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Personal Loans

California Personal Loans: Online & Local Lenders

A personal loan can be used for a variety of purposes. Whether it’s for debt consolidation, home renovation, or an emergency expense, how you use the funds is up to you. Most personal loan options on the market are unsecured, so you don’t have to put up any of your assets as collateral. 

If you live in California, you can choose a local or regional bank or opt for an online lender. Generally, online loans tend to be faster than those from local banks, while smaller institutions may be able to offer more customized terms. 

Here are our favorite national and local banks for personal loans in California. 

How to find the best personal loans in California 

More or less, personal loans in California are the same as in any other state. However, California has a few rules and regulations lenders must follow, some of which include:

  1. State law prohibits lenders from charging prepayment penalties for any loan that is not a home loan. 
  2. To loan in California, a lender must be licensed by the state to do business there.
  3. California law prohibits lenders from having interest rates above 10% for loans used for personal reasons, but most lenders are exempt since they are federally regulated financial institutions. 
  4. Loans between $3,000 and $10,000 cannot have a repayment term longer than five years and 15 days.
  5. Loans of at least $2,500 may not have a repayment term shorter than 12 months. 

Below, we take a look at both national and local banks in California, but here’s a quick table of how they compare with one another. 

CredibleAll 50 states6.40%35.99%View rates
LightStreamall 50 states7.49%25.49%View rates
UpgradeAll 50 states8.49%35.99%View rates
SoFiMultiple states8.99%% – 25.81%%View rates
Happy MoneyMultiple states11.72%24.67%View rates
Northern California National BankMultiple countiesNot disclosed onlineView rates
California Bank and TrustMultiple counties12.25% – 27.96%View rates
First California Federal Credit UnionFresno CountyStarts at 7.99%View rates
California Coast Credit UnionMultiple countiesAs low as 10.88% APRView rates

Online unsecured personal loans in California 

We rated each of the lenders below and determined which types of borrowers each is best suited for. Personal loans vary by state. While every lender may not be licensed to lend in all 50 states, all of the ones listed below are licensed in California. 

Additionally, all of these lenders offer unsecured personal loans. Should you be unable to make payments, no assets are at risk of being seized. Using unsecured loans typically results in higher interest rates than secured loans, but they pose less of a risk to borrowers.

Credible – Best marketplace

LendEDU rating: 5 out of 5

  • Borrow as much as $200,000
  • Compare prequalified rates1
  • See your rates without any impact on your credit score 

You can see what rates you’d receive with one of Credible’s partnered lenders in only a couple of minutes. Plus, seeing these prequalified rates won’t affect your credit score. Once you formally apply with the lender you choose, you could receive your funds as soon as the next business day, but it can take longer for some lenders. 

LightStream – Best for excellent credit

LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • Loan purpose and loan amount contribute to the interest rate
  • Can take up to 30 days to receive funds
  • LightStream only works with borrowers who have good to excellent credit

Californians looking for a good rate on their personal loan may consider LightStream, which operates in all 50 states. 

However, the company only works with borrowers who have good credit scores. But even if you have a strong credit history, there’s no guarantee you’ll get approved. 

It’s because of its high standards that LightStream can offer low rates. If you’re looking for fast money, you may want to consider another lender as LightStream can take a month or more to disburse personal loan funds. 

Upgrade – Best for fair credit

LendEDU rating: 4.9 out of 5

  • Borrow as much as $50,000
  • Receive your money the next day
  • Upgrade offers multiple ways to receive discounts

Upgrade is available in all states. If you’re in California and choose Upgrade, consider ways to receive rate discounts. For example, you can save by signing up for autopay, securing the loan with collateral (such as a car), or using the loan to pay off other debts. 

Upgrade also doesn’t charge any fees for paying off the loan early and receiving the loan amount as soon as the next day is possible.

SoFi – Best for good credit

LendEDU rating: 5 out of 5

  • Only takes a minute to view rates
  • Borrow between $5,000 and $100,000
  • Borrowers may receive their funds the same day

SoFi is available in multiple states, including the state of California. SoFi doesn’t charge fees, meaning there are no origination, prepayment, or late payment fees. You can choose terms between two and seven years.

