Are You Ready for Your Dream Boat, RV or Motorcycle? (2023)

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Heading out on a great adventure? Consider these factors before purchasing a boat, RV or motorcycle.

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Bottom Line Up Front

  • Budget comes first when determining if you can afford a new or used boat, RV or bike.
  • Before buying a recreational vehicle, take a moment to consider how it fits into your life.
  • When buying used, thoroughly inspect and assess a leisure vehicle’s condition and value.

Time to Read

6 minutes

August 4 2022

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Want to get out on the water? Are you craving an adventure? Do you feel the need for speed? If you’re considering buying a boat, RV or motorcycle, it’s important to ask the right questions and make sure a leisure vehicle is a smart investment for you. Let’s take a look at some of the key considerations and what to keep in mind as you gear up to enjoy the great outdoors.


Will you need a loan to finance your new toy? Consider what payment fits into your budget to help determine the purchase price and loan terms you can afford. Don’t forget to include ongoing costs such as maintenance, fuel, storage and insurance in your budget.


Leisure vehicles differ greatly in size and complexity as compared to what you may be used to. Before making the commitment to purchase your new toy, make sure you have the appropriate license(s) to drive the vehicle. Check with your state in order to follow the proper regulations.

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Lifestyle Considerations

Beyond purchasing a boat, RV or motorcycle, you need to have a plan for how you’ll own your new investment. Do you have a place to store it? How often will you use it? What ownership obstacles do you need to consider? Ask yourself these questions before you purchase your vehicle:


  • What kind of boater are you? How often do you set sail? Are you brand new to boating? Depending on how often you plan to hit the water and how experienced you are, you may decide to rent or join a boat club instead of buying outright.
  • What kinds of boating activities will you do? Will you fish, ski, tube or just cruise? Will you set sail on fresh water or salt water? Different boats are made for different activities. Look online to personalize your search by choosing fresh or salt water, watersports or sailing, and more.
  • How many people do you want to be able to fit in the boat? This will greatly impact the size of the boat you decide to buy.


  • How often do you plan on using it? Where do you plan on taking it? If you only plan on using it a few times a year, consider buying used. If you plan on taking it far distances, you may consider buying an RV that has low mileage on it to begin with, so you can get the most out of your purchase.
  • Are you buying it because you want to save money on travel costs by staying in your RV instead of a hotel or motel? Calculate how much you would actually be saving by comparing the cost and maintenance of an RV to lodging and dining out, etc.
  • How will RV insurance affect your budget? Depending on where you live, your driving record and your choice of insurer, RV insurance can be a significant cost worth considering as you think about buying.


  • How will you be riding your bike? Are you looking for a weekend toy, or will this be your main source of transportation? Will you be traveling long distances? Answering these questions will give you more insight into whether you should aim for comfort or style.
  • Choose a bike that fits your body. People come in all shapes and sizes, and so do motorcycles! You won’t enjoy riding if the bike is uncomfortable. Give it a lengthy test drive to ensure the best fit.
  • Think about accessories and gear when considering a purchase. Motorcyclists need to make sure they’re well-protected on the road, and good gear comes at a price. The same goes for accessories, practical or just for show.


There’s nothing like a new vehicle, but your best deal could be a used model. However, before you consider purchasing a used motorcycle, RV or boat, it’s important to keep the condition of the vehicle in mind. Considering the mileage, body and drivability of your desired vehicle before buying can impact how much maintenance you’ll need to put into it in the long run.

Boat RV Motorcycle
Mileage You measure a boat’s use by hours. If a boat has more than 500 hours, you should expect to put some money into maintenance. Expect to get fuel economy between 8 to 20 MPG, depending on the RV you choose. Knowing the RV’s expected fuel economy can help you gauge ongoing costs. Motorcycle engines don’t last as long as car engines. Any bike with more than 30,000 miles may need a new engine soon.
Body Things to look for include any rotting, the maintenance history, hull condition, cracks or nicks in the propeller, ripped seams, and color fading in the upholstery. There are multiple RV floor plans and types. There are towable RVs, in which case you’ll need the right equipment for towing. If you choose a towing RV, you need to pick the right size for your towing capabilities. Check mirrors, grip ends, foot pegs and rear turn signals for damage.
Drivability Always test drive a boat before purchasing. Pay attention to the vibration, functioning trim, response, planning, reverse, gauges and instruments. Make sure you feel comfortable driving a vehicle larger than your car. Test the RV on roads you’d normally drive on (for example, highways, small dirt roads or mountain passes). Look for flat spots in the horsepower by listening for odd noises like popping or backfiring, especially when decelerating. When you slow down, leave the bike in low gear so RPM stays high.

