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Compare loans to pay for a vacation

Cover the cost of a trip when saving just isn't an option — and have it cost less than it would with a credit card.

A vacation loan can be a quick and inexpensive way to pay for a trip you don't have the time to save up for. But it still costs. If you're not on a time crunch, consider other options like saving up or using a layaway program to keep more money in your wallet.

Name Product Filter Values APR Min. credit score Loan amount
LightStream personal loans
Finder Score: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
LightStream personal loans
7.49% to 25.99%
Good to excellent credit
$5,000 to $100,000
Borrow up to $100,000 with low rates and no fees.
PenFed Credit Union personal loans
Finder Score: 3.6 / 5: ★★★★★
PenFed Credit Union personal loans
7.99% to 18%
580
$600 to $50,000
With over 80 years of lending experience, this credit union offers personal loans for a variety of expenses.
Upgrade
Finder Score: 4 / 5: ★★★★★
Upgrade
8.49% to 35.99%
620
$1,000 to $50,000
Check your rates with this online lender without impacting your credit score.
Best Egg personal loans
Finder Score: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Best Egg personal loans
8.99% to 35.99%
600
$2,000 to $50,000
Fast and easy personal loan application process. See options first without affecting your credit score.
Credible personal loans
Finder Score: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
Credible personal loans
4.60% to 35.99%
Fair to excellent credit
$600 to $100,000
Get personalized prequalified rates in minutes and then choose an offer from a selection of top online lenders.
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With lower rates on average than a credit card, a vacation loan can be a quick and inexpensive way to pay for a trip you don’t have the time to save up for. But it’s not free. If you’re not on a time crunch, consider other options like saving up or using a layaway program to keep more money in your wallet.

What is a vacation loan?

A vacation loan is usually an unsecured personal loan you can use to pay for a vacation. Some providers like Uplift allow you to take out the loan while you’re booking your trip. But in most cases, you’ll have to take out a loan before you book your flight and accommodations.

These are available at many small banks and credit unions. But online lenders tend to have the quickest turnaround and might be a good choice if you’re crunched for time.

Are vacation loans a good idea?

It depends on the situation. Vacation loans can be helpful if you have an unexpected trip and can’t pay for all of the costs out of pocket — or if you want to invest in a timeshare. But if you’re planning your trip far in advance, consider saving up instead of financing your trip.

Pros

  • Typically costs less than using your credit card
  • No collateral required
  • Fixed monthly payments
  • Funding in as little as 24 hours

Cons

  • More expensive than saving up
  • High rates and few options for bad credit
  • You’ll be paying it off for several years

Can I get a vacation loan with bad credit?

It’s possible to get a vacation loan with bad credit. Uplift, which offers loans specifically for travel, works with bad-credit borrowers. But you’ll generally need a credit score of 670 or higher to qualify for a competitive deal — what most lenders consider to be good credit.

You also might not be able to qualify for the highest loan amounts lenders offer with bad credit.

How else can I pay for a vacation?

Before you take out a loan, consider these alternatives.

Save up

The cheapest way to pay for a vacation is to save up ahead of time. But you’ll need to have enough time before you start booking flights. How long it takes depends on your budget and how much you need. If this is your first time saving for a goal, you can use the following strategies.

  • Use a high-interest savings account. These accounts collect interest and can help you save more. They’re better for long-term vacation goals, like saving up for a trip you’d like to take in a few years.
  • Set up an online piggy bank. Online piggy banks are similar to savings accounts, but they’re often less work. You typically set a goal and the amount you want to contribute to your piggy bank each day, week or month, then forget about it.
  • Make a budget. While you’re busy putting away money into your savings, take the time to create a travel budget. Money for food, tours and entrance fees should all be added up, on top of transportation costs like flights and car rentals.
American Express® High Yield Savings Account
4.30% APY

Enjoy $0 monthly fees and a competitive APY with this online-only savings account. Accounts offered by American Express National Bank, Member FDIC.

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on American Express's secure site
APY 4.30%
Fee $0
Minimum deposit to open $0
New account fee $0
Minimum balance to earn interest $1
Interest compounding Daily

Credit card

travel credit card can give you access to airport lounges, complimentary insurance coverage and frequent flyer rewards. Many new cards also come with a 0% promotional APR for over a year — giving you interest-free financing for costs you can repay in that timeframe.

But you typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for a competitive offer. And after the promotional period is up, you’ll usually face higher rates than a personal loan and could have to pay an annual fee. If you travel abroad, you might also be on the hook for foreign transaction fees.

Vacation package financing

Vacation packages often come with a few ways to pay for your trip. For example, Disney offers several financing options including savings accounts, rewards cards, loans and more that you can use to cover the cost of your trip.

These can unlock discounts you otherwise wouldn’t have access to, though they still might not necessarily be the cheapest option out there.

Layaway program

A layaway program allows you to make a deposit on a trip in advance and pay it off before you travel. Typically, you’ll have to pay a flat fee instead of interest. It can be less expensive than a loan, and it’s typically open to all credit types. But you’ll still need to save up for the cost of the trip ahead of time to take advantage of this program.

Crowdfunding

If your trip has a special meaning — maybe you want to climb Mount Everest or teach English abroad — you might be able to raise some of the funds by setting up a crowdfunding campaign and sharing it on social media. Or, unofficially crowdfund by asking friends and families for donations toward your trip rather than birthday or holiday gifts.

Personal line of credit

A line of credit gives you access to cash you can draw from as needed. This allows you to avoid borrowing more than you need, while also giving you access to cash as you need it. They tend to come with higher limits and lower rates than a credit card. But they’re less common than personal loans.

Upgrade Card lines of credit

Upgrade Card lines of credit

  • No fees
  • Rates start at 6.99%
  • Use wherever Visa is accepted
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on Upgrade’s secure site
Min. Loan Amount $500
Max. Loan Amount $50,000
APR 14.99% to 29.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 600
Maximum Loan Term 60 months
Turnaround Time 4 business days

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Compare more options for funding your next trip by reading our guide to personal loans.

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