Informal finance in this paper refers to the financing activities of individuals or households to borrow money through channels other than formal financial institutions such as commercial banks. Using data from China Household Finance Survey (CHFS) conducted by Southwestern University of Finance and Economics (SWUFE) and the People's Bank of China, this paper employs Probit model to analyze the factors that may influence the financing needs of Chinese households and factors that influence their likelihood of obtaining loans from formal financial institutions versus from informal channels. Results show that household wealth, family structure, and household head’s characteristics are the major factors that influence their financing needs. Moreover, the results suggest that (a) richer families are more likely to obtain loans from formal financial channels while poorer families are more likely to do so from informal channels; (b) families with stronger social ties are more likely to obtain loans from formal financial channels, but this relationship is weaker in regions where the financial market is more competitive;and (c) the increase of formal financial services is positively related to the probability of households obtaining formal finance, but has no relationship with the probability of households obtaining informal finance. These findings have important implications for finance policy making.