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Financing For Full-Time RVers

Published on February 5th, 2024 by Peggy Dent

Is Financing Available for Full-Time RVers? 

RV financing is available for full-time RVers but not many lenders want to underwrite that type of loan. Plus, the banks that will underwrite them have some very specific criteria. It’s probable you will pay a higher interest rate and you may need a larger down payment. Additionally, the type, value, and age of the RV to be financed will also be factored into the lender’s decision-making process.

a brand new dark brown Newmar RV on the sales lot
Photo: P Dent

Risk is a lender’s primary concern

Lending money to full-time RVers is riskier than lending money to someone with a fixed address. If a borrower defaults on a loan, the lender can locate the borrower, at their known address. From there they should be able to locate the RV, which is the collateral on the loan. But a full-time RVer could be anywhere in the US, Canada, Mexico, or points further south, and repossessing the RV would be virtually impossible. Even using social media and skip tracing techniques to locate the borrower (and the collateralized RV) would still be very difficult to arrange for the speedy recovery of the RV. It’s basically more trouble than it’s worth, and that’s why most RV lenders choose not to finance full-time RVers.

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History of finance for full-time RVers

Interior and living room of a luxury fifth-wheel trailer.

When we began our full-time adventure several years ago we explored the availability of financing. We discovered at that time there were many RV lenders but only two—Good Sam and Essex (now BMO)—were willing to finance an RV for full-time use. While doing research for this article, I discovered that neither of these lenders are still underwriting loans for full-timers. However, I found that Alliant Credit Union is funding full-timers and they have a convenient on-line approval process.

Stipulations of financing full-time RVers

The very first hurdle you need to overcome is to have a stellar credit rating. A score of 700 is the likely starting point. Be advised that the credit app on your phone is not an accurate representation of the actual FICO score the bank will use. Another criterion is your debt to income ratio and your employment earnings or any other source of regular income. Of course, the bank will consider any documented facts that demonstrate stability. In the end, they will always err on the side of caution. Therefore, the burden will be on you to demonstrate your creditworthiness.

Loan limits

Alliant will finance RVs from 10–20 years with a maximum loan amount of $300,000 for new RVs, and $100,000 for used RVs that are less than 15 years old. The current interest rates listed on their website range from 7.49%–8.74% with the higher rates applied to loans with a longer term. 

Photo: P Dent

The full-time RVer financing process may not be easy

Alliant’s recommended procedure is to submit an online application for financing to determine if you are qualified before you start searching for the right RV for you. If you do qualify for a loan, you’ll know how much down payment will be required and how much you can spend on your RV. 

Lenders will make it sound like it’s an easy process, but our personal experience was very different. The application process took much longer than we had anticipated, and the amount of documentation required by the underwriter was extensive. In the end, we did not qualify for a loan because we work for ourselves and couldn’t document a regular source of income. That’s even though our business has been supporting us for more than 30 years and we could have purchased the RV outright with cash. When in doubt, an underwriter will always err on the side of the lender, so be ready to fully document your income and creditworthiness.

Cash is king

Buying an RV should be a fun and exciting adventure. But financing one as a full-time RVer can be a stressful. Consequently, if it’s at all feasible to buy your RV outright, it will eliminate all that stress. It will also keep you from paying a huge monthly payment. It might be painful to part with all that money upfront, but knowing your home-on-wheels is paid for will contribute to your sense of freedom. And after all, isn’t that one of the primary objectives of RVing?  

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