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Personal Loans

Vacation Loans: How to Finance Your Trip

Vacations can be the perfect way to relax, unwind, and soak up the sun. But the costs can make you raise an eyebrow. According to Gogo Charters, a bus rental company, the average cost of a weeklong vacation in the U.S. is $1,984 per person or $7,936 for a family of four.

But according to a Federal Reserve survey, only 68% of American households can cover an expense of $500 or more. If the cost of your weekend getaway is high, you might consider a vacation loan. This guide will explain how—and whether—to finance a vacation.

Can you finance a vacation? 

Yes, you can finance a vacation. Here are three options to consider:

  • Personal loans: One option is to take out a personal loan from a bank, credit union, or online lender. You’ll make fixed monthly payments on the loan for a few months to a few years.
  • Vacation loans: These loans are personal loans marketed for vacations. Terms on these loans may vary, so read the fine print before committing.
  • Travel credit cards: Many credit cards have travel benefits, such as free checked bags and travel insurance. These cards could save you money on travel, especially if it has a low or no annual fee. We only recommend them if you pay it off right away or have a special 0% interest rate introductory offer and can pay off the balance before the end of the introductory time frame.

While it’s possible to finance a vacation, you’ll need to be aware of the financial implications. Financing a purchase often makes it more expensive in the long term, so it’s smart to be prepared for the potential added cost.

3 best vacation loans 

As we mentioned, vacation loans are personal loans meant to finance a vacation. We’ve researched vacation loans and selected the best choices. 

If you have good credit, these loans can be much cheaper than carrying a balance on a credit card.

LenderBest forRates (APR)
CredibleComparing offers7.49%35.99%
UpgradeFair credit8.49% – 35.99%
UpstartLittle to no credit7.80% – 35.99%

As you can see above, these lenders charge a wide range of rates. If you have fair or thin (little to no) credit, your rates may fall on the upper end of these ranges. It’s best to check multiple quotes and compare them to your credit card if you have one.

One of the simplest ways to compare multiple vacation loan rates is with a marketplace, such as Credible. Credible is a marketplace that pairs borrowers with lenders. The site lets you compare quotes from multiple top lenders to find the best rates available to you.

Credible – Best marketplace

LendEDU rating: 5.0 out of 5

  • Offers a robust marketplace with a variety of lenders
  • No hidden fees
  • Enables prequalification without affecting credit score

Credible is the premier marketplace for vacation loan seekers, distinguished by its commitment to transparency. By presenting a broad selection of lenders, Credible ensures that borrowers can explore numerous financing options without worrying about unexpected fees. 

One of our favorite features is the ability to prequalify for loans. This allows you to gauge potential interest rates without affecting your credit scores, which is beneficial for those who want to compare several loan offers while safeguarding their credit health.

Upgrade – Best for fair credit

LendEDU rating: 4.9 out of 5

  • Targets borrowers with FICO scores between 580 and 669
  • Complimentary credit monitoring services
  • Flexible loan terms

Upgrade offers reasonable rates and adaptable loan conditions for borrowers navigating the middle range of credit scores—often within the 580 to 669 FICO score range. Upgrade presents a viable opportunity to secure financing at fair terms. 

Beyond financial products, Upgrade’s free credit monitoring tools stand out as a pivotal resource for borrowers aiming to enhance or maintain their credit status. The lender’s emphasis on accessibility, combined with its tools for financial management, positions it as an attractive option for those within the fair credit category seeking to finance their vacation dreams.

Upstart – Best for thin credit

LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • Evaluates borrowers using a holistic approach beyond just credit scores
  • Streamlined and efficient application process
  • Flexible payment options to suit various borrower needs

Upstart is a unique option for individuals with a minimal credit history, recognizing the multifaceted nature of financial responsibility and capability. This lender differentiates itself by assessing loan applicants through a broader lens that considers a range of factors beyond mere credit scores. 

Its inclusive approach can help borrowers whom traditional evaluation criteria exclude to gain access to vacation loans. Upstart’s application process is designed for simplicity and speed, ensuring that borrowers can move forward with their travel plans quickly. Moreover, the flexibility in payment arrangements underscores Upstart’s commitment to accommodating diverse financial situations, thereby easing the repayment journey for borrowers.

Should you finance a vacation?

Financing a vacation can be worth considering, but consider the arguments for and against it.

When to finance a vacation

It’s best to avoid financing a vacation due to the added costs, but in some instances, it might be worth considering.

  • Special events: Perhaps you have a special event coming and don’t have savings to cover the trip. For instance, maybe one of your children is having a destination wedding far away from home.
  • Unique opportunities: In rare instances, you might have the chance for a dream trip or a once-in-a-lifetime experience and not have the cash to pay upfront.
  • Credit building: If you have cash available and can pay on time, a small vacation loan might be worth considering if you’re looking to improve your credit score.

We don’t recommend considering vacation loans simply because you don’t have cash available. In this way, they’re similar to timeshare loans; they only make sense in certain circumstances.

