Buying an RV is a lot like making other large financial purchases—unless you’re able to pay the full sum upfront (which most people aren’t), you’ll need RV financing. And as with other loans, RV loans usually require a good credit score.
The good news is that you can buy an RV even if you have bad credit. However, there are a few things you’ll need to understand about how poor credit can affect your loan options and how to get an RV loan without hurting your credit and finances even further.
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How hard is it to get an RV loan?
Generally speaking, getting an RV loan is easier than getting a larger loan like a mortgage, but harder than getting a car loan.
However, how hard it is to get RV financing depends on several factors, including the size of the loan and the length of your repayment period. In general, the longer and larger the loan, the harder it’ll be to get, especially with bad credit.
Another important factor determining how hard it is to get an RV loan is whether you want a secured loan or an unsecured loan. Many RV loans are secured loans, with the vehicle itself serving as collateral. Unsecured RV loans have no collateral, but they come with stricter borrower requirements and are more difficult to get because there’s less security for your lender.
Regardless of what vehicle you want to finance and what type of loan you want, it’s possible to buy an RV with bad credit. You might just need to meet some additional requirements.
What’s the minimum credit score needed for an RV loan?
There’s no set minimum credit score required for an RV loan because individual lenders are allowed to set their own loan requirements. However, many lenders that tailor to people with bad credit require at least a credit score of 550.
You may still be able to get RV financing if your credit score is lower than that, but be prepared for worse loan terms, such as a higher interest rate on your RV loan and a higher minimum down payment.
How to finance an RV with bad credit
Follow the steps below to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible on a bad-credit RV loan.
1. Check your credit score and reports before you apply
You should always review your credit reports and check your credit score before applying for any type of financing so you’re not going in blind.
Lenders are going to check your credit when you apply for an RV loan, and knowing what they’ll see will give you the opportunity to fix any problems.
You can access your credit reports from all three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you notice any inaccuracies, be sure to dispute the errors on your credit report with the credit bureaus as soon as possible.
2. Decide what type of RV you want
There’s more than one type of RV. Knowing what you want before you approach lenders and dealers will help you get an idea of what type of financing you need.
It’s generally harder to get financing for the following types of RVs:
- Full-time RVs: Many lenders will reject your loan application if you’re planning on living in your RV full time (as opposed to using it for recreational purposes). This is because you may spend more on an RV that’s meant to be your primary residence, and if you default on your loan it will be much harder to repossess the RV since you’ll be able to take it just about anywhere in the country (instead of having to keep it in your driveway).
- Old RVs: Most lenders will only offer financing for RVs below a certain age, often 15 years. One reason for this is that the RV’s market value will be so low that it’ll be hard for your lender to cover their losses by selling the RV if you default on your loan.
If you have bad credit, you’ll have an easier time if you avoid trying to get a loan for those two types of RVs. You’ll still be able to choose from the long list of RV types—from class A, B, and C motorhomes to fifth-wheel RVs and travel trailers.
3. Get prequalified
Getting prequalified for RV financing is always a smart move. It’ll give you a solid idea of what financing you can get so that you can pick an RV that fits your budget.
Another advantage to prequalification is that unlike getting preapproved or submitting a formal credit application, it won’t hurt your credit score by triggering a hard inquiry (a type of credit check that temporarily lowers your score). It’ll also give you leverage for negotiating a better deal when you actually step into the RV dealership.
4. Figure out your budget
Budgeting is crucial for making sure that you don’t overextend yourself and wind up with higher monthly loan payments than you can afford. Pull up a calculator and take some time to figure out what RVs you can afford with a 10% or 20% down payment and how much you’ll end up paying in interest with different loan terms.
You’re always better off making as large of a down payment as you can afford. This will reduce the amount you need to borrow, increase your chances of loan approval, and reduce the amount you end up paying overall for your RV.
5. Shop around for the best deal
Remember that lenders want new customers as much as you want a new RV. Even if you have very poor credit, you don’t necessarily need to accept the first loan offer you get. Ask for quotes from different lenders and compare rates.
Remember that each credit application you submit triggers a hard inquiry. However, if you submit all your RV loan applications within the same 2-week window, you may be able to minimize the number of points your credit score will drop from hard inquiries.
