How to pay for a holiday

Wherever you want to go, consider your holiday budget and finance options carefully.

Using savings to pay for a holiday

  • There are benefits to saving up to pay for a holiday. Primarily, that you won’t have monthly repayments and interest charges to think about.

    However borrowing could be another option if you:

    • Would like to book ahead and spread the cost.
    • Want to keep savings as a buffer to cover future expenses.
    • Would lose higher interest paid on savings, e.g. from an ISA.
    • Can borrow at a low interest rate.
    • Want extra protection on credit card purchases.

    Additional fees and charges may apply when using credit and debit cards abroad, so make sure you understand the costs in advance.

    Of course, you could use a mixture of savings and credit to pay for your holiday, helping you to keep borrowing and costs to a minimum.

    More about savings accounts

  • If you’re over the age of 55 and have been contributing to a pension, you may be able to access a tax-free lump sum from your fund, using that to pay for the holiday of a lifetime. However, it’s important to consider the future impact of this, leaving you with less income when you are older.

    You should speak to a fully qualified pensions adviser, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, before deciding whether taking funds from your pension is the right thing to do.

    Find an advisor using unbiased.co.uk

If you’re planning to use credit

When you apply for credit, lenders contact their preferred credit reference agencies to check your credit record. This may highlight any potential risks associated with offering you credit, and can influence the interest rates and any amount of credit you’re offered.

All lending is subject to an assessment of your circumstances.

With any form of borrowing, fees and interest may apply. To limit these costs, you should only borrow what you can reasonably afford to repay, over the shortest possible term.

More about credit scores

Credit options when paying for a holiday

  • If you’re approved for a personal loan, the money you borrow will be deposited into your current account, ready to spend on achieving your holiday plans.

    A personal loan could offer you a fixed borrowing amount of at least £1,000, over a term to suit your budget – typically 1-7 years. At the end of that term, your loan will be repaid in full, so long as you’ve made all of the necessary payments.

    If you plan to spread the cost of your annual holiday, it’d be sensible to borrow over 12 months only, so you’re not still paying off last year’s break, when you’re ready for the next one. If it’s a once in a lifetime trip you’re planning, understandably you may need to repay over a longer term.

    If interest rates are fixed your monthly loan repayments will be too, making it easier to keep track and understand your borrowing costs.

    Other lenders may offer personal loans with variable interest rates. If you choose one of those, just be aware that your monthly payments could change over time.

    You may be able to make overpayments on some loans without incurring early repayment charges, which could reduce the term and amount of interest you pay overall.

    More about holiday loans

  • Subject to the credit limit available, and the interest rates which apply to your account, a credit card could be a flexible and cost-effective way to pay for a holiday.

    An introductory or promotional rate could offer low or even 0% interest on card purchases. To limit your interest costs, aim to repay your balance before any offers expire, at which point your standard interest rates will apply to your outstanding balance.

    Note, if you miss a payment or go over your agreed credit limit, you could lose any promotional or introductory interest rates. If you do use a credit card, it’s important to manage it carefully.

    Also be aware, unlike a personal loan, there’s less structure around your repayments, which could make it harder to budget, especially if you use your credit card to make further transactions.

    Unless a 0% interest rate applies to purchases, to avoid paying interest on purchases, you need to pay off your statement balance in full and on time every month.

    You can repay as much as you want when you’re able to, or as little as the minimum payment each month. Just be aware that if you only pay the minimum, it’ll take longer and cost you more to clear your credit card balance.

    Where the total purchase price is over £100 and up to £30,000, credit card purchases will usually be covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

    Before you make payments to anyone from your current account, it’s worth making sure the payment details are genuine. There’s a form of fraud, where emails including bank details are intercepted and changed by criminals, so you unconsciously send funds to the wrong account. This can be avoided by making a simple phone call, or requesting a printed invoice including the correct payment details.

    Refer to our fraud hub if you’d like more information about protecting yourself.

    Additional fees and charges may apply when using a credit card abroad, so make sure you understand the costs in advance.

    More about credit cards

  • If you use an overdraft on your current account, you could be charged daily interest, which will be defined in the terms and conditions of your account.

    Some banks and building societies will allow you to use an unarranged overdraft, however your credit score could be negatively impacted if you do.

    Instead, you could apply for an arranged overdraft on your current account. You’ll only be charged daily interest as and when you use it.

    It’s important to know that the amount you can borrow with an overdraft may be more limited than other types of credit and, if you use the full amount, you won’t have that safety-net to fall back on in the short-term.

    An overdraft may not be the most cost-effective way to manage long-term borrowing. Rather than all of your holiday expenses, which may take considerably longer to repay, an overdraft could help you to cover the cost of holiday emergencies, or an essential short trip.

    More about overdrafts

  • You may be able to borrow more on your existing mortgage, or remortgage with a new lender to borrow against your home in order to pay for the trip of a lifetime.

    However, this could depend on:

    • Whether your lender will allow you to add to your mortgage for this purpose.
    • Your age and whether you’d be extending your mortgage into retirement.
    • Your personal circumstances and the health of your credit record.
    • Whether you can afford additional repayments.
    • How close you are to paying off your mortgage.
    • The loan to value ratio for your property.

    While interest rates are low, you may consider borrowing more on your mortgage to pay for a holiday. However, it’s important to consider the impact of future changes in interest rates and your personal circumstances.

    Because your mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you don’t keep up with your repayments. That in itself may be a reason to choose an alternative borrowing option.    

