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Best Personal Loans in California

Credit card debt experienced a massive increase at the end of 2022, with an average of $5,805 per person. Yet California consumers carry an average balance of $6,222, 7% over the national average.

Best Personal Loans in California
Ann Schreiber
Written by:Ann Schreiber
Seasoned Copywriter & Content Marketer
Best Personal Loans with Cosigner

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may affect which companies we write about and where the company appears on a page. However, any analyses, or reviews expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been approved or endorsed by any partner.

When consumers pay only the minimum amount due per month, it results in hundreds if not thousands of dollars in interest throughout the years. Personal loans in California provide a great opportunity to consolidate debts, reducing the interest paid over time and the combined minimum monthly payment. 

On top of that, with such high credit card balances, it can be hard to improve a credit score to a good rating (670 to 739) or higher, if not keep it in that good range altogether. As of the end of 2022, California residents had an average credit score of 716, which places them above the national average of 710. But those credit scores could dip without proper diligence and financial management.

Best Personal Loans with Cosigner

The best personal loans provide a unique opportunity to improve your financial situation and quality of life, provided you have the responsibility and diligence to manage your loan obligations. Applicants in California should carefully review options for personal installment loans to ensure the best possible rates and terms. Comparing your rates across multiple lenders can ensure you get the best deal for your credit history and financial situation.

Our team of financial experts ranked lenders based on our rating methodology for personal loans and found the best loans in California. This rating methodology evaluates all kinds of lenders based on APR, loan length, repayment terms, user experience, customer service, credit score history, banking and credit union use, and additional features.

Best Personal Loans in California - Full Overview 

Here is a list of some of the best personal loans available to residents of California. 

Best Overall
 sofi review

SoFi - Best for installment loans

6.99% to 21.78%
Loan Amount
Up to $100,000
Min. Credit Score
Key Features
  • No origination, prepayment, or late payment fees
  • Joint applications accepted
  • Offers .25% discount for autopay
  • Borrowers up to $100,000
Pros & Cons
  • Better Business Bureau rating = A+
  • No hidden fees
  • Discount on auto payments
  • Unemployment protection
  • Minimum credit score of at least 680
  • Loan funding takes two to seven business days
  • High annual income requirement

SoFi is a wise option for California personal loans. These loans are geared toward those with a credit score of at least 680 who want to borrow from a reputable, well-known, online lender, making them a good fit for those with 700 or better credit scores. SoFi has competitive interest rates to other online lenders, and they offer flexible loan terms. Applicants will need a gross income of at least $50,000 per year ($961 per week) to qualify for a SoFi loan. 

Main Features

This lender offers relatively flexible loan terms and competitive interest rates. Be prepared to qualify with a gross income of at least $50,000 per year ($961 per week). Though you may see your rate in under one minute, loan funds are not distributed on the same day. Typical loan disbursement takes two to seven business days.

SoFi is an excellent installment loan option for California residents because of its competitive APRs, high borrowing limits, and lack of hidden fees. This lender is also best for fee-free debt consolidation loans.

LightStream - Best for home improvement projects

2.99% to 19.99%
Loan Amount
Min. Credit Score
Not Disclosed
Key Features
  • Funding as soon as the same day
  • Allows joint applications
  • No origination fee
Pros & Cons
  • Low-interest rates
  • No hidden fees
  • Fast approval
  • Easy application process
  • Quick funding - possibly same day
  • Minimum FICO credit score of at least 660
  • Rate beat program
  • High minimum loan amount
  • Requires several years of credit history
  • Must have a well-balanced mix of accounts
  • No pre-approval process

Lightstream personal loans are geared towards Californians who want to fund a large home improvement or renovation project. And with an average home price of $758,600 in this state, home renovation projects can come with a hefty price tag. LightStream offers competitive rates for prospective borrowers with good to excellent credit scores but also has competitive offerings for those with a credit score of around 660.


Main Features

LightStream offers fast funding (potentially as soon as the same day you sign the loan agreement), low APRs, and a fast application process. APRs are competitive, often as low as 6.99%, and there are no fees for loan origination, late payments, or early loan payoff. LightStream also offers a unique program called rate beat that will beat a competitor’s interest rate by 0.10 percentage points if you can show the competitor approved you for an unsecured, fixed-rate loan with matching loan terms.

