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Personal Loans

Vacation Loans: How to Finance Your Trip

Updated May 18, 2023   |   6 mins read

A good vacation can help you recharge and develop family memories—but it can be costly. According to a study published by savings and investment company Twine, the average respondent spent $564 on a weekend summer trip and $1,928 on a week-long summer vacation.

Paying for this can be daunting when four in 10 Americans would have trouble paying for a $400 emergency expense. Vacation loans are one way to cover the funding gap—but they’re not always a good idea. 

This guide will tell you what you need to know before taking out a personal loan to finance a vacation.

In this guide:

Best Vacation Loans

Personal loans often make the best vacation loans because they are typically unsecured, and you can use personal loans for almost anything.

You can find personal loans through local banks and credit unions, as well as online lenders. Here are some of our picks for the best vacation loans so you can find an option that’s right for you.

LightStream (Best for excellent credit)

  • Rates (APR): 7.49% – 24.49%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – $100,000
  • Credit score: 660+

LightStream ranks as the best personal loan for excellent credit. It provides low rates, no fees, and a Rate Beat program that will beat any rate a competitor offers by 0.10 percentage points. Its streamlined application process makes it attractive to borrowers with a strong credit history.

  • Credit score category: Excellent, good
  • Soft credit pull to check rates: Not available
  • Deposit time: As soon as the same day
  • Origination fee: 0%
  • Late fee: None
  • Discounts: 0.50% interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay
  • Repayment terms: 24 – 144 months

Upgrade (Best for Fair Credit)

  • Rates (APR): 8.49% – 35.99%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – $35,000
  • Credit score: 620+

Upgrade’s personal loans are a great option for people with bad or fair credit and those who need small vacation loans. Borrowers seeking vacation loans can check rates without affecting their credit scores.

  • Credit score category: Fair, bad
  • Soft credit pull to check rates: Yes
  • Deposit time: As soon as the next day
  • Origination fee: 2.9% – 8%
  • Late fee: $10
  • Repayment terms: 36 or 60 months

Upstart (Best for Thin Credit)

  • Rates (APR): 6.12% – 35.99%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – $30,000
  • Credit score: 620+

Upstart streamlines the loan pricing and funding process by utilizing the power of machine learning and AI. They are another good option for borrowers with fair credit or bad credit as they offer competitive rates.

  • Credit score category: Fair, bad
  • Soft credit pull to check rates: Yes
  • Deposit time: As fast as one business day3
  • Origination fee: 0% – 10%
  • Late fee: $5 or 15% of payment (whichever is higher)
  • Repayment terms: 36 months or 60 months1

To compare other options, you can check out our guide to the best personal loans.

Are Vacation Loans a Wise Idea?

Always be cautious about going into debt to buy anything that isn’t a necessity. Borrowing for any purchase usually makes it more expensive due to interest. And committing to repayment over a period affects your future budget.

If you must finance a vacation, you can be far better off taking out a personal loan than taking on a large amount of high-interest credit card debt or putting your property at risk by using a home equity loan.

Before you borrow, though, think critically about your monthly budget. Aim to borrow no more than you can comfortably afford to repay over three to six months to keep your travel loan from interfering with other financial goals. 

Pros

  • They’re a low-cost borrowing option: If you have good credit, you are likely to qualify for a much lower loan rate than what you might pay with a credit card. 
  • Personal loans are flexible: You’ll find a variety of loan amounts and repayment terms, so you can likely land on a monthly payment that fits your budget.
  • Repay when you’d like: Few lenders charge prepayment penalties, so you can pay off your loan early and save money on interest.

Cons

  • Interest rates could still be high: You might get a lower interest rate than you would with a credit card, but consumers with bad credit may not qualify for the best personal loan terms, either.
  • You’ll be paying off your vacation for a long time: Your vacation will end after a week or two, but you’ll pay for it for several months after you come home. 
  • Interest adds costs to your trip: If you finance your $5,000 vacation at 10% interest, for example, you’ll repay a total amount of $5,807 over three years.*
  • You’ll forgo credit card rewards: Personal loans don’t let you earn rewards for spending, while many credit cards do—especially on travel costs like hotels, restaurants, and flights.
  • Loans may come with fees: Personal loans may come with upfront fees, such as an origination fee, that you wouldn’t pay with a credit card.

*Interest determined using our personal loan calculator.

How to Finance a Vacation

Follow these tips to borrow responsibly and keep your vacation loan from compromising your future financial goals.

1. Make a budget and start saving

Plan far in advance of your trip to know how much you’ll spend. Figure out what your costs will be, and work savings into your budget. You may need to trim expenses, either by cutting costs leading up to your vacation or finding ways to make your trip cheaper.

2. Use a travel card for specific expenses

If you’ve saved for your vacation and can pay off a credit card balance in full before the end of the month, you could benefit from charging certain travel expenses on a travel rewards credit card, especially if you sign up for a new card with a sign-up bonus.

While you may not want to put every expense on your card, charging the types of spending your card rewards the most could be a great way to earn back some of the money you spend on your trip.

3. Consider an unsecured vacation loan for remaining expenses

If you have additional expenses you can’t cover or repay with savings, consider borrowing an unsecured loan. It will likely have a lower rate than credit card debt, saving you money when you have to pay off your vacation over time.  

Review our list of the best personal loans, and get prequalified quotes from several before applying to compare loan offers and find the lowest rates and best loan terms for your budget.

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