Home / FAQs / How to save thousands on your Santander auto loan

How to save thousands on your Santander auto loan

You can lower your monthly payments on your Santander auto loan and save $750 every year / $63 every month through refinancing. You are a great candidate for refinancing if (a) you got your current loan at the dealership and/or (b) made all of your loan payments on time.

Instead of making your monthly payment to Santander why not refinance now and save thousands in minutes.

Table of contents

  1. How to make your Santander payment
  2. Some background on Santander
  3. Refinance your Santander auto loan
  4. Santander loan payoff amount
  5. How soon can you refinance your Santander loan
  6. Will refinancing your Santander loan hurt your credit
  7. Can I skip a car payment with Santander
  8. Does Santander have a grace period
  9. How long does Santander take to repossess my car
  10. What happens if I pay extra on my Santander loan
  11. Savings from refinancing your Santander loan
  12. Santander reviews
  13. Does Santander report to the credit bureaus
  14. Santander car loan refinance rates
  15. Can you refinance your Santander loan with the same lender
  16. Refinance your Santander loan now

How to make your Santander payment

If you currently have a loan with Santander paying online is easy. Simply go to https://myaccount.santanderconsumerusa.com/Home/SignIn and sign in in the middle at Sign-in. You can choose between:

  • Making a one time payment.
  • Enrolling in Autopay from your checking account.

Please note that many banks and financial institutions offer a rate discount for enrolling in autopay (to reduce your interest expense and lower your monthly payment). Santander would have highlighted this option to you to get you into a lower interest rate when you got pre-qualified during your application process for your auto financing.

If you can’t pay online, you’ve also got the option to:

Pay your bill over the phone: Call 1-888-222-4227

Pay your bill through the mail: Send a check to Santander

Santander Consumer USA
1010 W Mockingbird Lane, Suite 100
Dallas TX 75247

Nicholas Hinrichsen - Published: November 23, 2020

Some background on Santander

Before going into more detail, here a little background about Santander: Thomas Dundon is majority shareholder and CEO of the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL. Yes, you heard right: Thomas owns a Hockey Team!

He co-founded a subprime auto loan company called Drive Financial Services, which eventually became Santander, held by one of the biggest Spanish banks. Thanks to the sale of his auto loan business, Thomas is a very wealthy man in his early forties.

Santander targets the segment of American car shoppers with challenged (i.e. sub-prime) credit and we observed an average auto loan interest rate of 16% (within a range of +/- 5%), while rates vary a lot by credit score. Our Santander auto loan calculator can pre-qualify you hassle-free through a simple credit application and help you get a sense for how much you can expect to save from a Santander auto refinance and the best rates.

Refinance your Santander auto loan

To lower your monthly payments on your Santander (also known as Santander Consumer or Santander Consumer USA) auto loan, you need to find a lender that can extend your used car loan term or who offers lower auto loan rates before the loan is paid in full. The best way to do so is through an online application that returns your annual percentage rate (APR) immediately. Usually, lenders offer you a lower rate than your current auto loan for one of two reasons:

  1. When you bought your car, the participating dealer marked up your rate. That's common for auto loan originations and to make more money.
  2. You improved your credit over time and now qualify for a lower car payment and interest rate.

Both of these observations are common sense and the reason for why you can save a lot of money, especially if you drive your car for personal use. You improved your credit with the credit bureaus from challenged credit (i.e. between 350 and 600 on your credit report) to near-prime credit (i.e. above 600), you're not facing any financial difficulties and therefore, your new lender will be likely one of the following ones:

You successfully got out of the sub-prime automotive financing segment (usually for FICO scores between 350 - 600 on your credit history) and moved into the near-prime credit segment (FICO above 600). FDIC approved lenders in this segment have a focus on auto loans and understand the market very well. They charge high rates since, after all, they are in the business of lending money and have a number of customers who are likely going to struggle making payments at times. That's why their reviews often create the impression they provide a poor customer experience. But in reality, they're well versed with customers like you who are in the process of improving their credit and have great financial ambitions.

In the following, we will walk you through the exact steps to pay off your Santander loan. If you want to skip the details and refinance now through a simple loan application, get an offer with a few clicks and with no impact on your credit.

