Best Boat Loans That Will Have You Smooth Sailing!

boat in the ocean

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So you've found your dream boat, but it carries a price tag that's just a little more than what you can afford out-of-pocket. The only thing standing in the way of weekends on the lake is the question of how to finance the vessel. There are lots of options when it comes to financing watercraft, and our guide to the best boat loans will have you on the water in no time.

Comparison Table

Product Name

Price

Essex Credit

essex website

image source:  Essex Credit

Lightstream

light stream website

image source: Light  Stream

First Commercial Corp. Of America

boat finance

image source: Boat Finance

Chesapeake Financial

chesapeake website

image source: Chesapeake Financial

Bank Of America

bank of america website

image source: Bank Of America

Ebateloans.com

eboat loans website

image source: Bank Of America

Boat Owners Association Of The US

boat us website

image source: Boat US

Bank Of The West

bank of the west website

image source: Bank Of The West

Product FAQ

1. How Do the Best Boat Loans Work?

2. Do I Need to Go to a Specialty Lender to Get the Best Boat Loan?

3. What Type of Credit Do I Need to Take Out the Best Boat Loans?

4. How Can I Spot the Best Boat Loans?

5. Should I Finance a Boat Purchase, or Buy It Outright?

6. If I Want to Finance a Boat, Do I Have Options Other than a Boat Loan?

7. Can I Get Pre-Approved for a Boat Loan?

8. Are Older Boats Harder to Finance?

9. Are Interest Rates on the Best Boat Loans Usually Higher than Vehicle Loans?

10. How Can I Qualify for the Best Boat Loan?

couple boating in the ocean

image source: pexels

How We Reviewed The Best Boat Loans

approved and hand with pen

image source: pixabay

When evaluating the best boat loans, we took a range of factors into consideration, including the range of boats the financing could be applied to and the ease of the application process. We also looked at whether or not a lender charged a pre-payment penalty.

Overall Price Range Of Best Boat Loans

The best boat loans range in size from $15,000 to more than $350,000 and often have terms of 10, 15, or 20 years.

What We Reviewed

  • Essex Credit
  • Lightstream
  • First Commercial Corp. of America
  • Chesapeake Financial
  • Bank of America
  • EBoatLoans.Com
  • Boat Owners Association of the United States
  • Bank of the West

Essex Credit

essex website

image source:  Essex Credit

Basic Info

Essex Credit, a division of Bank of the West, offers both boat and RV loans at a variety of terms ranging from 4 to 20 years, with rates as low as 4.99% APR. It offers financing and refinancing on a range of vessels with a model year of 1998 or newer, including sailboats, houseboats, wooden boats, pontoon boats, electric boats, and multi-hull boats like Catamarans. Essex also has a financing program for boats that are used as a primary residence. The smallest loans Essex offers are $10,000 for personal boats and $25,000 for live-aboard boats. The maximum loans it issues are $5 million. Essex requires a minimum FICO credit score of 690.

Who It's Best For

  • People with high credit scores
  • Those who are purchasing boats with a model year of 1998 or newer
  • Shoppers who want to finance a large amount for a long term
  • Consumers who don't need the boat loan immediately

Maximum Loan $$$

We gave Essex Credit a rating of $$$ for its industry-leading maximum loan amount of $5 million.

More Info

boat sailing

image source: unsplash

Lightstream

light stream website

image source: Light  Stream

Basic Info

Lightstream, a division of Sun Trust Bank, offers boat loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 with an APR as low as 4.29 percent. Lightstream loans range in length from 2 years to 7 years. Lightstream does not charge any penalties for prepaying your loan, either in full or in part. It does not offer loan pre-approvals and accepts applications only online. Once you have been approved for a Lightstream boat loan, you can select your funding date, which could be as soon as the same day. Lightstream offers lower rates to customers who enroll in Autopay, an arrangement in which the monthly loan payment is drafted directly from your designated bank account. Lightstream's loans are fixed-rate loans.

Who It's Best For

  • Consumers with excellent credit
  • Those looking for smaller loans and shorter loan terms
  • Those looking for a quick loan

Maximum Loan $$

We gave Lightstream a $$ rating for its maximum loan amount of $100,000.

More Info

sunset boat

image source: unsplash

First Commercial Corp. Of America

boat finance

image source: Boat Finance

Basic Info

First Commercial Corp. of American is a specialty finance company that focuses on boat loans. This company specializes in lending to customers who don't meet the lending criteria some big banks have, including individuals who are self-employed or who have had previous credit problems. First Commercial Corp. works with borrowers who have a credit score of at least 580 and finances boats up to 30 years old. The company has an online application process and offers instant credit pre-approval.

