5 Best Boat Loans of 2021

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Buying or refinancing a boat can be quite a headache, even compared to purchasing a new car ! For this reason, most people don’t buy watercraft outright; they take out a boat loan that allows them to enjoy their boat while paying it off over several years. But it’s tough to know whether a boat loan is really worth your time and money. Good news -- we’ve already done the research and found the five best boat loans for the upcoming year so you don’t have to. Let’s take a look!

What Makes a Good Boat Loan?

No two boat loans are exactly alike, so it’s helpful to know what to look for in a great boat loan that'll be perfect for your aquatic investment. Let’s break it down.

Term Limits

For starters, be sure to check out the available term limits for a given boat loan you want to apply for. Boat loans are typically packaged with term periods of between 15 and 20 years, given the average price for most commercial or recreational boat purchases. Remember, this is the average amount of time it will likely take you to pay off the loan when you consider the original cost of the loan in addition to the APR rate adding a little bit every cycle. However, you can always repay your boat loan a little more quickly if you make additional payments or pay more than the monthly minimum with each billing cycle.

Down Payments

Due to the costs involved, boat loans often require down payments, though this is heavily dependent on how much you borrow overall. The boat will usually be considered collateral, so down payments are often between 10% to 30%. Keep this in mind when calculating the overall cost for a boat loan. You may need a significant chunk of change to get a loan approved initially even if you can make regular monthly payments.


Lastly, be sure to consider the APR interest rate for a boat loan you want to apply for. Typically, loans for used boats will have higher APRs than loans for new boats, but this isn’t always true. Your APR can also be affected by your credit score and various other factors, such as where you get a loan in the first place. Interest rates can be as low as 3.99% but can also easily go up to 15% or more depending on loan quality.

5 Top Boat Loans for 2021

With all this in mind, let’s take a detailed look at some top boat loans for your next watercraft purchase.

Southeast Financial

Southeast Financial offers some of the best boat loans for the upcoming year, as they have for the past several years. They're a particularly good choice if you don’t have great credit already but still need to purchase a boat sooner or take out a loan to cover its expenses. Southeast Financial’s loan doesn’t require any minimum credit score (although a higher credit score will certainly help). They also approve quite quickly and will give you a decision about your qualification in as little as three hours. The rates for this loan start at 4.74% APR, though you can expect this to go higher if your credit score isn't great. They also require a minimum amount of $20,000, so it won’t work if you only need a loan of a few thousand dollars for refinancing. The loans are further limited to recreational vehicles only, not commercial boats or watercraft that serve as your residence. Still, the available loan range is pretty extensive and generous, stretching all the way up to $4 million. Repayment terms are available up to 15 years but don’t ever reach as high as 20, meaning you may be able to pay off the total amount in a relatively shorter amount of time than average. Keep in mind that, although approval is pretty quick for this boat loan, funding may take between three and five days to actually reach your account.

Bank of the West

Consider Bank of the West if you want an all-around fantastic boat loan of up to $5 million – that’s higher than any other loan on this list. Furthermore, you can take out this loan for all kinds of different watercraft, regardless of whether you are a part or full-time user (i.e. you only use it recreationally or use it as your home). Repayment terms are flexible and are typically offered between 4 and 20 years in length. You can take out this loan in all 50 states. While there are several fees that will accrue over the loan’s lifespan, these can be rolled over into the total loan amount for easy payment if you prefer. APRs are also usually low at about 3.99%, though you’ll need good credit to qualify for this loan in the first place. Note that there is an 85% loan to value limit so you can’t take out this loan with certain boats depending on their initial values. The only other real downsides are that you can’t take out this loan with a cosigner and funding isn’t immediate, often taking up to a week or so for money to reach your account. Therefore, this boat loan is a better choice if you have some time to wait for a result but want to secure a great loan that takes advantage of your stellar credit.


Need a boat loan as quickly as possible? You might consider LightStream, which offers insanely fast approval and even same-day funding for the majority of its loan applicants. Even better, you don’t have to worry about any collateral or fees (the loan doesn't even consider your boat to be collateral) and you can take the loan out for either buying or refinancing your aquatic vessel. You can even pay off the loan early without being penalized with prepayment fees. Thus, LightStream’s loan is a pretty versatile financial tool for boat owners of varying financial conditions. You can pick up these loans in all 50 states and potentially benefit from the “Rate Beat” program; this essentially promises that your APR will be 0.10% lower than a comparable rate from a competing lender. You just have to prove the competitor’s APR when you apply. However, keep in mind that your maximum APR can be quite high (it goes as 11.89%), though you can lower this by another 0.50% discount by paying your loan with LightStream’s auto-pay feature. Repayment terms can range from 24 months to 84 months.

Essex Credit

Essex Credit offers a flexible boat loan that doesn’t require any down payment whatsoever. With variable APRs ranging from 4.29% to 7.69%, it’s also a relatively affordable loan with repayment terms between 4 and 20 years. The lack of a down payment, however, does mean that you’ll need to pay several fees when you take out these loans. These include late fees and prepayment fees, so be advised that you’ll have to stick with the loan for the agreed-upon duration and can’t pay it off early. This loan is also limited to recreational vehicles only, so don’t try to use it if you live on your watercraft.


SunTrust is another great choice for a boat loan for 2021, and it’s a particularly good pick for high-value boat purchases. That’s because this loan can offer financing for up to $4 million and for as long as 240 months (or 20 years). Interest rates start at 4.74% APR and are fixed-rate , meaning you don’t need to worry about any variable APR alterations throughout the loan’s lifetime. This is also a great choice since there aren’t any fees or service charges incurred over the course of the loan. However, there are some limiting factors. Any boats covered under this loan have to be 25 feet or longer and loans begin at $100,000. Thus, you won’t qualify if you need a much cheaper boat refinanced, for example. Furthermore, you can only take out a loan for recreational boats. These loans aren’t offered in every state, either. You’ll need to make a down payment of between 15% and 25% depending on how much the loan costs overall. Still, given the lack of ancillary fees and relatively generous repayment period, it’s clear that SunTrust provides one of the best high-value boat loans in the industry today.


Ultimately, any of the above boat loans could be a great choice for your watercraft purchase or for your refinancing needs. Keep in mind that each loan is best for a particular purpose or for certain financial circumstances, such as your credit score and whether or not you are buying a new boat outright or are just trying to refinance a used boat. Still have questions? Seek Capital has answers. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for additional financial or loan information, or give us a call to ask about credit cards or business loans . Sources https://www.creditkarma.com/advice/i/what-is-apr https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/credit-education/score-basics/what-is-a-good-credit-score/ https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/fixedinterestrate.asp

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