LightStream is a good personal loan option for people who live in California that want to take on big home improvement projects or consolidate higher-interest credit card balances. You can get your money fast and don’t have to worry about a complicated application process.

Upgrade - Best for smaller loans

5.94% to 35.97%
Loan Amount
Min. Credit Score
Not disclosed
Key Features
  • Funding as soon as the next day
  • Can be approved with fair credit
  • Variety of discounts on rates
Pros & Cons
  • Multiple rate discounts
  • Secured and joint loans are available
  • Mobile app to help manage your loan payments
  • You can opt for direct payment to creditors
  • Long repayment terms for home improvement
  • Minimum credit score of 580
  • Origination fee of 1.85% to 8.99%
  • No option to choose initial payment date
  • Loans are only available up to $50,000
  • High-interest rates compared to competitors

Upgrade offers a good option for Californians with less than stellar credit who want access to a small loan. These loans can help borrowers with fair credit get approved for a loan, but those with higher credit scores in the good or excellent range may prefer to seek an alternate lender. Upgrade requires a minimum credit score of 580, making it relatively easy to qualify for, especially with the average credit score of 700 in California. Borrowers can use their loan funds for debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, large purchases, and small expenses.


Main Features

Borrowers can get a secured or joint loan through Upgrade. Plus, you may receive a 0.5 percentage point discount for setting up automatic loan payments. If you are taking out an Upgrade personal loan for debt consolidation, you may get a rate reduction of 1 to 5 percentage points when you have Upgrade pay off your debts directly. To top it off, Upgrade offers a reward checking account that gives borrowers up to 20% off of their rate.

Upgrade is a good choice for those with fair credit looking for personal loans in California and a way to improve their credit score. This lender provides a convenient mobile app, making it simple and efficient for borrowers to make monthly payments. And the lower credit score requirement of 580 makes it a good choice for those who want an alternative to a true credit builder loan.

Best Egg - Best for debt consolidation

5.99% – 35.99%
Loan Amount
Min. Credit Score
Key Features
  • Wide range of loan amounts available
  • Fast application process
  • Direct payments to creditors as an option
Pros & Cons
  • You can prequalify with a soft credit check
  • Unsecured and secured loan options
  • Direct payments for debt consolidation
  • Minimum credit score of 600
  • Origination fee of 0.99% to 5.99%
  • No rate discounts for autopay
  • Set payment date (no option to choose)

Best Egg offers online personal loans in California, including unsecured and secured personal options for borrowers with fair to good credit. These loans are best for borrowers who want to consolidate their debt, refinance credit cards to get a lower monthly payment, or cover large expenses. Borrowers should know that secured loans require permanent fixtures (such as a water heater, shutters, or window coverings) in your home as collateral.


Main Features

Best Egg is a suitable personal loan option for Californians who want to consolidate their debt. However, as the minimum credit score for the Best Egg loan is as low as 600, California residents with a closer-to-average credit score of 700 may be able to get better rates elsewhere.

Best Egg is a suitable personal loan option for Californians who want to consolidate their debt. However, as the minimum credit score for the Best Egg loan is as low as 600, California residents with a closer-to-average credit score of 700 may be able to get better rates elsewhere.
Mariner Finance

Mariner Finance - Best for bad credit and those with a bankruptcy

18.99% - 35.99%
Loan Amount
$1,000 to $25,000
Min. credit score
Key Features
  • Available to borrowers with bad credit
  • Loan term 12 to 60 months
  • 24hr Customer Support
  • No prepayment penalty and no origination fee
Pros & Cons
  • Low credit score requirement
  • Pre-qualify with soft credit check
  • Secured, joint, and co-signed loans
  • Mobile app to manage loan
  • $1,000 loan minimum
  • Rates are high versus other bad-credit loans
  • $25 credit investigation fee
  • May require an in-person visit to apply

Mariner Finance personal loans for bad credit in California are available to borrowers with bad credit scores (629 or lower) and those with a history of bankruptcy. They have 470 branch locations across 24 states, making them a good option for those who want a physical bank presence. However, Marine Finance has high rates and fees and, thus, isn’t the best option for those with a healthy credit score of 700 or better.


