Best Boat Loans for 2021

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Ready to set sail on a new adventure? Get personalized boat loan rates today!

Get up to five boat loan offers from multiple lenders by filling out one online form, depending on your creditworthiness. If you have an existing loan, we may be able to help you refinance your boat to get a lower monthly payment or a better rate.

Boat Financing

A loan could help you buy that new or used boat, or refinance the watercraft you already have. LendingTree can help you find your best boat loan rate. Boat loans may be secured or unsecured loans from banks, credit unions or online lenders that are financed over terms as long as 20 years.

We looked at hundreds of successful boat loan offers with our most popular partners on the LendingTree platform to come up with the five top companies in the list above and described below. Read more in our methodology.

Best Boat Loans for 2021
Lender or Online Marketplace Starting APR* Terms (months) Loan amounts Best for…
Essex Credit 3.49% 48–240 $10,000 – $2,000,000+ Full-time boaters See Offer
LightStream 4.29% 24 – 84 $5,000 – $100,000 Overall low rates See Offer
Southeast Financial 3.74% Up to 180 $15,000 – $4,000,000 Large amounts See Offer
Peerform 5.99% 36 or 60 $4,000 – $25,000 Fair credit See Offer
iNet Unspecified Up to 240 $5,000 – $1,000,000 Challenged credit See Offer

*May include autopay discount


Essex Credit: Best boat loan for full-time boaters

Essex Credit, a division of Bank of the West, offers the lowest starting rate on this list but it applies to live-aboard boats, watercraft used as residences. Other types of new and used boats qualify for a starting APR of 3.99% on loan amounts of $50,000 or more. Rates increase by 0.50 percentage points for 2001-2010 models. Essex looks for a credit score of 700 or higher for its lowest rates.

LightStream: Best boat loan for overall low rates

Borrowers on the LendingTree platform received the lowest average annual percentage rate (APR) from this online lender. If customers find a better offer elsewhere, Lightstream promises to beat it by 0.10 percentage points. All of Lighstream’s loans are unsecured, meaning there are no restrictions on the type of boat you want to purchase, but LightStream prefers borrowers with good credit or better (FICO Score of 660+).

Southeast Financial : Best boat loan for large amounts

The online marketplace is best for those looking to buy a relatively expensive boat — it has the highest minimum and maximum loan amounts on this list — but if that applies to you, it offers a competitive starting rate with flexible credit requirements. You’ll need a minimum credit score of 600 to qualify.

Peerform: Best boat loan for borrowers with fair credit

Borrowers with credit scores as low as 600 could also get a boat loan on this peer-to-peer lending platform. Here’s the catch: Peerform charges an origination fee, and funding could take up to two weeks. A Payoff personal loan is an alternative to consider — it offers an identical starting APR with the possibility of no origination fee — but it does require a slightly higher minimum credit score of 640.

iNet: Best boat loan for challenged credit

The online marketplace specializes in auto, RV, motorcycle and boat loans. It provides instant credit decisions online, so you’re not waiting and wondering. Challenged credit is accepted and you may not be required to make a down payment if your loan amount is below $50,000. Other lenders may require a 10% to 20% down payment. An alternative to iNet is online marketplace, another popular company on the LendingTree platform.

How we determined the best boat loan rates

We looked at hundreds of successful boat loan and personal loan offers made through the LendingTree platform to come up with the list of top boat loan providers. These companies provided competitive boat loan rates or were selected as top lenders or online marketplaces for borrowers with less-than-perfect credit.  We did not include credit unions or other lenders with membership requirements such as a USAA boat loan. If you’re looking to buy a yacht or commercial vessel, it might be best to work with a marine lending specialist that you could find through groups like the National Marine Lenders Association.

Find and compare offers on boat loans

Boat financing: how to qualify

It’s not hard to finance a boat, but you’ll receive more favorable rates and terms if your credit score is 600 or higher. Those with very good credit may qualify for the introductory rates you see in the table, above. If your credit isn’t where you want it to be, don’t worry, there are bad credit boat loans for those with scores in the mid-500 range.

Most lenders will check your credit and ask for certain information:

  • Personal information: Name, address, phone, Social Security number, birth date
  • Financial information: Income, monthly housing cost, employer

If you’re not sure what your credit score is, you can get your free credit score here and then move forward with applying for your loan.

Check my Free Credit Score

New and used boat loans

Whether you want to purchase a brand-new boat or a used one, LendingTree can help. Advantages of getting a new or used boat loan through LendingTree include:

Fill out a single online form — free — and potentially receive multiple boat loan offers from lenders.

You’ll be presented with an easy-to-read table of boat loan offers for clear rate shopping and comparison.

Get approved, shop for a new boat and cruise easy knowing you got the best rate for you.

See how much you can afford using our boat loan calculator

Boat loan FAQs

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about boat loans.

To get a boat loan, you should check your credit and shop around for a boat and boat loan that will fit within your budget. Lenders consider boats to be luxuries, not necessities, so unless your credit score is relatively high and your debt-to-income ratio relatively low, you may find loan approval difficult or face high rates. Here’s more on how to buy a boat.

Borrowers with strong credit can expect boat loan interest rates in the 4% to 5% APR range for new and used boats.

Boat financing makes sense if you qualify for a fair rate at terms you prefer. If your credit is poor, you could: postpone your boat purchase until you’ve had time to improve your credit; buy now and refinance your boat loan once you’ve improved your credit; or pay cash.

Used boats could offer huge savings over new ones. Still, prices can vary considerably, even for similar boat types, model years and history. Use an industry guide like Kelley Blue Book or NADAguides to check a boat’s value against the sales price to be sure you’re getting a good deal. This is our guide on how to get a used boat loan.

You could lease a boat, but beware that boat leasing may be more expensive than boat purchasing. Renting a boat for a shorter period of time may be more cost-effective. Here’s more on boat leasing and alternatives.

You may be able to get a mortgage on a boat if it qualifies as your main home or second home. The IRS defines a home as a property with sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities. Here’s more on how to finance a houseboat and how to live on a boat.

Yes, you could qualify for a boat loan with a 600 FICO Score. As we mentioned earlier, there are bad credit boat loans available, but it may pay off to improve your credit first. To get your best boat loan rates, you usually need a credit score of 720 or above.

Boat loan terms can stretch for as long as 20 years, due to loan amounts that can reach into the millions. But just because you can finance a boat for that long doesn’t mean you should. It’s possible to finance even large amounts for relatively short terms — that said, it might be difficult to find terms for less than two years, even for inexpensive boats. Here’s more on how long you can finance a boat.

Yacht financing is available. However, like any type of financing, borrowers have to qualify for the loan based on their ability to repay it. The average cost of a 100-foot yacht is around $1 million. Here’s more on how much a yacht really costs.

Use a boat payment calculator to see what your monthly payments might look like and make sure you’re aiming for a payment that is comfortable for you. Keep in mind that the payments are only part of the ownership costs: You may need to pay for docking, storage, maintenance, fuel, licensing, boating lessons, a towing vehicle, a towing trailer and safety equipment.

Boat loan terms can be as short as two years or as long as 20 years. If you want to buy an inexpensive boat for a shorter term, it’s possible to use a small personal loan for amounts as low as $1,000 that can be repaid over six months or more.

A secured or unsecured personal loan could be a great way to buy a new or used boat, but it’s not the only way. You could instead use a home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC), both of which might have lower rates but carry the risk of losing your home if you can’t repay the loan.

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