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Boat Loan Terms: How Long Can You Finance a Boat?

June 4, 2022

SeaWest members have water in their hearts! As the only credit union for members of the Coast Guard and their families, SeaWest recognizes your unique relationship with the water. And there is nothing better than relaxing on a sailboat or cruising through the open seas.

But what about financing? SeaWest can help you with that! If you’re thinking about becoming a boat owner, keep reading to learn how long you can finance a boat.

A father and daughter smile and sit on the edge of their boat.

Finding a Boat Lender

The first step in financing a boat is to find a lender. Boat loans are offered by banks, credit unions, and financial service companies. If you are looking for the best rate on a boat loan, credit unions like SeaWest are usually your best choice.

Unlike banks, credit unions are nonprofit organizations. Instead of focusing on earning a profit, credit unions are laser-focused on providing superior customer service and offering their members the lowest rates and fees possible. By keeping our rates low, we can give back to those we care about most – our members!

What You Need

When you take out a loan, there are a few things to consider. The length of your loan and its interest rate depend on specific factors, including the size of the loan, credit score, and annual income.

Credit Score

When you apply for a boat loan, your lender will check your credit. Borrowers with high credit scores are often rewarded for their good payment histories with lower interest rates.

Unlike banks and other financial institutions, credit unions can focus solely on members. At SeaWest, we treat every member individually. We know every situation is unique and will work with you to help you with financing a boat. 

Current Debts

How much debt you currently have is another important factor to consider when taking out a loan. Recognize that if you have a lot of debt, you may not have the room to take out another loan.

A metric that lenders use to assess your current debt is the debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. As the name implies, it’s a simple comparison of how much debt you have to how much money you make. The DTI ratio is always expressed as a percentage, and lower scores are better.

How Long Can You Finance a Boat?

Boat loan terms vary depending on the lender. SeaWest, for example, offers boat loans with terms of up to 144 months, or 12 years.

When considering loan terms, it’s important to factor in the cost of boat ownership to ensure you can make your monthly payments. Additional costs will include fuel, docking fees, and other costs for storage, insurance, and maintenance.

How much of a down payment you can make is another factor that may influence how long you finance a boat. Many lenders will require down payments of 10% to 20%, although some lenders offer no down payment loan options. If you can make a high down payment, it could allow you to go with a loan with a shorter term to help you save money on interest. 

Loan Details

When you take out a loan, there are a few things you have to consider about the details of the loan.


Secured loans require you to offer collateral. With a boat, that’s easy because the boat is the collateral! These loans typically come with lower interest rates and higher loan limits. An unsecured loan, on the other hand, does not require collateral but usually has higher interest rates.

Interest Rates

To help you understand how much you will be paying in interest and fees, it’s important to understand the difference between the interest rate and the annual percentage rate (APR). You will likely see both terms used when shopping for a loan.

Interest is the money you pay your lender for the money you borrow, and the interest rate is usually expressed as a percentage. Many consider the APR to be a better representation of how much your loan will cost. The APR includes the interest rate, but it also includes any fees you will have to pay.

Interest rates for boat loans are usually fixed. Your rate will be locked in when the loan is created, and your monthly payments will be the same amount each month for the duration of your loan. 

SeaWest finances marine craft up to 80% including tax and license. A new boat comes with an interest rate of 5.99% and a used craft has a 6.29% interest rate.* Our boat loans go up to 144 months. We want to help you take on that water while staying financially secure.

Boat Type

A factor that may influence your financing options is the type of boat you want to buy. The following boat types, for example, might be more difficult to finance than others:

  • Sailboats
  • Houseboats
  • Multi-Hull Boats
  • Boats with wood hulls
  • High-performance boats 

Some lenders may not finance houseboats, for example, because the laws regarding these vessels vary depending on where you live. Some localities may consider them to be boats, while others view them as residences. 

Risk is another important factor that lenders consider. A boat with a wooden hull can become more easily damaged if it strikes an object in the water than a boat that is made from other materials. 

Boat Financing with SeaWest

If you are ready for high adventure on the open waters, SeaWest can help you finance your new or used boat.

SeaWest wants to thank you for your service and commitment. We believe our members deserve the very best and recognize that your leisure time is extremely important. You work hard for our country!

Getting pre-approved for a boat loan through SeaWest is quick and easy. In just a few minutes, you could be ready to start shopping for the perfect boat. Click below to learn more about our boat loans to see how we can help you make new memories.


*Rates are subject to change without notice.

APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Your actual APR will be determined at the time of disbursement and will be based on your application including loan amount and term, and credit information. Rates quoted above are for the lowest possible rate available, which assumes excellent borrower credit history and the shortest term available for that loan program, i.e. the “Best Rate” for Pre-Owned Auto is currently 2.36% for a 36-month term. Rates vary with term.

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