Main Features

Mariner Finance offers high-interest rates starting at 18.99% but is more likely to approve those with lower credit scores. Borrowers can apply at a physical branch for a personal loan of less than $1,500 or over $15,000. There is no prepayment penalty and no origination fee. The typical loan term is between 12 and 60 months.

Mariner Finance offers a good loan option for those with less than stellar credit trying to improve their credit while also obtaining funds for debt consolidation, home improvements, the purchase of a vehicle, or for big occasions such as a wedding or relocations.
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union - Best for teachers and educators

8.24% - 18.00%
Loan Amount
$100 to $50,000
Min. Credit Score
At least 580
Key Features
  • Take out a loan for as little as $100
  • Loan term 12 to 60 months
  • Consolidate higher-interest debt
  • Apply online, over the phone, or in a branch
  • Access to credit counseling
Pros & Cons
  • Credit unions are capped at an APR of 18%
  • Auto loans, credit cards, and home loans
  • Better customer service
  • Access to financial education
  • Mobile app to manage loan terms
  • Membership limited to educators

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union has been in operation since 1934 and is the largest credit union in California, providing services for over 1.12 million members. Members must be current or retired school employees, an employee who provides direct business services to schools in California, a college student conducting student teaching, or an immediate family member of a credit union employee. Personal loans from SchoolsFirst FCU are a lucrative option for those wanting to manage their finances more affordably.


Main Features

SchoolsFirst FCU offers APRs starting at 8.24% and are capped at 18%. Borrowers can take out a loan for as little as $100 and up to $50,000. Loan terms are customizable for up to 60 months, and there are no fees for the application, to fund the loan, or if you wish to pay it off early. Further, no collateral is required to secure your loan.

SchoolsFirst FCU offers a solid personal loan option for California educators who want to consolidate higher-interest debt, deal with an emergency expense, or finance a big purchase such as a motorcycle, boat, or RV. With over 319,000 teachers in California, SchoolsFirst FCU is a convenient option.

Main Features of The Best Personal Loans in California

If you seek a personal loan in California, you should consider what is most important to you. Regardless of where you live, most borrowers want a competitive yet low APR, high borrowing limits, fast funding, and a low credit score threshold. Prospective borrowers often look for a loan option to help them build or improve their credit, especially if they are below the good range. Check out this terms comparison of the lenders we discussed above.

Company NameEst. APRMin. credit scoreLoan AmountLoan term
SoFi5.74% to 20.28%680$5,000 to $100,00012 to 60 months
LightStream6.99% to 23.99% (with autopay)660$5,000 to $100,00024 to 84 months
Upgrade8.24% to 35.97%580$1,000 to $50,00024 to 84 months
Best Egg8.99% to 35.99%600$2,000 to $50,00036 to 60 months
Mariner Finance18.99% - 35.99%580$1,000 to $25,00012 to 60 months
SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union8.24% - 18.00%Unknown$100 to $50,00012 to 60 months


How to Choose the Best Personal Loans in California?

Choosing personal loans in California doesn’t have to be that complicated. With time, patience, and homework, you can find a personal loan to meet your needs. However, our financial experts have made it a bit simpler by documenting best practices that you can use as a resource when choosing your personal loans. Our experts use these parameters to rank lenders, whether you are looking for personal loans for bad credit in California or payday loans in California.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Loan features - All personal loans have unique features that impact your monthly payments and the interest rate. Applicants should understand the loan terms, the amount of the loan and any use limitations before they apply.
  • Interest rates and fees - Identify the APR for the loan and read the fine print for origination fees (this fee is usually due at the time you receive the loan and is generally 1% to 10% of the loan amount), late payment fees, or early payoff penalties.
  • Application process - The application process for a personal loan is largely consistent from lender to lender. When you apply for a loan from a California loan company, you will likely be subject to a hard credit check which impacts your credit score by five points and remains on your credit report for one to two years.
  • Qualification process - Most lenders require income information and a variety of personal information (name, address, phone number, social security number, etc.) during the application process.
  • Customer support - See the lender's options for communicating with them if you require help with your personal loan. Review their hours of operation and see what communication methods are available (in-person, phone, chat, or text).
  • Online user reviews - Check Trustpilot and Google for reviews from borrowers that have used the lender you are considering.
  • Perks and Bonuses - Some loan companies offer perks and bonuses such as payment flexibility or advanced technology (chat or text) for communications. Another popular and beneficial perk is the ability to access your credit score, which can help you stay on top of your credit.


