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Best boat loan rates for May 2022

As of May 26, 2022
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Bankrate analyzes the best boat loan lenders and what borrowers should look for before signing a loan agreement.  Boat dealerships, banks, credit unions and online lenders offer boat loans. Before you choose which lender you go with, consider: 
 
  • Annual percentage rate: The interest rate percentage on the loan. Your rate will depend on individual factors like your credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio.
  • Loan term: How long the loan lasts and, as a result, how long a borrower has to pay back a loan.
  • Loan amount: The amount of money the loan is for.

Bankrate has also identified each boat lender highlighted as "best for" particular situations based on our research. Comparing these and other factors will help you find the right lender for you and determine if a boat loan is the right choice for your finances.

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4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.73%*

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $100k*

Term: 2-7 yr*
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.8

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.94- 35.97%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $50k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

560

Check rate with Bankrate

4.7

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

3 or 5 year term
Loan Amount

$2k- $50k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

660

Check rate with Bankrate

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

6.99- 22.78%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $100k

Term: 2-7 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Check rate with Bankrate

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

Loan Amount

$5k- $35k

Term: 2-5 yr
Min. Credit

600

Check rate with Bankrate

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

7.95- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2k- $40k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

560

Check rate with Bankrate

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

9.95- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2k- $35k

Term: 2-5 yr
Min. Credit

550

Check rate with Bankrate
APR from

7.99- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1k- $35k

Term: 1-3 yr
Min. Credit

None

Check rate with Bankrate

The Bankrate guide to choosing the best boat loan

Why trust Bankrate?

At Bankrate, our mission is to empower you to make smarter financial decisions. With over 40 years of experience comparing and surveying financial institutions, we are able to identify the most important details for our readers. Our award-winning editorial team follows guidelines to ensure content is not influenced by advertisers or partnerships, and our content is edited and reassessed frequently to ensure accuracy. 

What is a boat loan?

A boat loan is similar to an auto loan. In this case, a boat loan gives you the money to purchase a boat. This can be anywhere from a small boat to a more luxury craft, depending on your financial situation and desires. 

Some lenders offer loans specifically for boats. However, personal loans can also be used to purchase boats. Looking for an online boat loan from a personal loan lender can give you more options to find the least expensive option for you. 

Most lenders will ask the borrower to fill out a loan application, which can be fairly thorough. Lenders will also likely ask for information like tax returns and proof of assets. Don’t be surprised if the lender asks to see a detailed account of your personal finances — they want to make sure they’re giving a loan to someone who can pay it back.

The application process is typically fast, and approval is largely based on your credit score and ability to repay. Though banks typically require 10 percent to 20 percent down for the purchase of a boat, you may be able to finance 100 percent of the cost.

Compare boat loan rates in May 2022

Lender Loan Amount APR Funding Time Minimum credit score
LightStream $5,000 – $100,000 4.49% – 20.49% (with autopay) As soon as the same day Not disclosed
Upgrade $1,000-$50,000 5.94%-35.97% As soon as the same day Not disclosed
Best Egg $2,000-$50,000 5.99%-35.99% As soon as the next business day 640
PenFed $600-$50,000 5.49%-17.99% Within 1 to 2 days of approval Not disclosed
SoFi $5,000-$100,000 5.74%-21.78% Within a few days of approval 680
Payoff $5,000-$40,000 5.99%-24.99% Within 3 business days of approval 550
Prosper $2,000-$40,000 7.95%-35.99% As soon as the next business day 640
Avant $2,000-$35,000 9.95%-35.99% As soon as the next business day 580
Figure $5,000-$50,000 5.75%-31.44% Within 1 to 2 business days of approval 680

Best overall boat loan

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
5.73%
Loan amount:
$5,000–$100,000
Term lengths:
2 to 7 years
Min. annual income:
$50,000
Overview: LightStream offers personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with APRs starting at 4.49 percent. Borrowers can choose from loan terms of 24 to 84 months.
Why LightStream is the best overall boat loan: LightStream’s personal loans offer a wide range of loan amounts and repayment options, in addition to a low interest rate cap of 20.49% APR. All of these factors make LightStream a great option for a big purchase such as a boat.

