Traveling in a house on wheels can save you money — if you have the money to buy one. If you don’t, there is financing available to buy RVs of all sizes. But be prepared for the extra costs that come with RV ownership.
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When it comes to financing your RV, you have a few options to choose from.
Many RV dealerships offer financing to qualified borrowers when they choose to purchase an RV. Much like car dealerships, you should come prepared with a pre-approval offer from a different lender to negotiate a better interest rate.
You may be able to get a low rate if you have excellent credit and a down payment on your new vehicle, and if you need low monthly payments, some dealerships offer financing terms of up to 20 years (less for a used RV).
Some banks, credit unions and online lenders have car loans available for RVs. Loan amount and terms will vary by lender.
However, it may be more difficult to qualify for a car loan than either dealer financing or a personal loan. This is because RVs depreciate quickly, and many owners end up owing more on the loan than the RV is worth. If your RV is being used as collateral for car loan financing and you default and cannot repay the loan, lenders might be stuck with an RV that has no resale value.
Examine your options carefully and don’t borrow more than you need when applying for a car loan to cover your RV purchase.
Personal loans can work for a variety of purposes. There are lenders who may be willing to work with you even if you have little income or a less-than-ideal credit score. You can apply for a personal loan from a traditional lender, like a bank or credit union, or an online lender.
Some lenders offer loan amounts up to $100,000 for people with very good credit, while others focus on borrowers who may have less-than-perfect credit. If you’re looking to purchase an RV and want funding before you actually start browsing for an RV, then a personal loan may be a good way to secure financing so that you know what you can afford before walking into a dealership.
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Representative example: Nadya buys an RV
Nadia, who lives in Alberta, has always wanted to tour the country to see the sites and visit some of Canada’s best parks and conservation areas. She figures an RV is just what she needs, so she heads to a local dealership to check out her options. Nadia looks at a 2019 Sunset Park Sunray 169 travel trailer and decides it has everything she’s looking for. The purchase price $22,000.00, so Nadya pays a 20% deposit of $4,400.00 and applies for an auto loan from her bank to cover the rest.
Because Nadya has a solid credit history, she is approved for a loan to cover the outstanding amount on the RV plus 5% GST ($17,600.00 + $1,100.00). Along with the cost of her loan, Nadya also pays a little over $100.00 to register her RV with the provincial government.
Cost of new RV travel trailer
Auto loan (term loan)
Interest rate (APR)
4.00% origination fee ($748.00) $0.00 application fee (waived by dealership)
$360.65 monthly or $166.27 biweekly
Total loan cost
$21,639.00 with monthly payments or $21,615.10 with biweekly payments
*The information in this example, including rates, fees and terms, is provided as a representative transaction. The actual cost of the product may vary depending on the retailer, the product specs and other factors.
What types of RVs can I buy?
No matter which road you chose to travel on, there’s an RV out there for you. Make memories in a towable RV, a full-sized motorhome, or anything in between.
These vehicles have all the comforts of home even though you’re behind the wheel. With a full-sized roof, couch and often plenty of sleeping room, a whole family could comfortably enjoy traveling from coast to coast. These vary in size. Class A’s are the more luxurious and more expensive, while class B and C are smaller and cheaper, but have many of the same living accommodations.
Full RVs are ready to go at all times — no set up or take down necessary, and they offer lots of storage and protection from the rain, cold and heat.
A typical fifth wheel RV is larger than a pop-up, but is still towed by a truck. You’ll get a lot of the same levels of luxury as a motorhome, but with a lower price tag. These RVs come without a conventional RV hitch, so you have to tow them on the bed of a utility or pickup truck.
These are relatively small, towable RVs that pop-out on the sides when you arrive at your destination. Some even pop up to make the ceiling higher.
These models are smaller and more aerodynamic, so you’ll likely spend less money on fuel. One drawback, however, is that they’re smaller, so it’s not as safe for passengers to ride inside them while on the road.
Imagine a low camper trailer turning into a RV offering space to sleep – that’s a folding RV. These are like pop-out RVs, but can take more time to setup and break down.
Teardrop trailers are small and ideal for light travelers. They offer basic accommodations like a small sleeping space and limited space for cooking.
How should I compare RV loan options?
Look at the APR. Your loan’s APR is an expression of your loan’s interest and fees as a percentage. It’s the easiest way to compare costs on loans with the same term.
Will the loan be secured or unsecured? RV loans can either be secured or unsecured. Unsecured loans do not require you to provide collateral, but they often have higher interest rates to make up for it.
Are there flexible payment options? Most RV loans have flexible loan payments, offering anywhere from weekly to monthly payments.
See what loan terms are offered. The amount of money you borrow will influence the term length. Make sure you know how long it’ll take you to repay the loan before agreeing to anything.
Going in without known your credit. Knowing your credit score before you apply can help you avoid applying for a loan you’re ineligible for and possible damaging your credit with too many inquiries.
Not negotiating the price down. Many dealerships offer marked-up prices with the expectation that you’ll ask for a lower price.
Not comparing financing options. The first type of financing you find could be the best deal out there, but there’s no way to know unless you shop around.
Long loan terms. An extra long term might give you lower monthly repayments but you’ll pay more in interest and could end up owing more than your RV’s resale value.
Committing to a high loan amount. Make sure you’re not borrowing more than you can afford. If you’re in a lot debt or your credit is poor, it may be a better idea to pay other debt down before taking on more loans.
Any hidden surprises in your contract. Be sure to read the loan contract in full before signing anything. Look out for hidden fees (including early repayment fees) and terms.
