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What do you do when you need to travel but you don’t have the savings or cash upfront to pay for it? Taking out a personal loan could help cover your vacation and travel-related expenses and purchases. But bear in mind that there is a cost to taking out a personal loan, including the interest rate and personal loan fees.
Although personal loans are popular for their quick access to cash and flexible ways to spend it, failure to fulfill your monthly payments can negatively affect your credit score. Make sure you understand the full cost of your loan and whether you can afford to keep up with payments. We’ll break down some of the best vacation loans to consider, when it makes sense to get one, and some alternative ways to finance your next vacation.
What Is a Vacation and Travel Loan?
A vacation loan or travel loan is essentially a personal loan you take out to pay for vacation and travel expenses. You can spend the loan on nearly anything, including airfare, hotels, cruises, etc. The only things you can’t use it on are gambling, college tuition, and illegal activities.
Most personal loans are unsecured, meaning you don’t have to put up any collateral. But lenders offering unsecured loans also tend to prefer borrowers with good credit, so qualifying for a personal loan if you have bad credit can be challenging.
If you can qualify for low rates and can afford the payments, vacation and travel loans can be a useful financing option.
Best Vacation and Travel Loans
- Best for Bad Credit: Upgrade
- Best for Fair Credit: Best Egg
- Best for Low Rates: LightStream
- Best for No Fees: Marcus by Goldman Sachs
- Best for Small Loans: LendingClub
- Best for Fast Funding: Avant
Loan results will vary based on creditworthiness, loan purpose, loan amount, and other factors.
Best for Bad Credit: Upgrade
- Loan Amounts$1,000 – $50,000
- Loan Terms24 – 84 months
- APR Range8.49% – 35.97%
Credit Score560 or higher
Borrowers with less-than-stellar credit profiles may find Upgrade personal loans accessible, and its quick funding and flexible payment due dates convenient.
Upgrade offers personal loans up to $50,000 for qualifying borrowers and is accessible to those with not-so-ideal credit scores. The low loan minimum of $1,000 also makes it an easy choice for those with small financing needs. However, borrowers in certain states will be subject to higher minimum loan amounts.
While other lenders may offer longer repayment terms of up to 144 months, those are typically reserved for certain loan purposes. Upgrade has repayment terms of 24 to 84 months for eligible borrowers, no matter what expense you’ll be covering. This flexibility can be useful, especially if you’d prefer a longer time frame to pay off your loan.
With this lender, you can expect to pay an origination fee. Borrowers can view their rate before applying without impacting their credit score.
Overall, Upgrade is worth considering if you’re looking for a lender that is willing to work with lower credit scores and offers loans with competitive rates and flexible terms.
- Accessible to borrowers with bad credit
- Flexible loan terms
- Joint applications allowed
- Secured loan options
- Direct payment to creditors
- Has origination fees
- No physical branches
- Higher APRs than some competitors
Best for Fair Credit: Best Egg
- Loan Amounts$2,000 – $50,000
- Loan Terms36 – 60 months
- APR Range8.99% – 35.99%
Credit Score700 or higher
Best Egg provides fast personal loans, including unsecured and secured options.
Best Egg offers personal loans of up to $50,000 with repayment terms of 36 to 60 months. You can use Best Egg loans for various purposes, including paying for moving expenses, home improvements, debt consolidation, weddings, adoption and more.
Borrowers will pay an origination fee of 0.99% to 8.99%, depending on the amount they borrow and their creditworthiness. Best Egg states that borrowers will need a minimum FICO score of 700 and a minimum annual income of $100,000 to qualify for their lowest rates.
Best Egg products are not available for residents in Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia, the District of Columbia or U.S. Territories.
- Fast funding for personal loans (as soon as the next day)
- Loans up to $50,000
- No physical locations
- Has origination fees of 0.99% to 8.99%
- Good credit and high annual income ($100,000) required for lowest rate
Best for Low Rates: LightStream
- Loan Amounts$5,000 – $100,000
- Loan Terms24 – 144 months
- APR Range5.99% – 23.99% (with autopay)
Credit Score660 or higher
LightStream is a solid online lender offering no fees, high loan maximums and low-rate personal loans for several purposes.
Lightstream offers personal loans for several purposes, including debt consolidation, medical expenses, home improvement, weddings, car purchases and more, making this worth considering for those seeking flexibility. Eligible borrowers can get approved for personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000, and loan terms range from 24 to 144 months. The rate and term you get will depend on the specific loan purpose.
The lender offers relatively low rates compared to competitors, including autopay discounts. Its personal loans also have no origination fees or late fees, which can help keep borrowing costs low. However, borrowers will likely need to have good-to-excellent credit in order to be approved for a Lightstream personal loan.