Best for buying a sailboat

Min. credit score:
560
Fixed APR From:
5.94% –35.97%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$50,000
Term lengths:
3 to 5 years
Min. annual income:
$30,000
Overview: Upgrade offers personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000 with APRs starting at 5.49 percent. Borrowers can choose from loan terms of 36 to 84 months.
Why Upgrade is best for buying a sailboat: The price of a sailboat starts at around $12,000. Upgrade’s loan range of $1,000 to $50,000 is wide enough to ensure that borrowers will qualify for at least the starting cost of a sailboat.

Best for financial resources

Min. credit score:
660
Fixed APR From:
5.99%
Loan amount:
$2,000–$50,000
Term lengths:
3 to 5 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Best Egg offers personal loans from $2,000 to $50,000 with APRs starting at 5.99 percent. Borrowers can choose from loan terms of 36 to 60 months.
Why Best Egg is best for financial resources: Best Egg offers a financial health app that allows borrowers to track their credit health, calculate payments and learn more about personal finance. Best Egg also has a financial resources tab on their website where borrowers can enhance their financial knowledge before making big decisions.

Best for buying a used boat

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
5.49% –17.99%
Loan amount:
$500–$50,000
Term lengths:
1 to 5 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: PenFed offers personal loans from $600 to $50,000 with APRs starting at 4.99 percent. Borrowers can choose from loan terms of up to 60 months.
Why PenFed is best for buying a used boat: PenFed’s wide range of loan amounts and low starting amount of $600 makes this lender a good choice for borrowers looking to buy a used boat. The price point for a used boat varies depending on the type of boat and a variety of other factors, so this wide range is well-suited for a borrower in this market. 

Best for buying a luxury boat

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
6.99% –22.78%
Loan amount:
$5,000–$100,000
Term lengths:
2 to 7 years
Min. annual income:
$30,000
Overview: SoFi offers personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000 with APRs starting at 5.74 percent. Borrowers can choose from loan terms of 24 to 84 months. 
Why SoFi is best for buying a luxury boat: SoFi’s wide range of loan amounts and high maximum loan amount of $100,000 makes this lender well-suited for borrowers looking to buy more expensive luxury boats. 

Best for borrowers with limited credit history

Min. credit score:
600
Fixed APR From:
5.99%
Loan amount:
$5,000–$35,000
Term lengths:
2 to 5 years
Min. annual income:
$30,000
Overview: Payoff offers personal loans from $5,000 to $40,000 with APRs starting at 5.99 percent. Borrowers can choose from loan terms from 24 to 60 months.
Why Payoff is best for borrowers with limited credit history: Payoff has a low minimum credit score of 550, which gives borrowers who have not had time to build up a solid credit score a chance of being approved for a loan.

Best for buying a deck boat

Min. credit score:
560
Fixed APR From:
7.95% –35.99%
Loan amount:
$2,000–$40,000
Term lengths:
3 to 5 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending network offering personal loans from $2,000 to $40,000 with APRs starting at 7.95 percent. Borrowers can choose from loan terms from 36 to 60 months.
Why Prosper is best for buying a deck boat: Deck boats can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000, making Prosper’s loan range of $2,000 to $40,000 ideal to help pay for this expense.

Best for fair credit borrowers

Min. credit score:
550
Fixed APR From:
9.95% –35.99%
Loan amount:
$2,000–$35,000
Term lengths:
2 to 5 years
Min. annual income:
$14,400
Overview: Avant offers personal loans from $2,000 to $35,000 with ARPs starting at 9.95 percent. Borrowers can choose from loan terms from 24 to 60 months.
Why Avant is best for fair credit borrowers: Avant’s minimum required credit score is 580, making this a great option for fair credit borrowers who may struggle to find a loan elsewhere. 

Best for retired borrowers

Min. credit score:
680
Fixed APR From:
5.75% –15.75%
Loan amount:
$5,000–$50,000
Term lengths:
3 to 5 years
Min. annual income:
$40,000
Overview: Figure offers personal loans from $5,000 to $50,000 with APRs starting at 5.75 percent. Borrowers can choose from loan terms from 36 to 60 months.
Why Figure is the best for retired borrowers: Figure does not require verification of employment for retired borrowers, making the lending process easier for borrowers who are no longer in the workforce.

How boat loans work

Banks and other lenders have tailored their products to fit nearly every budget and lifestyle. However, there are two main categories that loans usually fall into: secured and unsecured.
 
