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A Guide To Fifth Wheel Camper Financing

Published on July 8th, 2022 by Lynne Fedorick

fifth wheel in site - feature image for fifth wheel camper financing
Learn more about fifth wheel camper financing. Photo: Shutterstock

How To Get Fifth Wheel Camper Financing

Many fifth wheel campers come equipped with all the amenities of a small apartment. When you are in a fifth wheel camper, it can be easy to forget that you are camping in an RV at all.

All this luxury comes at a price, though. A fifth wheel RV will cost you between $40,000 for a small fiberglass Escape 5.0 fifth wheel and about $190,000+ for a huge DRV mobile suite unit. Many (if not most) buyers of these often luxurious RVs need to find some sort of fifth wheel camper financing. This article will discuss everything you need to know about financing a fifth wheel.

Where to get fifth wheel camper financing

There are three common sources for RV financing. Borrowers can choose from RV dealer financing, online RV loan specialists, and traditional bank financing.

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RV dealer financing

RV dealerships have a financing department that will do all the legwork of getting you approved and finding the best deal for your specific needs. The dealer’s main goal is to sell you an RV. It is in their interests to find a financing deal that works perfectly for your situation. They have a list of lenders that they work with. RV dealers can often find loans for potential RV buyers, even when their credit history is not so good or they don’t have any down payment. RV dealer financing is convenient and loan approval is usually very fast.

Online RV lenders

There are now a number of online lenders. Each of them does everything you need for your loan online, so you won’t have to set up in-person meetings at any point in the approval process. Getting an RV loan through an online lender is a very fast, convenient, and contactless way to get an RV loan. In some cases, RV loans can be completed the same day you apply.

There are online RV lenders who only lend to those with good credit scores. Some other online companies lend mainly to those with challenged credit. There are also online companies who offer a mixed bag of lending services to a variety of clients.

Here are some examples of online RV financing companies:

RV financing vs auto financing

RV loans work more or less like auto financing, except auto loans often have terms of up to 96 months, and RV loans have terms of up to 20 years. This can make an RV loan seem much like a mortgage without as much legal paperwork.

The biggest difference between an RV loan and a mortgage for real estate is this: an RV loan always finances a depreciating asset. A mortgage used to buy real estate sometimes finances a depreciating asset. But more often, a mortgage on real property is the opposite.

It’s worth noting that a 20-year RV loan term is longer than the expected useful lifespan of most fifth wheel campers. A fifth wheel trailer depreciates very quickly, starting as soon as it’s towed off the dealer’s lot. With few exceptions, after 20 years, most fifth wheel trailers will be worth less than 10% of their original MSRP.

An RV loan with a 20-year term could see you making upside down payments on your RV. This is where the depreciated value of an RV is less than the amount left on the RV loan. Fifth wheel trailers usually depreciate in value by 71% after 10 years. That is a good reason why it’s not advisable to have an RV loan term of more than 10 years on a fifth wheel camper, unless you intend to pay it off early.

Why you should put a down payment on your fifth wheel camper

It’s always financially smart to put as much of a down payment as you can afford towards the purchase price of your RV.

There are three main benefits to paying some money up-front towards your fifth wheel camper.

  • It could be easier to find a lender and get a good interest rate.
  • You’ll be borrowing less money, so you’ll pay less interest.
  • Your payments can be smaller and fewer over a shorter term.

Types of RV loans

There are two types of loans available for fifth wheel RV financing. Like all other RV loans, loans for fifth wheel campers are either secured or unsecured.

Secured RV financing

Secured RV financing often uses the RV as security for the loan and has a lower interest rate. Under the terms of a secured RV loan, if the borrower fails to make a payment, the lender can take the RV. If you have a less than stellar credit record, want the lowest interest rate, or don’t wish to put out much money towards a down payment on your RV, you’ll probably get a secured RV loan. Full time RVers should note that with a secured loan, the lender will want to have proof of a permanent physical address. This enables them to seize the RV in the event that they need to.

If you take out a personal loan from a traditional lender, you may be able to secure the loan with other assets such as a savings account.

Unsecured RV financing

Unsecured RV financing doesn’t require any collateral, but it’s more risky from the lender’s point of view. You’ll pay for that added risk with a higher interest rate on the money you borrow.

What you’ll need to do

  • Save as much as you can for a down payment towards the fifth wheel camper that you want.
  • Budget for payments that you can afford; for most borrowers, this is less than 20% of their monthly income.
  • Shop around for a lender.
  • Negotiate on the interest rate you’ll pay and other terms.

RVers looking for valuable how-to information have learned to go to the experts. Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.

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