Ready for Your Adventure?

There’s nothing quite let enjoying the great outdoors from behind the wheel of a recreational vehicle. Whether you’re jetting across a lake, traversing our nation’s highways or enjoying the wind in your hair from the back of a bike, Navy Federal Credit Union will help you make a purchase with confidence. Apply for a Navy Federal Leisure Vehicle Loan today!

  1. Look at your budget to see what you can afford when it comes to monthly payments on a leisure vehicle. Don’t forget to consider additional costs for storage, insurance, licensure and anything else that accompanies ownership.
  2. Think beyond the purchase, to what ownership looks like for you and your lifestyle. How often will you use your recreational vehicle? Where will you keep it? What other ownership questions do you need to answer before you buy?
  3. Make a decision about new vs. used, and do a thorough analysis of any models you’re interested in purchasing. If you’re buying used, thoroughly inspect the quality of the vehicle. If you’re buying new, remember to check warranty coverage.
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What is a good interest rate for a boat loan? ›

What is a good interest rate for a boat loan? Borrowers with strong credit can expect boat loan interest rates in the 4% to 5% APR range for new and used boats.

Does Bank of America finance RVs? ›

Bank of America: Bank of America only offers RV loans indirectly through select dealerships. You won't be able to apply online on your own, or purchase outside of a dealership.

What are RV finance rates? ›

The best RV loan interest rates currently start around 4.49 percent for borrowers with excellent credit. However, the actual rate you receive depends on factors such as your credit score, debt-to-income ratio and annual income.

How long can you finance a 2015 camper? ›

On average, RV loans range from 10-15 years, but many banks, credit unions and other finance companies will extend the term up to 20 years for loans of $50,000 or more on qualified collateral. Get a loan term up to 15 years¹ (180 months) for fixed RV loans with Mountain America Credit Union.

How many months is a typical boat loan? ›

How Long Can You Finance a Boat? Even though the typical boat loan is approximately 120 months (10 years), it is possible to find lenders who will finance a loan for 180 months (15 years) or even 240 months (20 years). Generally, these will be secured loans, and the boat will be named as collateral.

How long do most people finance boats for? ›

Most people will finance a boat for about 10 years (On Average). the reason boat loans are longer is because banks and lenders recognize that boats hold their value far longer than cars.

What should I not tell my RV salesman? ›

For example, never tell an RV salesperson that you're new to RVing and are buying your first rig. This may lead the salesperson to try to get you to buy something you don't need. You'll be spending more money than necessary.

Is it better to buy RV or finance? ›

If you are considering purchasing a camper and are more patient than wealthy, save for it. A $10,000 loan financed for 5 years at 4% interest would have payment of about $185 per month. If you saved that same $185 you would be able to pay cash in 54 months (4 1/2 years) and save yourself over $1000 in interest.

Is it better to buy an RV outright or finance? ›

Not everyone has enough money in savings to buy an RV outright, but if you do, you should consider skipping the loan. Paying in cash can mean huge savings, since you'll skip the lender fees and interest charges. Just be sure you don't deplete your emergency savings.

What time of year is best to buy RV? ›

You'll generally find the best time to buy an RV is during late fall and winter. Fewer people shop during this period, and less competition means you'll have more negotiating power. You can also find bargains right before a new RV model is released, when gas prices are up, and at RV trade shows.

Is it smart to finance an RV? ›

Financing allows nearly anyone with a decent credit score and a saved-up down payment to purchase the RV of their dreams. You can set a monthly payment that's well within your budget so that you can confidently pay off your RV over a period of months or years, rather than having to have all the money for it at once.

How long do RVs last? ›

What is the average lifespan of a travel trailer? At a minimum, your travel trailer needs to be able to last for 10 years. You might be able to prolong its longevity and add about two to five years by taking good care of it. However, some travel trailers can last up to 30 years with proper usage.

Are RV prices dropping? ›

The RVIA sees this decline as a return to normal market trends, which it expects to carry over in 2023. As 2022 draws to a close, RV prices are declining across all classes but one. Class B motorhomes are still very in high demand, perhaps in response to high fuel prices.

How much are RV payments per month? ›

Most RV loans are long-term, which can help keep your monthly payments low. Terms will vary depending on several factors, including the RV's age, credit history, et cetera. As for monthly payments, the average monthly payment for an RV will be anywhere from $225 to $650 monthly.

What kind of loan do I need to buy an RV? ›

“An RV loan is typically a simple interest loan, similar to an auto loan, generally with longer terms,” Greene says. Typically, RV loans offer repayment terms of one to 15 years, but some lenders may even offer repayment timelines of as long as 20 years.

