Jet Ski Financing: Which Option Is Right for You?
When the weather is hot, there’s no better place to be than on the water. Riding a personal watercraft — commonly referred to as a jet ski — combines the thrill of speed with the fun of water play, and it can be entertainment for the whole family. But jet ski financing might not be such a breeze.
If you’re in the market for a new personal watercraft, you might need as much as five figures to cover the purchase, not to mention money for a trailer and accessories. Like a car loan, you can go through a bank, credit union or other lender for jet ski financing, but some options are better than others.
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Should you finance a jet ski?
Cash is always the recommended method of payment for big purchases, since paying with cash means avoiding interest and fees. However, if a loan fits into your budget, you might feel that the fun and enjoyment of a new jet ski is worth the cost of financing.
Jet ski financing options
Before applying for a jet ski loan, consider all the financing options available. Depending on your circumstances, you may find that one path to ownership suits you better than another.
Personal watercraft (PWC) loan
Some banks, credit unions and other lenders offer financing specifically for PWCs (personal watercraft), which includes jet skis. However, lenders don’t always offer loans for private-party purchases.
Similar to car financing, PWC loans and powersport loans often require your property (in this case, the jet ski) as collateral. The upside to using collateral is that it can help you get the lowest rates on financing. The downside is that your jet ski could be repossessed if you fall behind on loan payments.
Approval for a PWC loan will also be based on your credit scores and other personal details like your income, employment history and down payment amount.
Some options to consider:
- LightStream: PWC loans range from $5,000 to $100,000 with 7.49% to 17.14% APR (with autopay discount), and you may not be required to offer collateral. Good credit is typically required for LightStream loans.
- Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU): Rates for recreational loans start at 7.45% APR and payment terms range from 36 to 180 months. A down payment may not be required. However, to become a member of NFCU and be approved for a loan, you’ll need to be affiliated with the U.S. military.
Personal loans are available through most banks and credit unions, as well as online lenders. These loans typically don’t require collateral and can often be used for a variety of purposes, including buying a jet ski.
Like other financing, your terms will be determined by your credit history and other financial factors.
Unsecured personal loans tend to have higher interest rates than PWC loans, but they can be good for purchases that PWC lenders might not approve, like private-party purchases or older model jet skis.
Terms will vary, but here’s what you can generally expect from a personal loan:
- Loan amounts may range anywhere from $600 to $200,000
- The average personal loan APR received by borrowers with excellent credit in the first quarter of 2023 was 14.37%
Some PWC manufacturers offer financing for their own products, or they partner with financing companies to offer loans. The manufacturer may also offer special incentives for specific models from time to time, like a $0 down payment or low introductory APR.
Manufacturer financing can be convenient since it allows you to make your purchase and secure your loan in one place, but it can also limit your options to the manufacturer’s local inventory.
Some PWC manufacturers that offer financing include Krash, Yamaha and Sea-Doo.
You might be tempted to purchase a jet ski with your rewards credit card, since it can mean earning big points, lots of miles or cash back. Unfortunately, the high interest rates on credit card purchases are likely to outweigh your rewards. In fact, the average interest rate on new credit cards is currently a whopping 23.84%.
If you’re seriously considering a credit card to finance your jet ski, you may want to apply for a 0% introductory APR credit card. These cards give you time to pay down the balance without accruing interest charges. For example, both the Wells Fargo Reflect Card and the BankAmericard offer 0% APR for the first 21 months. Just be sure you pay off your balance before the introductory period ends or you’ll begin accruing interest.
Learn more about our top picks for the best low-interest credit cards.
Choosing the right financing for you
It can take some work to find competitive jet ski financing that fits into your budget. When you shop around, you can find the best deal by comparing each of the following features on a loan or credit card:
- Annual percentage rate (APR)
- Monthly payments
- Term length (how long it takes to repay the loan)
- Lender fees
- Prepayment penalty
One way to find the best rates and terms is to search for loan terms you may qualify for without submitting a full application and taking a hit to your credit.
For those who can’t quite afford jet ski financing, consider a few alternatives:
- Rental: Renting a jet ski a few times a year could be far more affordable than paying for a jet ski, especially once you factor in a trailer, storage and other costs.
- Split the purchase: Find a family member who is willing to serve as a co-applicant on your loan, and agree to split the cost and use of the jet ski.