Checklist for buying a camper trailer
“Different strokes for different folks” holds true when it comes to shopping for a camper trailer. But keep an eye out for a few things that can affect your travels if they’re overlooked:
Chassis. This is the base frame of a trailer and plays a crucial role in holding it together. For more durability, look for a chassis made of high-quality materials — especially if you’re planing to carry heavy loads of drive off-road. Frames are usually made of wood, steel or aluminum. Aluminum is the best choice because it’s rust-proof, impossible for termites to eat and lightweight, making your drive much more fuel efficient.
Suspension. Suspension springs should be strong enough to take the weight of the trailer as well as the load that it carries. Make sure you pay attention to the condition of the trailer and find out if the suspension can handle driving off-road or on irregular roads.
Tailgate and doors. Remember to check all seals, not just on the doors and the tailgate, but also on all compartments and even the tool box to avoid water damage and rust buildup.
Towing. The towing coupling should be strong enough to take the camper trailer’s weight and everything it carries. For off-road driving, getting a coupling that turns 360 degrees is ideal. In addition, consider getting recovery points (sometimes called snatch points) at the trailer’s rear section to help move the trailer in reverse in case you’re stuck in a ditch or somewhere that you need to back out of. Make sure the recovery points are strong enough to handle this kind of movement (often, these mechanisms aren’t built strong enough to handle lots of stress).
Protection. Camper trailers tend to flick up stones from time to time, even on completely paved roads. Some trailers deflect these stones by using built-in stone guards or shade cloth attachments to bridge the space between the trailer and the car.
Tires. If you can manage to get the same set of tires on your trailer as you have on your main vehicle, you can look forward to a smoother drive.
Trim. The canvas on your camper trailer should be durable, given that it provides shelter. But remember that lightweight canvas is quicker and simpler to set up. Check for water proof and mildew proof materials with no holes.
Bedding. Make sure there’s enough bedding for all your travelers. Measure the beds (especially if they look small) so you know exactly what to buy.
Possible add-ons. While the list of add-ons can be very long, most camper trailers tend to include water tanks, jockey wheels and awnings.
Are there any other costs I should expect with my RV?
Owning an RV is more than just paying the purchase price and driving away. When you commit to an RV, you need to make room in your budget for a number of related and ongoing expenses.
Maintenance. RVs need yearly maintenance. The cost will vary based on the age of your RV and how often you use it. If you tow a trailer, you should also factor into your budget the cost of maintaining your primary vehicle as well.
Fuel costs. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve opted for a diesel or a gas engine — you’re going to be paying quite a bit in fuel costs. Before you start on a trip, look up average gas or diesel prices at regular points along your route and start saving up.
Park fees. Some parks and campgrounds charge per night. Depending on how long you want to stay, you might quickly find that just having your RV parked on a slip can be a pricey expenditure.
Hookup fees. In a similar vein, you’ll likely have to pay to hook your RV up to electricity and plumbing. While it might not be as expensive as a hotel, you should still factor basic amenities into your budget when planning to buy one.
Storage. Unless you plan on living in your RV year-round or have a space to keep it when not in use, you’ll have to pay for storing your RV in the off-season. This can start at a few hundred dollars per week, although you may be able to find a cheaper deal if you: – Look up private listings for RV storage on people’s personal/home properties – Opt for storage without heating and protection from wintery elements. These options will definitely increase your risk as you may not know how responsible a private storage seller is and you don’t want your vehicle to become damaged in bad weather. So choose wisely.
How to apply for an RV loan
If a RV loan sounds like it’s right for you, applying for one is very easy.
Typically, to be eligible for RV financing you must be at least 18 years of age and a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. You must also have a good credit rating and be able to provide the lender with your financial details — bank statements, pay stubs and any other documents relating to your personal income, assets and debts.
What documents will I need for my RV loan?
Your application will run much more smoothly if you have all of your documents ready and available when you apply for a loan. You’ll likely need:
Valid form of government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or a passport
Social Insurance Number (SIN Card)
Employment information and proof of income such as a few of your most recent pay stubs or Notices of Assessment from both the current and previous tax year
Proof of residency such as a recent utility bill, bank statement, phone bill or anything that has both your name and address printed on it
Personal details such as your address, phone number(s), date of birth and email address
Either a VOID cheque or a withdrawal authorization form from your bank so that your loan repayments can be automatically debited from your bank account (some lenders may accept other forms of payment such as a mailed-in cheque or money order)
Frequently asked questions
The majority of lenders will offer you the option of applying for pre-approval on an RV loan. This can help with budgeting and give you extra bargaining power when negotiating with a dealer.
It varies by lender, but most loan terms will last anywhere from 10 to 20 years. Loans terms for used RVs do not typically extend as along as 20 years, but may last around 12 years instead. You can always ask for a shorter loan term, which would make your monthly payments larger. But it would also greatly reduce the total amount of interest you’d be paying, because the loan wouldn’t have as much time to grow interest.
It depends on how you plan to use your RV. Both can make for excellent vacation homes or long-term accommodations. New RVs will cost more, but many come with a warranty for the first year or two of maintenance. On the other hand, used RVs cost less, but you’ll want to carefully examine the service record for maintenance and repairs that have been done.
Run a VIN check to view this information and other important data about the ownership and history of your vehicle. Under certain circumstance, some smaller vehicles may not have VINs, but most other vehicles do. If you experience any problems running a VIN check on your own, ask your insurance company to do it for you.
Yes. If your RV is motorized, it will likely have to have its own policy. If you tow it, then it may be covered under your current policy, but you should still check to make sure. There are a slew of factors that go into how much RV insurance costs based on the individual and there are many different types of policies out there, so research the best policies based on your usage and lifestyle.
Kyle Morgan is a producer for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.
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