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SoFi is our choice for best overall boat loan lender as it offers a wide range of loan amounts and varying loan terms, as well as a competitive APR.
Boat loans can come from a variety of sources, and they can be secured—meaning the boat serves as collateral—辞谤 unsecured, where the loan is issued based on your creditworthiness. We reviewed dozens of lenders and chose a top lender in several categories. Regardless of which loan type you choose, the best boat loans feature low rates and fees and flexible repayment terms.
Best Boat Loans of 2023
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Best Overall : SoFi
- APR Range: 8.99% - 25.81%
- Loan Amount: $5,000 - $100,000
- Loan Terms: 24 months - 84 months
If you're shopping for a boat that costs $100,000 or less and need funding quickly, SoFi is an excellent option. SoFi offers unsecured personal loans of up to $100,000, and you can have up to seven years to repay the loan.?
Because the loans are unsecured, there are no restrictions on the boat's age or size, making it a good option if you're buying an older, used boat. SoFi doesn't charge origination or late fees, and it will disburse the loan funds as soon as the same day you apply.
However, SoFi's loan maximum is $100,000, so if you're shopping for an offshore fishing boat or cruiser yacht with a higher price tag, you'll need to work with another lender. And borrowers of SoFi's personal loans had a weighted average credit score of 747 in 2022. If your score isn't high, you may need to add a co-borrower to your application to qualify for a loan.
No origination or late fees
Same-day funding available
Allows joint applications
Strong credit may be required
Relatively low maximum for boat loans
- You must be the age of majority in your state (18 in most states).
- You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or non-permanent resident?alien (including those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status).
- You must be employed, have an offer of employment with a start date within the next 90 days, or have other sources of income.
SoFi does allow applicants to apply with a co-borrower, and adding a co-borrower to your application can improve your chances of qualifying for a loan and securing a lower rate.?
Best for Large Loans : Southeast Financial
- APR Range: 7.49% - 19.95%
- Loan Amount: $15,000 - $4,000,000
- Loan Terms: 84 months - 240 months
With some lenders, there are strict limits on how much you can borrow. But with Southeast Financial, you can borrow up to $4 million to finance the yacht of your dreams. And Southeast Financial offers loan terms as long as 20 years, allowing you to spread out the cost over a longer period and reduce your monthly payments.?
Southeast Financial will finance new or used boats, and you can purchase a vessel from a dealership or a private seller. The lender also has a lower credit score minimum than most lenders; it will approve borrowers with scores as low as 575.?
However, Southeast Financial isn't as quick as other lenders. It can take several business days to process your loan application and disburse funds, so if you have your eye on a boat that will likely sell quickly, you may want to consider another lender.
Southeast Financial doesn't offer financing to residents of Alaska or Hawaii, and it doesn't finance houseboats or boats intended for commercial use.?
High loan maximum
Longer loan terms
Low credit score minimum
Takes several days to process loans
Has limits on boat use
Not available in all states
- You must be a U.S. citizen.?
- You must be 18 or older.?
- You must have a credit score of 575 or higher.?
- Residents of Alaska or Hawaii are not eligible for a loan.?
Although some lenders like Southeast Financial offer loan terms as long as 20 years, a longer term may not be ideal. You'll pay more in interest and, because boats tend to depreciate significantly over time, you could end up owing more than the boat is worth.
Best for Fast Funding : Regions
- APR Range: 9.24% - 29.99%
- Loan Amount: $2,000 - $50,000
- Loan Terms: 36 months - 60 months
When you need money fast to close the deal on a new or used boat, Regions Bank could be the solution. With its loans, you can receive a credit decision within one business day and, if approved, receive your loan funds as a lump sum immediately at closing.?
Regions has two loan options, an unsecured personal loan and a secured installment loan, for financing your next boat purchase. However, the secured installment loan has a higher loan maximum and lower rates than Regions' unsecured loans, so the secured option will be the better choice for most borrowers.
With the secured installment loan, you can borrow up to $75,000, and the loan repayment term is based on the value of the boat you're purchasing and the size of the loan.?
Regions’s boat loans do have some downsides to consider. For example, its secured loans can only be used to purchase boats that are under 30 feet long, including the motor and trailer, and its loan maximum is fairly low. And though customers can apply for a loan over the phone, loan closing must take place in person at a local Regions branch. Regions only operates branches in 16 states, so that requirement eliminates borrowers in other states.?
Quick loan processing
No origination fee
Up to 0.50% in interest rate discounts available
Boat size restrictions
Must visit a branch to close
Not available in all states
- You must be the age of majority in your state.?
- You must have a valid Social Security number.?
- You must have a verifiable source of income.
- You must be able to close the loan at a Regions branch. Regions operates branches in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.?