    If you plan to spread the cost of your annual holiday, we wouldn’t recommend adding to your mortgage, as you’d be paying it off long after the trip. If it’s a once in a lifetime trip you’re planning, understandably you may need to repay over a longer term, but a mortgage may still not be the most cost-effective option.

    The typical duration of a mortgage is 25 years, although in the UK you may be able to get a mortgage for anything from 6 months to 40 years. Your borrowing costs over a long period could be significant, even at a low interest rate.

    To limit your costs, you should only borrow what you can reasonably afford to repay, over the shortest possible term. Another borrowing option may be cheaper over a shorter term, even if the interest rate is higher.

    You must seek support from a mortgage adviser before you apply to borrow more or change your mortgage in order to pay for a holiday. You should explore all financing options to find the one which suits your individual circumstances.

    More about mortgages

  • Usually only available to homeowners aged 55 and over, you may be able to release tax-free cash in order to pay for the trip of a lifetime, whilst staying in your own home.

    This generally takes the form of a loan, secured against your property. You won’t have to pay anything until you pass away, or move out of your home into long-term care.

    Before deciding on whether equity release is right for you, you should speak to a qualified adviser. They will be able to explain what’s involved and tell you about other options. We can put you in touch with a Scottish Widows Later Life Lending Advisor, or you can find a qualified adviser through MoneyHelper and the Equity Release Council.

    More about equity release

How much can you afford to spend?

As well as flights and accommodation, make sure your holiday budget covers travel insurance, food, any required visas and spending money.

While you’re away, you can watch your spending to keep costs down, but it’s worth making sure you can afford the holiday you want before you commit to a booking.

So, you’ve got a budget. How are you planning to pay for your holiday?

Your holiday essentials

In a survey of 2,000 people, Travelex found that the average person in the UK budgets £1,694 for their holidays each year, but will overspend by at least 12%.

Whether you want to explore your local area more, or you’ve got grand plans to visit distant parts of the world, below are some of the things you might need to consider:

Picking a destination

It’s worth researching the destination you have in mind. How long will it take to get there, what’s the best time of year to visit and is it safe? You can find information and advice at the government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website.

Planning things to do

What would you like to experience while you’re away? From beach and ski holidays, to immersing yourself in culture and sampling local cuisine, the world has plenty to offer.

Ask for recommendations

If you know someone who’s visited a destination, they might be able to give you some tips. Otherwise, books, travel websites and forums are worth a read.

Check passports and required visas

To travel outside of the UK, you’ll need a valid passport. Some countries demand at least 6-months’ validity on your passport for entry, and for it to be within 10 years of the issue date, excluding any extensions you may have been granted. You may also need a visa to visit some countries, so it’s worth checking with the relevant embassy or consulate.

Getting around

Before you depart, research public transport options for your destination, the cost and availability of taxis, and figure out what you can reasonably manage to navigate on foot. A Travelex survey revealed that 43% of respondents forgot to budget for airport parking, costing around £35 on average, and another 49% forgot about airport transfers, with an average cost of around £36.

Protect yourself

Travel insurance can cover things like flight cancellations, theft of personal belongings and overseas medical assistance. Just make sure the policy you purchase is suitable for your trip. For example, some won’t cover winter sports as standard.

Book flights and accommodation

It’s always worth shopping around online, comparing prices and offers from airlines, travel agents and booking sites. To avoid agent fees, it can sometimes pay to book direct, so do your homework. Prices are often more affordable off-season, and overnight or mid-week flights may be cheaper. Obviously, accommodation costs depend on your preferences. You’ll find everything from hostels to luxury hotels, all around the world.

Travel vaccinations

You may need vaccinations or health checks when visiting certain countries, especially where diseases like hepatitis, yellow fever and rabies are more common. It’s important to book these well in advance with your GP, or at pharmacies who offer these services. Your GP can also give you a note if you plan to take medication abroad, just to ensure you’re not breaking any laws. Always carry medication in the original packaging, so it’s easier to identify. If you’re worried, you can contact the relevant embassy or consulate for advice.

Baggage

If you’re restricted by baggage weight, it can help to pack travel-sized cosmetics, as well as taking only essential clothing and shoes. Everyone knows the trick of wearing your heaviest or bulkiest items to travel. Compression bags could help to make space, particularly for the return journey when you’re likely to have souvenirs to carry. Make sure you’ve got a name tag on your bag, and for security lock it with a TSA-approved lock. That way, your luggage won’t be damaged if airport authorities need to complete security checks.

Spending money

Whether you plan to travel on a shoe-string, or spend a little more, the amount of spending money you’ll need will also take some thought. Some destinations will be more expensive than others, both in terms of getting there, and the average cost of food or activities. It’s also worth considering what you spend in the airport on food or duty free, the cost of using your mobile devices outside the UK, and any tourist taxes which may apply. A Travelex survey highlighted that 60% of people have been caught out by taxes, costing £36.48 on average. To keep costs down, you could plan a strict daily budget, book self-catering accommodation, plan activities in advance, etc. Or you could up your budget by making small sacrifices at home in advance of your holiday.

All statistics from Travelex were published prior to December 2021

Travel services from Lloyds Bank

Key points about paying for a holiday

Whether you’re planning a short trip, or the holiday of a lifetime, planning is key:

  • Plan all of your holiday costs, from travel and accommodation to insurance and spending money.
  • If you can use savings, you’ll avoid months of repayments and any associated borrowing costs.
  • If you need to borrow to pay for your holiday, you could have a number of options, including a personal loan, credit card, overdraft or even adding to your mortgage for the holiday of a lifetime.
  • To give you the best chance of being accepted for credit, you’ll need a good credit score, and enough spare income in order to comfortably afford your repayments.

Where next?

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