Boat Financing Tips

Plan To Finance Your Boat? Start With These Quick Considerations


Why should you be thinking about boating during the dead of winter? There are a lot of reasons, beyond just brightening those cold days with daydreams of warm, sunny days on the water. One is that boat show season is coming soon, and with it the opportunity to take advantage of the best deals of the year. Shows are perfectly timed to get buyers into their dream boat just in time for the coming boating season. You can even take advantage of perks and incentives that makes buying early worthwhile.

If you are contemplating the purchase of a new boat, there is one final step in the process that is easily overlooked. This can happen when you go to the back office and enter the door marked “Finance.” It can be downright intimidating when the finance manager comes into the picture with a calculator and stack of loan paperwork.

Avoid sensory overload on the boat show floor or in the finance office by planning ahead. Our website has helpful information you can use to make confident buying decisions. Check out our 5 Boat Buying Tips section at the conclusion of these tips for more resources.

Boat Financing 101

If you will apply for financing consider these steps.

  • Check your free credit score with the three national bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Your credit score can make a difference in financing options. Also know that when a lender checks your credit score it can drop a few points.
  • Calculate the down payment amount you can afford. Most lenders will ask for at least 10% of the loan amount.
  • Determine the amount you can allocate for monthly payments from your budget.
  • Compare loan offers. Just to get this part out of the way, you might be tempted to give in to what is offered by the dealership. Check your options from other financial lending institutions.
  • Get pre-approval. If you use an outside lender, a pre-approval letter gives you—and the dealership—the confidence and commitment that you are a serious buyer.
  • Know the payoff terms. Typically, lenders will reserve the longer terms of 180 or 240 months for boat loans of $25,000 or more. Longer terms mean lower monthly payments for any given purchase price. Something to keep in mind, though, is that the longer the term of the loan, the longer it will take for you to gain equity in your purchase. Over the long term you might pay more for interest than the boat.
  • What else can I finance? If using a lender specializing in boat loans, you will have the opportunity to consider the inclusion of optional products or services. Those can include accessories, extended service and payment protection plans. The benefit of such plans extends for several years, so it might make sense to include them in the loan for a very small increase in the monthly payment.

Where To Find Financing

You have many options for financing. Your bank is only one of them. Another alternative is a credible lender specializing in boat loans. Benefits include purchasing factory-backed extended service plans and other loan protection products not offered by banks. When you do business at a Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s Boating Center you can finance your boat through White River Financial Services, a market leader for boat loans. In operation since 1984, White River Financial Services loan processors have provided financial services specially designed for the marine and outdoor industries. With access to the best national and regional lenders across the country, loan processors are dedicated to helping you obtain the right loan quickly and easily.  

Consider Insurance

Oh yeah, that. In your monthly budget, you should factor in the insurance premium for your boat. Your existing auto policy might cover a grace period that allows you a day or two to switch your policy to the new ride after leaving the dealer. Not so with boats. You should have boat insurance before you leave the dealership. Proof of boating insurance is mandatory in many states, and it might be required by the lender. Some marinas even require proof of a policy for rental slips, and for you tournament anglers out there, many tournaments require coverage. There are two main options for insurance policies—a new policy, independent from any other insurance policy you have, or an umbrella policy, which is bundled with your homeowner’s insurance. There are minimum required coverage areas, including liability to others, medical payments, damages, wreck removal and medical expenses for towed water-skiers. Remember, you want to be sure the cost of your boat is covered, as well as any injuries to you or other boaters and any personal items you have on the boat, e.g., watersports or fishing equipment.

5 Boat Buying Tips

  • Ask the questions! If you are considering buying your first boat, you may not be certain of where to start and what other factors you should weigh into your decision, like financing and insurance. We noticed that there are common frequently asked questions from first-time boat buyers and want to provide helpful answers, so you have a headstart! 
  • Visit a Boating Center to talk to a Sales Outfitter. You will find expert advice at your nearest Bass Pro or Cabela's Boaing Center on how to begin your boat buying experience in a fun, stress free environment. See several different brands and models in person. Sit in the Captain's chair and explore the features to decide on the best boat for your days on the water.
  • Take time to shop around. Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Boating Centers offer a robust lineup of boats and off road vehicles for all kinds of needs in the outdoors, all at NO HAGGLE NO HASSLE pricing. Our exceptional pricing, however, is just one-peice of the overall value that we deliver to our customers, and why purchasing at your closest Boating Center is a Smart Buy.
  • Visit a boat show. Boat show season is a great way to learn about and compare brands, models, and the latest boat features with your needs in mind. A boat show can be a lot to navigate; imagine a dealer's showroom times ten with a much larger crowd. The effort is still worth it, becasue you may be able to take advantage of early season boat deals. It'll help to know some boat show pro tips, so you can get the most out of your time and experience.
  • Consider buying new and used. Both are worth looking at when boat shopping—especially for first-time buyers. Of course, everyone wants the latest brand new boat, but even if your budget will accommodate purchasing new, there are good reasons to consider pre-owned. Is new for you? Or is pre-owned more your style? Let dive into it here to help guide you toward your best option. 

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