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USAA RV Loan Review
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Buying a recreational vehicle opens up a lot of exciting travel possibilities from coast to coast. Since most people don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to spare, you may find that you need a loan to buy your RV.
If you’re associated with the military and looking to buy an RV, chances are you may have come across USAA’s RV loan program. It’s important to do your research on any lenders you’re considering so that you can make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. We’ll help you do just that with this review.
The most important thing to know about getting an RV loan through the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is that not everyone is eligible to apply.
USAA is only open to people who meet the following criteria:
- Active-duty military members and their families
- Honorably-discharged veterans and their families
- Cadets or midshipmen on ROTC scholarships
- Officer candidates within 24 months of being commissioned
This does exclude a lot of people, however, serving everyone isn’t USAA’s goal. USAA products and services are specifically designed to help military members and their families. Aside from a standard suite of insurance, retirement and banking services (including its RV loans), the bank also provides financial advice in dealing with military-specific money challenges, like moving to new duty stations or dealing with deployments abroad.
USAA Federal Services Bank recently agreed to pay $12 million in restitution to more than 66,000 customers and a $3.5 million fine after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said the bank failed to stop or correct payments at members’ request. The bank also reopened deposit accounts customers had previously closed, the CFPB said. USAA said it has since updated procedures and enhanced quality control.
USAA RV loans: At a glance
- APR range: 5.49% to 14.74%, as of publication
- Term lengths: 48, 60, 72, 84, 120, 180, 240 months
When considering an RV loan from USAA, it’s important to note that the APR rates stated above take into account a 0.25% autopay discount. If you prefer to send in your payments manually each month, you’ll need to add 0.25% to the interest rate when comparing USAA with other lenders.
USAA does not state exactly what credit score is needed to qualify for an RV loan and for which rates, but its website does show the rates you may qualify for depending on your loan term, borrowing amount and category of your credit score (sorted as Excellent, Good, Fair and Needs Improvement).
Those who meet USAA’s credit requirements may not have to offer a down payment. USAA offers up to 100% financing on RV loans for some people, but this financing is limited to the RV’s value, so if the person you’re buying the RV from is selling it for more than it’s worth, USAA may not allow you to borrow 100% of the cost. Plus, it’s a good idea to pay as large a down payment as you can, because this means you’ll need to take out a smaller loan and pay less in interest over time.
USAA also offers financing for other types of recreational vehicles such as boats, motorcycles, ATVs, jet skis and snowmobiles. If you’re an existing USAA customer, it may be convenient to keep this loan, plus a home mortgage or other bills, under one roof.
USAA also offers RV loan refinancing, so if you’re not happy with your current RV loan and can get cheaper rates with USAA, you might consider refinancing your loan here. USAA doesn’t state whether it refinances its own RV loans or those from other lenders as well.
How to apply for financing
You’ll first need to become a member of USAA before you can apply for a loan, because you’ll need to log into your online member account to complete an application. You’ll also receive a decision on your loan online, and if approved, you’ll need to call USAA directly at 1-800-531-8722 to complete the loan application process.
USAA doesn’t provide any information on its website about what specific documents or information is needed to apply for an RV loan. However, USAA does check your credit score (which can affect your credit) when deciding whether to approve you for a loan and at what rate.
It’s also unclear if it’s possible to apply in person at one of USAA’s financial centers in Colorado, Maryland, New York or Texas. A USAA spokesperson declined to answer this and other questions.
The fine print
It’s unclear from the USAA website what, if any, fees it may charge for applying or paying off an RV loan early. You’ll need to log into your online member account in order to apply, and presumably find all of the relevant information to help you decide whether a USAA RV loan is right for you. This makes it difficult for non-members to scope out whether it’s even worth joining USAA to get an RV loan, since this information is apparently only disclosed to members.
However, with USAA or any RV lender, it’s important to ask:
- Is there an application fee?
- Is there an origination fee?
- What are the late fees?
- Is there a prepayment penalty?
Pros and cons of financing an RV through USAA
One thing that can really put a damper on your land yacht plans is paying a higher interest rate than you deserve. This sucks money away from funds you could be putting toward your vacations or other expenses that come with owning an RV. That’s why it’s important to shop around for the right RV loan. You could fill out a single form at LendingTree and receive up to five loan offers from lenders based on your creditworthiness.
Highlights of USAA RV financing
The biggest advantage for service members seeking an RV loan from USAA is working with a financial organization that’s solely military-focused. However, it’s not the only organization that focuses specifically on military families — Navy Federal Credit Union and PenFed Credit Union are two other financial institutions that also focus on the military though USAA had lower starting RV loan rates, as of publication. You may be able to find even lower rates from an online lender such as Lightstream, which offered RV loans starting as low as 4.29%, as of publication.
Other pros of USAA RV financing include:
- No down payment for those who meet its credit requirements.
- Long loan terms, up to 20 years, which may be useful if you’re considering a particularly expensive motorhome or other type of RV. This could also be considered a lowlight — see below.
Lowlights of USAA RV financing
The biggest drawback about considering USAA for an RV loan is the lack of full details about fees, required documents, or the application and repayment process, unless you’re already a member.
This makes it impossible to compare USAA with other lenders unless you become a member for the specific purpose of vetting its RV loans, which may be impractical.
Others cons of USAA RV financing include:
- Loan terms starting at 48 months may not be well-suited for those seeking a relatively inexpensive, used RV.
- In-person applications may be impractical or nonexistent. USAA has only a handful of locations, primarily near large military institutions, but it’s unclear if you may apply in-person for an RV loan at these locations.
The bottom line: Who is USAA RV financing best for?
USAA RV loans may be best for people who are already members of USAA and want to stay in-house with their financing options. It may be convenient to have multiple loans such as car, home and RV notes and insurance under the same umbrella. USAA does provide competitive rates if you have good credit, however there may be more affordable options out there with other lenders.
The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.