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Compare your loan options in California
Learn how to get a short-term loan in California.
Read on to find out about the laws in California and everything else you should know about how payday advances work in the golden state.
California payday loans
Are payday loans legal in California?
Yes, both online and in-store payday loans are legal. California requires all payday lenders to be licensed in the state and follow state laws.
Technically, you can borrow up to $300 as a payday loan. But as a California resident, you have other short-term loan options including installment loans, which come with larger amounts with longer repayment terms and different regulations.
Here’s the basic facts about payday loans in California:
- Maximum loan amount: $300
- Minimum loan term: None specified
- Maximum loan term: 31 days
- Maximum fee: 15% of the check amount, up to $45
- Maximum APR: 460% for a 14-day $100 loan
- Rollovers: Prohibited
- Loan limit: You can only have one payday loan at any time.
Payday loans are regulated by California Financial Code 23000 and California Civil Code 1789.30. Installment loans and other personal loans are regulated by California Financial Code 22000.
New laws to go into effect September 2019
Lawmakers have created new regulations to help prevent the predatory lending tactics some business have used to manipulate consumers in the past. Previously, there was no interest cap on loans over $2,500. With the Fair Access to Credit Act, APR is now capped at 36%.
Under the new law, lenders are also required to report borrowers payments to at least one credit reporting agency and offer access to a credit education course.
Consider these short-term loans in California
What fees can I expect with a payday loan in California?
Lenders in California are restricted as to how much they can charge you per loan. If a lender tries to charge more than this, you might be dealing with a disreputable lender. If this happens, search around for a better one that abides by state laws.
- Financing charges: 15% of the face value of a loan, not exceeding $45.
- Refinancing fees: California law doesn’t allow you to refinance or rollover your loan.
- Non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees: If your payment is not processed because of insufficient funds, a lender can charge an NSF fee of $15.
- Early repayment fees: There is no fee to pay off your loan early.
Can I get a no credit check loan in California?
You can with some lenders — but you might not want to. No credit check loans can come with extremely high rates and it can be hard to find a legit lender. Instead, you might want to look into a short-term lender that relies on a soft credit check, which doesn’t affect your credit score.
Getting a soft credit check takes less than a minute, so it won’t add time to your application. And many short-term lenders are willing to work with bad- or poor-credit customers, so it won’t necessarily get you rejected. You might even be able to qualify for more competitive rates with a lender that conducts a credit pull than you thought you would.
Our top four picks for California payday loan providers
Check out these four lenders that offer payday loans and other types of short-term loans to California residents. They come with minimal credit requirements, fast turnaround times and are licensed to lend in the golden state.
CashNetUSA offers payday advance loans to anyone who’s over 18, has steady income, a checking account and is a US citizen or permanent resident. You can apply quickly online in minutes and potentially get a discount on the fee, using a promo code. It also offers installment loans, which come in larger amounts and can pay off with biweekly repayments over several months. These tend to have stricter eligibility requirements, however.
- Amounts: $100 to $255 for payday loans
- Cost: $17.65 per $100 borrowed for payday loans, between 169% and 189% APR for installment loans.
- How long you have to repay: For payday loans: On your next payday, if it’s within the next eight to 31 days. Otherwise, your loan is due 14 days after you get your funds. For installment loans: 18 to 24 months.
Looking for a three-month loan or longer-term funding? This lender offers installment loans to California residents, which come in higher amounts and give you more time to pay it back. You can get your funds in as fast as 1 business day, as long as you make at least $3,600 a month, get your income through direct deposit, are at least 18 years old and have a Social Security number.
- Amounts: $500 to $5,000
- Cost: 59% to 199% APR, including a $75 administrative fee.
- How long you have to repay: 9 to 24 months
Another payday lender, LendUp is one of the few that allows you to improve your credit by reporting repayments to the three major credit bureaus. It also offers educational resources to help you make more informed borrowing decisions, including short online courses. You can qualify as long as you’re over 18, have a Social Security number and a checking account that accepts electronic transfers.
- Amounts: $100 to $250
- Cost: $17.60 per $100 borrowed
- How long you have to repay: Up to 30 days
4. Check Into Cash
These payday loans are only open to borrowers who are 21 or older — but they’re convenient, quick and don’t require a minimum income amount. All you need is a steady source of income, an active checking account at least 90 days old and to be a US citizen or permanent resident. Consider applying in-store with this lender, since it offers a wider range of loan amounts. That way, you can also get immediate answers to your questions
- Amounts: $150 to $225 online or $42.50 to $225 in store.
- Cost: $17.65 per $100
- How long you have to repay: 14 days
How can a short-term loan in California benefit me?
If you’re going through a financial emergency — like a car repair or unexpected bill — a payday loan could help you cover immediate costs while you’re waiting for your paycheck to come in. However, it’s important to remember that the high APRs and quick repayment period mean that payday loans are very expensive. Before you borrow, budget for the total cost of the loan, including the amount you have to pay back and any fees.
How can I apply for a payday loan?
You can apply for a short-term loan online or at a store location. You can submit an online application from just about anywhere, as long as you have the documents to prove that you’re a resident of California. Remember that in order to obtain a California short-term loan, you must write a personal check for the requested amount to the lender.
Although payday lenders may have different eligibility criteria, you will need to be at least 18 years old, a US citizen or a permanent resident and have a regular source of income.