Santander loan payoff amount

First and foremost, we need to pull up your Santander loan payoff statement to obtain your loan payoff amount and details. The loan payoff statement is not your outstanding balance. Instead, the loan payoff statement summarizes the following data points:

  • your payoff amount (usually your loan amount balance plus a few small fees)
  • the due date until your payoff is valid to avoid late fees (usually 10 days from when you requested it)
  • the per-diem (how much of daily interest your loan accumulates)
  • your account number (the new lender needs that to payoff your loan)
  • the payoff address (the new lender needs to know where to mail the check to)

There is no such thing as prepayment penalty and all the above information can be found on the official payoff statement, just to be clear. You have multiple payment options but first you need to locate the payoff statement from Santander's customer service reps:

  1. Call the Santander customer service phone number at 1-888-222-4227 and ask to be connected to the loan payoff department.
  2. Log into the online banking at Sign-in (https://myaccount.santanderconsumerusa.com/Home/SignIn, sign in in the middle) and browse to the 'Loan Payoff' tab. You will be able to download a PDF.
  3. Do a three-way phone call with the new lender and a Santander customer service rep at 1-888-222-4227, which allows the new lender to ask Santander all the questions necessary to pay off your existing loan.

Should you plan to payoff your loan and you are currently in the United States, you can overnight a check to the following address:

Santander Consumer USA
1010 W Mockingbird Lane, Suite 100
Dallas TX 75247

Once you paid off your auto loan, expect to receive the vehicle title along with a lien release letter in the mail. Car loans are usually secured personal loans and in order to be able to sell your vehicle or refinance it, you need the lien release in hand.

We provided those addresses above because we always struggle to find a service provider's contact information. Just be aware, due to COVID-19, waiting times for customer service reps might be longer than usual. Want us to take care of the refinance for you? We can lower your rate in less than two minutes.

How soon can you refinance your Santander loan

You're eager to refinance your Santander loan? Great, you should absolutely work towards lowering your Santander payments through refinancing. The average Santander auto loan is $23,007 when first originated. The average credit score of a borrower is 601. Take a look at the following chart with credit scores on the x-axis and auto loan rates on the y-axis:

Santander Rates by Credit Score

As you can see on the chart above, the rates go down with increasing credit score:

  • The green marker is the average.
  • The bottom of the boxes indicate where the lowest 25% of borrowers land.
  • The upper end of the boxes indicate where the 75% of borrowers land.

Compared to the averages above for Santander, where do you land? Is your rate better or worse than comparable borrowers with your same credit score?

The chart makes it clear that Santander focuses on the challenged (i.e. sub-prime) credit segment. The next chart shows the percentage of loans from Santander by credit tier:

Percentage of Santander Borrowers by Credit Score

As you would expect, most borrowers are in the challenged (i.e. sub-prime) credit tiers, around the average of 601. Lastly, take a look at the following chart, which shows the percentage of loans by APR:

Percentage of Santander Borrowers by Rate

As you would expect, the majority of borrowers are around 16% APR.

Car dealerships make most of their money on finance and insurance products. Therefore, there's a good chance that you are overpaying and can save money through refinancing - already the day you drive off the lot! That said, you will save the biggest amount of money from refinancing after you made 12 to 18 payments. That's when you will notice the effect from improving your credit above and beyond challenged (i.e. sub-prime) credit.

That said, we recommend checking regularly: you can get a free refinance offer with no impact on your credit in three simple steps.

Will refinancing your Santander loan hurt your credit

Refinancing will not hurt your credit! If you have the app CreditKarma installed on your phone, take a peek at what factors determine your credit. You will find the following:

  • Number of Hard Inquiries (less is better)
  • Age of Credit history (more is better)
  • Credit Card Utilization (less is better)
  • Total Accounts (more is better)
  • Derogatory Marks (less is better)
  • Payment History (more is better)

None of these factors is impacted negatively if you obtain a refinancing offer for your Santander loan. Lenders don't need to do a hard credit inquiry to make you a firm refinance offer. Neither do they charge an application fee. From a soft credit pull, we can see your whole credit file and estimate your rate.

