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Compare your loan options in California

Learn how to get a short-term loan in California.

When you have unplanned expenses and are on a tight budget, a payday loan could be helpful. Payday loans, a type of short-term loan, give you quick access to money when you need it. Read on to find out about the laws in California and everything else you should know about how payday advances work.

Name Product Filter Values Loan amount Turnaround time Requirements
Chime SpotMe®
Not rated yet
Chime SpotMe®
Up to $200
Same day
Single qualifying $200 direct deposit into Chime checking account in the last 34 days.
Access fee-free overdrafts up to $200 when eligible. Plus get your paycheck up to 2 days early with direct deposit. See Chime terms and conditions.
OppLoans Installment Loans
Finder Rating: 4.7 / 5: ★★★★★
OppLoans Installment Loans
$500 to $4,000
As soon as the same business day.
+18 years old, Receive paychecks through direct deposit, Meet minimum income requirements, Live in eligible state
Comes with the option to change your due date so you won’t fall behind on repayments.
MoneyLion Instacash advances
$250, $1000 with RoarMoney account
3 to 5 business days to external checking account, 12 to 48 hours to RoarMoney account
Bank account must have at least 60 days of activity, show recurring deposits and must have a positive balance
Fee-free, interest-free cash advances up to $250.
Not rated yet
Up to $250
1 to 3 days or same-day in some circumstances
Bank account must have at least 60 days of activity, Balance must be above $0 and have an average minimum balance on pay day
Have up to $250 automatically deposited into your account — for a $9.99 membership fee.
Not rated yet
Up to $250
2 to 3 days
Checking account 2+ months old receiving direct deposit, 2+ months working for the same employer, positive account balance, most recent paycheck was on-time, funds still available in bank account 24 hours after most recent payday.
Advance up to $250 from your paycheck plus get access to your paychecks up to 2 days early with direct deposit.
Possible Finance Mobile Installment Loans
Up to $500
As fast as 1 business day
Checking account with 3+ months of banking history, $750+ monthly income, live in eligible state, ages 18+
Borrow up to $500 with just a few swipes — but only for residents of 21 states.

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.

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.

1. CashNetUSA

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.

2. OppLoans

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 As soon as the same 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 $4,000
  • Cost: 160% APR, including a $75 administrative fee.
  • How long you have to repay: 9 to 18 months
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3. LendUp

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.

  • Amounts: $100 to $200 online or $42.50 to $225 in store.
  • Cost: $15 per $85 provided in store in California, $17.65 per $100 provided online to California residents; elsewhere varies by state
  • How long you have to repay: 14 day or 30 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 loan’s total cost, 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

CashNetUSA California License image 2018

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 to 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.

Credit counseling

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.

Before you get a payday loan, consider alternatives available to you

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.

Bottom line

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.

Payday loan locations In California

  • Have more questions about payday loans?

    Can I get a three-month payday loan in California?

    Not exactly — payday advances come with a maximum term of 31 days in California. You might be able to find a three-month installment loan, which you repay in three fixed repayments plus interest. How much your three-month loan costs depends on how much you borrow. California regulates APRs on loans of $2,500 and under. Need to borrow more? You might end up with an APR in the triple digits — which can get expensive over a longer-term loan.

    Can I take out more than one payday loan at a time?

    No. In California, you have to pay off your loan in full before you can apply for another.

    Can I get a payday loan in California if I’m unemployed?

    You might be able to if you receive a pension, disability, social security or other government benefits. That’s because many lenders consider these as a type of regular income. You might have difficulty getting approved if you don’t regularly have money coming in, however.

    Is there a cooling-off period between my repaying one payday loan and getting the next?

    No, California doesn’t require you to wait between short-term loans. However, you might want to wait before taking out another payday loan anyway. These loans can be expensive and the cost can catch up to you if you rely on them regularly.

    How long does it take to get approved for a short-term loan?

    Depending on the lender, you may be able to receive your loan as soon as the next business day if you apply online. If you visit a physical location, you could have your money even sooner.

    Can a lender have me arrested if I don’t repay the loan?

    Not exactly. Lenders can sue borrowers if they aren’t able to repay their loan, though that won’t end in your arrest. You could wind up in jail, however, if a judge issues a court order for you to repay your debt and you can’t come up with the funds.

    You can learn more about what happens if you can’t pay off your payday loan by reading our guide.

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