Capital One Auto Finance

104 ratings (102 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Disappointing
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Very efficient and quick approval, lousy customer service

Mar 6, 2005
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Very efficient application and approval process.

Cons:Poor customer service, deceptive tactics.

The Bottom Line: If you are sure you won't have any problems with them (i.e. you have "gap insurance" for if the car gets totalled), the rates and process are good, otherwise beware!


I had a loan with HSBC Bank back in the late 1990's on a 1997 Hyundai Sonata I bought new. I also had 3 credit cards with Capital One all in good standing. I got a solicitation to "refinance" my loan with Capital One Auto Finance.

They are very efficient and quick when it comes to initially getting a loan with them. If this is a brand new loan (I base this on the experience of a friend who used them), you simply plug in all the info on-line and either get an online decision (pretty rare though) or a decision pretty quickly and a "blank check" (valid for up to the maximum loan amount you qualify for) to bring to the dealer, giving you a little more leverage in negotiation since the dealer sees proof that you have "instant funds" you can give them.

My refinancing decision was pretty quick too. Pretty much the day they received my form, I was approved for a rate that was 2% lower and lowered my monthly payment by $50/month. I was impressed and approved the refinance.

About 3 months into the loan, a drunk driver hit my parked car in the parking lot and totalled it. It was decided by my insurance company to simply pay off the loan rather than fix it. I had a "gap" of almost $2000 (at the time, New York had some of the quirkiest laws in the nation regarding "gap insurance"; you could pretty much only get it for a leased car, not a financed one; this has changed, but it's still harder to get "gap insurance" for financed cars in New York than other states (for example, my insurance company Progressive (see that review) offers it in every state but NY)).

I was prepared to simply pay the gap out of my funds, but it would take a few days because I needed to transfer money between accounts to have all the money in one bank account, then get a certified check, etc. Capital One Auto Finance insisted that I don't need to do this, that if I wish for convenience I could simply pay the remaining $2K or so with my monthly payment, which (if I didn't accelerate it at all) would pay it off in two years.

Well, 2 months later when I was rejected for a credit card and got a free copy of my credit report, I was surprised to see the Capital One Auto Finance entry as "charge off - pays as agreed" which is a negative entry on your credit report (it is similar to an account being in collections but you made a payment arrangement). I called and complained, they said that this is correct and that that initial call with the monthly payment deal was actually their COLLECTIONS department calling to make payment arrangements with me on the debt. They claimed the fact that the "gap" wasn't fully paid within 30 days of the accident made it a charge-off.

I told them that I was actually planning to pay in full at first when I got this call saying I could pay it this way with no mention of it making it a negative entry on my credit report. I noted that I could easily pay it off at that point (besides that that was my original plan I had received a decent court settlement from the drunk driver's insurance company) and in fact within the week paid off the debt. They were pretty rude about it, saying that "why didn't you just do that to begin with" and I said it was because I was mislead by them.

But this didn't end it yet. Now it showed up on my credit report as a "paid charge off". This is a little better, but it's still a negative entry that would take 7 years to come off. It took 3 complaints to the credit bureau over a 10 month period to finally get the entry removed.

While I liked their process and their rates, their customer service and their deceptive tactics in this particular situation left a lot to be desired.


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