Should you decide to accept the refinance offer, the new lender will have to perform a hard inquiry in order to add your new loan to your credit file. The hard inquiry, however, only happens after you have been approved.

We argue that the positive impact of refinancing your Santander loan outweigh the negative impact of the hard credit inquiry: after you refinance your Santander loan, you will have a lower rate and lower monthly payments. As a result, the likelihood that you will be able to establish a perfect payment history increases which will drive your score up quickly.

Can I skip a car payment with Santander

You're short on cash and are wondering whether you can skip a car payment with Santander? The answer is yes, you can defer one or more payments on your existing auto loan. You have to talk to Santander about the deferral first though. You can't just not pay or you risk collection calls and ultimately a repossession.

Ideally, you give Santander a call at 1-888-222-4227 and describe your situation. Santander's goal is for you to make your payments throughout the whole term of the loan. Finance charges will continue to accrue on the unpaid loan balance, which means you will end up paying more on your loan after all. But for as long as you communicate well with Santander, they will defer one or more payments out of courtesy and to help you with your repayment.

All that said, you can lower your Santander payments through refinancing if you've made all your latest payments on time. In three simple steps, you can find out how low your payments could be without having to skip a payment or two.

Does Santander have a grace period

The Santander late payment policy provides a grace period of 7 to 15 days. Grace periods vary from lender to lender and due to the coronavirus pandemic, banks have become a lot more lenient with their borrowers.

Late fees vary drastically by loan, the minimum late fee we've encountered was 5% of the monthly payment amount. However, we strongly advise not to take advantage of Santander's grace period unless you have an emergency. You'd be putting your credit at risk, which can have a long-term, negative impact on your personal finances.

Instead, we recommend exploring if refinancing can help you reduce your monthly burden and potentially even provide unexpected cost savings. Provide your phone number and follow our three simple steps to get a firm offer, 100% online and with no hit on your credit.

How long does Santander take to repossess my car

Repossession law varies slightly from state to state and range from 3 to 5 months after you stopped making payments on your Santander loan. Each individual retail and installment contract - the contract you signed when you got your car and Santander loan - states what constitutes a default.

Some states and contracts even trigger a repossession within 45 days (or a month and a half) of being in default. You are in default when you stopped making your payments and for as long as you haven't paid the Santander late fees.

Just catching up with your missed payments making Santander whole doesn't automatically mean you're not in default anymore. You really need to pay Santander everything you owe including fees to be not considered in default any longer.

What happens if I pay extra on my Santander loan

The answer is simple: your loan term will shorten but your monthly payment will stay the same. A number of our customers hope they can reduce their monthly payments through paying extra but no lender will do that.

To lower your monthly payments, you have to refinance your loan. If you haven't considered refinancing your Santander loan yet, you definitely should: not only can you reduce your monthly payments within 2 minutes or less, your total interest expense will go down as well and as a result, you can save $750 every year / $63 every month.

Savings from refinancing your Santander loan

We performed a study on the top 40 auto loan companies to refinance and found that the average Santander loan rate is around 16% (within a range of +/- 5%). If you made your payments for 6 / 12 / 18 consecutive months, you're guaranteed to be able to save money on your Santander loan.

Your new interest rate should be on the order of 11% or below. That means you will save $500 every year / $42 every month if your remaining loan balance is around $10,000 and you refinance. Usually, we see higher loan balances when refinancing our customers, e.g. around $15,000. If your loan balance is around $15,000 you will save $750 every year / $63 every month when you lower your rate by 5%.

For a guaranteed rate in less than 2 minutes, open WithClutch.com, enter your phone number, select your goal (e.g. 'Lower my monthly payment') and click on 'Apply Now'. Our process will not hurt your credit and you'll receive a firm and guaranteed rate with not more than 5 clicks. Should you have any further questions, check out our FAQs.

Santander reviews

If you currently have a loan with Santander, you most likely got the loan at the dealership during the car purchase. You probably used your used vehicle as a trade-in to lower your down payment. The dealer found you your loan and you can make your payments by clicking on Sign-in at https://myaccount.santanderconsumerusa.com/Home/SignIn.

79% of all Americans with auto loans get their auto loan at the dealership. People shop for new cars, they don't shop for new loans. As a result, auto dealers have a leg up when it comes to giving car shoppers loans. In fact, the same is true for auto insurance and when you inquire about a warranty.