Both of these options for financing a boat with a loan have pros and cons, and some borrowers may only qualify for secured loans. The loans and rates available to you will depend on the lending institution and your financial history.
 
It’s important to understand the difference between the two types of loans before signing up for any financing.

Secured boat loans

A secured loan means that the money being lent is backed by collateral — something of value that can be used to recoup the cost of the loan if the borrower fails to make the payments. Homes, vehicles and other valuable items are commonly used as collateral. The boat itself could also be considered collateral for a secured boat loan.
 
Secured loans offer borrowers two main advantages. They usually feature lower interest rates than unsecured loans because the lender is taking on a lower risk due to the collateral. Secured loans are also accessible to borrowers who may not have the best credit history. Even those with faulty credit might be able to qualify for secured loans after doing a little homework on available lenders in the area.

Unsecured boat loans

An unsecured loan doesn’t require collateral, but that doesn’t mean it comes without strings attached. Unsecured loans usually have higher interest rates and more restrictions than secured loans. The application process is also more difficult for unsecured loans.
 
Many people decide to go the route of personal loans when looking into boat financing options. Personal loans are unsecured loans that can offer better rates than traditional funding sources. Personal loans may also offer more flexibility in things like loan amounts and repayment periods.

Financing your boat with a personal loan

Personal loans typically have competitive interest rates and flexible repayment terms. If you have a good credit score and sufficient income, a personal loan may be a great fit for you.
You can also make extra payments that go 100 percent toward the principal — or pay the entire loan off early in some cases.
 
A personal loan is unsecured, meaning your boat or another asset won’t be used as collateral. An unsecured loan is entirely based on your creditworthiness and verifiable income.
 
Once your loan request is approved and funded, you receive the entire amount in your bank account, minus fees such as origination fees. You then can negotiate with the boat dealer or private party like a cash buyer.

What to consider before getting a boat loan

Although there are a few choices for budget boats, most of them cost well into the thousands. Anyone in the market for a luxury boat can expect the price tag to be far higher than what most families have on hand for recreational expenses.
 
Once you have your sights set on the boat of your dreams and are ready to look at financing the purchase, consider all factors that could affect your final decision.
 
The price tag is just one of the expenses attached to owning a boat. Maintenance and insurance can quickly turn into big-ticket items. If you plan on keeping the boat at a marina, expect to pay monthly rent for a storage area and administrative fees.
 
Anyone preparing to take out a loan should also take an honest look at their personal finances and future earnings. Once the contract is signed, the money must be paid back. Look closely at the fine print and ensure your finances can handle the payments.

Where to get a boat loan

You can get loans for boat purchases from banks, credit unions, online lenders and other lending institutions. Asking your personal bank for financing options is a good place to start. Having a positive existing relationship with a bank can go a long way toward getting you approved with a good rate.
 
Many boat dealers now offer financing options of their own. However, this isn’t always the case, and any financing that is available from a boat dealer should be checked against rates offered by other lenders.
 
Researching online marketplace lenders can be another cost-effective method for financing a boat. When other loan companies can’t provide the right option, an online lender could be the ticket to cruising the lake in a new family boat.
 

FAQs about boat loans

The bottom line

If getting out on the open water has been a lifelong goal,many boat loan financing options are available. Depending on your credit and income, you can find secured or unsecured boat loans that fit your needs and budget.
 
Before jumping in, consider that most financial experts don’t recommend personal loans for discretionary purposes, especially if you already carry credit card or other debt. If you take a personal loan or a boat loan, have a plan to pay it off. Use our boat loan calculator to see how much your monthly payment might be.

Methodology

To select the top boat lenders, Bankrate considers several factors that indicate loan cost, lender trustworthiness and eligibility. Factors include details such as credit requirements, APR ranges, fees, loan amounts and flexibility to account for a wide range of credit profiles and budgets. Bankrate also considers boat-specific offerings and emphasizes factors such as loan amounts that make a difference when purchasing a boat.

Each lender has a Bankrate rating, which consists of three categories. These categories include:

  • Affordability: The interest rates, penalties and fees are measured in this section of the score. Lower rates and fees and fewer potential penalties result in a higher score.
  • Availability: What the minimum loan amounts are, eligibility requirements and loan turnaround are considered in this category.
  • Customer experience: This category covers customer service hours, if online applications are available, online account access and mobile apps.