You’ll also have to provide your Social Security number and details about your checking account. You may also need to provide information from your state-issued ID (such as your driver’s license or passport) and details about your current financial situation.
How can I tell if a lender in California is legit?
On top of restrictions on interest rates, fees and how much you can borrow, California also regulates how payday lenders act in certain situations. Look for the following signs to make sure you’re working with a legit lender.
- It’s registered with the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO). You can check if your lender is registered by visiting the DBO website or calling (866) 275-2677. If you’re applying through a connection service, make sure the lender you’re matched with is registered to lend in California.
- It displays a fee schedule and license at all locations. Legit payday lenders publicly display their license and list of fees at every brick and mortar location.
- It doesn’t allow rollovers. California state law doesn’t allow payday lenders to give out loans to pay off an existing payday loan.
- It provides contracts in the language you use to speak with your lender. This means that if you and your lender communicate English, your contract must be in English. If it’s Spanish, your contract must also be in Spanish.
- It follows rate and fee regulations. Stay away from lenders who charge more than California allows.
- It doesn’t allow multiple loans. Legit lenders only let borrowers take out another payday loan after they’ve finished paying off their current one.
California state lending license example
Watch out for unlicensed lenders
Borrowing online can be a lot more convenient than visiting a payday lender in person. But it also comes with a higher chance of borrowing from an unlicensed lender. The DBO warns borrowers against the following risks of borrowing from an unlicensed lender.
- Illegally high interest rates or fees. If you aren’t borrowing from a lender that’s working legally, there’s a chance you’ll end up paying more than California allows lenders to charge you.
- Identity theft. Unlicensed lenders sometimes sell personal financial information to third parties, which could potentially lead to identity theft or a hacked bank account.
- Funds taken from your bank account without your permission. Some unlicensed lenders illegally withdraw money from borrower’s bank accounts if they’re unable to make repayments.
Unlicensed lenders can operate out of state or even outside of the US, making it difficult for California to bring them to justice. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you lender is licensed to operate in California before you borrow.
How to file a complaint against a lender
So you borrowed from a lender that isn’t playing by the rules. It happens. You have two options when it comes to filing a complaint against your lender: Filing with the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) and filing with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
File a complaint with the DBO
Go to the DBO website and file a complaint online — or print out a PDF and send it in by mail. If the DBO finds that your lender violated state law, it could take action against the business. This includes revoking its license, slapping it with a penalty and even filing a civil action to get a settlement for customers if there’s a big enough case.
File a complaint with the CFPB
You might also want to file a complaint with the CFPB, which is a federal agency that makes sure consumers are treated fairly by financial institutions. You can also do this online by visiting the CFPB website.
These work slightly differently than the DBO complaints. After you submit your complaint, the CFPB reviews it before reaching out to the lender for a response. It then publishes the complaint and the lender’s response online and gives you a chance to respond to the response.
Aside from helping other customers make more informed choices, filing a CFPB complaint also helps guide the federal government when coming up with new regulations.
California payday loan facts
Here’s what payday loans look like in California, according to the most recent data from the DBO.
- The average APR for a payday loan is 372%
- The average amount customers borrow is $251
- The average length of time it takes to pay back is 17 days
- The average customer takes out 6.4 payday loans a year
- More senior citizens take out payday loans than any other age group
- 28% of payday lenders include a clause in their contracts keeping borrowers from joining class action lawsuits
Short-term loan alternatives in California
If you’re not sure you want to take out a short-term loan, you have other options. Here are some programs and lenders you might want to check out.
California assistance programs
California has some programs that can help lower the costs of everyday expenses if you’re struggling to make ends meet.
- California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) provides low-income families with financial assistance to cover expenses like medical bills, food, rent and utility bills.
- Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI) gives financial assistance to permanent residents who aren’t eligible for Social Security or other benefits.
- Food Stamp Program (CalFresh) provides financial assistance low-income households to help buy groceries.
Local financial institutions
Some credit unions and local banks offer less expensive small-dollar financing longer repayment terms. You might want to look into credit builder loans, which come in small amounts and can help you improve your credit score by reporting every on-time repayment you make to credit bureaus. You also typically have more time to pay it off.
If you’re struggling with your personal finances, you might want to also consider enrolling in a credit counseling program. These can help you make a budget and manage your debts. The Department of Justice provides a searchable list of government-approved nonprofits that provide credit counseling.
How California check cashing services work
So you have a check but you don’t have a bank account to access the funds. A check cashing service might be able to help you out. Make sure it meets California’s regulations before you use its services.
- Personal checks can’t come with a fee of more than 12% if you want to immediately deposit it.
- Deferred deposit on personal checks can’t cost more than 15% of the amount. Checks over $300 aren’t eligible for deferred deposit.
- Payroll or government-issued checks can’t come with a fee of more than 3% if you provide ID.
- Payroll or government-issued checks can come with a fee of 3.5% or $3 — whichever is greater — if you don’t provide ID.
- It can’t charge more than $10 to set up an account and issue an optional ID card.
- It can’t charge more than $5 to replace an ID card.
- It can’t charge more than $15 for a returned check.
- It must be licensed with the California Attorney General’s office.
If you’re limited on cash and need only a few hundred dollars to get by, a payday loan might be able to help you out. Just keep in mind that these are high-interest loans, so while you’re able to borrow them back-to-back without waiting, it’s not the best financial decision. Short-term loans are meant for short-term problems, so if you need multiple loans, give credit counseling a try instead.
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