a bank, credit union, online lender, dealership or manufacturer — is different and will have a different set of requirements for a loan. Ask friends and family for their recommendations, and don't forget to check online reviews. As you do your research, make sure you are asking about the following aspects of a car loan:

  • Term length: The term length is the amount of time you have to repay your loan. The most popular term lengths are 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60 months. The longer your repayment term length, the more you pay in interest, but the lower your monthly payments will be.
  • Interest rate: The can loan interest rate is one of the most important things to consider when applying for a car loan. Lenders often advertise APR, which includes interest and other fees. The average APR for a car loan across the country for borrowers with fair to excellent credit is around 5% at the time of publishing. The interest rate on your loan depends on factors like your credit history, income and debt-to-income ratio.
  • Taxes and fees: Pay attention to taxes and fees for things like registration, title, loan origination and prepayment. You may be able to roll some of these fees into the loan, or you may have to pay them upfront.
  • Down payment: Another thing to consider when looking for a car loan in Madison is the down payment requirement. Some lenders and credit unions accept $0 down or $500 down, but this often means you're paying higher interest rates and have higher monthly payments. Before applying for a loan, try to save money to use as a down payment. This will lower your monthly payment and prevent you from owing more than the car is worth.

How to get a car loan in Madison

The qualification and approval process varies between banks, credit unions and dealerships offering car loans in Madison. However, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your application. Have proof of income, proof of residence, government-issued photo ID and your Social Security number ready. If you know what car you want to purchase, know details like the made, model, year and vehicle identification number. Lenders will also want to know that you have car insurance.

One of the biggest factors in qualifying for an auto loan in Madison is your credit score. Get a free copy of your credit report and make sure there are no mistakes. If you can, work to improve your credit score before applying for a loan. There are many auto loan companies in the Madison area that specialize in offering car loans to people with bad credit or no credit, or to those turned down by traditional lenders.

Shop for auto loans from multiple lenders to learn how much you qualify for and your rates before you go car shopping.

Madison auto loans FAQ

What does APR mean on a car loan?

APR is the annual percentage rate. This is the total yearly cost of the loan expressed as a percentage of the amount you are borrowing. It includes interest and other fees.

What is the average monthly car payment in Madison?

The average monthly payment for a new car in Wisconsin is $523, according to AutoWise. For a used car, it’s $327.

How old of a car will a bank finance?

Usually, a bank will allow you to finance a car that is 10 years old or newer. Some banks may consider financing the purchase of an older vehicle.

Does auto loan preapproval affect credit score?

No, getting preapproved generally does not affect your credit score, as it only involves a soft credit inquiry. Once you formally apply for the loan, a lender will do a hard inquiry, which temporarily lowers your score.

Where should I get a car loan in Madison?

It depends on what type of loan you need. Some Madison residents prefer to use a nationally recognized bank, while others go through local credit unions, online lenders or a dealership. Credit unions often offer lower interest rates than banks, and online lenders are often most helpful for borrowers with lower credit scores.

Madison car loan company information

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Auto Approve

Auto Approve offers car refinancing to people with low credit scores or no credit at all. It is an online marketplace that connects consumers who have been traditionally turned down for loans with lenders that will approve them. To qualify, you must have a minimum gross monthly income of $1,500, and the vehicle you are purchasing must be less than 10 years old. Auto Approve provides loans with terms from 12 to 84 months.

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Auto Credit Express

Auto Credit Express specializes in connecting Madison residents with lenders and auto dealers that work with people with bad credit. It has low down payment requirements; however, it does offer higher interest rates. The company requires borrowers to show proof of income of at least $1,500 a month, but no minimum credit score is required. Loans through Auto Credit Express range from 24 to 72 months.

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Summit Credit Union

Summit Credit Union offers loans for new and used cars, with free preapproval online. Borrowers make no payments for 90 days and get an APR as low as 2.84%. Members receive a 0.25% discount when they sign up for automatic payments. The credit union offers terms between 24 months and 84 months. Rates vary depending on the age of the car and your credit score. Summit Credit Union has multiple area locations, including one at 567 State St., Madison, WI 53703.

Summit Credit Union

WEA Credit Union

WEA Credit Union offers loan terms between two and seven years for new and used vehicles. The APR for a seven-year loan on a new car is 4.25%. APR ranges between 2.95% and 4.2% for older cars. WEA Credit Union also refinances auto loans, helping borrowers save as much as $100 per month. WEA Credit Union is located at 33 Nob Hill Road, Madison, WI 53713.

WEA Credit Union

Bank of Sun Prairie

Bank of Sun Prairie is a local bank in the Madison area that provides auto loans. Term lengths and APR depend on the age of the car. For cars, trucks and motorcycles made between 2011 and 2018, term lengths go between 36 and 72 months, and APR starts as low as 3.40%. Consumers receive a 0.25% discount when they sign up for automatic payments that are withdrawn from a Bank of Sun Prairie checking account. Bank of Sun Prairie has four locations in the area, including one at 419 W. Cottage Grove Road, Cottage Grove, WI 53527.

Bank of Sun Prairie

UW Credit Union

UW Credit Union makes it easy for Madison residents to apply for an auto loan online. Its term lengths range between 48 and 84 months for new vehicles, and 36 to 72 months for used vehicles. APR is as low as 2.99% on a new vehicle and 3.04% on a used vehicle. If you refinance an auto loan with UW Credit Union, you pay nothing for 90 days. UW Credit Union has nearly 50 locations in the Madison area, including one at 44 E. Mifflin St., Madison, WI 53703.

UW Credit Union

Dane County Credit Union

Dane County Credit Union offers 100% financing, flexible terms, and low interest rates on new and used cars. You can get preapproved so you know exactly how much you will qualify for when you go car shopping. If you refinance your existing loan with this lender, it gives you a 1% cash rebate. It offers 48- to 84-month term lengths for new vehicles and APR as low as 2.49%. Dane County Credit Union has multiple locations in the area, including one at 2160 Rimrock Road, Madison, WI 53713.

Dane County Credit Union