How to Get a Used Boat Loan

As with any big purchase, buying a used boat can be an intimidating process. Sometimes it can seem that the pain of securing the funds to get the boat takes away from the fun and entertainment having the boat will bring.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed you should know that getting a used boat loan doesn’t have to be a hassle, as long as you take it one step at a time.

Finding a Boat to Finance

Chances are that if you’re looking for how to finance a boat then you’ve already got your eye on a certain one. If so the first step is to make sure the boat has been appraised and is listed.

There are a few companies who list boat values such as NADA, BUC, and ABOS. For the most part if a boat is listed with one of these companies then it is able to be financed.

That being said, it may be difficult to find a company willing to finance:

  • Extreme high-performance boats
  • Personal watercrafts
  • “Homemade” boats
  • Boats with a limited production run that cannot be properly appraised
  • Boats intended for live-aboard use
  • Older sailboats

Know Your Credit

Obviously the type of loan you get for your used boat will depend on your credit history. For many lenders it will also affect the boats you can purchase. Because of this it is a good idea to know your credit score before applying for a loan so you have an idea what to expect.

Some examples of average loan terms for those with average to good credit include:

  • APR as low as 6.95%
  • Ability to finance boats made after 1985
  • Loan terms up to 180 months

Examples of average loan terms for those with fair to bad credit include:

  • APR 9.95- 17.95%
  • Ability to finance boats made after 1999
  • Loan terms up to 144 months

While these cover the basics of what to expect, several companies offer an array of loan products depending on your credit history and income. The important thing is to find a loan that works best for you and your finances.

Loan Application Process

The next step in securing a loan for a used boat is applying. While different companies have different application processes it is now common for the initial application process to start online.

Applying for the loan will require some basic information including:

  • Personal information (name, address, etc.)
  • Employment/Income questions
  • Information about the boat you wish to purchase
  • How much you will need for the loan
  • Whether you will be purchasing from a dealer/broker or private party

After supplying this information your application will be sent to a loan officer for consideration. Once your application is reviewed and a credit check has been completed, the lender will contact you with the proposed terms of your loan.

Sealing the Deal

When you find the right loan for you and the ink dries on the contract, the lender will release the funds to the boat’s seller. After that — Congratulations!

However the original title will be sent to your lender until your loan has been fully paid off. Once the loan is paid in full the title will be sent to you.


Buying a used boat should be exciting, not exhausting. Following these steps will get you out from your desk chair and out on the water in no time.


Thomas Schumacher

President ~ SeaDream, Inc.
Tom Schumacher is the founder of SeaDream Inc. - the leader in new and used boat loans, recreational vehicle, and and motorsport loans. He is a Southern California native.