Overall, it’s a good lender to add to your shortlist if you’re looking for flexible funding, no fees and a low APR. Lightstream may also disburse loans as soon as the same day you’re approved, making this lender a decent choice if you need fast funding.
- Low minimum APR
- No origination fees, no late fees
- High loan maximum of $100,000
- Autopay discount
- Joint applications allowed
- Rates and terms vary by loan purpose
- No soft pull prequalification
- Must have good-to-excellent credit
- No physical branches
Best for No Fees: Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
- Loan Amounts$3,500 – $40,000
- Loan Terms36 – 72 months
- APR Range6.99% – 24.99%
Credit ScoreNot disclosed
Personal loans offered through Marcus by Goldman Sachs come with unique features, such as no fees, rewards for on-time payments, rate discounts, and the ability to change your due date.
Personal loans from Marcus feature no fees, and eligible applicants can borrow up to $40,000. APRs are competitive and repayment terms range from 36 to 72 months.
These personal loans come with some notably unique features. Those who make consistent on-time payments are rewarded with the ability to skip a month. If you make 12 consecutive monthly payments, you can skip a payment for one month without interest won’t accrue during that time. Marcus will simply extend your loan term by a month. Borrowers can also benefit from an autopay discount that will apply a 0.25% APR reduction when enrolled.
To get approved for a Marcus personal loan, you’ll likely need a strong credit score.
- No origination, prepayment or late fees
- On-time payment reward lets you skip a monthly payment
- Autopay rate discount
- Option to change payment due date
- No physical locations
- Co-applicants and co-signers not permitted
Best for Small Loans: LendingClub
- Loan Amounts$1,000 – $40,000
- Loan Terms24 – 60 months
- APR Range8.05% – 36.00%
Credit Score600 or higher
Borrowers in the fair credit range who need a small loan can appreciate LendingClub’s quick funding and option for direct payments to creditors on debt consolidation loans.
Established in 2006 as a peer-to-peer lending platform, LendingClub offers personal loans as low as $1,000 and up to $40,000. Those seeking a personal loan will appreciate LendingClub’s offerings.
You can use LendingClub loans for almost any purpose, from home improvements to medical bills. Eligible borrowers can get personal loans with repayment terms of 2 to 5 years, and borrowers can expect to receive funding as soon as 24 hours after approval. However, APRs do start at relatively higher rates than some competitors.
LendingClub can be a good fit for those looking to consolidate high-interest debt, as they offer the ability to pay your creditors directly from your loan. You’ll likely need a credit score of at least 600 to get approved, and joint loans are available for those who need some assistance qualifying.
- Low minimum loan amount
- Fast funding for personal loans (receive funds as little as 24 hours after approval)
- Joint loans allowed
- Direct payment to creditors
- Check rates without a hard credit inquiry
- Has origination fees
- No physical branches
- Lower maximum loan amount than some lenders
Best for Fast Funding: Avant
- Loan Amounts$2,000 – $35,000
- Loan Terms12 – 60 months
- APR Range9.95% – 35.95%
Credit Score580 or higher
Avant offers small personal loans that are accessible to borrowers with fair credit, with funding available as soon as the next day.
Avant is known for its personal loans, which offer terms as long as 60 months. Customers can borrow up to $35,000 that can be used for a wide range of purposes, and funding can be completed as soon as the next business day once approved. The minimum APRs tend to be higher than competitors, but the maximum APR is comparable to other online lenders.
A unique feature offered by Avant is their flexible payment due date, which allows a 10-day grace period without incurring a late fee.
While some lenders have credit score requirements in the mid-600s, Avant indicates it may approve borrowers with a 580 credit score.
- Loan terms up to 60 months
- Low minimum credit score requirement
- Flexible payment due date
- Next day funding available
- No physical locations
- Origination fee of up to 4.75%
- Relatively low maximum loan amount ($35,000)
- High minimum APR
- No joint applicant or co-signer
How Vacation Loans Are Used
Whether you want to spend quality family time or use those saved-up vacation days, vacation loans can help finance your next trip. You can use vacation loans for a variety of expenses, including:
- Lodging and hotels
- Recreational expenses such as tours, entertainment, and outdoor activities
- Vacation packages
- Day-to-day costs
- Emergency trips
- Destination weddings
Applying for a loan can be a relatively fast and easy process, making it an attractive choice to quickly get the funds you need. Some loans can be sent straight to your bank account in as little as 24 hours after approval, which comes in handy for last-minute urgent trips.
