App version: 0.1.0

How Can You Make Car Payments Online?

How Can You Make Car Payments Online?
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated December 13, 2022
Share this article:
Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Most lenders offer a number of ways for you to pay your car bill, including online. To pay online, you’ll simply need to log on to your account and select a payment method. You may be able to use a credit card or debit card to pay your bill, though lenders generally prefer that you make payments directly from your bank account.What matters most is that you choose the method that’s convenient for you and helps you stay on top of payments. It’s critical that you make your auto loan payments on time and in full. Because auto loans are secured, meaning they use your vehicle as collateral, your lender can repossess your car if you fail to make your loan payments.

How Frequently Can You Make Car Payments Online?

You may make car payments online once or every month. You may even make additional payments throughout the month before your next payment is due. Additional payments may go toward paying down your car loan principal, as opposed to the interest you owe. Beware that some lenders will charge prepayment penalties if you make extra payments or pay your loan off early. This is due to the fact that if you pay your loan off early, your lender won’t be able to charge you as much interest. Charging a prepayment penalty helps the lender make up for some of that lost revenue and dissuade borrowers from paying off their loans early. 

Making Automatic Car Payments Online

If online payments are the most convenient way for you to pay your bill, you may want to make them automatic. Your lender will usually offer autopay as an option. To set it up, you’ll generally have to go through the following steps:
  • Sign into your account and click on your auto loan.
  • Select the option to enroll in autopay.
  • Decide which account you’d like automatic payments to get drawn from, and add that account’s information. You’ll usually need your account number and routing number, which you can find online, on your bank statement, or at the bottom of a personal check.
  • Choose your payment amount and the date on which you’d like the automatic withdrawal to occur. Just make sure to schedule your payment to hit by the payment due date, even though there is technically a car loan grace period.
Automatic payments have a number of benefits. For one, you’ll spend less time and money ordering checks from your bank. But chief among the benefits is that automatic payments help ensure that you never forget to pay your bill. Missed payments can trigger penalties and send you closer to default. Additionally, because your payment history is the biggest component of your credit score, ensuring that payments are made on time can help your credit score.That said, you’ll still need to keep a watchful eye on the amount of money in your bank account. Make sure there’s enough each month to cover the bill. After all, you don’t want your bill to trigger an overdraft and the penalties that come along with it. And if you’re allowed to use a credit or debit card to make an automatic payment, you must make sure to update your information when a card is lost, stolen, or expires. Doing so is essential to ensuring that payments continue to get made on time.

Making a One-Time Car Payment Online

Let’s say you don’t want to set up recurring payments, but simply want to make a single payment on your car loan. The process for how to make a one-time car payment online is pretty similar to that of setting up recurring payments. Here’s how you’d do it, keeping in mind that the process can vary somewhat depending on the bank or lender:
  • Sign into your account with your bank or lender, and select online bill pay.
  • Select the account from which you’d like your car payment to get withdrawn.
  • Choose whether to make the payment now or schedule it for the near future.

Fees for Making Car Payments Online

Typically, there are no fees for making your car payments online. In fact, it could cost you a little bit less since you won’t need to buy checks or postage, or drive anywhere to pay your bill. 

Other Ways to Make Car Payments

Online billpay is not the only way to pay off your car loan each month. Here’s a look at some other options. 

Pay by Phone

Your lender will usually have an option to pay by phone. They’ll provide the number you need to call, and you’ll be asked to supply the account number and routing number of the account you’d like them to draw payment from. 

Pay by Mail

Auto lenders used to send a payment coupon book with preprinted payment stubs to help you keep track of your loan. When using these, borrowers would detach the payment stub and send it to their lender with the payment for each billing cycle. While some lenders still use these, others are more likely to send you a payment stub at the bottom of your monthly bill. You can detach this and send it in with your payment. Additionally, you can use a check, money order, or cashier’s check to make your payments. Just make sure that you mail it in plenty of time so that it arrives before the date on which it’s due. You don’t want to risk your payment being considered late.

Pay in Person

Lenders also may offer the option to make a car payment in person. You may be able to do so at a brick-and-mortar branch of a bank or credit union. For most lenders, in-person is not required. In some cases, however, you may be asked to pay your car bill in person. This might be the case if you bought your car through dealer financing at a “buy here, pay here” dealership, and your contract stipulates in-person payment. In this scenario, you’d need to show up to make payments at the dealership at least once a month.

Tips for Paying Off Your Car

Now that you know how to make a car payment online and in other ways, here are some tips for getting your car loan paid off:
  • Make sure you pay your bills on time: It’s vital that you take whatever steps you need to pay your bills on time and in full. One helpful tool to help ensure this happens is enrolling in automatic bill pay. 
  • Consider making extra payments to pay off your loan early: If your lender doesn’t charge prepayment penalties, you also may want to take action to pay your loan off early, which can save you money on interest payments. Consider rounding up your bill each month to the nearest $50 or $100. Or, you might make one or more extra-large payments each year. 
  • Look into refinancing to save on interest or lower monthly payments: You may consider refinancing your loan if interest rates have dropped, your finances have improved, or you need to make your monthly payments more manageable. When you refinance, you pay off your old loan with a new one. Ideally, this loan has a lower interest rate, which can save you money over the life of the loan. You also might refinance to a loan with a longer term, which can lower your monthly car loan payments. However, you’ll pay more months’ worth of interest, which can ultimately make the loan more expensive. 
Recommended: Auto Loan Refinance Calculator

The Takeaway

Online auto loan payments aren’t your only option for how to make a car payment. However, making a car loan payment online is a convenient way to ensure that you never miss a payment and remain on track to pay off your car on time.You can speed the process of paying off your car loan, or make monthly payments more manageable, with strategies like auto loan refinancing. If you’re interested in refinancing a car loan, it’s important to shop around for the best interest rate and terms. Lantern’s refinancing tool can help you compare rates from top lenders and apply to the loan that’s the right fit.Compare auto loan refinancing rates from top lenders today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you make car payments online?
How frequently can you make car payments online?
Are there any fees for making car payments online?

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
Share this article: