Advertiser Disclosure

Best Banks for Personal Loans in California for 2021

Find out which banks and lenders offer the best personal loans in California based on interest rates, borrowing terms, and fees -- compared to online lenders.

Whether you get hit with an unexpected bill, have a medical mishap, or just want to consolidate your high-interest debt, personal loans can help you take care of it.

If you live in California, there are plenty of lenders in the area that provide personal loans.

So:

It's very easy to just walk into a bank and ask for a personal loan. We've analyzed the top 20 banks in California to find the best personal loans available to local borrowers.

And, before you decide to apply, be sure to compare interest rates, borrowing terms, and fees to online personal loan lenders, which may be a better fit for your needs.

The Biggest Lenders in California

The biggest lenders in California are:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Citibank
  • Bank of the West
  • First Republic Bank
  • U.S. Bank
  • City National Bank
  • Comerica Bank
  • Zions Bank
  • Rabobank
  • HSBC

This list includes both national and local banks. Most of the banks on the list will offer personal loans in addition to their other types of loans.

Best Personal Loans in California

If you’re looking to work with a local lender, we recommend one of the following options:

  • BBVA
  • Wells Fargo
  • HSBC

Local lenders are a good choice for many people because they are often more able to be flexible and offer more personalization than national banks.

The strength of larger banks is that they tend to have more streamlined lending processes.

BBVA

BBVA offers an amazing personal loan option that will meet the needs of most people, but there is a catch. You can only apply for a loan from BBVA if you’ve received an invitation.

If you’ve received an invitation code to apply, you can then apply by visiting a branch, going to the bank’s website, or over the phone.

You can borrow up to $100,000 at very reasonable rates. Online loan applications have a limit of $35,000. Terms range from 12 to 72 months. 

BBVA is a particularly good choice for people who need cash fast. The bank offers same-day funding for qualifying customers with a BBVA checking account.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is a national bank chain, but it offers very attractive personal loans -- mostly because of how much you can borrow.

You can apply for a loan online, over the phone or in a branch. Loans can range from $3,000 to $100,000 with terms of 12 to 60 months.

If you already bank with Wells Fargo, there's an additional incentive to consider using the bank for your personal loans too.

You can get a relationship discount if you sign up for automatic payments and receive your money as quickly as one day after you apply.

HSBC

HSBC offers relatively standard personal loans but offers the perk of letting you check your rate online with no impact to your credit score.

HSBC’s personal loans range from $3,000 to $50,000 with terms of 24 to 60 months. Your first payment will be due 50 days from the opening of the loan.

Another perk is the loan’s fee-free nature. There are no origination, prepayment, or other fees to worry about, so long as you make your monthly payments on time.

Can Online Lenders Be a Good Alternative?

Though you might think the easiest thing to do is visit a local bank branch to apply for your loan, you shouldn’t discount online lenders as an option.

Online lenders often charge lower interest rates and fewer fees.

In general, online banks cost less to run than traditional banks and they often use that fact to compete with other banks by offering better rates and fees.

Another potential perk of some online lenders is that they use non-traditional factors to gauge your creditworthiness. If you have bad credit, that can be a boon that saves you a lot of money spent on interest.

For example, a lender may ask to look at your bank accounts balances or consider your education and job history.

Things to Look at When Comparing Loans

Once you’ve picked out a few banks that you want to work with, you should take the time to compare the different loans that are available.

The first step that you should take is determining whether you have a chance of getting a loan from a particular lender.

Some lenders focus on customers with excellent credit while others are more flexible, so try to get a sense for your credit score and the types of lenders you’re considering.

Once you’ve built a list of lenders who are likely to approve you, compare these factors.

Fees

Many lenders will charge fees as part of their personal loan

The biggest one is the origination fee. This fee is a percentage of your loan that is added to your balance when you receive your first bill.

For example, if you borrow $10,000 with a 4% origination fee, you’ll receive $10,000 but owe $10,400 with your first bill.

Most loans also charge fees for late payment, so make sure that you always pay your bills on time.

A less common fee is the early repayment fee, which is charged if you pay off the loan ahead of schedule. This fee helps compensate the bank for lost interest income.

Borrowing terms

The term of a loan is the length of time that it will take to pay off the loan, assuming you make the minimum payment each month.

The borrowing period can affect the total interest paid and the monthly payment.

  • Short-term loans will require larger monthly payments, but leave less time for interest to accrue, saving you money.
  • Long-term loans give you more flexibility in your monthly budget but will leave you with debt for a longer period of time and will result in higher total costs.

Lending limits

Why would you bother applying for a loan if the lender isn’t willing to give you the amount of money that you need?

Some lenders have lending limits in the tens of thousands of dollars while others are willing to offer $100,000 or more.

Make sure that the lender you choose is willing to offer enough money.

Fund disbursement period

Sometimes, you just need money and you need it fast.

There are lenders that specialize in quick approval and fund disbursement.

If you’re under a time crunch, it might be worth settling for higher fees or interest rates if you can get the loan more quickly.

Relationship discounts

If your current bank offers personal loans, check to see if the bank offers a relationship discount.

Many lenders will give you an interest rate discount if you sign up for automatic payments from your checking account at the bank.

What Do You Need to Apply for a Personal Loan?

When you apply for a personal loan, you’ll need to provide some information to the lender along with your application.

The lender will use this information both to verify your identity and determine whether you’ll be able to pay your loan back.

Expect to provide some or all of the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Proof of identity, such as a driver’s license
  • Social Security number
  • Annual income
  • Proof of income, such as bank statements or paystubs.
  • Verification of employment

Though providing this much information might sound daunting, the more info you provide, the better.

The more information that you provide, the easier the application process will be. The last thing you want is to leave lenders with questions about your finances or identity, which can lead to a declined loan application.

How to Improve Your Chances of Approval

Once you’ve decided to apply for a personal loan, you should put in the effort to maximize your chances of approval.

The most obvious way to do this is to raise your credit score, but that can be difficult. The best way to boost your credit is to make timely payments on your bills over the course of months and years.

If you’re looking for a short-term boost to your application’s chances there are a few things to try.

One option is to reduce your credit utilization ratio.

You can calculate this ratio by dividing the amount of money you owe by the total credit limit of all of your credit cards and loans.

Paying down loans, or increasing the credit limit on your cards can help with this.

Another option is to reduce your debt-to-income ratio.

You can calculate this by dividing the amount you owe by your annual income.

To improve this ratio, you’ll need to pay down your debts or increase your income.

If you go the route of increasing your income, make sure that the money you make is documented. 

Compare Best Accounts Now