What credit score is needed for a boat loan? ›

Most lenders will be looking for credit scores of about 700 or higher. You can get a boat loan with a lower credit score, but expect that you may have to pay a penalty in the form of a higher interest rate or a larger down-payment.

Why is it so hard to finance a boat? ›

Even in the current boat-buying climate, the facts of financing a boat purchase remain the same. Buying a boat in 2022 is challenging—supply is low, demand is high, and waiting lists continue to grow as manufacturers play catch-up.

Is it better to buy or finance a boat? ›

Financing a boat is way more expensive than buying it outright because you have to repay what you borrowed, including interest. Depending on your loan amount, you may have to pay thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. You can lose your boat.

How long can you finance a $100000 boat? ›

Boat loans through LightStream are offered from $25,000 to $100,000 with repayment terms ranging from 24 to 84 months. Current interest rates start from 5.99% with a 0.50% auto-pay discount.

What time of year is best to buy a boat? ›

The best time to buy a boat is typically in the fall. The weather is getting cooler, and the boating season is mostly over. Boats are coming out of the water and going into dry storage for the winter, and most people have finished shopping for boats until the spring.

Is it harder to finance a boat than a car? ›

Since cars generally have a smaller purchase price, you won't need to meet the same financial thresholds. In a similar vein, it can be harder to get a boat loan simply because you'll often need to provide a notably larger down payment.

How long does the average RV owner keep their RV? ›

The short answer is that the average lifespan of an RV is around 20 years or 200,000 miles, whichever comes first. But the answer isn't quite that simple. That number can vary depending on the class of your motorhome, how well you take care of it, and a few other factors.

What are the most common problems with RVs? ›

5 Common Problems With RVs, and What to Do About Them
  1. Water Intrusion. One of the most common problems that RV owners face as their vehicles get older is water leaking and intrusion. ...
  2. Appliance Operation. ...
  3. Power Management Issues. ...
  4. AC Not Cooling. ...
  5. Excessive Tire Wear.
Jan 26, 2021

Do RVs hold their value? ›

Brand-new RVs start losing value as soon as they're driven off the lot and continue to lose value throughout the first year rapidly. The RV depreciation rate increases at a steady rate after that until your RV hits double digits in age. Once an RV is ten years old or older, its value drops more rapidly.

Why Buying an RV is a good idea? ›

With an RV, there's less need to spend money on hotels or restaurants. And since you're saving money on accommodations, you can stay on vacation longer, spend more money on activities, and create possibilities where you had none before. If you choose a travel trailer, there's no need for a special vehicle to tow it.

What credit score do you need for an RV loan? ›

The specific credit score you'll need to qualify for an RV loan will vary from one lender to another, with the most common score being 660. This is considered an average score, and many people will have no problem meeting this requirement. When considering you for an RV loan, your lender will look at several factors.

Can you save a lot of money living in an RV? ›

If you live thoughtfully, you can absolutely save money while living in an RV, even while traveling. But, if you're the kind of person who wants to stay at luxury RV parks and spend money on food and experiences, you might find it just as pricey (if not more so) than stationary life. There's no right or wrong here.

Why do RV dealers want you to finance? ›

Cash Isn't King

In reality, RV dealers don't want cash. They make money with financing, which is just easy income to them on top of the initial price paid. The tip here is to negotiate, but do not commit to financing or tell them you're paying cash until the paperwork is delivered.

Are RV loans tax deductible? ›

Yes, in most states, the interest on your RV financing is tax-deductible. This is typically available whether your RV is your primary or secondary home, though some states may have their own requirements.

Which is better fiberglass or aluminum RV? ›

Fiberglass wins hands-down in durability, shine and cleanliness. If you're looking at your RV as an investment, fiberglass RVs tend to hold their resale value much better than aluminum models.

Is buying an RV lot a good investment? ›

Generally, RV parks offer a higher ROI than most other types of commercial properties. According to most sources, you can expect anywhere from a 10% to 20% return on your initial RV park investment.

What age group buys RVs? ›

34% are between the ages of 18 – 54 and 66% are 55+.

How do people afford RVs? ›

People usually get loans to buy an RV through dealers, a bank, or an online lender. These financial products are far more varied than car loans since they can be secured or not. Having a secured loan means that if borrowers do not make their payments, the lender repossesses the motorhome.

Why are RV rates so high? ›

In a classic example of supply and demand, the low RV supply during the pandemic drove up RV prices. With RVs, building supplies, and parts in high demand, prices increased to keep up.

