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Guide to Boat Costs and Loans

How Much Does a Boat Cost?
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated June 13, 2023
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“Boat” can mean a surprisingly large number of things. The types of craft that fall under the category of boat range from kayak to mega yacht. Clearly, how much a boat costs to buy and maintain depends on the kind of boat you have in mind. How much does a boat cost? Small boats can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, whereas a yacht can cost millions. If you’re looking for a specific type of boat, a used boat typically costs less than a new boat of the same type.Boat pricing can vary depending on a variety of factors, including age, size, and features. Boat pricing for a fishing boat may cost $5,000 to $200K, whereas boat pricing for a yacht may range from $300,000 to more than $10 million.Below we highlight some of the factors that will influence the purchase price of a boat as well as the upkeep costs.  

What Is the Average Cost of a Boat? 

Each type of boat has its standard price range. For example, a Jon boat, a flat-bottomed fishing boat commonly made out of aluminum, could cost anywhere between $500 and $5,000. The starting price of a sailboat is about $12,000. These pricing data come from Triumph Boats, a web forum for boating enthusiasts.How much does a pontoon boat cost? New boat pricing for a pontoon may cost you $19,000 to $90,000, and used boat pricing for a pontoon may cost you $8,000 to $50,000.Size, features, and accessories will go a long way in determining how much you’ll ultimately spend as boats can come in basic models or fully decked out.Recommended: How Much Can You Borrow With a Personal Loan?

What Factors Impact the Cost of Boats?

The reasons for cost are sometimes obvious, but sometimes not:


Size may be the most obvious factor that will play into the cost of a boat. Generally speaking, the larger the boat, the more you’ll pay. 


Much like with a car, the price of a boat will vary depending on make, aka brand, and model. If you’re looking for inshore boats built for saltwater, a 2023 Ranger® 2360 costs $89,995, whereas a 2023 Ranger 2660 costs $124,385. Other brands may produce pricier models, while some may offer something more affordable. 


Often, the difference between models of the same make comes down to features, from sunshades and stereos to chartplotters and autopilot. These will all impact price, and more fully-loaded models can cost significantly more than barebones counterparts. 


As you might imagine, a vehicle that spends much of its life in water requires a lot of maintenance to keep it in top shape. If you’re in the market for a used boat, those that are in better condition will command higher prices. If you’re shopping for a new boat, they typically cost more than used boats of the same brand. As mentioned earlier, a new pontoon boat may cost you $19,000 to $90,000, whereas the used boat pricing range for older pontoons may cost you $8,000 to $50,000.


The laws of supply and demand drive the price of goods, and boats are no exception. The popularity of a particular brand or model can drive prices up, especially on the used market. For example, the Covid-19 pandemic sparked interest in boat ownership, driving up demand for new boats and motors and in turn driving up prices as inventories dwindled.


The physical location of a boat can have a big impact on price. For example, used boat buyers in the market for a seafaring vessel may pay a premium for boats that are located inland, farther away from the corrosive effects of saltwater. Sellers in sparsely populated areas may not be able to sell their boat for as much, as buyers may have to travel to consider the purchase.Recommended: How Long Can You Finance a Boat For?

Boat Financing Options

If you don’t have the cash to buy a boat outright, you still have some options:

Boat Loan

A boat loan is offered by banks, credit unions, and online lenders and is similar to an auto loan. When getting a boat loan, you’ll typically have regular monthly loan payments, including interest charges, that you’ll make until the loan is paid back. Terms and interest rate will vary depending on factors such as credit score, income, and size of the loan.Unlike vacation loans, a boat loan gives you ownership of an asset that’s built for leisure and water activities.Like horse trailer financing, a boat loan finances the purchase of movable property that can promote recreation and travel.Recommended: Guide to Kayak Financing

Personal Loans

Lenders may also offer the option of personal loans. There are many uses for a personal loan, ranging from consolidating debt to buying a boat. How you use the personal loan is up to you.As with boat loans, you’ll repay a personal loan and interest on a monthly schedule. Terms and interest rates will also be largely determined by credit score. However, you do not have to have perfect credit to take out a personal loan.If you have poor credit, here are some online personal loans you may explore:Personal loan approval is never guaranteed, but you may consider using personal loan prequalification to see how much money a lender may be willing to offer you.