Who It's Best For

  • Borrowers who don't meet big banks' lending criteria
  • Individuals buying boats up to 30 years old
  • Those looking for fast pre-approval

Maximum Loan $$

We gave First Commercial Corp. of America a $$ rating for the amount it allows customers to borrow.

More Info

boat

image source: unsplash

Chesapeake Financial

chesapeake website

image source: Chesapeake Financial

Basic Info

Chesapeake Financial specializes in boat and RV loans. This lender offers boat loans ranging in size from $25,000 to $500,000 with terms starting at 15 years. A minimum of at least 10 percent down is required on all loans over $50,000. Chesapeake Financial focuses on loans for boats with a model year of 2004 or later, but it will issue loans of $50,000 and up for older boats on a case-by-case basis. Fixed rate boat loans start at 5.24%. Chesapeake requires a credit score of at least 740 and offers same-day approval for borrowers with good credit. This lender also offers second chance loans for those with bruised credit who have a current credit score of at least 620.

Who It's Best For

  • Consumers purchasing boats for personal recreational use
  • Individuals with bruised credit
  • Those looking for fast approval
  • Loans on boats for 2004 model years and later

Maximum Loan $$$

We gave Chesapeake Financial a $$$ rating for its maximum loan amount of $500,000.

More Info

children enjoying boat ride

image source: pixabay

Bank of America

bank of america website

image source: Bank Of America

Basic Info

Bank of America offers fixed-rate loans and refinancing on new and used vessels that are used for personal recreational use. Bank of America boat loans have a starting APR of 4.99% and carry no prepayment penalty. Bank of America will issue loans of up to $99,000 for boats that are no more than 6 years old.

Who It's Best For

  • Consumers purchasing boats for personal recreational use
  • Boats that are 6 years of age or younger
  • Borrowers with good credit
  • Consumers who may want to pay down the loan balance before the end of the loan term

Maximum Loan $$

We gave Bank of America a $$ rating for its maximum loan amount of $99,000.

More Info

Eboatloans.com

eboat loans website

image source: Bank Of America

Basic Info

EBoatLoans.com offers loans for boats and yachts starting at $25,000 with terms of 10, 15, and 20 years. A down payment of 10 or 20 percent is usually required. EBoatLoans.com, which also offers RV financing, accepts applications online.

Who It's Best For

  • Buyers able to make a 10 or 20 percent down payment
  • Individuals with good credit

Maximum Loan $$$

We gave EBoatLoans.Com a rating of $$ for the amount it allows customers to borrow.

More Info

boat and island

image source: ​pixabay​

Boat Owners Association Of The US

boat us website

image source: Boat US

Basic Info

Boat Owners Association of the United States offers loans on a wide range of boats, including sailboats, pontoon boats, powerboats, and multi-hull boats. Loan amounts range from $15,000 to more than $350,000, with terms of up to 20 years. Boat Owners Association accepts online applications and does not issue pre-approvals. Successful borrowers generally need to have a credit score above 680 with no major credit issues, such as bankruptcy or foreclosure, in the last 5 years. Most loan applicants receive a decision within 4 business days.

Who It's Best For

  • Individuals with a credit score above 680
  • Consumers interested in purchasing a variety of boats, including sailboats, pontoon boats, and powerboats
  • Borrowers who don't need same-day approval

Maximum Loan $$$

We gave the Boat Owners Association of the United States a $$$ rating for its maximum loan amount of $350,000.

More Info

girls on yacht

gif source: giphy

Bank Of The West

bank of the west website

image source: Bank Of The West

Basic Info

Bank of the West offers loans for all types of new and used marine vessels, including powerboats, sailboats, bass boats, trawlers, and multi-hulled boats. Bank of the West boat loans have terms of up to 20 years and offers lower rates to customers who enroll in Autopay, an arrangement in which the monthly loan payment is drafted directly from your designated bank account. Bank of the West accepts boat loan applications online and usually issues a decision within 2 business days. This bank does not issue pre-approvals.

Who It's Best For

  • Borrowers who don't need same-day approval
  • Consumers purchasing a variety of boats, including trawlers and multi-hulled vessels
  • Individuals with good credit

Maximum Loan $$$

We gave Bank of the West a rating of $$ for the amount it allows customers to borrow.

Where to buy

The Verdict

lion and patrick on boat

image source: giphy

Essex Credit, a division of Bank of the West, offers the best boat loans. Essex offers loans that range in size from $10,000 to $5 million with terms of up to 20 years, meaning it accommodates all types of boat buyers. From sailboats and wooden boats to pontoon boats, electric boats, and multi-hull boats like Catamarans, Essex credit finances it all. The lender even has a financing program for boats that are used as a primary residence. We also liked Essex Credit because of its convenience. Essex has no application fee and no prepayment penalty, and the lender takes care of the entire process, from title procurement to Coast Guard documentation. If you're in the market for a good boat loan, Essex Credit is worth checking out.

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