Boat Loans for Bad Credit in 2024

Checking rates won't affect your credit

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How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.
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Written by Lauren Nicholson | Edited by Amanda Push | Updated May 28, 2024

Southeast Financial: Best for fast loan decisions

(219)
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Ratings and reviews are from real consumers who have used the lending partner’s services.

(219)
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Ratings and reviews are from real consumers who have used the lending partner’s services.

6.99%

Up to 240 months

$10,000 to $4,000,000

575

Pros

  • Offers boat refinancing
  • Offers private-party financing
  • May provide same-day credit decisions

Cons

  • Doesn’t finance houseboats or speedboats
  • Only lends to U.S. citizens
  • Doesn’t offer loans in Alaska or Hawaii

What to know

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If you’re strapped for time, consider applying for a boat loan with Southeast Financial. The company offers loan decisions in as little as three hours, and its long repayment terms make monthly payments for luxury boats more affordable. You can use its loans whether you plan to buy from a private party or a dealership.

However, its boat loans are exclusive to U.S. citizens. You also won’t qualify for a boat loan with the lender if you live on your vessel full time or if it’s a speed boat.

How to qualify

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Southeast Financial offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to loan requirements, but you’ll need to meet the following criteria to qualify:

  • Minimum credit score of 575
  • Minimum annual income of $25,000
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Boat no older than 2009
  • Can’t have salvaged, Lemon Law, flood or frame damaged title
  • Can’t be a houseboat or speed boat
  • Can’t live in Alaska or Hawaii

iNet: Best for no required down payment (on some loans)

(72)
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Ratings and reviews are from real consumers who have used the lending partner’s services.

(72)
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Ratings and reviews are from real consumers who have used the lending partner’s services.

8.15%

Up to 240 months

$5,000 to $2,000,000

580

Pros

  • Offers joint applications
  • Offers private-party financing
  • No down payment required for some loans under $100,000

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer loans in every state
  • Unclear boat loan eligibility requirements
  • Doesn’t disclose APRs on its website

What to know

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If you want to finance a boat with no money down, you may be in luck — iNet doesn’t require a down payment for certain boat loans under $100,000. iNet also offers high loan amounts and long repayment terms to help you afford monthly payments for the boat of your dreams. If you have bad credit, you can apply with a co-applicant to potentially receive better interest rates.

On the other hand, this lender doesn’t offer insight into annual percentage rates (APRs) or loan requirements on its website to make it easily comparable with other lenders.

How to qualify

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While iNet doesn’t disclose much information about its loan requirements on its website, here’s what we do know:

  • 580 minimum credit score
  • Boat can’t be older than 20 years

Upgrade: Best for small boat loans

(6)
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(6)
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Ratings and reviews are from real consumers who have used the lending partner’s services.

8.49%

24 to 84 months

$1,000 to $50,000

580

Pros

  • Offers unsecured loans
  • May receive funds in one business day
  • Offers joint applications

Cons

  • Maximum loan amount isn’t as large as other boat lenders’ options
  • Comes with an origination fee
  • High max APR of 35.99%

What to know

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If you’re looking for a small boat loan, Upgrade may be your best bet. Upgrade’s loans start at just $1,000, and because they are unsecured personal loans, they come with flexibility in how you use the money. But if you have bad credit, consider adding a second person in a joint loan application to access lower rates.

All Upgrade loans come with a one-time administrative fee — called an origination fee — that can range from 1.85% to 9.99% of your loan amount. In addition, Upgrade only offers loans up to $50,000, which may not work for borrowers looking for luxury boats.

How to qualify

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Here’s what you need to know about qualifying for an Upgrade loan:

  • 580 minimum credit score
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or noncitizen living in the U.S. on a valid visa
  • Must have verifiable bank account and email
  • Must be at least 18 (19 in Alabama)

Boatzon: Best for large boat loans

7.49%

Up to 240 months

Up to $25,000,000

620

Pros

  • See rates without damaging your credit
  • Potential for same-day decisions
  • Choose between secured and unsecured loans

Cons

  • May require 10% to 20% down payment
  • No direct loan funding
  • Higher minimum credit score than other lenders

What to know

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You’ll have a hard time finding a larger bad credit boat loan than with Boatzon. Its lenders offer up to $25 million for secured loans, making it a solid option if you’re looking to finance a luxury boat. Boatzon also offers prequalification, which allows you to see an estimate of your rates without the damage to your credit that comes with a hard credit pull.

Since Boatzon is a lending platform, it doesn’t directly fund your loan. Instead, the platform connects you with over 20 lenders, some of which require up to 20% for a down payment.

How to qualify

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Outside of the minimum credit score of 620, Boatzon doesn’t offer many details as to how consumers can qualify for a boat loan. However, boat loan lenders typically take into account the following factors:

  • Credit score
  • Credit history
  • Income
  • Employment status
  • Debt-to-income ratio
  • Type of boat
  • Model year
  • Condition of the boat

What is a bad credit boat loan?

Bad credit boat loans are exactly what they sound like — loans that people with low credit scores can use to purchase a boat. While many boat lenders only work with borrowers with good credit, a few will extend loans to applicants with credit scores below 600.

Borrowers with low credit scores typically qualify for the highest interest rates, which makes their boat loans more expensive to pay off.

How to get a bad credit boat loan

Check your credit score

Your credit score determines whether you qualify for a boat loan and, if you do, what your interest rates are. The higher your score, the better rates and terms you’ll likely get for your loan. You can check your credit score for free with LendingTree Spring.

