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RV Financing: How To Finance an RV

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RV-ing is a popular American pastime; over 11 million American households own a recreational vehicle. An RV loan can help you to immediately enjoy an RV without covering the entire cost out of pocket, upfront. When you get an RV loan, the lender will issue the funds to pay the seller and you can pay the lender back over time.

How to get an RV loan

1. Check your credit score

Check your credit score at the start of the process so you’ll have the time to dispute any inaccuracies or even raise your score before you purchase an RV. Doing this first will also help you estimate the RV loan rate you’ll qualify for. The better your credit score, the more likely you’ll qualify for a low APR.

2. Pencil a budget

RV prices can range anywhere from a few thousand for an older, towable model sold by a private seller to the price of a small mansion (some RVs are practically tiny palaces on wheels). Plan to give a down payment — aim for 10% to 20% of the RV’s price. Know that your monthly payment needs to be affordable because the total ownership and operating costs of an RV can add up. Even when not in use, it needs to be parked somewhere and ideally protected against weather so it will have a longer lifespan. Here’s an RV loan calculator to help you play with numbers.

3. Research RV loans

Auto dealerships can inflate consumers’ APRs and/or not show you the best loan option for you. Look up current RV loan rates and think about what lender you’d like to use. Financial institutions such as local credit unions and national banks can offer RV loans.

An unsecured personal loan might be better than a regular, secured RV loan if:

  • The RV has more miles or is older than the lender allows.
  • You’re purchasing an RV with a salvage title.
  • You want to borrow less than the lender’s required minimum loan amount.

4. Decide on an RV

Lenders will want to know exactly which RV you plan to finance. Even towable RVs have vehicle identification numbers (VIN), which will tell the lender the year, make and model of the RV. Other important factors include mileage, condition, title status and vehicle history, such as whether it was in an accident.

5. Apply to a few lenders directly

Get a couple offers directly from lenders of your choice. It doesn’t hurt your credit score to apply to multiple lenders for an RV loan any more than it does to apply to one if you do all applications within a 14-day period. The three main U.S. credit bureaus allow this window of time so consumers can comparison shop without being unduly penalized.

6. Ask the dealer to beat your lowest rate

If you are buying from a dealership, ask the dealer to beat the direct RV loan rate you obtained. Dealerships are well motivated to help customers find financing even if they can’t mark up the rate, because they can typically earn a business referral fee. By asking the dealer to beat the direct rate you got, you’ll know you’re getting the best RV loan APR available.

7. Sign on the dotted line

Your lender or the dealership finance manager will guide you through signing the paperwork. Setting up your payments to be every two weeks could reduce your interest payments even further.

Current RV loan terms and rates

The typical RV loan terms go beyond that of a regular auto loan because RVs can be more expensive. Here are some current interest rates for RV loans.

RV Loans
Lender Starting APR range* Amount range Terms (months)
Good Sam 3.74%–9.39% $10,000–$150,000+ 60–240
GreatRVLoan 3.99%–17.95% $10,000–$2,000,000 60–240
LightStream 4.29%–11.89% $5,000–$100,000 Up to 84
Essex Credit 3.99%–9.64% $10,000–$2,000,000+ 48–240

*May include autopay discount

Unsecured loans rates and terms

Unsecured loans typically have origination fees and higher APRs.

Personal Loans
Lender APR range* Amount range Terms (Months) Fees
Marcus by Goldman Sachs® 6.99%–19.99% Up to $40,000 36 to 72 No fees
Figure 5.75%–22.94% $5,000–$50,000 36 or 60 Up to 3% origination fee
Upgrade 5.94%–35.97% $1,000–$50,000 36 or 60 2.90% - 8.00% origination fee

*May include autopay discount

How to qualify for an RV loan

Because RVs are considered luxury products typically coming lower on the priority list after mortgage/rent, car payments and grocery bills RV lenders will look closely at whether you can afford to make the payments. Depending on how much you want to borrow, they can have high income and credit score requirements, and may require a down payment. If you’ve already crunched the numbers to determine an affordable monthly payment, saved up a 10% to 20% down payment and you’ve checked your credit score, disputed any credit inaccuracies, this part will hopefully be a breeze.

If you have any questions, call a lender and talk to them. Bad-credit RV loans are available.

Where to get an RV Loan

Online lenders

Online lenders have lower overhead costs than traditional, brick-and-mortar financial institutions and can pass the savings on to their customers. Fast funding and an easy-to-navigate application process are two more benefits some online lenders have to offer.

Pros Cons
  • Competitive rates
  • Completely online experience
  • No option for in-person customer service
Credit unions

Many credit unions offer RV loans and personal loans that can be used to purchase RVs. According to data from the National Credit Union Association (NCUA), credit unions charge lower average rates than banks do.

Pros Cons
  • Competitive rates
  • You’re treated as a member, not a customer
  • You have to qualify for membership based on your location, vocation or other factor
Banks

Large banks typically offer many types of financial services and products to their customers. It can be convenient to manage your checking, savings, investing and loan products all with one institution.

Pros Cons
  • Banking convenience
  • Available online or in person
  • Potentially higher rates
Dealerships

When you purchase an RV at a dealership, you may have the opportunity to apply for financing through multiple lenders who offer RV loans and have relationships with the dealer.

Pros Cons
  • Buying convenience: get an RV and an RV loan in one place
  • Dealer may be motivated to extend a competitive interest rate to make a sale
  • Potentially inflated APR if you didn’t negotiate well

Other types of RV financing

In addition to the financing options listed above, there are other ways to fund the purchase of an RV.

Home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) — If you have equity built up in your home, you could use it as collateral. When you use real estate to secure a loan, your terms are typically favorable. However, keep in mind that if you choose this method and can’t make payments, you would be putting your home at risk. Here’s more on home equity loans versus HELOCs.

Peer-to-peer lending — A peer-to-peer loan can be a good fit for credit challenged borrowers who don’t need as much time to repay an RV loan. Yet, like personal loans, APRs are higher and your borrowing power might be limited. If you’re approved, the typical financed amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000.

 

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