How Insider Rates RV and Boat Loans
Insider’s experts choose the best products and services to help you make informed decisions with your money (here’s how). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners, however, our opinions are our own. Terms apply to offers listed on this page.
If you want to buy an RV or a boat but don’t have the money to do so, a loan could be a great choice for you. There are many lenders to choose from. We review them and their loan offers in reviews and guides that help you make the best borrowing decision possible.
To ensure that we rate each of them equally, we use a rating system that takes into account a range of factors from interest rates and fees to customer support and ethics. We consider the pros and cons of each company and product, comparing them with others that are available so you can decide which RV or boat loan is right for your particular needs.
What We Look For When Rating RV & Boat Loans
We rate all RV and boat loan products in our guides on a scale of 1 to 5. The overall rating is a weighted average that considers seven different categories, some of which are rated more heavily than others. They are:
- Interest rate (20% of note)
- Fees (20% of the bill)
- Term of office (15% of mark)
- Loan amounts (15% of the note)
- Maximum vehicle age and authorized use (15% of the score)
- Customer support (7.5% of score)
- Ethics (7.5% of grade)
The weighting of each category is based on its importance to your borrowing experience. Rates and fees have the most direct impact on the total cost of your loan, which is why we place the most emphasis on these. Although customer support and ethics are always important, they are not directly linked to the terms of a loan. Therefore, they have the least impact on the overall rating.
Interest rate (20%)
We primarily look at the minimum interest rate offered by a lender to determine its rating. Many RV and boat lenders don’t list their maximum rates, making it difficult to factor that into our rating. We look at how often the floating rate changes and what metrics are used to change rates.
- A lender will receive 5 out of 5 if its minimum APR is one of the lowest in the market (around 5.99%) and it keeps its rates relatively stable
- If a lender has a higher minimum APR but still has low rates (around 6.5%) and changes their rates a bit more frequently, they will win 3 out of 5.
- Lenders with very high minimum rates that fluctuate frequently will get 1 out of 5.
Lenders can charge a variety of fees, from origination fees to late payment penalties. We prioritize lenders that charge little or no fees.
- Lenders who charge no fees will get a 5 out of 5.
- Lenders with minimal origination fees and reasonable late fees will receive 2.5 out of 5.
- Lenders will receive a 1 out of 5 if they charge a hefty origination fee that takes a large chunk out of your total loan amount and late fees that accrue if you’re late on payment.
Term of office (15% of mark)
We see if the company has a variety of repayment terms, with options for borrowers who want to pay off their loans quickly and save on interest as well as those who want to spread their costs over several years. We also look at whether the company sets repayment terms or whether the borrower is able to choose.
- A lender will earn a 5 out of 5 if it has a maximum duration of 20 years.
- Companies whose maximum duration is around eight years benefit from a 3 out of 5.
- Lenders will receive a 1 out of 5 if they select the length of your term for you from a limited number of options.
Loan amounts (15%)
We also look at the minimum and maximum loan amount for a business. A smaller minimum makes a business more accessible to borrowers who need a small amount of financing for their boat or RV. A high maximum allows borrowers to obtain a more expensive one if they wish.
- A lender will earn a 5 out of 5 if he has a minimum loan of at least $10,000 and a maximum of at least $250,000.
- Businesses with a minimum loan of $20,000 or more or a maximum loan of $100,000 or less get a 3 out of 5.
- Lenders will receive a 1 out of 5 whether they have very high loan minimums or very low maximums.
Maximum vehicle age and permitted use (15%)
We determine the maximum age of the RV or boat you purchase. We also see if the company will allow you to live in the vehicle full time or if they only approve vehicles for recreational use.
- Lenders who have a long maximum vehicle age range (approximately 20 years) and allow all uses of the vehicle will get 5 out of 5.
- A company that has a slightly lower maximum vehicle age (approximately 15) or only allows vehicles for recreational use will receive a 3 out of 5.
- Lenders will receive a 1 out of 5 if they have a low maximum vehicle age and only allow vehicles for recreational use.
Customer support (7.5% of score)
We go over the different ways you can contact customer support. For example, we look at whether you can contact someone by phone, live chat, email, or regular mail. We also look at customer service hours and give high marks to companies that offer 24-hour service.
- A lender will receive 5 out of 5 if it offers multiple ways to contact it and is open seven days a week for a significant part of the day.
- A lender with customer support available six days a week and many ways to contact them will win 3 out of 5.
- Lenders will receive a 1 out of 5 if they have limited ways for you to contact them and are only available during certain hours of the traditional work week.
Ethics (7.5% of grade)
We review the company to see if there have been any scandals over the past three years. We investigate whether the business is known to be racist or sexist towards its customers or staff or has predatory lending practices. We also consider the company’s Better Business Bureau rating.
- A lender will receive 5 out of 5 whether it has been scandal-free in the past three years and whether it has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
- If a company has no scandals and a BBB rating of around B, it will get a 3 out of 5.
- Lenders will receive a 1 out of 5 whether they have been part of a major scandal in the past three years or have a BBB rating of D or lower.
Our ratings can help you determine which lender is best for you. RV and boat lenders who score high in each category will be our lenders with the highest overall ratings. Nevertheless, consider options with lower overall ratings if they are more suitable for your individual situation.