8 Vacation Loans: Finance Your Travel in 2024

Vacation loans are one way to cover travel expenses. Compare loans plus other financing options.

Last updated on May 30, 2024
Written by 
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Kim Lowe
Edited by 
Fact Checked
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Fact Checked
Jackie Veling
Co-written by 
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Annie Millerbernd
Written by 
Assistant Assigning Editor
Kim Lowe
Edited by 
Fact Checked
Lead Assigning Editor
Fact Checked

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8 Vacation Loans: Finance Your Travel in 2024

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Est. APR
Loan amount
Min. credit score
Learn more
Discover

Discover® Personal Loans

Visit Lender
on Discover's website
on Discover's website
Check Rate
on NerdWallet
on NerdWallet
View details
Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with good or excellent credit

7.99-24.99%

$2,500-$40,000

660

SoFi

SoFi Personal Loan

🏆 Top 3 most visited
5.0
/5
Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with good or excellent credit
Rate discount

8.99-29.99%

$5,000-$100,000

None

5.0
/5
Best for Small vacation loans

8.49-35.99%

$1,000-$50,000

560

Lightstream

LightStream

4.5
/5
Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with good or excellent credit

6.99-25.49%

$5,000-$100,000

660

Prosper

Prosper

Check Rate
on NerdWallet
on NerdWallet
4.5
/5
Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with fair or bad credit

8.99-35.99%

$2,000-$50,000

560

4.5
/5
Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with fair or bad credit

7.80-35.99%

$1,000-$50,000

None

4.5
/5
Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with fair or bad credit

8.99-35.99%

$2,000-$50,000

600

Lending Club

LendingClub

4.5
/5
Best for Small vacation loans

8.98-35.99%

$1,000-$40,000

600

Our pick for

Vacation loans for borrowers with good or excellent credit

Lightstream
Visit Lender
on LightStream's website
on LightStream's website
Lightstream

LightStream

4.5
Est. APR

6.99-25.49%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

660

Discover

Discover® Personal Loans

Est. APR

7.99-24.99%

Loan amount

$2,500-$40,000

Min. credit score

660

SoFi

SoFi Personal Loan

Est. APR

8.99-29.99%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

None

Our pick for

Vacation loans for borrowers with fair or bad credit

Prosper

Prosper

Est. APR

8.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560

Upstart

Upstart

Est. APR

7.80-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

None

BestEgg

Best Egg

Est. APR

8.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

600

Our pick for

Small vacation loans

Lending Club

LendingClub

Est. APR

8.98-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$40,000

Min. credit score

600

Upgrade

Upgrade

Est. APR

8.49-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560

What is a vacation loan?

A vacation loan is an unsecured personal loan used to pay for travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars, meals or anything else trip-related.

These loans don’t require collateral and are repaid in fixed monthly installments, meaning the monthly payment won’t change over the course of the loan. Online lenders, banks and credit unions all offer vacation loans.

Most financial experts advise against incurring debt for discretionary vacation spending. For urgent travel, and when a loan is your cheapest option, borrowing may make sense. But make sure the monthly payments fit into your budget, and commit to paying off the loan on time.

Pros and cons of vacation loans

Weigh the pros and cons of a vacation loan to see if it’s the right choice for financing a trip.

Pros of vacation loans

  • Low rates for some: For well-qualified borrowers — those with strong income and credit scores above 690 — personal loans can have lower annual percentage rates (APRs) than credit cards.

  • Receive the money in a lump sum: You receive funds from a personal loan all at once, rather than over time as you spend money. Having a fixed amount can help you plan and stick to your vacation budget.

  • Predictable monthly payments: Personal loans have fixed interest rates, which means you’ll have a fixed monthly payment for the full loan term. Working toward a set debt payoff date can also help you stay focused on making payments.

Cons of vacation loans

  • Potentially risky debt: If you struggle to repay other debts, a vacation loan could add financial stress. Even one missed payment could cause a hit to your credit score, plus you’ll incur late fees while still accruing interest, making the trip more expensive than intended.

  • Years of payments: Terms on personal loans range from two to seven years — long after you’ve returned home. Carefully consider how long you want to be paying for your travel.

Vacation loan rates

Annual percentage rates on personal loans range from about 6% to 36%, and some lenders may use the reason for the loan to help decide your rate and loan amount.

The rate you ultimately get depends primarily on your credit score and debt-to-income ratio, the percent of your income that goes to other debts each month. The higher your credit score and the lower your DTI, the more likely you are to get a low rate on a vacation loan. A lower rate means a less expensive loan.

For example, a two-year loan of $3,000 with an APR of 11% would cost about $140 in monthly payments and $3,356 overall. That same loan with a 25% APR would require monthly payments of $160 and cost $3,843.

Use our personal loan calculator to estimate monthly payments based on the loan amount, rate and term.

How to get a vacation loan

If you’re interested in a vacation loan, you can get one in four simple steps:

  1. Check your credit report and address any delinquent accounts or errors before you apply.

  2. Estimate the total cost of the vacation in advance so you can request the right loan amount.

  3. Pre-qualify with multiple lenders to see which offers the lowest rate and repayment terms that fit your budget. Pre-qualifying doesn’t affect your credit score.

  4. Gather the necessary documents — including proof of identity, W-2s or pay stubs, your Social Security number and bank account numbers — and submit a formal application.

Alternatives to vacation loans

Before getting a loan, consider these alternatives to finance your trip.

Savings: If there’s time, start saving. Create a dedicated travel savings account and put away some money each month. Find out how much the trip will cost by comparing prices of flights, hotel rooms and car rentals on travel websites.

Travel credit cards: If you travel frequently and have good or excellent credit (690 or higher credit score), you may qualify for a travel credit card that offers a sign-up bonus and other perks that could help lower the cost of trips in the long run.

0% credit card: If you have good credit, you may also qualify for a low-interest or 0% intro APR card that allows you to carry a balance interest-free, typically for 15 to 21 months. That means if you can pay off the trip in that time, you can skip the interest altogether.

“Buy now, pay later” loans: Some lenders, like Uplift and Affirm, partner with major airlines, hotel companies and travel websites to include BNPL financing for travelers when they book their tickets. This means you can make your purchase now, but pay for it in installments, similar to a personal loan. Borrowers with fair or bad credit (below 690 credit score) may have an easier time qualifying for BNPL than with other financing options.

Last updated on May 30, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 technology companies and financial institutions. We collect over 50 data points from each lender and cross-check company websites, earnings reports and other public documents to confirm product details. We may also go through a lender’s pre-qualification flow and follow up with company representatives. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. Our ratings award fewer points to lenders with practices that may make a loan difficult to repay on time, such as charging high annual percentage rates (above 36%), underwriting that does not adequately assess consumers’ ability to repay and lack of credit-building help. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.

NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Vacation Loans: Finance Your Travel in 2024

  • LightStream: Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with good or excellent credit
  • Discover® Personal Loans: Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with good or excellent credit
  • SoFi Personal Loan: Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with good or excellent credit
  • Prosper: Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with fair or bad credit
  • Upstart: Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with fair or bad credit
  • Best Egg: Best for Vacation loans for borrowers with fair or bad credit
  • LendingClub: Best for Small vacation loans
  • Upgrade: Best for Small vacation loans

Frequently asked questions

  • A vacation loan is an unsecured personal loan used to pay for travel expenses, like flights, hotels or meals out.

  • You can finance a vacation with a personal loan or credit card, but it typically costs interest. The cheapest option is paying for a vacation with savings.

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