What our expert recommends

Erin Kinkade


I recommend my clients build a travel/vacation account (and keep it separate). If you receive a bonus or other lump sum, I recommend placing about 30% of it in the travel/vacation account. In addition, I recommend adding a line item to the budget for vacation savings each pay period and continuing this process each year. Of course, life happens. The savings could be depleted, but there could be a special travel opportunity or an important one (such as the death of a loved one) that you need to attend. At that point, I think it is reasonable to finance a trip and make plans to pay off the balance as soon as possible. Immediately set up autopay to pay the minimum balance so you don’t miss any required payments.

When to avoid vacation financing

A vacation loan might be worth considering in some cases, but you’ll likely find more reasons to avoid them. We don’t recommend taking out a vacation loan in these scenarios:

  • You struggle to stick to a budget: If you have trouble sticking to a budget, you may have difficulty repaying your vacation loan, which can make your vacation much more expensive.
  • You already have debt: Do you have significant amounts of debt in the form of personal loans, credit cards, or home equity loans? Adding more debt can make it worse by increasing your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and making debt management more difficult.
  • Interest rates are high: If we’re in a high-rate environment, a vacation loan will be more expensive. This can raise the cost of the vacation and sour the whole experience.

Vacations can be a terrific opportunity to relax, unwind, and recharge. But if it will put you further in debt, it’s often best to consider other options until your financial outlook improves.

Vacation financing can be the right choice, but in many cases, better options include using savings or a travel credit card. However, if you’re certain it’s the best choice, keep reading to see how to get a vacation loan for your next trip.

Our expert’s advice

Erin Kinkade


I suggest those that who are working on improving their financial condition plan “staycations.” Research free events in your area that are of interest. Memories and rest don’t have to take place away from home, but you may have to add creativity and extra planning.

How to get a vacation loan

If you’ve determined that your situation requires a vacation loan, the process is similar to applying for other types of loans. In many cases, you won’t even need to tell the lender the loan is for a vacation.

Follow these steps to get the best terms and rates:

  1. Assess your finances. First, estimate the cost of the vacation, including transportation, accommodation, food, activities, and incidentals. Then determine how much you can afford to pay monthly on a vacation loan.
  2. Research and compare lenders. To get the best offer, consider multiple lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders. The lenders mentioned above are a terrific place to start. Many lenders let you prequalify so you can check your approval odds with no credit score impact.
  3. Choose the right loan offer. You may get several loan offers, all of which can have different rates, terms, and fees. Evaluate each of these details to determine which lender has the best offer.
  4. Apply for the loan. Gather the necessary documents, such as proof of identification, income, and employment history. You may need to provide your driver’s license or state ID, passport, or pay stubs. Then fill out an application, which you can often do online.
  5. Receive your funds. If approved, you will often get your money within a few business days, with same-day funding available in some cases.

Once you have your money, you’ll need to plan for repayment. One of the easiest ways to pay is with automatic payments, which you can set up with most lenders the day you accept the loan. This ensures you won’t miss a payment and incur unnecessary interest.

How to minimize your loan amount

Mast vacation loans increase the cost of taking a vacation. Minimizing the loan amount helps keep those costs at bay so your vacation doesn’t become unaffordable.

Here are tips to consider that might help you minimize your vacation loan:

  • Savings first: You may not have significant savings available, but any amount can help because it may let you borrow less. You can create a separate vacation fund and keep it in a high-yield savings account.
  • Choose your destination wisely: Some vacation destinations are bound to be cheaper than others. This is due to a lower cost of living, favorable exchange rates, or fewer tourists. Unless you don’t have a say in the matter, consider lower-cost destinations.
  • Set a strict budget: Create a detailed budget for your trip, including separate amounts for transportation, food, and accommodation. While you can leave room for unexpected costs, a strict budget can help you avoid overspending.
  • Save on travel expenses: Getting to your destination can be pricey, especially if you fly. Consider flying on cheaper days or using travel rewards if you have them. These strategies can lead to significant savings on airfare.
  • Travel off-season: Costs are often highest during peak travel season. This varies by location, but consider traveling in the off-season if possible. Food and accommodation costs are often lower when demand is down.
  • Consider alternative accommodations: The cost of accommodations is often one of the highest for any trip. Hostels, vacation rentals, or house-sitting can be cheaper than hotels.

Vacations can be expensive, but these strategies may help you keep costs down.


What credit score do you need to finance a vacation?

The credit score needed to finance a vacation can vary depending on the lender. Many lenders prefer a score of at least 660. Some lenders may approve loans for those with lower scores but often at higher interest rates.

Can I get a vacation loan from a credit union?

Yes, many credit unions offer vacation loans. The requirements and terms can vary, so we recommend consulting with your selected credit union.

Can I get a vacation loan with bad credit?

It might be more challenging to secure a vacation loan with bad credit, but it’s not impossible. Some lenders specialize in loans for individuals with lower credit scores. Remember: Such loans often come with higher interest rates and more stringent conditions.

Recap: Lenders offering vacation loans

LenderRates (APR)
Upgrade8.49% – 35.99%
Upstart7.80% – 35.99%