Reasons to Get a Personal Loan in California

Without a doubt, California is an expensive place to live. The cost of living is well above the national average. Not only that, housing is more expensive, to begin with, gas is costly, food is more expensive even though grocery prices are on the rise everywhere, and housing utilities can cost a pretty penny. But despite all of this, Californians love their state. And like anyone else, they have various reasons for wanting a personal loan.

The most common reasons to get personal loans in California include:

  • A desire to finance a large project such as home improvements, a dream vacation, or a wedding
  • Consolidating debt by combining the balances of other credit cards and loans into one balance with one easier-to-manage monthly payment  
  • A better option than a payday loan that can have interest rates of 400% or higher
  • To fund a move or relocation to another state should California simply become too costly
  • Unexpected expenses such as medical bills, funeral costs, etc.
  • To purchase a new or new-to-you car, boat, recreational vehicle (RV), etc.


How to Get a Personal Loan in California 

Although the process varies by lender, the general process to get a personal loan in California works as follows.

1. Check your credit score. Even though the average credit score in California is 700, understanding where you fall in the credit score ranges can help you understand the rate terms and interest rates you might be eligible for. The FICO credit score ranges are as follows:

  • Poor, 300 to 579
  • Fair, 580 to 669
  • Good, 670 to 739
  • Very good, 740 to 799
  • Excellent, 800 to 850

2. Review your monthly budget. The last thing you want is to take out a loan or go through all the steps to apply only to find out you can’t afford the minimum monthly payment. Take the time to review your finances and know what you have available for a loan payment each month. Set some money aside from emergencies, too, if you have a month where you come up short on cash.

3. Identify the lender(s) you want to apply to - remember that every time you apply for a loan, a hard credit inquiry will be conducted (this can impact your credit score by up to five points and will remain on your credit report for up to two years).

4. Fill out the application and include any requested documentation (such as the identification information listed below).

5. Wait for your loan approval - depending on the lender, this can take several minutes to several days. 

6. Once you have been approved, review your loan agreement for all loan terms and what will be expected of you throughout the course of the loan. Specifically, look to ensure the date of the agreement is accurate and that the interest rate and repayment terms are called out as part of the Truth in Lending Agreement.

7. Sign the loan agreement and submit it as requested - do not complete the loan agreement or accept the loan terms if you cannot meet the loan requirements.

Getting a personal loan in California is beneficial as the identification and verification requirements are easy to obtain. The lender will ask you for the following at the time of your application:

  • A government-issued photo ID  such as your driver’s license, passport, permanent resident card, etc.
  • Proof of income which could include bank statements, pay stubs, income statements, invoices, etc.
  • Proof of your residency in California, such as bank statements, a utility bill that has come in the mail, etc.


Interest Rates of Personal Loans in California 

Personal loan interest rates in California have a unique restriction called the usary cap. California's maximum allowable interest rate for consumer loans is 10% per year.  For non-consumer loans, the interest rate can bear the maximum of whichever is greater between either 10% per annum or the “federal discount rate” plus 5%. This means that personal loans in California may have lower interest rates in some instances than in other states.

Your interest rate may be lower than the typical averages by credit score listed in the chart below.

Credit ScoreAverage APR
300 to 62928.50% - 32.00%
630 to 68917.80% - 19.90%
690 to 71913.50% - 15.50%
720 to 850*10.73% - 12.50%

*Interest rates for good to excellent credit scores may be lower than the scores listed in this table. This table provides averages by credit score and does not indicate the actual APR you may receive.


