Golden 1 Credit Union personal loan review: Competitive rates for members

Man standing outside in a city, reading a review of Golden 1 Credit Union personal loansImage: Man standing outside in a city, reading a review of Golden 1 Credit Union personal loans

In a Nutshell

Golden 1 Credit Union offers competitive starting interest rates. If you qualify for membership with Golden 1 Credit Union and want to borrow money to consolidate debt or finance a major purchase, a Golden 1 personal loan is worth exploring.
Editorial Note: Intuit Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our third-party advertisers don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. Information about financial products not offered on Credit Karma is collected independently. Our content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.


  • Competitive starting APRs, with loan amounts starting at $1,000
  • May be able to skip one payment on personal loans once every 12 months


  • Must be a member of Golden 1 Credit Union to get a personal loan
  • No info on Golden 1’s website about maximum interest rates — and no specific info about potential loan term-lengths

What you need to know about a Golden 1 Credit Union personal loan

Golden 1 Credit Union was founded in 1933 and is based in Sacramento, California. It offers competitive starting interest rates — but you’ll have to be a credit union member to apply.

To qualify for membership, you’ll need to live in California, be related to a current Golden 1 member or work for a qualifying employer.

If you do qualify for membership at Golden 1, you can apply for unsecured personal loans starting at $1,000.

But Golden 1 Credit Union isn’t transparent about loan details, at least on its website. It doesn’t list the range of its interest rates — only a starting rate — and there’s almost no info on term lengths or fees for its personal loans. Golden 1 also doesn’t say on its website whether you can apply for prequalification to check your odds of being approved, and with what terms, before you actually apply for the loan.

Competitive starting APR

Golden 1 Credit Union offers a low starting APR for its personal loans. If you qualify for one of the lender’s best rates, that can be a big advantage.

But your APR depends on factors such as your credit history and the length of your loan term. If your credit is less than stellar, it’s possible your rate will be high — or that you won’t qualify. Golden 1 doesn’t publish a list of eligibility criteria on its site.

Membership requirements

If you don’t live in California, you may still qualify if you’re a family member or domestic partner of a Golden 1 member, or if you work for a participating employer.

You can see Golden 1’s list of hundreds of qualifying employers if you click “Join Us” on the website and choose “no” for the question of whether you live or work in California. A dropdown list of employers appears if you then select “I belong to a Select Employee Group.”

If you want to apply for Golden 1 membership, you’ll need to open a savings account at the same time with at least $1 .

Skip payment” feature

If an emergency happens and you need to free up some cashflow, Golden 1 may let you defer a payment on your personal loan once every 12 months. But there may be a fee, and you’ll have to meet several requirements, including …

  • The loan must be current
  • Your request must be made at least 10 days before payment due date
  • You have at least one month of payment history

If you choose to defer a payment, interest will continue to accrue on the amount you owe, so it will increase the total cost of the loan.

A closer look at Golden 1 Credit Union personal loans

  • Late payment fee — If you can’t make a payment on time, you’ll have to pay a $15 fee.
  • Co-applicants accepted — If you want to apply with another person, Golden 1 lets you add a co-applicant when you apply.
  • Personal lines of credit available — Golden 1 also offers a personal line of credit with credit extensions ranging from $500 to $30,000.
  • Starter loans available —  Golden 1 also offers what it calls a “starter loan”  — a small installment loan for people trying to build their credit. You can apply for amounts up to $1,500 without a co-signer. For more than that — up to a max of $2,500 — you’ll need a co-signer or guarantor.

Who a Golden 1 Credit Union personal loan is good for

If you want to apply for a personal loan to consolidate debt or finance a home-improvement project and you’re eligible for membership, Golden 1 Credit Union is worth a look since it offers competitive starting rates.

But if you’re trying to shop around, that’ll be tough given how little info Golden 1 gives on its loans upfront. The lender doesn’t say on its website what its maximum interest rates are or whether you can apply for prequalification — and there’s scant information about fees. That’s a big deal — we always recommend reviewing and comparing terms before deciding whether to apply for a loan.

How to apply for a Golden 1 Credit Union personal loan

You’ll need to become a member of the credit union if you want to be eligible to apply for a Golden 1 personal loan. You can apply for membership online, over the phone or by visiting a local branch. After you join, you can apply for a Golden 1 personal loan online.

You’ll need to provide some basic information, including …

  • Name and date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Email address
  • Gross monthly income
  • Employment status

Not sure if a Golden 1 Credit Union personal loan is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Wells Fargo: If you want to apply for a secured or unsecured personal loan and have an account at Wells Fargo, it could be an option since it also offers competitive rates and is more transparent about its loan terms.
  • SoFi: This online lender also offers competitive rates, upfront info about loan terms, and extra perks such as member events and unemployment protection.

About the author: Lindsay VanSomeren is a freelance writer living in Kirkland, Washington. She has been a professional dogsled racer, a wildlife researcher, and a participant in the National Spelling Bee. She writes for websites such a… Read more.