Best for Bad Credit : Upgrade
- APR Range: 8.49% - 35.99%
- Loan Amount: $1,000 - $50,000
- Loan Terms: 24 months - 84 months
Typically, you need very good to excellent credit to finance a boat. But Upgrade can facilitate unsecured loans to borrowers with scores below 660. It also allows joint applications, so you can add a co-borrower to your application to improve your chances of getting a loan and being approved for a lower rate.
The loan application is quick and easy. You can pre-qualify for a loan without affecting your credit score and, if you find a loan that works for you, you can apply entirely online. If approved, you can receive the loan funds as soon as the next business day.?
Although Upgrade can be useful if you have less-than-perfect credit, it's not for all borrowers. It has a low loan maximum of $50,000, which may be too low for many boat shoppers, and it charges origination fees as high as 9.99%.?
Quick loan funding
Lower credit score requirements
Allows joint applications
Low loan maximum
Limited repayment terms
Potentially high origination fees
- You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or live in the U.S. on a valid visa.?
- You must be the age of majority in your state (18 in most states).?
- You must have a verifiable source of income.?
- You must have a valid bank account and email address.?
Adding a co-borrower to your applications can help you qualify for a loan, but not all lenders allow joint applicants. To find a lender that does, check out the best joint personal loans of 2023.
Best for Repayment Options : Trident Funding
- Loan Amount: $25,000 - $2,000,000
- Loan Terms: 120 months - 240 months
Trident Funding is a leading boat loan origination company that works with dozens of banks and financial institutions to provide financing options.?
If you're looking to buy an offshore fishing boat or cabin cruiser, Trident Funding could be a good match. It allows you to finance up to $2 million and it offers loan terms as long as 20 years to give you a more affordable monthly payment. Plus, it has a low credit score minimum of 600, so borrowers with less-than-stellar credit can still qualify for a loan.?
However, there are some significant drawbacks to keep in mind. The shortest loan term Trident Funding offers is 10 years, and some of its partner lenders charge prepayment penalties. Repaying a loan ahead of schedule can usually help you save money, but with Trident Funding, paying off the loan early could cost you.
Long repayment terms available
High loan maximum
Low credit score minimum
No short-term loan options
May charge prepayment penalties
No financing for houseboats
- You must be the age of majority in your state.?
- You must have a credit score of 600 or higher.?
- You must make a 10% to 20% down payment.?
- You must provide recent tax returns and bank statements.?
Best Credit Union : Patelco Credit Union
- APR Range: 8.95% - 17.90%
- Loan Amount: $300 - $100,000
- Loan Terms: 6 months - 84 months
Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations. As a result, they tend to offer lower rates and fees than other lenders, so credit unions like Patelco Credit Union can be sources for boat loans.
Patelco Credit Union boasts lower rates than most lenders, and it allows borrowers to finance up to $100,000. It doesn't charge origination fees, and borrowers can qualify for interest rate discounts by making their payments on time through Patelco's LevelUp program.?
Patelco offers loan terms as short as one year or as long as 15 years, allowing you to choose a loan term that best fits your budget. Although the lender doesn't charge prepayment penalties, it does charge higher rates on loans with terms of 61 months or longer.?
No origination fees
Interest rate discounts available
Terms as long as 15 years
Relatively low loan maximum
Higher rates on terms over five years
Credit union membership required
- You must be 18 or older.?
- You must be a qualifying member of the credit union.?
- You live in an eligible county within California, such as San Francisco, San Mateo or Stanislaus.
- You're a current student or graduate of the University of California, Berkeley; San Francisco State University; or California State University, East Bay.
- You work for one of the credit union's sponsor companies.?
- You have a family member or household member who belongs to the credit union.?
- You are the surviving spouse or child of a deceased employee-member.
- You're a member of the Financial Fitness Association. You can join online; a one-year membership starts at $8.??
Compare the Best Boat Loans of 2023*APR ranges for some companies include a discount for automatic payments or existing bank customers.
The Bottom Line
Whether you're shopping for a pontoon boat or a luxury yacht, there are many financing options available. Some lenders, such as SoFi and Upgrade, allow you to take out unsecured personal loans to pay for your new boat, and you can receive the loan funds quickly. Other lenders, such as Trident Funding and Patelco Credit Union, have secured loans that may have lower rates since your boat serves as collateral.?
Before choosing a lender, shop around and request quotes from several companies to find the best rates and terms. Which lender is best for you will depend on your credit, the amount you'd like to borrow, the age and size of your boat, and how quickly you need the cash to close the deal.?
Guide to Choosing the Best Boat Loan
Where to Get a Boat Loan
Boat loans can come from several sources:?
- Dealerships: Boat dealerships work with banks and credit unions to offer their customers financing on new and used boats. Some boat manufacturers and dealers may have special financing offers with attractive rates, but you're limited to certain makes and models.