The challenge is this:

  1. the number 1 goal of a car dealer is to sell a car
  2. the number 2 goal of a car dealer is to sell the car at the highest possible margin

Considering the interests of the car dealer and how most car shoppers get their loans, no wonder Americans are overpaying on their interest rates, right?

As mentioned above, Santander is an auto loan and financial services company that specializes on the segment of Americans with challenged (i.e. sub-prime) credit. We looked at reviews for Santander and found the following:

  • BBB: 1 out of 5 stars and 1,985 complaints
  • Yelp: 1 out of 5 stars from 153 reviews
  • Glassdoor: 3.1 out of 5 stars from 7,575 reviews

Ever wondered if Santander treats everyone like you? Sadly, they do. Other loans you might have also qualified for could have been with one of the following auto loan companies:

If you bought your car at a Franchise Dealership, you may have qualified for a loan with one of the Captive Finance companies (i.e. the auto loan companies that are owned by the respective car brand), e.g.:

After you've made your first 6 / 12 / 18 payments, your chance to refinance your loan and lower your monthly payments has come. The challenge with refinancing is that most auto loan companies require you to visit their branch before they can give you any indication of how much money you will be saving. Fortunately, we can help with that.

Does Santander report to the credit bureaus

When you first obtained your auto loan, Santander reported your new loan to the credit bureaus. Your Santander loan shows up as a so called trade-line on your credit report. Through a soft or hard credit inquiry, we can see:

  • When you got your Santander loan
  • What your initial balance was
  • How high your monthly payment is
  • Whether you've made your payments in time and full
  • How high your outstanding balance is
  • How many payments are remaining

If you miss a payment, Santander will very likely report the incident to the credit bureaus. Just like any other auto finance company, Santander will also report to the credit bureaus when you paid off your loan or refinanced it. In both of those cases, your loan will show up as paid off.

Santander car loan refinance rates

We can help you get the following Santander refinance rates:

Credit New car Used car
760+ 2.69% 3.49%
700-760 3.00% 4.25%
650-700 5.50% 6.50%
600-650 9.75% 10.75%
550-600 15.50% 17.50%
Below 550 22.00% 22.00%

As mentioned above, Santander car loan rates vary a lot by credit score, i.e. lowest rate for excellent credit to highest rate for challenged credit. Yet, the rates are usually the same no matter where you live in the United States - be it Hawaii or Maine, Alaska or Florida. We therefore recommend taking a look at your Santander refinance offer for your exact and personalized refinance terms.

Can you refinance your Santander loan with the same lender

The answer is short and sweat: no, you cannot refinance a Santander loan with the same lender. Santander does one of two things with your loan:

  • Keep it and generate profit over the course of the loan and while you are paying your interest.
  • Sell your loan to an institutional investor or the public through a securitization to realize a lump sum profit immediately.

In both of those cases, the institution holding your loan is expecting your monthly payments. When you refinance, however, you change the expected cash flow to Santander, which impacts Santander's bottom line. Santander would not allow that.

Therefore, Santander won't let you refinance your loan with the same lender (i.e. Santander). Instead, you need to find a new lender offering a lower rate.

Fortunately, we recently studied the best car loan refinance companies and wrote a thorough review. In a nutshell, only WithClutch offers a fully digital pre-qualification experience, even for borrowers with minimum monthly income and without charging unreasonable fees. We do our best to give our clients the best auto refinance loans. Our partner lenders can offer the lowest rates and can help with lease buyouts as well as refinancing.

Refinance your Santander loan now

Haven't explored refinancing yet? Take a look at our exhaustive article about all the auto refinance companies and you will realize,
WithClutch.com is the only fully digital platform that lets car owners like you do so from the comfort of their own home. No need to set a foot in a bank or credit union. You can lower your rate or get cash in as little as 20 seconds.

Follow three simple steps to refinance your auto loan, get approved in seconds and save thousands in minutes.

Consumer Solutions

Commercial Solutions

Developer Tools


WithClutch Inc

830 Avenue Balboa

Half Moon Bay, CA 94019



© 2020 WithClutch. All rights reserved.