At a Glance

If you’re in the market for a boat, one of the biggest decisions you will need to make is whether to buy a brand new one or a used one. New boats often come with better warranties and more reliable components, but they will also put you out an initial investment that could potentially be too costly for your budget. Purchasing a used boat might save you money in the short term but may force you to pay up later as the boat is older and may require replacement parts.

The best choice depends on how much money and time you are willing to invest, the type of environment in which the boat will typically navigate, and your primary uses for the craft. An experienced professional can help make sense of all the variables involved so that you can make an informed decision based on how these elements play into your financial goals for owning a boat.

In this article, you’ll learn:


Between $10,000 and $20,000

Is the average cost of a 20-foot used boat.

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Cost factors to be considered before buying a boat

There are various cost factors that you should consider before buying a boat. Here are some key ones:

  • Purchase price: This is the initial cost of buying the boat. It includes the price of the boat itself, as well as any fees associated with the purchase, like sales tax, registration fees, and other expenses.
  • Financing costs: If you are financing the purchase of the boat, be sure to factor in the interest rate on the loan, the length of the loan term, and any other fees or charges associated with the loan.
  • Insurance costs: Boats are expensive assets that require insurance coverage to protect against accidents, theft, and other risks. Insurance costs can vary depending on the type of boat, and its value, among others.
  • Maintenance costs: Boats require regular maintenance to keep them in good working condition. This includes routine maintenance like oil changes, tune-ups, cleaning, and repairs and upgrades as needed.
  • Storage costs: Unless you plan to keep your boat in the water year-round, you will need to consider the cost of storing it. This can include fees for marina storage, dry dock storage, or storage on your own property.
  • Fuel costs: Fuel cost can vary depending on the type of boat and the distance you plan to travel.
  • Docking and mooring fees: It costs money to keep your boat sitting anywhere so, you will need to consider the cost of docking and mooring fees.
  • Equipment costs: Boats require a range of equipment to operate safely and efficiently, including navigation equipment, safety gear, and other accessories. These costs should be factored into your budget when buying a boat.
  • Depreciation: Like any other asset, boats can depreciate over time. Factor in the potential resale value of the boat when deciding how much to spend on a new or used boat.

Cost of a used boat

The cost of a used boat can vary greatly depending on several factors, like:

  • Age: Generally speaking, older boats will be less expensive than newer boats of the same make and model. However, older boats may require more maintenance and repairs, so factoring those costs into your budget is important.
  • Condition: The overall condition of the boat can have a big impact on its value. A well-maintained boat in good condition will typically be more expensive than a boat that has been neglected or has significant wear and tear.
  • Make and model: The make and model of the boat can also impact its price. Some brands and models are known for their quality and durability and may command a higher price than others.
  • Features and accessories: Boats can come with a wide range of features and accessories, like a sound system, GPS navigation, or fishing equipment. The more features a boat has, the higher the price is likely to be.
  • Location: The location of the boat can also impact its price. Boats in areas with high demand, like coastal cities or popular boating destinations, may be more expensive than boats in less desirable areas.
  • Market conditions: Like any other market, supply, and demand can impact the price of used boats. If there are many used boats on the market and few buyers, prices may be lower. Conversely, if there are few used boats available and many buyers, prices may be higher.

Related: How to Get Loans for Used Boats?

Pros and cons of buying used boats


  • Cost savings: One of the biggest advantages of buying a used boat is that it can be significantly less expensive than buying a new boat. Used boats can often be found at a fraction of the cost of a new boat.
  • Reduced depreciation: Unlike a new boat, a used boat has already undergone its initial depreciation period. This means that if you decide to sell the boat in the future, you may be able to recoup more of your initial investment than you would with a new boat.
  • More options: Buying a used boat means you have a wider range of options. You can find boats that may no longer be in production or models that are no longer available new.
  • More room for negotiation: When buying a used boat, there is typically more room for negotiation than when buying a new boat. This can give you the opportunity to get a better deal on the boat.
  • Lower insurance costs: Insurance costs for a used boat are often lower than for a new boat, as the boat’s value is typically lower.


  • Potential hidden issues: Used boats may have hidden issues or problems that are not immediately apparent. This can include mechanical problems, electrical issues, or damage that may not be visible to the naked eye.
  • Higher maintenance costs: As a boat ages, it typically requires more maintenance and repairs. This can result in higher costs over time.
  • Limited warranties: Used boats typically come with limited or no warranties, meaning you may be responsible for any repairs or maintenance needed.
  • Less customization: With a used boat, you may not have as much flexibility to customize the boat to your preferences as you would with a new boat.