Consider your timeline

If you have any wiggle room in your purchase timeline, it may be worthwhile to improve your credit before applying for a loan to save on interest payments. You may be able to save thousands of dollars in interest by raising your credit score.

Create a budget

Make a simple budget to determine what you can afford to put toward a boat every month. Then, use a boat loan calculator to see if your estimated monthly boat loan payments fit in your budget. Remember to include a down payment in your calculations. Most lenders require you to pay 10% to 20% of the boat’s purchase price up front for a secured boat loan.

 Don’t forget to consider the ongoing costs of owning a boat, including fuel, marina fees and insurance.

Choose your boat

Once you know how much you want to spend, it’s time to find your boat. You can see boats in person at a boat dealership or browse online listings from private-party sellers on sites like Boat Trader. Use a boat valuation service like J.D. Power (formerly NADAGuides) to make sure that you’re paying a fair price for your boat.

Apply for loans

Rate shopping, or getting quotes from multiple lenders, is the best way to get the lowest interest rates for your loan. Online boat loan applications only take a few minutes to fill out, so take the time to apply to a few lenders that offer bad credit boat loans.

 Make sure to submit all of your applications in a 14-day window so that they’re counted as a single credit inquiry on your credit report. This will minimize damage to your credit score.

Compare offers and close on a loan

Review your offers, comparing interest rates, fees and loan terms. Use a personal loan calculator to calculate the total interest you’ll pay on each loan, making sure to account for any additional fees noted in your loan offers. Choose the loan with the lowest cost to borrow. You’ll close on the loan by accepting the terms and signing the loan agreement.

Alternatives to bad credit boat loans

Secured loans

Secured loans are backed by collateral like real estate, a savings account or a piece of property. Lenders typically offer lower interest rates on secured loans because they can legally take your collateral if you don’t make payments. Boat loans are one type of secured loan, but if you don’t want to use a boat as collateral, you can look into secured loans backed by another piece of property.

Home equity loan or HELOC

Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are loans backed by your equity — or ownership — in your house. Your boat won’t be on the line, but getting a home equity loan or HELOC means you might lose your house if you miss your payments. Your risk is much higher and you’ll likely have to pay fees, but HELOCs and home equity loans often come with low interest rates.

Paying with cash

If you’re willing to take the time to save up for a larger down payment — or for the entire boat purchase — you can put your money toward the costs of owning a boat rather than high monthly boat loan payments.

Leasing a boat

You can lease a boat if you’re looking for lower monthly payments with many of the same benefits as boat ownership. Just be aware that leasing a boat won’t help you build equity, or ownership, in the boat, and at the end of your lease, you will have to give the boat back.

What to do if you aren’t approved

Improve your credit

The best thing you can do to improve your chances of approval for a boat loan is to work on your credit score. You can go the do-it-yourself route to improve your credit by 100 points in 30 days or try professional credit counseling. Either way, higher scores lead to better odds of approval and lower interest rates.

Find a cosigner

Applying for a boat loan with a cosigner with strong credit will increase your odds of approval. You may also qualify for lower interest rates, especially if your co-applicant has excellent credit. Just know that if you miss your payments, your cosigner’s credit score will take a hit, since they’re also responsible for the loan.

Consider co-ownership

Sharing boat ownership — and costs — with a trusted friend or family member could be a smart financial move. You could apply for a joint loan, increasing the likelihood that you’ll qualify. Meanwhile, you’ll lower your monthly payments and the ongoing costs of ownership.

 Have an open and honest discussion about expectations before taking on joint ownership of a boat in order to avoid the resentment that often comes with mixing relationships and finances.

Look at used boats

Used boats can sell for a fraction of the purchase price, decreasing the total cost of your loan. It’s easier to qualify for a smaller loan, so looking at less expensive used models may be your best bet for approval.

How we chose the best bad credit boat loans

A bad credit boat loan is simply a boat loan from a lender that is willing to work with borrowers with poor credit scores. To help you sort through the competition and get the best rates, we examined boat loan applications on the LendingTree platform.

In order to be included as one of our top picks, each of these lenders satisfied one or both of the following criteria:

  • Offered boat loans to consumers with credit scores of 639 or below on our platform in the fourth quarter of 2023 or the first quarter of 2024
  • Confirmed availability to borrowers with bad credit

These four lenders also offer a wide range of terms, flexible loan amounts and preliminary decisions in as soon as a few minutes.

Frequently asked questions

Boat loan terms can range anywhere from 12 to 240 months, though some lenders may offer longer or shorter options. Keep in mind that the longer your loan term, the more you’ll pay in interest. For this reason, it’s wise to select the shortest loan term you can comfortably afford.

While a few lenders are willing to work with borrowers who have credit scores as low as 580, you’re more likely to get low rates with a score above 700.

Typically, lenders require that you provide a down payment between 10% and 20% of the total cost of the boat. Some lenders may offer zero-down boat loans, but putting money down will reduce the amount you pay in interest, lower your monthly payment and keep you from becoming upside down in your loan.

Yes, you can get a loan if you have bad credit — but you might have a difficult time qualifying if you don’t have a cosigner or don’t offer a large down payment. Before applying for a boat loan, consider taking some time to improve your credit score first.

Yes, you can get a boat loan for a private-party purchase, but some lenders only offer funding if you’re shopping at a dealership. Before you get your heart set on a boat, be sure to check with your preferred lender to see whether it offers private-parting financing options.