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Best Personal Loans in California

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Need to take out a personal loan in California? Lenders in the Golden State can offer you loans to invest in big purchases or facilitate credit card debt consolidation. Check out Benzinga’s guide to the best personal loans in California to find the right loan and lender for you. 

Best Personal Loans Through a Credit Union in California 

California’s best credit unions can connect you with a personal loan that fits your needs. Start with our recommended credit unions

Loan Amounts
$500 to $50,000
Terms Offered
Up to 60 months
Minimum Credit Score
N/A
Origination Fee
None

Best for Discounted Services: Schools First Federal Credit Union

Schools First Federal Credit Union offers personal loans between a flexible $500 to $50,000 range at loan terms up to 60 months. Schools First is 1 of the best California credit unions due to its no-fee policy for application, funding or early loan payoff. 

It also offers you a 0.75% discount on payments made through automatic transfer. The only restrictions are that your offered annual percentage rate (APR) depends on your credit and the maximum term depends on factors such as the amount you intend to borrow. 

APR is the itemized cost of taking out a personal loan that is added to the loan principal or the amount lent. Specifically, APR includes:

  • All of the interest on the loan over the course of the term
  • Varying fees associated with the loan

Always be sure to carefully examine and discuss fees associated with your loan. A common additional fee included in a loan’s APR is the origination fee, which is usually 1 to 6% of the loan principal. 

Loan Amounts
$1,000 to $40,000
Terms Offered
Up to 4 years
Minimum Credit Score
N/A
Origination Fee
N/A

Best for Lower Loan Amounts: Star One Credit Union

Star One Credit Union can offer you a fixed-rate personal loan between $1,000 and $40,000. The final APR offer is based on credit qualification. 

Star One offers a maximum loan term of 48 months and automatic loan payment from your Star One Credit Union checking or savings account. With online banking options and an easy-to-use mobile app, it’s hard to beat Star One for personal loans. 

Best Banks in California Offering Personal Loans

Banks may be your 1st choice for a personal loan due to the wide range in financial services and no required membership. Read more to learn about the banking options for personal loans such as Wells Fargo and Bank of the West.

Loan Amounts
$3,000 to $100,000
Terms Offered
12 to 84 months
Minimum Credit Score
N/A
Origination Fee
None

Best for Higher Loan Amounts: Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has a competitive fixed-rate personal loan with no origination fees or prepayment penalties. There are also discounts  when you agree to automatic payments from your Wells Fargo account. 

After a simple online or in person application process, you can get a loan from $3,000 to $100,000 with no collateral required. Wells Fargo has loan terms from 12 to 84 months. 

APR
Fixed, varies with terms
Loan Amounts
$2,000 to $50,000
Terms Offered
12 to 60 months
Minimum Credit Score
680

Best for Automatic Payments: Bank of the West

Bank of the West can help you “make things happen” with an unsecured personal loan between $2,000 and $50,000. Loan terms go up to 60 months and depend on your credit history and desired loan amount. 

Bank of the West doesn’t impose prepayment penalties, and it also offers a discount of 0.25% when you set up automatic payments from your Bank of the West account. All you need at the time of closing is your asset information, 2 years of verifiable income history, debt information and tax information.

Best Personal Loans in California from Online Platforms

Below we’ve named some independent online lenders to help you with your next big purchase or debt consolidation. Many new online lenders are on the rise and offer user-friendly, trusted services to provide you with a unique option for your next personal loan. 

APR
from 5.95% APR (with autopay)*
Loan Amounts
$5,000–$100,000
Terms Offered
2–7 years
Minimum Credit Score
630

Best for Comparing Multiple Rates: Credible

Credible’s user-friendly website compares the largest range of reputable personal loans offered by online lenders. Credible compares their affiliated online lenders based on available terms, maximum loan amounts and ranges of offered APR. 

These lenders can offer you terms from 2 to 7 years, and loan amounts up to $100,000. Miscellaneous fees attached to these loans do vary, so make sure to take that into account when comparing APR.  

APR
5.99% – 19.96%
Loan Amounts
$5,000 – $100,000
Terms Offered
5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years
Origination Fee
$0

Best for Additional Services: SoFi

SoFi’s goal is to work with you with the same high standards as an everyday bank, but give you the flexibility of reaching your financial goals according to your own unique needs in such a modernized world. 