Happy Money – Best for credit card debt

LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • Borrow as much as $40,000
  • Terms between two and five years
  • No fees after origination fee

Happy Money‘s loan is intended for people working to get out of existing debt. The lender charges an origination fee, which is taken from your loan amount. 

But you don’t have to worry about other fees, such as an application fee, prepayment fee, or late fee. You can view your rate in less than two minutes without it affecting your credit score. 

Local California personal loans 

If you’re looking for a personal loan from a lender where you can actually talk to a real, live person, then you may want to stick local. This way, you can ask questions and may even be able to get a loan more tailored to your needs. 

However, the application and underwriting process won’t be as automated as it would be with an online lender, so things may take a bit longer.

You may get more flexibility and customization with a local bank. Meanwhile, you may get faster processing with an online bank

Jim McCarthy


Northern California National Bank

  • Loan amount is based on your credit, and not a blanket maximum amount imposed on all borrowers
  • Get terms up to three years
  • Work with a dedicated personal loan officer

If you live in or near Butte County, Northern California National Bank may be a good fit for you. The bank offers personal loans with competitive rates, and maximum loan amounts are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and subject to credit approval. 

The loan terms aren’t as long as you might find elsewhere, but the upside is that you may pay less in interest once the loan matures.

California Bank and Trust

  • Offers both secured and unsecured personal loans
  • Fixed rates
  • 0.25% discount available with automatic payments

California Bank and Trust has multiple locations throughout California, and you can borrow as much as $100,000 with an unsecured personal loan. California Bank and Trust doesn’t charge prepayment penalties, and if you qualify, you can get an APR as low as 12.25%. They also offer secured personal loans if you use a CB&T CD or savings account as collateral.

First California Federal Credit Union

  • Offers flexible repayment terms of up to five years
  • Loan can be used for a variety of purposes
  • Personal lines of credit with variable rates are also available

First California Federal Credit Union is located in Fresno County, and it offers a variety of loan products to its members. Maximum loan amounts and minimum credit scores are advertised online. 

However, because it’s a credit union, you will first need to join and become a member, which requires a $5 deposit. To be eligible, you must either be active or retired military, a family member of a current member, or an employee of one of First California Federal Credit Union’s business partners.  

California Coast Credit Union

  • Borrow as much as $30,000
  • Offers an 18-month emergency loan
  • Must be a member to take out a personal loan

California Coast Credit Union offers personal loans as high as $30,000, and rates starting at 10.88% APR. Before you can borrow, you must first become a member, which requires a $5 fee. 

For its Signature Loan personal loan, terms go up to 60 months. There are no prepayment penalties. California Coast CU doesn’t disclose minimum credit scores to apply, only that you should have a good history with credit. 

If you have bad credit and need a personal loan, consider a local lender. It might work with you on a credit improvement plan.

Jim McCarthy


How to choose the best California personal loan 

You must first determine your exact needs to choose the best California personal loan. What is the maximum amount of money you need, and how much money can you comfortably pay each month for the monthly payments? 

While a bank or credit union may offer the best rates, the monthly payments may be too high for your budget if the loan terms are too short. However, if you choose a loan term that is too long, you’ll pay more in interest. 

Once you know what you need, you can start aggressively comparing rates between lenders. We suggest you apply to financial institutions with the best terms and the lowest fees.

1 Prequalified rates are based on the information you provide and a soft credit inquiry. Receiving prequalified rates does not guarantee that the Lender will extend you an offer of credit. You are not yet approved for a loan or a specific rate. All credit decisions, including loan approval, if any, are determined by Lenders, in their sole discretion. Rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Rates from Lenders may differ from prequalified rates due to factors which may include, but are not limited to: (i) changes in your personal credit circumstances; (ii) additional information in your hard credit pull and/or additional information you provide (or are unable to provide) to the Lender during the underwriting process; and/or (iii) changes in APRs (e.g., an increase in the rate index between the time of prequalification and the time of application or loan closing. (Or, if the loan option is a variable rate loan, then the interest rate index used to set the APR is subject to increases or decreases at any time). Lenders reserve the right to change or withdraw the prequalified rates at any time.