Key takeaways

  • Before you apply, check your credit to see if you meet a lender's minimum requirements.
  • Figure out how much you need to borrow and use a loan calculator to estimate your monthly payments.
  • Prequalify with multiple lenders, if possible, to check rates you might receive after submitting a full application.

A boat loan is a type of installment loan used exclusively for financing a boat or similar marine craft. Boat loans are similar to auto loans, although rates may be less competitive than with cars

And because boat loans are larger than most installment loans, it may be harder to get approved. Before applying, know the ins and outs of the application process to increase your chances of approval.

How to apply for a boat loan

The process of applying for a boat loan is similar to any other form of financing. You will need to know your credit score, have your finances in order and be selective of the type of boat you want in order to get the best rates.

1. Check your credit score

Boat loans often require a higher credit score than auto loans and most personal loans. It’s unlikely that you will be approved if you have a score under the very good-to-excellent range.

The FICO credit score is the most popular model and is often used by lenders in the application process. If you have a FICO score under 740, your chances of approval are likely to decrease. Every lender has different requirements, however, so check the specific criteria before settling on a lender.

How to check your credit score

You have access to your credit report once a year for free on You can also check your score for free once a year through Equifax, Experian or TransUnion. Some banks and credit card companies even provide free access to your score as an added perk.

2. Calculate how much you need to borrow

Before diving into any application, calculate the cost down to the dollar amount how much you need to borrow including related expenses, like maintenance, insurance and marina fees.

Having a specific number will prevent you from overborrowing. It’s also important to know how much you need as every lender has different maximum amounts you can borrow.

3. Gather the required documentation

Most lenders offer quick applications and fast funding, but it won’t be an easy process if you don’t know exactly what you need. As a rule, have your pay stubs, bank account information, a form of ID and your Social Security number ready when you apply.

Much like with credit scores, every lender will have different requirements. Read the criteria carefully before starting an application. Having documentation close by and prepared can help avoid rejection from an incomplete application.

4. Prequalify and compare lenders

Prequalifying is offered by most online lenders and banks. It allows you to check your eligibility odds and rates with no impact to your credit score.

Prequalify with at least three lenders and compare your offers to find the lender that offers the best terms. If you end up with similar offers, dig into each lender’s benefits or perks to determine which one wins out. Perks like interest rate discounts for enrolling in autopay and tailored customer service experiences may help you choose one lender over another.

5. Submit a full application

You can generally apply online or in person with most lenders. Once you complete the application, you should be notified of your approval status within a few days.

If you have completed a prequalification application, you will likely only need to submit a few pieces of information as verification. As always, check with your lender if you are unsure what your next steps are or what it needs to process your boat loan.

Frequently asked questions

  • Most lenders will be looking for a credit score of 700 or higher. If you have a lower score, you may still qualify for a boat loan, but you won’t qualify for the most competitive rates and terms. You may also be required to provide a larger down payment.
  • Each lender has different requirements, but most lenders approve borrowers with a good to excellent credit score, a low debt-to-income ratio and a steady income.
  • Since boat loans tend to be larger than other loans, they often come with an average repayment term between 15 to 20 years. Your term will depend on how much you borrow and how large your down payment is.
  • While it depends on the specific circumstances, most lenders won’t approve a mortgage for a boat, houseboat or related marine craft. However, borrowers have the option of borrowing a boat loan or a personal loan to help finance the cost or can take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to purchase the boat.
  • Some lenders allow you to pay off a boat loan early while others charge prepayment fees. Before making any extra payments, read through your terms and conditions carefully to make sure you won’t get hit with extra fees for paying down your loan early.