Cost of a new boat

The cost of a new boat can vary greatly depending on many of the same factors as used boats, like the make and model, size, and features. Here are some approximate cost ranges for different types of new boats:

  • Dinghies and inflatables: These smaller boats can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
  • Jon Boats and Utility Boats: These simple boats are typically used for fishing or other recreational activities and can cost between $1,000 and $5,000.
  • Pontoon boats: These boats are designed for leisure and can range in price from $15,000 to $50,000.
  • Ski boats and wake boats: These boats are designed for watersports and can cost between $30,000 and $150,000.
  • Fishing boats: These boats can range from simple aluminum boats for a few thousand dollars to high-end fiberglass boats with all the latest fishing technology for over $100,000.
  • Cruisers and yachts: These large boats can cost anywhere from $100,000 to several million dollars, depending on the size, features, and luxury amenities.

Keep in mind that these are just general ranges, and the cost of a new boat can vary widely. It’s always a good idea to research specific makes and models and to get multiple quotes from dealerships or manufacturers to get an accurate picture of the cost of a new boat.

Pros and cons of buying a new boat


  • Customization: One of the biggest advantages of buying a new boat is that you can often customize it to your exact likings.. This ranges from colors, to materials, and features.
  • No hidden issues: With a new boat, you don’t have to worry about hidden issues or problems that may be lurking with a used boat. You can be confident that the boat is in top condition and has not been previously damaged.
  • Warranty: A new boat typically comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, which can provide peace of mind and protect you from unexpected repairs or maintenance costs.
  • Latest features and technology: A new boat will likely have the latest features and technology, enhancing your boating experience and making it more enjoyable.


  • Cost: One of the biggest drawbacks of buying a new boat is the cost. A new boat is typically more expensive than a used boat of the same make and model.
  • Depreciation: A new boat can depreciate quickly in the first few years of ownership, which means that you may not be able to recoup as much of your initial investment if you decide to sell the boat.
  • Limited options: Buying a new boat means you are limited to the models and features currently available from the manufacturer.
  • Time to deliver: Depending on the make and model, getting a new boat can take several months or even a year, which can be disappointing if you’re eager to get out on the water.

How can you finance a boat purchase?

Financing a boat purchase can be attractive to many prospective boat owners. Depending upon your credit score and other financial considerations, you may be able to qualify for a loan. If so, working with a trusted bank or lender may be the best choice for financing your boat purchase. Most banks offer competitive rates and typically require a downpayment and evidence of the buyer’s ability to repay the loan.

A good interest rate is also key. When shopping around for the best deal, it is important to consider any associated fees and potential penalties for early repayment or late payments on principal and/or interest. Additionally, some private lenders may provide more tailored loans for financing boats that extend beyond traditional banking channels, making them equally desirable when seeking financing options for your next boat purchase.

1. Personal loans for boats

Before taking out a personal loan, it’s important to shop around and compare interest rates and fees from different lenders. This can help you find the best deal and save money over the life of the loan. Make sure you have a clear understanding of your budget and how much you can realistically afford to spend on a boat. This can help you avoid overextending yourself financially and potentially defaulting on the loan.

Once you’ve gotten a loan offer, be sure to carefully read the terms and understand the repayment schedule and any fees associated with the loan. You should also consider whether you want a fixed or variable interest rate.

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2. Cash

Using cash could be a good option if you have enough on hand to cover the cost of your boat. Here are some things you should consider:

Advantages of using cash:

  • No debt: When you pay for the boat in full, you do not have to worry about monthly payments, interest charges, or other financing fees.
  • Negotiating power: Sellers may be more willing to negotiate on the price if they pay in cash since it eliminates the risk of the sale falling through due to financing issues.
  • Lower total cost: By paying in cash, you avoid interest charges that would increase the total cost of the boat over time.

Disadvantages of using cash:

  • Reduced liquidity: If you use most or all of your cash to buy the boat, you may not have much left for emergencies or other expenses.
  • Opportunity cost: By using cash to buy the boat, you may miss out on potential investment opportunities that could yield higher returns.
  • Limited financial flexibility: Once you’ve spent your cash on the boat, it may be challenging to free up those funds if you need them for other purposes.

3. Dealer financing

Dealer financing for boat purchases is when a boat dealer arranges financing for a customer who is buying a boat from them. The dealer may work with multiple lenders to find the best financing option for the customer, or they may offer their own financing program.

Dealer financing terms can vary, but they typically involve the customer making regular payments (usually monthly) over a set period, with interest charges and other fees included. The interest rate and fees charged can depend on factors like the customer’s credit score, the loan size, and the repayment term’s length.