SoFi can offer you personal loans with low interest rates and fixed monthly payments in order to conquer credit card debt or that big new personal investment you’ve been waiting for. With no late fees, origination fees or prepayment penalties with SoFi, personal lending couldn’t be much easier. 

Aside from the flexibly broad range of terms from 2 to 7 years, SoFi mainly takes your credit into consideration to offer the best APR and principal amount for your next personal loan. SoFi also provides helpful financial advice, members-only events and the highest quality referrals to other financial services. These personal loans are not permitted for funding post-secondary education, investments, business transactions or real estate.  

APR
From 15.9%
Loan Amounts
Up to $2,000
Terms Offered
1 month–12 months
Minimum Credit Score
500
Origination Fee
$0

Best for Students: Boro

Boro’s “BoroCash” service is designed for any financial need a college student may have. Boro’s easy process for loans from $50 to $2,000 over a maximum of 12 months is convenient for help with textbooks, spring break or unexpected expenses.  

Borrowers must be over the age of 18 and be a legal U.S. citizen or international student. With an interest-free single month term offer, Boro is perfect for lower range of loan amounts. 

Personal Loan Considerations

There are several considerations to keep in mind when comparing personal loans to find your next lender. It’s important to make sure an online independent lender’s services are valid by using the Better Business Bureau or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Taking on any kind of loan or debt is a decision that can impact the future of your financial wellness. Securing a personal loan and consistently paying it back on time will help you build good credit. Good credit also makes it easier to get loans when you need them in the future. 

Should you choose an unsecured loan or a secured loan? A lender can decide based on your credit score and income. Secured loans usually require financial collateral, such as savings, to make sure you make payments over the course of the term. If you fail to pay the loan back on time, the lending institution is entitled to your assets. Every loan contract is different, so make sure you read yours carefully to compare restrictions and consequences. 

Peer-to-peer lending or a home equity loan are other options if you think a personal loan isn’t right for your situation. 

If you send multiple applications for investors to review, peer-to-peer lending gives you much room to decide payment terms and interest rates with an interested investor. However, this process does take some more time than signing on a personal loan from a traditional lender. 

Home equity loans allow you to take the equity you’ve accumulated on your home and give yourself some quick funding, usually for a renovation project. The APR for these options are lower than a personal loan while still giving you similar flexibility to fit your needs. 

Personal Loans vs. Credit Cards

Though the concept of a credit card and a personal loan overlap, deciding on the option that works for you depends on: 

  • The amount of funds you hope to use
  • The amount of time you want to be paying off the debt
  • The number of expenses you intend to pay for

Credit cards come with rates that can change over time, and you cannot withdraw funds as cash like personal loans. Credit cards are convenient for habitual smaller expenses and can boost low credit when used responsibly. But credit cards notably have sky high interest rates that can increase over the course of their terms. Even “fixed” rates on these cards can increase due to late payments or other penalties.   

Personal loans are best for larger purchases. You can pay off the amount over a longer term, and they help to build good credit while maintaining a fixed interest rate. Personal loans generally have lower interest rates than credit cards, which is why many people use them to pay off large amounts of credit card debt. 

Find a Personal Loan Option in California

Whether you choose a bank, credit union or independent online lender for your next purchase or for debt consolidation, the Golden State has a great range of personal lending options to fit your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What happens if I can’t repay my personal loan on time?

A: It’s critical to talk with your lender about not being able to make payments before they are due so you can avoid mounting fees and negatively impacting your credit score. Lenders will most likely work with you and find a solution to help you avoid getting further behind on your payments. 

Q: How does pre-approval work for a personal loan?

A: When you want to see if you qualify for a loan, ask the lender if it can offer you a preliminary loan application. If that option is available, fill out the application and let the lender review it. These applications  examine details such as your credit score and income to determine if you qualify for a specific loan amount or APR. 

Pre-approvals usually come back within a week, and the lender will contact you directly about your pre-approval status. Keep in mind that even if you get pre-approval, it doesn’t mean that the lender will end up approving or signing off on the personal loan at the time of closing.