Best vacation loans of 2023

Where to get help with financing for your next trip

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Best Egg, LightStream and Upgrade
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A vacation loan is a type of personal loan that's used to pay for any type of trip, whether you are angling for a tropical beach getaway or you need to travel to see family. Like other personal loans, vacation loans typically come with fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments and a set repayment schedule that will not change. Once you're approved, you can typically use your vacation loan funds for any type of vacation-related expense you want.

Key insights

  • Vacation loans help people pay for travel when they don't quite have the cash they need on hand.
  • Because vacation loans are personal loans, they have the same features, including fixed interest rates and monthly payments and a set repayment schedule.
  • The best vacation loan companies let you borrow anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 to fund a trip, and have long repayment terms.

Our top 4 picks for vacation loans

To make our choices for the best vacation loans, we collected 806 data points (26 individual data points for 31 lenders), including customer reviews and overall ratings from ConsumerAffairs readers, for popular lenders. We used these data points to evaluate factors that impact borrowers most, like annual percentage rate (APR), loan maximums, repayment terms and loan fees, before making our final selections.

Our picks may be Authorized Partners who compensate us. This does not affect our recommendations or evaluations but may affect the order in which the companies appear.

  • Maximum loan amount: $100,000
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Repayment terms: 24 to 144 months

LightStream is one of the top lenders for personal loans due to its competitive fixed interest rates and flexible repayment terms. These loans come with APRs at the time of publishing that range from 7.99% to 25.49% (with autopay), and borrowers can repay their loan over anywhere from two to 12 years. This means borrowers can lock in a competitive rate for the duration of their loan, and they can also select a repayment plan that gets them an affordable monthly payment. LightStream does not charge any origination fees on its vacation loans. Borrowers can access up to $100,000 in funding. The minimum loan amount is $5,000, which may be more than some vacations require.

Like other personal loans, LightStream does not require applicants to prove their reason for borrowing. Individuals can apply for a vacation loan online in minutes and sign loan documents and get funding without ever leaving home.

Read our LightStream review for more insights on this lender.

  • Fully online loan process
  • No origination fees
  • Flexible repayment terms up to 144 months
  • $5,000 minimum loan amount
  • Must opt for autopay to get the lowest advertised rates
  • Only good and excellent credit profiles approved
While some customers have complained about not getting approved despite having a high credit score, many reviews are positive. In fact, a number of reviewers claimed the customer service they received was exemplary and that the application process was simple and straightforward. Julie, a reviewer from Cape Coral, Florida, said this about her experience with LightStream: “Lightstream could not be any more user-friendly and customer-driven! They plant a tree for every loan! They offer lots of repayment options and allow you to change payment time and amount whenever you need to make it more convenient.”

Discover Personal Loans
  • Maximum loan amount: $35,000
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Repayment terms: 36 to 84 months

While Discover is well known for its popular cash-back and travel credit cards, it also offers personal loans for vacations and other purposes. Discover loans come with competitive APRs that start at 6.99% and go up to 24.99% at the time of publishing, and applicants can repay their loan over 36 to 84 months. This is a shorter span of repayment options than some other lenders, yet Discover still lets applicants choose their repayment terms and tailor their monthly payments in the process.

Discover personal loans do not have any origination fees or prepayment penalties, which is a major plus for borrowers trying to keep loan costs down. Loan amounts are also ideal for most vacations, since applicants can borrow anywhere from $2,500 to $35,000.

Read over our Discover review for more information on this lender.

  • Competitive rates and terms
  • Funding as soon as the next business day
  • No origination fees
  • Repayment terms aren't quite as broad or flexible as some other lenders offer
  • Minimum credit score of 660
Discover's personal loans have not been reviewed by ConsumerAffairs readers.

Best Egg
  • Maximum loan amount: $50,000
  • Minimum credit score: 600
  • Repayment terms: 36 to 60 months

Best Egg offers vacation loans to borrowers with a minimum credit score of 600, which means its loans are geared toward borrowers with fair credit or better. Loan amounts range from $2,000 to $50,000, so borrowers can get enough cash for a vacation but also finance other goals like debt consolidation.

There are only two repayment term options available, 36 or 60 months, and APRs range from 8.99% to 35.99% at the time of publishing. It's worth noting that Best Egg loans come with an origination fee of 0.99% to 8.99% of the loan amount, which is deducted before applicants receive funding. For example, a borrower who takes out a $10,000 vacation loan with a 5% origination fee would only receive $9,500 in loan funds.

Our Best Egg review can help you learn more about this lender.