How to Deal with Loan Scams in California 

With a population of over 39 million consumers in 2023 spread across 163,696 square miles, consumers in California will inevitably be the targets of loan scams. However, spotting loan scams can save you time, money, and headache. 

Here is what to be on the lookout for.

  • The lender guarantees approval before receiving any of your personal information.
  • The lender isn’t registered in California - check with the Attorney General, Better Business Bureau, or California Department of Financial Protection & Innovation
  • The lender demands payment up front - even with a secured personal loan, you will not be asked to provide a deposit until you have signed your loan agreement.
  • The lender calls you, sends you a letter, or appears on your doorstep. According to the FTC, it is not legal for companies to over a loan in the U.S. over the phone or asks you to pay before the loan is delivered.
  • You are unable to locate a physical address for the lender.
  • The lender pressures you to take action immediately. A reputable lender will give you time to review the offer and loan terms and your loan agreement.
  • The lender has hidden fees.
  • The loan and terms sound too good to be true.

If you have a consumer complaint against a legitimate or illegitimate consumer loan lender in California or feel you are the victim of a loan insurance scam, file a complaint with the California Better Business Bureau.


Personal Loan Alternatives in California

If you cannot get a personal loan in California for any reason, there are installment loans and other alternatives to explore. You may wish to consider the following:

  • Taking out a personal line of credit from your credit card issuer - however, note that this might come with a cost for a cash advance and may be subject to a higher interest rate
  • Using the available credit on your credit card - if you can keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit
  • Consider an emergency loan- be aware that understand that emergency loans often come with very high-interest rates and early payoff penalties
  • Taking out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit against your mortgage
  • Taking out a peer-to-peer (P2P) loan from an investor
  • Explore a payday loan in California - however, you should know that under California law, the maximum amount a consumer can borrow in a payday loan is $300
  • Taking out a small business loan if you are a small business owner
  • Taking a 401(k) loan from your employer or investment firm
  • Asking for a salary advance from your employer
  • Getting a second job or a side hustle is a great way to earn some extra money to help you pay off debt or save up for a big purchase 

If you are experiencing tough financial times in California and a personal loan isn’t the right solution, you may be eligible for emergency financial assistance from the Community Services Agency (CSA). The CSA safety net can assist with emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities, gift cards to help during the holidays and for back-to-school expenses, and fee waivers for Mountain View Parks & Recreation programs. To learn more, visit their website or call (650) 968-0836 during regular business hours.



We know that California is not only a great place to live but also an expensive place to live. For this reason and more, California consumers are often looking for the best personal loans to help them maintain their quality of life with home improvement projects, a boat purchase, or a big event such as a glamorous wedding. This all said California residents and all eligible consumers in the U.S. must ensure that they can always make their minimum required monthly payments. Pay attention to your finances and budget to ensure you don’t take on a bigger financial burden than you can handle.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

How can I borrow money in California?

Borrowing money via a personal loan in California starts with checking your credit score, determining your ability to take on more credit, and then researching the best personal loan providers based on your needs. To apply for a loan, ensure you have the proper documentation, including photo identification, proof of income, and proof of California residency. Finally, do not sign a loan agreement or accept the loan terms if you cannot meet the loan requirements.

How much can you get for a personal loan in California?

The amount you may qualify for will vary from lender to lender. Lenders have varying minimum gross income, employment, and credit score requirements. However, typically, the amount you can borrow will range from $1,000 to $100,000.

Which bank has the easiest personal loan approval?

Of the California personal loan recommendations referenced in this article, SoFi may have the easiest loan approval process. Though you may see your SoFi interest rate in under one minute, loan funds are not distributed on the same day. Typical loan disbursement takes two to seven business days. However, this does not mean SoFi is your right personal loan. Be sure you understand your credit score and do homework to compare rates and terms across lenders.

About the Author

Ann Schreiber

Written by: Ann Schreiber

Seasoned Copywriter & Content Marketer

Ann has been a marketer and a content writer for over 20 years. She worked for financial institutions such as FICO, Experian, and BlueChip Financial as a director of content and brand marketing.

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