Personal Loans

Personal Loans in San Diego

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OneMain Financial PenFed Credit Union First Financial
APR 18.00% to 35.99% From 6.49% 7.99% to 29.99%
Borrowing limits $1,500 to $20,000 $500 to $20,000 Up to $2,500
Terms 24 to 60 months 60 months 12 to 60 months
Origination fee Flat fee ($25 to $300) or percentage-based fee (1.00% - 10.00% of loan amount) None None
Minimum credit requirement Varies Not specified None

OneMain Financial

OneMain Financial has one of the higher starting APRs out of the three lenders for personal loans in San Diego we reviewed, at a range of 18.00% to 35.99%. Comparatively, PenFed Credit Union and First Financial offered significantly lower APRs. However, neither of them charge an origination fee, which may mean their competitive loan products may be reserved for borrowers with strong credit, unlike OneMain Financial.

One perk to shopping with OneMain Financial is that they offer secured personal loans. These, in particular, use your car as collateral but can help you qualify for a larger loan amount or lower interest rates than you’d normally receive. Be sure you can make payments reliably on your secured loan, though. Fall behind and the lender can seize your collateral.

PenFed Credit Union

PenFed Credit Union offers the highest personal loan borrowing amounts out of the three San Diego lenders we compare here. They offer a loan limit of $500 to $20,000. Another plus for PenFed Credit Union: That $500 minimum is particularly low among other personal loan lenders.

PenFed Credit Union advertises that you’ll receive access to your funds immediately and doesn’t charge an origination fee, which is typically taken out of your loan funds.

As a credit union, you’ll need to join PenFed Credit Union before applying for a personal loan. Unfortunately, PenFed Credit Union’s full membership requirements aren’t readily available — here’s what they detail:

  • Those belonging to any branch of the U.S. military, as well as employees of the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security qualify.
  • But anyone can join by other methods. You’ll simply need to select, “None of the above” when applying for membership.

First Financial

First Financial offers the lowest borrowing limits out of the three lenders included here, with a limit of up to $2,500. If you have a lower credit score, First Financial may be a more accessible option to you as they don’t require a credit check upon application.

First Financial offers approval within minutes and your funds can appear in your bank account in as little as 48 hours. If you decide to pay off your loan early, First Financial doesn’t have any prepayment penalties, which is a benefit of working with this lender, especially if you end up with a higher APR.

What to look for in a personal loan lender


The lower the APR you can get your hands on, the better. An annual percentage rate (APR) is different than an interest rate. Your interest rate is the amount you will be charged by a lender to borrow money. It is determined in the form of a percentage of your principal loan amount. An APR however, encompasses the total cost of borrowing. The APR combines the interest, fees and loan terms, and then expresses it as a percentage rate.

You should look to the APR for a more accurate idea of how much a loan will cost you in total. The higher the APR you have, the more expensive your loan will be. It’s always worth shopping around to find the lowest APR available to you. If you’re looking to compare loan offers, LendingTree may be of help depending on your credit. (Keep in mind that prequalification doesn’t guarantee loan approval.)

Few or no fees

Not all lenders charge fees, so it’s important to review fee structures for lenders you’re considering. Common personal loan fees include:

  • Origination fee
  • Prepayment penalty
  • Late payment fee

Personal loans without fees, known as no-fee personal loans, are more difficult to qualify for. If you have low credit, you aren’t likely to land a no-fee loan. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t research lenders to try to find one that offers the best terms for your financial situation.

Good reviews

A lender with good reviews can give you peace of mind while making a decision about what lender to use. Take some time to read the reviews your prospective lender may have online. You may find valuable information about their customer service, hidden fees or other factors about what it is like to borrow from them. You can see consumer reviews for personal loan lenders on LendingTree.

Apply for a personal loan in 5 easy steps

  1. Find out your credit score
  2. Determine how much you need to borrow
  3. Choose between a secured or an unsecured personal loan
  4. Compare lenders using LendingTree’s online personal loan marketplace
  5. Pick the lender with your best terms and prepare to apply

1. Find out your credit score

In order to determine how creditworthy you are, lenders review your credit score and finances. A low credit score suggests that you’re a risky borrower to lenders. This lack of confidence can lead to a higher interest rate or limit your personal loan options.

When you sign up for My LendingTree, you can check your credit score without affecting it, discover what factors influence your score and how you can improve it, as well as learn about loan options and more.

Once you know your credit score, you can narrow down your search for a lender. But more on that later.

2. Determine how much you need to borrow

When you are planning on applying for a personal loan, it is important that you properly gauge how much you need to borrow and how much you can afford to borrow.

If you borrow too much, you can end up paying interest on funds you won’t need to use. When budgeting, you should factor in costs such as origination fees, application fees or prepayment penalties.

3. Choose between a secured or an unsecured personal loan

The primary difference between a secured and unsecured loan is that a secured loan requires a form of collateral. Personal loans are traditionally unsecured but there are secured options as well. Student loans and credit cards are other common types of unsecured credit. Mortgages, vehicles loans and home equity loans are types of secured loans.

Although a secured loan can offer more favorable repayment terms, such as a lower interest rate, you risk losing your collateral if you fall behind on payments. You should be confident in your ability to repay your debt if you want to benefit from the potentially lower interest rates that a secured personal loan can offer.

4. Compare lenders using LendingTree’s online personal loan marketplace

Comparing personal loan lenders on LendingTree‘s marketplace is easy. Take the following steps to get matched with up to five lenders in LendingTree‘s partner network:

  • Complete the online form
  • Review loan offers and compare lenders
  • Select a lender you want to formally apply with

Although you may prequalify with lenders through LendingTree, that doesn’t guarantee approval for a loan. But prequalification can help you see the lenders and types of loan terms you could qualify for.

Get personalized rates

5. Pick the lender with your best terms and prepare to apply

In order to formally apply with a lender, you’ll submit to a hard credit check and may need to provide information and documentation on:

  • Purpose of your loan
  • Desired borrowing amount
  • Preferred repayment schedule
  • Your income
  • Outstanding debts
  • Bank account balances

Calculate your personal loan payments

If you want to estimate what the lifetime cost of your personal loan will be, you can utilize this personal loan payment calculator. By entering in your loan amount, your estimated interest rate and your loan term, you can view what your monthly payments and interest payments will look like.


To select personal loan lenders for this roundup, we used Google Maps to search for “personal loan lenders” with local branches in San Diego. We then researched the first 50 unique lenders that appeared in our results, and selected three lenders based on 1) lowest minimum APR, 2) lowest maximum APR, 3) lowest origination fee, 4) widest range of borrowing limits and 5) widest range of term length. Lenders that did not offer information on at least three of the five factors listed above were not considered.


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