  • Available to applicants with fair credit or better
  • Loans available for a variety of purposes, including vacations
  • Relatively high loan amounts
  • High maximum APR
  • Only two repayment term options
  • Origination fees on every loan
ConsumerAffairs readers have reported an overall positive experience with Best Egg. Many past borrowers said the loan process was easy and they got a great rate, with one reviewer stating that Best Egg was the “easiest loan application I’ve ever done. Approval and money deposited within 24 to 36 hours. Called back to set up auto pay and again same process! Professionalism and kindness unmatched. Highly recommend this for anyone looking for help or consolidation.”

However, some readers did complain about Best Egg’s origination fees and about difficulty getting approved for a loan.

  • Maximum loan amount: $50,000
  • Minimum credit score: 560
  • Repayment terms: 24 to 84 months

Upgrade is another lender with flexible vacation loans, and it extends its financing to borrowers with a broad range of credit profiles. Upgrade reports that it does not consider a specific minimum credit score in its loan approval process, and instead assesses a borrower’s overall credit history and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Upgrade offers personal loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000, with the option to repay over 24 to 84 months.

APRs range from 8.49% to 35.99% at the time of publishing based on creditworthiness, your loan term and other factors. Upgrade charges an origination fee between 1.85% to 9.99% origination fee; late payment fee applies of the loan amount. This lender, like others, lets applicants check their rates before they apply, which helps consumers gauge approval odds ahead of time.

Read our Upgrade review for more information on this lender and its loans.

  • No specific minimum credit score required
  • Check your rate with no impact on your credit score
  • Repayment terms up to 84 months
  • Origination fees on all loans
  • Relatively high maximum APR
While some borrowers did complain about the company's origination fees, many others praise the company for its easy application process and professional customer service. Tammy from Valley Mills, Texas, had this to say about her experience with Upgrade: “Fast convenient service. Easy to navigate website. Customer service was easy to deal with also. Would recommend to anyone looking for fast cash or if needed a larger loan. Terms were laid out in plain sight to understand fully. Thank you, Upgrade.”

How to get a vacation loan

Financial planner Bryan Stiger of Betterment, a financial advisory company, says that taking out a loan for travel is sometimes not a good idea, as the interest you'll pay on the loan can be high, depending on your credit score. “The bliss of a short vacation might not be worth the headache of paying off long-term debt for months to come," Stiger said.

That said, there are situations where a vacation loan could make sense. For example, it could become important to visit family you haven't seen for a while, even if you have to borrow money to finance the trip. A vacation loan could also make sense if you're planning an expensive bucket list vacation you can't quite pay for all at once.

In situations where you decide a vacation loan is warranted, you will want to research different lenders. Consider checking your rate with several of them to see the loan options that are available. As you look over the options with each lender, consider any fees that apply, as well as the interest rate and monthly payment you can qualify for. If a lender allows you to check the approximate rate you might qualify for before you actually apply for the loan, try to make sure it’s only a soft credit check. You don’t want your credit score to decrease just for the sake of research.

Once you're ready to apply for a personal loan, you can do so by providing information such as your full name, address, date of birth and employment information. You'll also need to provide your Social Security number, and you may be asked to upload documentation like government-issued ID and proof of income through a secure portal.

After your vacation loan is approved, you can usually get your funding within one to three business days.

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    What credit score do I need to get a vacation loan?

    Most lenders require a credit score in the 600s or better to qualify for a vacation loan, but some might let you borrow money with a minimum credit score of 560. Remember that having a low credit score typically means paying a higher interest rate, which can cause the price tag of your vacation to drastically increase.

    Is it a good idea to finance a vacation?

    Financing a vacation may not be the best idea if you have other funding options available to you. However, If you don’t have the funding available and you can’t wait to take your trip, then a loan could make sense.

    Should you take out a loan, though, you should have a plan in place to repay the money. Make your monthly payments on time in order to stay on track with your loan and avoid damage to your credit score.

    Is it easy to get a vacation loan?

    Getting a vacation loan is easier when you have a high income and good credit, but you may still be able to qualify regardless. Fortunately, most lenders let you check your rate and gauge your approval odds before you apply.

    Bottom line

    Before you take out a vacation loan, experts agree you should do your research and think about the reason you're borrowing money. Only borrow from a reputable personal loan company that explicitly lays out the terms of the loan, including your interest rate, fees, APR, repayment term and monthly payment amount.

    You can get the best deal on a travel loan by comparing offers from different lenders. Planning a trip can be a lot of fun, but you need to make sure repaying your vacation loan won't leave you in misery.

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