The Umpqua bank opened its first branch back in 1953, with 6 employees and $75,000 in assets. Today it has $22 billion in assets, 5,000 employees and 394 branches in five states. The latest expansion occurred in 2013, when Umpqua bank bought Sterling Savings Bank and doubled its size and service area in the process.

How Does It Work?

Umpqua bank is a community bank that offers full-service banking to individuals and non-profits. This includes competitive rates and terms on personal loans. Their website is one of the hippest and most beautifully designed you are likely to see for a bank, but it does not include an online loan application. You'll have to call or visit one of their branches to start the application process. Once approved, the money can be wired directly to your bank account.

How Much Money Can I Borrow?

Umpqua offers personal loans of $1,000 to $100,000, although they require proof of liquid assets, if you apply for anything over $15,000. The maximum loan term for a personal loan is 48 months. If you were to borrow $15,000 with a 4-year loan term and you qualified for a 7.3% rate, your monthly payments would be $361 a month. The same loan with a 16.18% APR will cost you $426.50 a month.

What Are The Interest Rates?

Interest rates range from 7.3% to 16.18% for regular personal loans. Personal loans used to make energy-smart improvements on your home can qualify for rates as low as 5.25% and loan terms of up to 5 years.

What Is the Application Process Like?

There is no online application so you will have to visit your local Umpqua bank to apply for a loan. However, the staff is friendly and the application process is streamlined so a loan officer can provide instant approval, if you have all the necessary documentation and you meet their credit requirements.

How Is It Better Than Other Lenders?

Although it is the largest bank headquartered in Oregon, Umpqua has maintained its small-bank community focus. For instance, workers receive 40 hours a year of paid time they can use to volunteer in the community. Its branches offer free -- but good -- coffee, public-use computers, wi-fi and fresh-baked cookies on Friday; which makes them feel more your neighborhood coffee shop than a bank. Apart from great customer service, their personal loan rates are very competitive, particularly if you want the money for a home improvement. Having said that, the top rates are only available for borrowers with excellent credit and borrowers with fair to bad credit will have to look elsewhere.

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