Pros and Cons of Personal Loans vs Boat Loans

The below table highlights some of the pros and cons of unsecured personal loans vs. secured boat loans:
Pros of unsecured personal loansCons of unsecured personal loansPros of secured boat loansCons of secured boat loans
Can be used for almost any purposeBorrowers may have to pay hefty origination feesHelps you become a boat ownerMay only be used for financing the purchase of a boat
Gives you a lump sum of money to be repaid over a set termMay have higher interest rates than secured boat loansMay have lower interest rates than unsecured personal loansMay require a down payment
No collateral requiredDefaulting on the loan can damage your credit May have fixed monthly paymentsLender may seize your boat if you default on the loan
Can help you build creditMay need good credit to qualify for large loan amountsMay have 100% loan-to-value (LTV) ratioMay charge prepayment penalties if you pay the loan off early

What Does It Cost to Store a Boat? 

Many boat owners pull their boats out of the water, especially in climates where ice damage is a possibility, and store them on dry land, either indoors or outdoors. Outdoor storage will likely cost $20 to $50 per foot of the boat for the season, while indoor storage could cost $50 to $200 per boat foot. Prices vary depending on location.

Hidden Boat Costs 

How much does a boat cost? You may have heard the adage that goes something like “a boat is just a hole in the water you throw money into.” What this is really saying is that the purchase price of a boat is just the beginning.There are all sorts of other costs you’ll be on the hook for as a boat owner, including insurance, mooring fees, the cost of storage in the off season, and other expenses outlined below: 


If you want to haul your boat behind your vehicle, you’ll need a trailer, so figure that into the cost of a boat. Price varies depending on material and number of axles. Price tags can range from $700 to $5,000. 


In most states, you don’t have to have boat insurance. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea, especially if your boat is expensive. To estimate the cost of insuring a boat, consider you’ll probably pay a premium equal to about 1.5% of your boat’s value. At that rate, a $50,000 boat will cost you $750 to insure. 

Mooring Fees

A mooring fee is the amount a marina or harbor will charge you to keep your boat in the water and connect to facilities such as electricity and water supplies. Cost will vary by location. In the U.S., mooring costs could be $12 to $50 per foot per year. In popular areas, mooring fees may cost hundreds of dollars per foot. 


Water produces a lot of drag, which means engines have to work hard to power boats. And that can take a lot of fuel. As a simple rule of thumb, you can calculate the number of gallons of fuel a boat will consume per hour by dividing total engine horsepower by 10 for gas engines and 0.06 for diesel engines. A 250 horsepower gas engine will consume 25 gallons of fuel running at full speed for an hour. If gas prices average around $3 per gallon, that hour-long joy ride will cost you about $75.


If you’re a private boater, most states require that you take a boater safety education course, which can end up costing as much as $65. Commercial licenses for those operating a boat with paying passengers can cost quite a bit more.


Boats require engine maintenance and cleaning as well as hull maintenance, which refers to the body of the boat. As with all boating costs, size and type of boat matters a lot. As a rule of thumb, boating experts estimate that maintenance costs will equal about 2% of the original purchase price of a new boat each year.


There are no federal taxes on boat purchases, but there may be state or local taxes, including sales tax, use tax, and personal property tax. Check with your state tax office to see what you’ll owe on a boat purchase. Note, it’s important to check in both the state in which you purchase your boat and the state where you keep it.Recommended: 10 Possible Benefits of Obtaining Personal Loans

Checking Personal Loan Rates

Buying and maintaining a boat can be a costly endeavor. It’s critical to understand what costs factor into the purchase price of a boat and the hidden costs so you can buy a boat that fits your budget. If you need funding to buy a boat, Lantern by SoFi can help. Just fill out a simple form and apply for online personal loans with a lender of your choice.Flexible financing up to $50,000 in minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average cost of a boat?
How much does a boat cost per year?
What is the cost of storing a boat?
Photo credit: iStock/NiseriN

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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