If you’re buying an RV, here’s what you need to know

Social distancing and road trips can go hand-in-hand. (iStock)

The coronavirus put the brakes on travel at the beginning of the pandemic. As people started adjusting to social distancing, many searched for safer ways to vacation. For some, the perfect solution was to purchase an RV – a living space on wheels. In fact, the option became a popular one. It's expected that the RV industry will break records in 2021.

According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), RV wholesale shipments posted their best month on record in February 2021, with an increase of more than 30% over February 2020. Rentals have also increased. Outdoorsy, an RV rental marketplace, saw record sales in 2020, with an increase in bookings of 4,500%. 


First-time buyers make up much of the demand, but getting into the RV market isn’t the same as purchasing any other vehicle. The process is more complex and involved. If you’re thinking about getting a motor home, there are plenty of questions to answer first, so use the following as a preliminary guide to buying.

What do I need to know before buying my first RV?

The first thing to know in RV purchasing is the actual cost. According to Cruise America, an RV rental and sales company, the cost to buy an RV can range from $35,000 to $300,000. If that gives you sticker shock – and you own a vehicle with towing capabilities – you might consider a camper or trailer using fifth wheels. Pop-up trailers range between $5,000 and $25,000, and travel trailers usually range from $9,000 to $15,000, according to the RVIA.

If you’re wondering how the purchase would affect your budget, you can visit Credible and use the personal loan calculator to determine the monthly payment. You’ll also find the best personal loan rates for when you’re ready to make your purchase.


Becoming an RV owner comes with related expenses. Most motor homes get just four to 10 miles per gallon, and filing up the tank will easily run well over $150. You’ll also need to insure it, fund maintenance and repairs, and potentially explore RV accessories like solar panels or RV covers.

If you park at campgrounds or RV parks, you’ll typically pay $25 to $60 per night. And if your HOA or city forbids you from parking your motor home in your driveway, you’ll need to look for RV storage facilities and pay to keep it in one.

When you do the math, it’s clear that buying an RV isn’t the most efficient budget travel option, but it does provide freedom and a lifestyle you may love. If you're searching for a personal loan to afford an RV lifestyle, Credible can do the heavy lifting for you. With the click of a button, you can view multiple lenders, rates, and terms in one spot.

How do I choose an RV?

If getting an RV is right for you, the next decision before looking at types of RVs is to find one that is new or used. Just like a car, an RV loses value when you drive it off of the dealer’s lot. Only buy new if you’re certain you’ll get years’ worth of use out of the motor home and you don’t mind, have good credit that will help you qualify for the best financing rates and can afford the depreciation.


For most, used may be a better way to go. For example, a 2021 Winnebago Vista 29V for sale on RVTrader goes for about $140,000, while the 2019 version with just 2,600 miles is $108,900. A $30,000-plus savings is a considerable amount. If you have questions about how a personal loan for an RV works, visit Credible to get in touch with experienced loan officers who can provide the answers you need and offer advice on getting approved for the best rates.

You may also consider renting your RV. The current seller’s market has increased purchase prices and limited your ability to negotiate. It may be better wait until demand dies down. Sites like Cruise America and Outdoorsy have several options to rent an RV, with price tags around $125 a night.

Also, with so many options and upgrades like slide outs and entertainment systems, renting can be helpful to spend some time in a motor home to determine which features are important, which are nice to have and which are things you can live without. You don’t want to pay for upgrades you’ll never use or appreciate.

How can I pay for an RV?

Since it’s a big purchase, you may need to borrow money for buying an RV. Terms typically range during the purchasing process from 10 to 15 years. However, some banks may offer a 20-year loan. RV dealerships - be it a national or local dealer - usually offer financing options, or you may fund the purchase through a loan with a bank, credit union or online lender. Like a car loan, the RV serves as collateral.

One of the loan options is a personal loan, which can be used for virtually any reason. Rates are good right now, and you can easily explore multiple offers by visiting an online marketplace like Credible to compare terms and lenders.


The whole purpose of RV traveling is to have the freedom to explore the country on your terms. Before you apply for a loan, make sure buying your perfect RV doesn’t become a burden by straining your budget. The best decisions aren’t rushed. Take your time to be sure of what you want so that you can enjoy the open road, maybe head to national parks or embark on winter sports during RV trips with greater peace of mind.

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