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Which Jet Ski Financing Option is Best for You?

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Summer is here, the beaches are calling — and so is a new personal watercraft. Few can afford to pay out of pocket for a jet ski, which can cost as much as $18,000, so we’ll walk you through several financing options. Getting a loan for a jet ski is a lot like getting a loan for a car. And just like a vehicle, the best way to finance a jet ski will depend on your specific situation. Here are some of the main options on the market today.

Financing through a manufacturer
Financing with a credit card
Financing with a personal watercraft (PWC) loan
Financing with a personal loan
Benefits of comparison shopping for jet ski financing
Finding the best way to finance a jet ski for you

Financing through a manufacturer

Manufacturer finance companies often offer the best rates available because manufacturers use financing as a tool to help sell their product, be it a jet ski or a car. Some manufacturers have their own finance companies, while others partner with lenders to offer special deals.

Loan terms range from 12 to 96 months with some APRs starting at 0% APR for 12 months. But be sure to read the small print — you may qualify for the 0% APR for 12 months, but if you need more time to pay off the loan, your APR could go up to 14.99%, depending on your credit.

Manufacturer loans for jet ski financing
Pros Cons
A better loan offer than what you could probably find elsewhere Excellent credit required for the best offers
Limits on certain models, at certain times of year

Financing with a credit card

Financing your jet ski with a credit card can be tempting for both the sake of convenience and the credit card rewards you may be able to rack up. If you are able to swipe a card instead of filling out probing personal paperwork and waiting for a lender response, this could be a plus. However, one important thing to consider is your credit limit. If you use plastic to finance a $13,000 jet ski and plan to pay it off over two years, you may not be able to use your credit card for much else until you pay it down significantly. Another consideration is your card’s APR. Could you get a lower APR through a traditional loan? If so, it may be worth the paperwork.

Credit cards for jet ski financing
Pros Cons
Convenience — no additional application or credit check if you already have the card Tying up a large portion of available credit on your card
Significant rewards, depending on your credit card Higher APRs than those through the manufacturer or on a PWC loan (more on that below)
Similar or lower APR than a personal loan (more on that below)


Financing with a personal watercraft (PWC) loan

A powersport loan, or, a specific personal watercraft (PWC) loan, is more like a traditional loan from a bank, credit union or online lender made specifically to finance jet skis and other watercraft for consumers. These loans usually have lower APRs than personal loans.

It can be more difficult to compare PWC loans with manufacturer loans, as manufacturer APRs can change over the life of the loan depending on the financing deal. The best way you can compare them is to look not at the APR, but the overall interest you’d pay.

Jim Hotlzman, a CFP at Legend Financial Advisors in Pittsburgh, told LendingTree that’s it’s smart to shop around for a loan. “The thing to explore is the interest,” he said. “They’re predicting [interest rates] will increase three to four times this year” — so it’s even more important to shop around for financing.

Here’s an example: Say you want to finance a $10,000 jet ski for 24 months. Loan A is a manufacturer loan offer for 0% for the first 12 months, 10% APR for the second 12 months. Assuming you pay everything on time, you would pay $275 in interest. Loan B is a PWC loan offer for 5.5% APR for the full 24 months. Assuming you pay everything on time again, you would pay $583 in interest. So you would benefit more by taking the manufacturer loan.

By looking at overall interest charge instead of the (changing) APR, you can compare apples to apples.

PWC loans for jet ski financing
Pros Cons
Generally lower APRs than a personal loan or a credit card paid off over multiple years Generally higher APRs than a manufacturer loan
Rate discounts may be available

Financing with a personal loan

Some lenders offer personal loans for jet skis — we picked three of the best with the lowest APRs.

LightStream, APRs start at 4.29%

Based in Atlanta, Ga., LightStream is a division of Truist, offering a wide range of loans. Personal watercraft loan terms range from 24 to 84 months with amounts ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. You’ll need good credit in order to qualify for a loan through LightStream.

Earnest, APRs start at 5.99%

Rather than offering loans based solely on credit score, Earnest uses a merit-based system, taking salary, savings, cash flow and your debt-to-income ratio into account. Personal loan terms range from 36 to 60 months with amounts up to $75,000. Earnest still requires a minimum credit score of 650.

LendingClub, APRs start at 8.05%

This is a peer-to-peer marketplace where borrowers are funded by other consumers and businesses. Personal loan terms are 36 or 60 months with amounts up to $40,000. There is an origination fee of 3.00% - 6.00%. Not specified is the minimum credit score required.

Personal loans for jet ski financing
Pros Cons
Preserving available credit on your credit card. If you have excellent credit, you could probably get a better APR elsewhere.

Benefits of comparison shopping for jet ski financing

It’s always a good idea to see what kind of financing the manufacturer can offer you, but don’t let that be your last and only loan application. You won’t hurt your credit by doing a few applications for the same thing in a 14-day window any more than you would by doing one application.

If you have multiple loan options, you’ll be able to choose the one that works best for you and know it’s the best, instead of just taking one the dealership salesperson tells you is good. Multiple offers give you leverage to negotiate. So, shop around, get a loan preapproval and take it with you to the dealership. After you pick out the jet ski you want and negotiate on the price, show the salesperson that you already have a loan offer and ask them to beat it. If they do — great! If they offer you higher APRs, that’s OK, too — you’ve already been approved for a lower APR loan elsewhere.

Finding the best way to finance a jet ski for you

If you’re planning to make several large purchases (such as jet skis for multiple people in your family), a home equity loan could be the cheapest way to finance everything. According to Holtzman, “you might get a better rate from a home equity loan as it’s tied to a house.” If you take out a loan that’s based on the equity you have in your house, you can usually get a better APR than if you took out a loan based on the value of a jet ski, which is going to depreciate.

When to consider jet ski financing

If you can’t afford the jet ski you want out of pocket. If your heart’s desire is bigger than what your wallet can handle at the moment, you could either wait until you saved enough for the entire purchase or finance it and get it now.

If the loan offers you received have low interest. If you have a good-to-excellent credit score and an established credit history, you may qualify for a 0% financing period on a credit card or manufacturer loan; a low APR on a PWC or personal loan, or all of the above. If you apply to several lenders, you’ll know what you qualify for and be able to take the best deal for you.

If you have to cash out profitable investments. If you withdraw cash from stocks, bonds or deposit accounts for a large purchase and then the stock market shoots up, you’re going to kick yourself.

When to avoid

If you can buy the jet ski you want with cash. If you can buy what you want with no problems, there’s no reason to pay loan interest.

If the loan offers you received have high interest. If you have a fair-to-poor credit score or insufficient credit history, borrowing money may be expensive, especially with rising interest rates this year.


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