Key takeaways

  • New and used boats are available from banks, credit unions, online lenders and directly from boat sellers.
  • Lenders take into account the boat's age in addition to your personal finances and credit score.
  • Choosing between a new and used boat will depend on how frequently you plan on using it.

No matter the type, model or year, a boat is a hefty expense that requires financing. Even though new boats are generally more expensive than used models, your financial situation will ultimately determine how much you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

Most lenders and financing companies don’t differentiate between used and new boat loans. Instead, qualifying will be based on the lender’s eligibility criteria and the price of the boat.

Financing a used vs. a new boat

The process of applying for both a new or used boat loan will look similar. Most lenders will require a down payment between 10 to 20 percent. Additionally, your lender may request an inspection from a marine surveyor before approving you for financing to ensure that the craft actually meets certain safety standards.

Lenders may also be more strict if you’re financing an older, used model since older models could present more of a financial risk. Repair and maintenance costs can add up, and that makes a lender less likely to consider outdated crafts.

While it’s not impossible to finance an older used boat, you could be charged a higher interest rate than you would be with a more recent model or newer boat.

Like most financial decisions, it depends on how you plan on using the boat. General recreation and infrequent trips may mean it’s better to choose a used boat. Many are still reliable, and you will save money by avoiding the new boat sticker price.

A new model will be better for frequent boaters who know exactly the technology and features they want. This is the more expensive option, but you may be able to score a lower rate with a new purchase.

It’s also wise to consider the longevity of the craft you’re looking to finance. If you’re concerned with the mechanics of an older model becoming obsolete or hard to repair, it may be less expensive in the long run to finance a newer version of the same model or to finance a new boat altogether.

Additionally, consider how often you actually plan on using the boat. If you only plan on using it on select occasions, such as spring break or during summer weekends, it may be better to consider renting rather than buying.

Financing a new boat

There’s no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to taking out a loan, but there are factors you can consider to determine which is the best option for you.


  • Interest rates could be lower for creditworthy borrowers.
  • Long-term maintenance costs may be less expensive for new boats.
  • Lenders may offer more to cover the full cost of the boat.


  • The overall cost of the loan will likely be more than a used boat loan.
  • Higher monthly payments due to the larger size of the loan.
  • For most lenders, an excellent credit score is required for approval.

Financing a used boat

While it may seem cheaper on paper, financing a used boat may not be the best option for your financial situation.


  • The overall cost may be lower since you are borrowing less.
  • The value of the boat may be higher if the seller allows for price negotiation.
  • Depending on your credit, the price of the boat and the lender, interest rates could be lower.


  • Some lenders may not offer loans for older boats.
  • Used boats may pose more of a long-term financial risk.
  • Potential maintenance costs may offset any savings.

What to know before financing a boat

Before applying for a boat loan, look over the lender’s eligibility requirements and make sure you meet the minimum criteria to qualify. You’ll also want to ensure your credit is in a good spot. No matter the make, model or year, most lenders and institutions require a good to excellent credit score.

Once you know where your credit stands, calculate your potential monthly payments to determine how much you can afford. Some lenders may charge an origination fee on top of interest, so make sure to factor this in when crunching numbers.

Before making a final decision, consider where your boat stands in terms of necessary upgrades and maintenance costs. If you think you could be tempted to upgrade within a year or two, it may be best to wait. This will help you avoid the hassle of trying to find a buyer for your used boat or paying for two loans at once.

Is it easier to finance a new boat?

It could be easier to finance a new boat, but only if you have stellar credit and can prove to the lender that you’re able to make the monthly payments. A used boat isn’t necessarily always harder to finance — it just depends on the age of the boat and the lender’s restrictions.

If the boat is older, then it could be more difficult to find a lender willing to approve you for a loan. However, newer used models will likely be just as easy to finance a used boat as it is a new one.

Next steps

Boat loans are available at a number of financial institutions, from banks and credit unions to online lenders and marine financing companies. When looking for boat loans, compare offers from at least three lenders to ensure you’re getting the best terms and rates available.

Research interest rates and terms in addition to loan amounts, fees and perks. If possible, get prequalified with each lender you find to get an idea of what you may be eligible for without hurting your credit.