DriveTime Puts You in the Driver’s Seat — 140 Dealerships Offer Easy Financing of Reliable Vehicles

DriveTime Puts You in the Driver’s Seat — 140 Dealerships Offer Easy Financing of Reliable Vehicles
Lauren Keys
By: Lauren Keys
Posted: April 6, 2016
Experts share their tips and advice daily on, helping subprime consumers navigate the world of personal finance.

In a Nutshell: DriveTime provides in-house auto financing and insurance quotes right at their dealerships, and specialize in helping customers with subprime credit find their next car. Each personalized loan profile is based on more than just credit history so that no one is turned away. From their quick online application to their extensive inventory of certified vehicles, DriveTime is setting a new standard in their space.

Your car is at the center of all you do — it’s how you get to work, how you get your kids to school, and how you’re able to run errands.

When you have poor credit, finding and financing a reliable car can be one of the most stressful experiences you’ll have. Sometimes that means settling for a not-so-reliable Craigslist alternative or hoping the sketchy buy-here-pay-here lot isn’t as sketchy as it seems.

An image of the DriveTime logo

DriveTime recognized the lack of options for a reputable car buying and financing one-stop dealership for people whose credit scores were less than ideal, and it sought to change everything about that experience.

Since 2002, DriveTime has approved 2.5 million people, and continues to help about 120,000 individuals annually with a large selection of vehicles and personalized auto loans and leasing options for them. Over a million people every month visit to find and finance the perfect vehicle they’re looking for.

With customer-focused policies — like primarily salaried Sales Advisors (instead of being solely commission-based) to make car-buying more pleasant and extensive vehicle testing to ensure each model meets high quality standards — DriveTime is quickly shedding the stereotypical bad credit car dealership image.

All-in-One Dealership & Bank to Drive Off the Lot with Ease

Because DriveTime functions as both the dealership and the bank, they can offer better lending options than either traditional financiers or dealerships. None of the 140 locations across the country are franchised, but instead function at corporate-level quality for improved customer service.

“We have always focused on providing the same experience you would receive at a traditional high-end dealership,” said Christopher Piper, the director of marketing communications for DriveTime.

A photo of Christopher Piper, Director of Marketing Communications for DriveTime

Christopher Piper, Director of Marketing Communications for DriveTime, says he values how the company treats its customers and employees.

After you fill out an application online, which takes about two minutes, you’ll receive notice of your approval and details of your terms, dependent upon the financial information you provided. Applicants often see their approval amount, starting down payment or credit score, so they can start shopping for cars online, before they ever step foot in a dealership.

Christopher went on to explain that they view their customers as more than just a number — they’re not a FICO score or a sales goal. “We look more at stability factors rather than base our approval solely on a credit report.”

Once you have your financing figured out through DriveTime’s proprietary approval process, you can begin to shop for your next vehicle right from home through an extensive real-time inventory database complete with no-haggle pricing.

When you make an appointment at your local dealership, your sales advisor will already have your information upon your arrival to make the process of finding the perfect car an easy one.

Most sales advisors carry a 4-year college degree, and sales commissions make up only a small part of their compensation, said Christopher. This helped eliminate the push solely for a commission, so your sales advisor can make sure you find what you want.

DriveTime even takes getting you into your next vehicle a step further by offering to pull insurance quotes for you on the spot in many of their dealerships to truly shorten the time it takes to get on the road again.

“Most of our customers are actually able to get in and out of our dealership within two hours,” said Christopher, and that includes all the paperwork — which has gone virtual. Last year, DriveTime introduced e-contracting, which allows customers to sign all of their documents digitally and receive an emailed copy.

A Focus on Customers Puts DriveTime Ahead of Competitors

Part of the company’s commitment to provide the best service includes better educated and motivated employees, but the other part of that great service comes from truly understanding the plight of the people they serve.

Christopher said DriveTime doesn’t turn people down just because of credit. This is a huge relief for many applicants as it’ll likely be the first approval they’ll receive. His voice shifted empathetically as he described how most customers have often been repeatedly rejected, or feel they’ve been taken advantage of enough and have low expectations.

“We don’t take our customers for granted, and we’re grateful for each one,” Christopher explained of their approach to customer service. Being grateful, not greedy, allows them to truly put the customer’s needs first.

And it shows — the company’s rating on the third-party review site TrustPilot remains Excellent (9.0 out of 10) after more than 7,000 posts. The reviews are from customers all over the country, and they mostly reflect appreciation for the pleasant assistance they received.

Plus, DriveTime wants to help build its clients’ credit along the way, which is why they report customer payments to all three major credit bureaus.

Long History of Improving Reliability & Car Options

Over the years, the company has undergone a great metamorphosis to become the leader among used car dealerships and finance companies. With roots going back a few decades as Ugly Duckling, which was originally founded as a rent-a-car business, DriveTime has been in the used car business for a while.

It wasn’t until 2002, when the name DriveTime was adopted, that the company began to shift its focus to the customer. In 2010, the company underwent major transformations to become more of a buy-here-finance-here business model with the goal of helping everyone get into a reliable car regardless of credit.

A screenshot of DriveTime's AutoCheck features

DriveTime performs extensive testing and inspection of every used car it acquires.

About 8 percent of the vehicles they acquire don’t end up on the lot because as the cars go through rigorous inspections, they deem them not up to reliability standards. With 25 inspection centers throughout the U.S., the company is able to conduct multi-point inspections on every vehicle it sells. Because they carry out such extensive inspections, every vehicle comes with a 30-day limited warranty, 5-day return guarantee, and they also offer extended protection plans.

“Sometimes buying a car isn’t the best option,” Christopher explained of DriveTime’s lease alternative. “Leasing through DriveTime offers more flexibility as the down payments are generally lower and if your circumstances change, you can bring the car back.”

More Dealerships = Fulfilling More Auto Financing Needs

DriveTime continues to expand, adding 10-12 new dealerships each year to remain the nation’s largest network of used car lots that provides in-house financing as a one-stop-shop for people with poor credit.

To that end, they are proud to offer sister services such as the insurance brokerage that pulls quotes right in the dealership, and the segmentation of Bridgecrest as the financier to maintain a strict focus on key areas of expertise.

While DriveTime will remain focused on the customer experience and finding the best used cars, Bridgecrest can offer great rates so that no one will be turned away for a loan based solely on their credit report.

“We’re responsible for customer success all along the way,” said Christopher. And DriveTime wouldn’t have it any other way.