- Banks: Traditional banks often offer unsecured personal loans and secured recreational vehicle loans that you can use to purchase a boat. If you're a current customer with that bank, you may qualify for a higher loan amount or lower rates.
- Credit unions: Like banks, credit unions may offer both unsecured and secured loan options. Credit unions tend to have lower rates and fees than other options, but you need to qualify for membership to apply for a loan.
- Online lenders: Some financial technology companies and online lenders offer secured or unsecured loan options. They usually have quick applications and loan processing times, but they rarely provide in-person customer service. Instead, you have to contact customer support via email or phone.
- Loan marketplaces: A loan marketplace isn't a lender; instead, it connects borrowers to a network of partner lenders. These platforms can make it easy to shop around for a loan, but the terms, rates, and fees vary between lenders, so it's important to carefully read the loan agreement before committing to the loan.
Should You Apply for a Boat Loan?
Financing a boat can make sense in some circumstances. A boat loan allows you to take advantage of a good deal and get on the water more quickly, but you have to do your homework to ensure it's a financially savvy decision. According to Investopedia’s 2023 Personal Loan Borrower survey, major purchases such as boats are among the top three most common reasons cited for getting a personal loan.
Many people prioritize a low APR when getting a loan, but there are other factors to consider as well.
Before applying for a boat loan, keep these factors in mind:?
- Purchase price: If you're new to boating, you may be surprised by how expensive boats can be. Even used boats can cost well into six figures.
- Depreciation: Boats are quickly depreciating assets, so a new boat is worth significantly less just one year after its purchase; if you take out a loan, you risk being "upside down" on the loan or dealing with negative equity. If your boat is totaled in an accident or sold and you owe more than it's worth, you could end up still making loan payments even though you no longer own it.
- Interest: With rising interest rates, boat loans can have high annual percentage rates (APRs). Depending on your credit, the amount you're financing, and the lender you choose, boat loans can have double-digit APRs, and the accrued interest charges can cause you to pay much more than the boat's purchase price over time.
- Fees: Fees vary by lender, but common boat loan fees include origination fees and late fees. Some lenders also charge prepayment penalties, so you'll have to pay an additional fee if you pay off your loan early.
- Other boat costs: The purchase price of a boat is only the starting point of your total cost. Besides the purchase price, you also need to budget for a boat slip or storage space, maintenance, fuel, and insurance.
- Other financial demands: A boat is a significant investment. If you take out a loan, you'll increase your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), which can make it difficult to qualify for other forms of credit. If you need to apply for a car loan or mortgage in the future, the existing boat loan may hurt your chances of qualifying for a loan.
Use a loan calculator to find out how much you'll repay over the life of your loan based on the original loan amount, repayment term, and APR.
Alternatives to Boat Loans
Boat loans can have high interest rates and boats can depreciate significantly, so borrowing money to buy one may not be the best idea. Instead, consider these alternatives.
- Pay cash: While paying cash may not seem realistic, it can be a good idea to put off buying a boat—辞谤 looking for a more modest model—until you can cover the cost out of your savings. You'll avoid interest charges and fees, lowering the overall cost.
- Use a boat share app: There are boat share apps, such as BoatSetter and Get My Boat, that function like Airbnb for fishing and water sport enthusiasts. Through these apps, you can use a boat for a day, a week, or longer—with or without a captain on board—when it fits your schedule. You can enjoy the boat without having to take on the cost or responsibility for maintenance.
- Participate in a fishing charter: If you want to go offshore fishing, joining a fishing charter can be a good idea. You can participate in a charter for a morning, a full day, or even a week-long vacation. Charters usually include groups of fishermen, so the cost is lower than privately renting a boat.
- Join a boat club: If you plan on regularly using a boat, but aren't ready to purchase one yourself, a boat club can be a useful alternative. Boat club memberships give you access to the club's fleet of boats, and the membership fee may also include educational classes, member events, and insurance. Boat clubs typically involve an upfront fee, and then charge ongoing membership dues. Fees vary by location, club, and the type of boats available, but can range from $1,000 to $10,000 in upfront fees, and monthly membership dues can be hundreds.
Comparing Boat Loans
When comparing lenders, pay attention to the following factors:?
- Collateral: Boat loans can be unsecured—issued solely based on your creditworthiness—辞谤 secured, with your boat serving as collateral. Secured loans tend to have lower rates, but the application process can take longer, and the lender may restrict the type and age of boat you can purchase.
- Credit requirements: In general, you'll need good to excellent credit to qualify for a boat loan. There are some lenders, such as Southeast Financial, that will work with borrowers with lower credit scores, but they tend to have much higher rates.
- Co-signer or co-borrower options: If your credit is less-than-perfect, some lenders will allow you to add a co-signer or co-borrower to your application. Adding a relative or friend with excellent credit can boost your chances of qualifying for a loan. However, a co-signer is responsible for the payments if you fall behind, and a co-borrower shares ownership of the loan, so it's a big favor to ask of someone.
