Boat Loans and Financing

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Whether your idea of a day at the lake is a motorboat for bass fishing or a pontoon boat for parties, boat financing may be needed for you to drop anchor. Boat loans can cover a full range of options and help you buy a seaworthy vessel with a price tag as little as $5,000 and as high as several million. Loan terms may range up to 20 years to accommodate costs, making the rates of boat loans vary greatly based on value and repayment periods. The best loan terms will be obtained by well-qualified buyers with a solid credit history.

Check Your Personal Loan Rates

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

The 5 best boat loans and financing options of 2019

The best boat loans and financing options of 2019

USAA: best 100%-financing option

USAA provides veterans and family members with a competitive option for boat purchases. With access to 100% financing and a minimum loan amount of $5,000, motorboat and sailboat enthusiasts can get easier access to a boat loan through USAA. As an added bonus, a boat loan can also incorporate the costs of a trailer for towing to the lake and back. For those looking for an even smaller loan option, USAA also offers a leisure vehicle loan package that would cover a Jet Ski or personal watercraft purchase. A personal loan could also help cover a rowboat for fishing or a canoe for recreational rafting.

U.S. Bank: easiest same-day decision

When you want to buy a boat and you want it today, you may not want to deal with the hassles of the financing process at a boat dealership. If you’re a new or existing U.S. Bank customer, you can apply for your financing independently and obtain same-day approval. All you need is the boat’s year and estimated value. The best rate provided by the bank as of November 2019 is 5.74% on loans of four years or less. To lock in the best rate, you’ll need a new boat purchase of $25,000 or more and automatic payments from your checking or savings account with the bank. U.S. Bank also offers other options with same-day approval but rates will vary for used boats, smaller loan amounts or longer terms.

LightStream: best no-collateral loan

Oftentimes a boat loan is going to require collateral, particularly in the form of the boat being financed. Lightstream Boat Loan from SunTrust deviates from that practice by offering unsecured boat loans ranging in value from $5,000 to $100,000 for boats of any size. A fixed-rate APR as low as 4.29% is available if you set up automatic payments. The loan term is for 12 to 84 months, and the entire loan process is handled online. Funding can also be obtained for your boat-related expenses, including a trailer and motor. Same-day approval is also possible, making LightStream an extremely streamlined loan option.

Good Sam: best easy-reference interest rates

When you’re in the loan contemplation stages, an at-a-glance review of interest rates in various price ranges on different loan lengths can help you determine how much money you want to spend on a new boat. Good Sam provides a comprehensive boat loan rate chart covering loan periods from four to 20 years and loan amounts from $10,000 to $1,999,999. APRs range from 4.39% to 7.69% based on the loans. Quoted APRs are provided daily to provide the best possible loan information for new, used, refinance and live-aboard boat loan options.

Southeast Financial: best big-loan option

When your idea of a boat takes the shape of a yacht or a deluxe motorboat with premium features, you’re going to need major financing. Southeast Financial offers loans from $10,000 to $4 million to accommodate more common boat purchases and the deluxe options that work-hard, play-hard enthusiasts crave. For a motorboat with superior styling or a fetching yacht with a high price tag, repayment terms can extend up to 20 years. Southeast Financial also provides more comprehensive services for boat owners, such as extended warranties and insurance advice. As of November 2019, the best rates qualified buyers can access a 4.49% interest rate through the lender.

The 5 best boat loans and financing options summed up

Lender Min. Loan Max. Loan Lowest APR Max. Term
USAA $5,000 100% of cost 5.75% 180 months
U.S. Bank $25,000 $100,000 5.74% 48 months
LightStream Boat Loan $5,000 $100,000 4.29% 84 months
Good Sam $10,000 100% of cost 4.39% 240 months
Southeast Financial $10,000 $4 million 4.49% 240 months

What is a boat loan?

Boat loans are a type of installment loan used to finance the purchase of a watercraft for a period of years, typically ranging from four to 20 years based on the dollar amount of your purchase. Many boat loans will require collateral and are known as secured loans. In these instances, picture your boat loan as a sibling to your car loan. If you quit making payments, the lender can repossess the boat to recoup expenses — just like a car can be repossessed. An unsecured boat loan is only backed by your ability to repay and may feature higher interest rates to compensate for the increased risk.

How should I choose the right boat loan?

If you are purchasing new or investing in a more expensive boat, a secured loan provides lower APRs and access to higher credit limits and longer loan terms. For a used boat purchase or a cheaper new boat, an unsecured loan is an option to explore, particularly if your credit will qualify you for lower interest rates. After choosing the type of loan you want, start looking for lenders who provide loans as low or high as the cost of the boat you plan to purchase. Then look for the best interest rate possible. Avoid financing for as long as possible. The faster you pay off the boat loan, the less you’ll spend on interest.

Check Your Personal Loan Rates

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

The bottom line

Even if you have cash on hand, financing a boat can be a sound strategy for maintaining cash flow as you set sail. As you prepare to buy a boat, use a loan calculator to assess potential repayment plans and the cost of the loan over time to establish a preferred loan length and the down payment you would like to make at purchase. If you’re also buying a trailer or towing equipment, know in advance if you want to add these to the loan and how that may impact your financing options. After your purchase, make sure that the boat is properly insured in order to protect your new investment and your finances.