How to Prequalify for a Personal Loan, and Why It Can Be a Good Idea
Benefits of a Vacation Loan
There are a number of benefits to taking a personal loan for vacation and travel, including:
Lower Interest Rates
Compared to credit cards, a vacation loan typically has lower interest rates. The interest rate will vary depending on the borrower’s creditworthiness, so if you have good credit, you’ll likely qualify for a low interest rate.
Those with bad credit may struggle to get a low rate or even be approved at all, but there are options available. You could bring on a co-signer or co-borrower with excellent credit, or opt for a secured personal loan to be eligible for a competitive rate.
Fixed Rate on Monthly Payments
Most personal loans are offered at a fixed rate, which means you’ll have predictable monthly payments. You don’t have to worry about any fluctuations in the interest rate of your vacation loan, and this predictable repayment scheme could help you plan your budget accordingly.
Lump Sum Funding
Another benefit to personal loans is that borrowers typically receive the loan amount in one lump sum that goes straight into their bank account. This way, you have all the funds upfront to spend as you see fit.
A personal loan for vacation and travel expenses can be used for almost anything. From booking flights and hotels to dining out, borrowers are free to spend their loan as they wish, as long as it is not for prohibited uses such as gambling or illegal activities.
Personal loans typically have quick approvals for borrowers with a strong credit history. Some lenders may even transfer the funds within the next business day after approval. For any emergencies, there are lenders that offer same-day funding as well.
How to Choose a Vacation Loan
Before applying for a vacation loan, there are a number of important factors to consider.
- Prequalify with multiple lenders: During the prequalification process, you’ll receive your estimated rates, repayment terms, and loan amounts without it affecting your credit score. This helps you compare rates across different lenders and find the best deal for you.
- Loan amount: Calculate your estimated expenses and how much money you need to borrow. Some lenders only offer small loans while other lenders can offer loans up to $100,000 (but most people won’t need that much and most do not qualify for it). Know how much you need to borrow and pick a lender that can offer you a loan for that amount.
- Repayment period: The repayment period refers to the number of months or years you will repay the loan in full, including interest charges. Repayment periods vary by lender, but most lenders offer periods ranging from two to five years.
- Interest rate: The interest rate is essentially what the loan will cost you. The better your credit score, the lower your interest rate. It’s a good idea to shop around for lenders that can give you the lowest rate.
- Fees and penalties: Personal loans can come with various fees, such as an origination fee to process the loan, prepayment penalty for paying off the loan early, as well as late fees and other penalties. Read the fine print so you understand the full cost of the loan upfront.
Alternatives to Vacation Loans
A vacation loan may not be the right choice for everyone. There are alternative financing options that may be a better fit for your situation.
Saving Money for Your Trip
If you have a planned vacation that is still many months away, the most common way to pay for it is through savings. Using your own savings means you won’t have to worry about paying interest or other fees that come with a vacation loan.
Start by estimating how much money you need for your next trip. Then, divide the estimated expenses by the number of remaining months before your planned trip.
So, if your vacation costs $1,500 and there are eight months left before you travel, you need to save $187.5 each month to finance your trip. The key is to plan early so you can still get a good deal on your flights while having enough time to build your savings.
0% Intro APR Credit Cards
Some credit cards come with a 0% intro APR promotion, where cardholders can enjoy no interest on purchases during the offer period. This is essentially an interest-free loan — as long as you pay off the balance within the promotional timeframe. Cards with 0% intro APR promotions usually range from six to 20 months.
Fly Now Pay Later
Many airlines now offer Buy Now Pay Later options, including Fly Now Pay Later, when you book your flights. Fly Now Pay Later is a service that allows you to book all of your travel, including hotels, airfare and vacation packages, and pay for the expenses through monthly installments. You’ll need to pay interest, but you can essentially spread the cost of your vacation over time.
When Is a Vacation Loan a Good Idea for Travel Costs?
While more affordable alternatives could help cover your travel expenses, a vacation loan is still a viable option for several scenarios, including these:
- Urgent trips: Unexpected travels can arise, such as attending to a sick family member or going on an emergency trip. Taking out a vacation loan can give you access to quick funds for these trips if you don’t have the money upfront.
- Once-in-a-lifetime trips: A vacation loan is also convenient for once-in-a-lifetime trips such as your dream vacation or an out-of-state concert of your favorite artist.
- If you qualify for low rates: If you have strong credit and can qualify for a low interest rate, then taking out a vacation loan may be a good fit, provided that you can afford to make the monthly payments.
The next time you plan your vacation, consider all of your options first. A vacation loan can make sense in some scenarios, such as an urgent trip or once-in-a-lifetime vacation, but make sure you understand the full cost of your loan before making the decision.