How long are motorcycles financed for? ›

Typically loan terms are offered at 36, 48 and 60 months.

What are the top 5 best RVs? ›

What are the top five best RVs? According to our research, the top five best RV brands are: Grand Design, Airstream, Oliver Travel Trailers, Winnebago, and Newmar.

Which is better gas or diesel RV? ›

Fuel Efficiency

When comparing a diesel vs. gas motorhome, diesel motorhomes are much more fuel efficient. That is partly because diesel fuel has a greater energy value than gasoline does. Its higher energy density means that diesel fuel can offer up to 10 percent better fuel economy by volume.

Do RVs stay warm in winter? ›

Even though many four-season RVs come with thermal packages, which include extra insulation, it's still not enough for extreme cold weather RVing in sub-zero temperatures. If you're camping in extreme cold, put your RV in a skirt!

What is a typical boat loan? ›

Modern Boat Financing Options

Boat loans used to be more limited in duration, but now typical boat loan terms of 10 to 20 years are standard. Interest rates are very low, and the down payments required these days can range anywhere from no money down to 20 percent.

What is a good credit score for a boat loan? ›

What credit score do you need for a boat loan? Every lender has their own credit score requirements, but you can typically qualify for boat financing with a credit score of 600 or better. Those with a credit score above 700 will usually receive the best interest rates and lower down payments.

What kind of loan should I get for a boat? ›

Boat loans can be either secured or unsecured. Secured loans require collateral. In this case, the collateral would be the boat you are purchasing. If you do not want to run the risk of losing your boat, it may be a good idea to take out an unsecured loan.

Is it harder to finance a boat? ›

Fact #1: Getting a boat loan is harder than getting an auto loan, but easier than getting a mortgage. Yes, securing a favorable boat loan can be tricky, and it's certainly not as easy as financing a car purchase at your local bank or credit union.

How long can you finance a 100k boat? ›

You can generally apply for up to a 20-year loan term for a secured boat loan, depending on the loan amount and lender.

How to afford a boat? ›

Boating on a Budget
  1. Save, Save, Save. Save for your boat and pay in cash, thereby keeping loan interest costs away.
  2. Finance Your Boat. ...
  3. Consider Buying Used. ...
  4. Attend a Boat Show. ...
  5. Buy Only the Size Boat You Need. ...
  6. Do Your Own Maintenance. ...
  7. Store Your Boat at Home. ...
  8. Remember that Fuel Costs Vary Widely.

What is the best month to buy a boat? ›

The best time to buy a boat is typically in the fall. The weather is getting cooler, and the boating season is mostly over. Boats are coming out of the water and going into dry storage for the winter, and most people have finished shopping for boats until the spring.

Can you write off a boat on your taxes? ›

For federal tax purposes, a boat or a recreational vehicle can be either your main or secondary residence, entitling you to take advantage of the same tax deductions as a homeowner of a typical house.

Is it hard to get approved for a boat? ›

Most lenders will be looking for credit scores of about 700 or higher. You can get a boat loan with a lower credit score, but expect that you may have to pay a penalty in the form of a higher interest rate or a larger down-payment.

What is a lot of hours on a boat? ›

If you are looking at a marine gasoline-powered boat to purchase that has reached 1500 hours, this is considered a lot. Unless it has been meticulously maintained, its dependability is very questionable. Properly maintained diesel engines give boaters 5000 or more hours of dependable service.

Is it harder to get a boat loan than a car loan? ›

Because boats tend to be more expensive than cars, it can be a bit more difficult to qualify for a boat loan than a car loan. However, eligibility requirements can vary by lender, so you can shop around and find lenders with criteria that work with your needs.

Should I buy or finance a boat? ›

“A boat is typically owned for 2-5 years, so it's better to finance it and hold on to the cash for other uses.” Boat loans today can be for 10-30 years although most loan periods hover around 10-15 years. Major marine lenders specialize by the size of the loan.

Are boats a good investment? ›

Buying a boat can be a great way to boost your income or perhaps a way into starting your own side hustle. Buying a boat is a long-term investment, and when you factor in purchase costs, running and maintenance costs, the numbers can quickly add up.

Why renting a boat is better than buying? ›

You will have fewer costs

Mooring, insurance and fuel, as well as constant maintenance, repairs and winterising your boat are only a few of the costly expenses you'll have to reckon with. Remember that if your boat is a bit older or pre-owned these costs will increase significantly over time.

What's the oldest year boat you can finance? ›

The lender usually requires that the boat be no older than a certain age, and most lenders won't finance a boat that is more than 20 years old. However, some will finance boats of any age and price range, but you may end up paying a higher rate and making a larger down payment.


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