One advantage of dealer financing is that it can be a convenient and streamlined way to finance a boat purchase. The dealer may handle all the paperwork and help the customer secure the necessary financing. Additionally, dealer financing may include special incentives like promotional interest rates or discounts on other products or services.

4. Home equity loan

Using a home equity loan to finance a boat purchase can be a viable option for homeowners who have built up equity in their property. To find out how much equity you have in your home, subtract the remaining balance on your mortgage from the current value of your property. This will give you an idea of how much you can potentially borrow.

Once you know how much you need to borrow, shop for lenders offering home equity loans. Compare interest rates, fees, and repayment terms to find the best deal. Once you’ve chosen a lender, complete the application process. You’ll need to provide documentation like proof of income, credit history, and property value.

If approved for the loan, the lender will provide you with the funds. These funds can be used to finance your boat purchase. Like any other loan, you’ll be required to make regular payments on your home equity loan. These payments will include both principal and interest and will typically be due monthly.

It’s important to keep in mind that using a home equity loan to finance a boat purchase puts your home at risk if you’re unable to make your loan payments. If you default on the loan, the lender may be able to foreclose on your property.

Related: How Does a Home Equity Loan Work?

5. Home equity line of credit

Using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to finance a boat purchase can be a flexible option for homeowners who have built up equity in their property. This follows pretty much the same process as a home equity loan but gives you a little more flexibility. Figure out how much equity you have in your home and then apply for a HELOC with a lender. They will evaluate your creditworthiness, property value, and other factors to determine if you qualify and how much you can borrow.

Once you’re approved for the HELOC, you can access the funds as needed. This means you can draw on the line of credit to finance your boat purchase and then repay the amount you borrowed over time. HELOCs typically have variable interest rates, which means the rate can change over time. Keep an eye on the interest rate and consider refinancing the HELOC if rates rise significantly.

This comes with the same risk of losing your home if you were to default on the home, so ensure you make timely payments on your loan.

Related: Home Equity Loans vs. HELOC


The length of time you can finance a new or used boat will depend on several factors, like the lender, your credit history, the make and model of the boat, and the purchase price.

New boats are typically financed for terms ranging from 10 to 20 years, depending on the lender and the size of the loan. The length of the loan term can also depend on the type of boat and its intended use.

The length of the loan term for a used boat can vary depending on the boat’s age, condition, and value. In general, used boats are typically financed for terms ranging from 5 to 15 years.

It’s important to note that longer loan terms can result in lower monthly payments but may also result in paying more interest over the life of the loan. Shorter loan terms can result in higher monthly payments but may help you save money on interest in the long run.

Your credit score and credit history can play a significant role in your ability to secure financing for a boat purchase. Generally, lenders are more willing to finance a new boat to someone with good credit, while someone with less-than-perfect credit may have an easier time financing a used boat.

Lenders may have more stringent requirements for financing used boats, particularly older boats or boats in poor condition. Sometimes, lenders may require a higher down payment or shorter loan terms for used boats.

The purchase price of the boat can also impact your ability to secure financing. In general, used boats may be less expensive than new boats, which can make them easier to finance for some borrowers.

Some lenders may specialize in financing new boats, while others may focus on used boats. It’s important to research different lenders and understand their requirements before applying for financing.

The credit score required to finance a boat can vary depending on the lender and the size of the loan, but in general, a credit score of 680 or higher is considered good and may increase your chances of getting approved for boat financing. However, some lenders may require a higher credit score, particularly for larger loans or for financing high-end boats.

The decision to invest in a boat depends on your personal goals, interests, and financial situation. Here are some things to consider:

  • Costs: Owning a boat can be expensive, with costs including the purchase price, maintenance and repairs, insurance, storage, fuel, and other expenses. It’s important to carefully consider the ongoing costs of boat ownership and ensure that you can afford them.
  • Usage: How often you plan to use the boat and what you plan to use it for can impact the value of the investment. If you plan to use the boat frequently and for a variety of activities, it may be worth the investment. However, if you only plan to use the boat occasionally or for a specific purpose, the investment may not be as valuable.
  • Resale value: Boats can depreciate quickly, particularly in the first few years after purchase. It’s important to consider the potential resale value of the boat and whether you’re comfortable with the potential loss in value over time.
  • Lifestyle: Owning a boat can be a rewarding lifestyle choice, offering opportunities for recreation, relaxation, and exploration. It may be worth the investment if you value these experiences and are willing to invest the time and money required to maintain and use the boat.