This is because the main credit scoring models often ignore additional inquiries that occur within either 14 or 45 days of each other (in the FICO and VantageScore models, respectively).
Where to get RV loans for bad credit
It’s important to know the best places to get bad-credit RV financing so that you don’t end up getting rejected or offered terrible loan terms. Here are the four best places to start shopping around:
Your current bank or credit union
You may be able to get better RV financing deals from a bank or credit union that you’re already a member of, so this is a good place to start checking out your options. This is because you already have a relationship with them and they want to keep your business.
Try calling up your bank and asking what types of loans they offer and what the credit requirements are. It’s helpful if you have an idea of how much you want to borrow and what your credit score is.
If you can secure a loan from a reputable credit union or bank, this is your best option. However, the worse your credit is, the less likely this is to work out.
Bad-credit RV financing companies
There are several lenders that offer RV financing specifically to borrowers with bad credit. These companies often charge higher fees and interest rates, but they do offer poor credit or fair credit RV loans that you’ll be able to qualify for even with a low credit score.
Companies That Offer RV Financing for Bad Credit
|Company||Loan Details||Minimum Credit Score|
|Southeast Financial||- Loan amount: Up to $75,000|
- Loan term: 60–180 months
- Eligible RVs: up to 15 years old
|GreatRVLoan||- Loan amount: $10,000+|
- Down payment: 10%
- Eligible RVs: up to 15 years old
|Good Sam||- Loan amount: Up to $50,000|
- Eligible RVs: Up to 15 years old (20 years old for diesel pushers)
|My Financing USA||- Loan amount: $10,000+|
- Down payment: 10%
- Interest rate: 7.95%–18.95%
Financing an RV directly from an RV dealership can simplify the whole loan application process and boost your odds of approval. However, dealership financing does have a couple of downsides you should bear in mind.
Understand the risks of “buy here, pay here” dealerships
RV dealerships that offer in-house financing (also known as buy here, pay here dealerships) can be a tempting option if you have poor credit because they often have very low credit requirements.
But don’t be fooled—these companies are notorious for charging extra fees and hiking up their interest rates. This is because you’re not getting your loan directly from the dealer. They’re still approaching a third-party lender; going through a middleman just gives them the chance to tack on extra charges.
Think carefully before opting for buy here, pay here RV financing. You don’t want to risk racking up more debt than you can pay off or even facing repossession.
Private loan sellers
You may be able to buy a used RV by taking over someone else’s RV loan. However, this might not be as simple as you’d expect (especially with no credit check).
The trick is that you need to find someone who has an assumable loan (where the terms of the loan agreement allow for the loan to be transferred from one person to another).
Many RV loans don’t allow takeovers—and if they do, the lender will probably want to review your credit history anyway. This is because when you assume someone else’s loan, the legal obligation to repay the loan is transferred to you, and the original borrower is off the hook.
What to do after getting bad-credit RV financing
Once you’ve finally gotten your RV, you may be in the mood to celebrate with a weekend camping trip—and decidedly not in the mood to think about the future of your loan and finances.
However, planning your next steps will allow you to get the most out of your RV loan and improve your credit and finances.
Use your RV loan as an opportunity to build credit
Like all other credit accounts, RV loans affect your credit score. This can be for better or for worse, depending on whether you keep on top of your loan payments.
A single late payment on your RV loan will do a great deal of damage to your credit and make creditors less willing to extend credit to you in the future. On the other hand, making consistent, on-time payments will allow you to establish a positive payment history and gradually rebuild your credit.
Refinance your RV loan
Once you’ve had your RV for a year or two and your on-time payments have strengthened your credit history, you’ll be able to qualify for an RV loan with better terms.
Refinancing your RV can be a good way to save money on interest. However, make sure to factor in the length of the repayment period into your calculations of the loan cost—a lower interest rate could still mean you’re paying more in interest if you’d be repaying your loan for longer.
If you play your cards right, refinancing your bad-credit RV loan with a more attractive loan will get you some of the benefits of good credit and give you a solid foundation for further improving your credit and financial health in the future.