- Restrictions on loan use: With some lenders, particularly those who issue secured boat loans, there are strict requirements for how the loan funds can be used. For example, the lender may only offer loans for certain types of boats, boats of a certain length, and boats younger than 10 years.
- Rates: Rates and fees vary significantly between lenders, so it's wise to shop around to find the best options.
How to Qualify For and Apply For a Boat Loan
To qualify for and apply for a boat loan, follow these steps:?
- Decide on a budget. Sit down and review your expenses, income, and other financial goals. Calculate how much of your monthly cash flow you have left over that you can allocate towards the purchase and maintenance of a boat. Be sure to account for ongoing expenses—such as repairs, fuel, and marina fees—and not just the purchase price.
- Choose a boat type. Think about what you'd like to do with the boat. If you'd love to have leisurely afternoons with family and friends at a nearby lake, a pontoon boat could be an excellent choice. Or if you have your heart set on shark fishing, a larger and more expensive center console offshore fishing boat will be needed.
- Consider new or used. Boats can depreciate a great deal, so a used boat may be a better choice than a new boat. However, new boats have the latest features and are often backed by warranties, so some people will feel greater peace of mind buying new. What makes the most sense depends on your budget and your comfort level with the different purchase prices.
- Save for a down payment. If you are planning on taking out a secured boat loan, you'll likely need a down payment. Down payment requirements vary, but they can range from about 10% to 30% of the boat's purchase price. However, if you're buying a less expensive boat—such as one that costs less than $100,000—you may be eligible for an unsecured loan with no down payment requirement.
- Shop around. Request quotes from several lenders to find the best rates and repayment options for your budget. Many lenders allow you to view your loan options with a soft credit check, which doesn't affect your credit.
- Complete a loan application. To apply for a loan, you’ll need to provide information about yourself and the boat you want to buy, including your name, address, and Social Security number.
Depending on the type of loan you're applying for and the lender, you could receive a decision within minutes. With unsecured loans, the funds are disbursed directly to your bank account, and you can purchase a boat from a dealership or private seller. With secured loans, the lender typically pays the dealership on your behalf.?
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Refinance a Boat Loan?
If you have an existing boat loan, several lenders offer refinancing options. You could refinance your loan to get a lower rate or adjust your loan term to lower your payments, and you could save money over the life of your loan.?
What Credit Score Do You Need for a Boat Loan?
Although there are some lenders that will work with borrowers with poor to fair credit, you'll have more options and qualify for better rates if your credit score is in the good to excellent range, meaning a FICO score between 670 and 850.
What Is a Good Interest Rate for a Boat Loan?
The best boat loans have rates under 10%. But depending on the type of loan, your credit, and the amount you need to borrow, boat loans with double-digit rates are common.
What Are the Typical Terms for a Boat Loan?
Typical boat loan terms vary by loan type. With unsecured personal loans, you typically have between two and seven years to repay the loan. Secured loans usually have much longer term options; you could qualify for a loan with a term as long as 20 years, giving you a more manageable monthly payment.
What Type of Loan Should I Get for a Boat?
Boat loans can be secured or unsecured. When deciding which type of loan to use for your next boat purchase, consider the following:?
- Speed: Unsecured loans are typically faster than secured loans. They're issued solely based on your creditworthiness, and you can get approved and receive the loan funds as soon as the same day you apply. Secured loans take longer because the lender needs to take the boat's condition and value into consideration, which requires additional review.?
- Limitations: If you want to purchase an older boat, you may need to use an unsecured loan. Unsecured loans have few restrictions on how they're used, while secured loan lenders often have age and size restrictions.?
- Loan maximums: For higher-priced boats, you'll likely need a secured loan. Unsecured loans are generally for $100,000 or less, while you can borrow up to $4 million with a secured loan.?
- Rates: Because secured loans are backed by the boat as collateral, they tend to have lower rates than unsecured loans. If you're looking for the lowest rate, taking the time to borrow a secured loan may be a good idea.?
To evaluate and rank personal loan providers we collected hundreds of data points across 70 lenders, including traditional banks, credit unions, fintechs, and special interest finance companies. We researched and evaluated APRs, loan amounts and terms, fees, customer experience, and much more. To rank the lenders in our database and to generate star ratings, we weighted the data we collected, based in part on what consumers told us were the most important features of a personal loan and lender in a survey we conducted. We grouped those factors into four broad areas:
- Loan costs (advertised APR, fees, and six other factors): 29.25%
- Loan terms (loan amount, repayment term, and three other factors): 22.25%
- Borrowing requirements (credit score, membership requirement, and six other factors): 28.5%
- Additional features (online application, pre-qualification, and eight other factors): 20%
Learn more about how we evaluated personal loans in our complete methodology.