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How To Finance An RV – Forbes Advisor

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A recreational vehicle, also known as an RV, serves as a unique hybrid between a vehicle and a home. They’re a wonderful way to see the country without the hassle of flying, and you have built-in accommodations wherever you go. But RVs can come with a hefty price tag.

Since an RV doesn’t fall in the typical car category and is often a much more expensive purchase, RV loans exist to help consumers finance these large, unique purchases.

What Is an RV Loan?

An RV loan helps you finance a purchase of a new or used RV, motorhome or camping trailer that you can’t afford to purchase outright. Because RVs range from small and affordable to large and luxurious, RV loans also run the gamut with size and terms.

RV loans also are separate from auto loans because they’re typically larger, more complicated purchases. Depending on the lender, you can find RV loans for around $25,000 that are repaid over a few years, but you also can find loans as hefty as $300,000 that are repaid over 20 years.

For very small RV purchases, you have the option of using a personal loan instead. For example, Bank of the West requests that customers use personal loans for RV purchases under $10,000 rather than RV loans.

How RV Loans Work

As with any other loan, prospective borrowers submit an RV loan application that the lender reviews and evaluates based on several factors. Your credit plays a large part in your eligibility and interest rate, as does the size of the loan and your down payment. In addition to checking your credit, lenders may look at other aspects of your financial health, such as your net worth or cash flow/income, employment and housing.

Borrowing requirements can be stricter for larger loans, so the amount of documentation required also depends on the lender and the size of the loan.

If you plan to obtain an RV loan from a lender of your choice rather than through the dealership, you can apply and get pre-approved before you go shopping for your RV. Your lender may offer you a few different term options, allowing you to decide on the timeframe in which you’ll repay the loan (this impacts your interest rate and monthly payments). For smaller RV loans, the terms may be only for two or three years, while larger RV loans may have terms as long as 10 to 20 years. Interest rates are usually fixed, so your payments remain consistent over the life of the loan.

RV loans also require a down payment, often between 10% and 20%. Your lender may also require an RV inspection, which usually costs between $150 and $200.

Unsecured Loans vs Secured Vehicle Loans

There’s one thing all auto loans have in common: they’re secured, with your car serving as collateral. In other words, if you default on your loan, the lender can repossess the car. On the other hand, most personal loans are unsecured, where no collateral is required and you’re approved based solely on your creditworthiness.

When it comes to RV loans, some are secured and some are unsecured. In most cases, smaller RV loans are unsecured and function more like personal loans, while higher-dollar loans for luxury RVs are secured and work more like an auto loan or mortgage.

For example, Truist Bank—formerly SunTrust Bank—offers unsecured loans for purchases of RVs, including towable campers and trailers, for amounts between $5,000 and $100,000. But if you’re purchasing a higher-value RV, such as Class A or Class C motorhome, Truist requires the loan to be secured, using the motorhome’s title as collateral.

Keep in mind that if you fail to make your payments on a secured RV loan, the lender can repossess your RV. But because the collateral makes the loan less risky to lenders, interest rates are often lower on secured RV loans.

Where to Get an RV Loan

Borrowers typically have two major options for where to obtain an RV loan:

  • RV dealership. Often, the easiest way to apply for a loan is at the dealership once you choose an RV. The dealer will typically present you with a few financing options, either through partnerships with various lenders or in-house. Financing an RV through the dealership also may give you more bargaining power and flexibility on the vehicle price or APR.
  • Online or traditional lender. You can also obtain an RV loan through a financial institution, such as your bank or credit union. If you go this route, you can get preapproved to borrow a certain amount before you head to the dealership. This can be helpful if you’re not sure how much RV you can afford—or if you’re worried about whether your credit score will qualify you for acceptable lending terms.

However, if you plan to buy a less expensive RV, such as a smaller used one, it may make more sense to apply for a personal loan instead. You can do this before you go RV shopping; you receive the money as one lump sum, so you can then go make the purchase outright. Just keep in mind that some lenders limit what borrowers can use personal loans for, so check with the lender before signing on the dotted line.

How to Apply for an RV Loan

Follow these steps if you’re ready to finance a new or used RV:

1. Determine Your Budget

RV costs vary substantially depending on the types, age and size of the vehicle. What’s more, add-on features and interior finishes can even cause the price of small RVs to skyrocket quickly. Before you start shopping for an RV loan, consider what you need in an RV and how you plan to use it. Will you be traveling full-time or are you more of a weekend warrior? Do you plan to camp in cold climates or rugged terrain so that you’ll need a winterized or off-road RV?

Once you have a picture of your RV lifestyle in mind, make a list of must-have and nice-to-have features and research the average cost of RVs that meet those requirements. Then, evaluate whether that cost is consistent with your current financial situation and reevaluate if necessary.

Alternatively, you can calculate how much RV you can afford by reviewing your finances and determining how much room you have in your budget each month. Remember, though, that this amount will have to cover everything from debt service and insurance to maintenance, storage and fuel for travel.

2. Check Your Credit Score

RV loan APR is in large part determined by a borrower’s credit score. Other factors—such as the size of the loan—also play a part, but creditworthiness can make or break RV financing. So, to qualify for the best RV loan rates, make sure your credit is in the best shape possible. Some lenders are stricter than others but many traditional lenders may not approve RV loans for bad credit. For example, Bank of the West says credit scores of 700 or higher are preferred.

Other lenders, however, specialize in RV loans for bad credit. Southeast Financial says that while most RV lenders require credit scores of 720 or above, they have no minimum credit score requirement and review each application on a case-by-case basis. Another option is My Financing USA, which has RV loan options both for those with good credit (minimum score of 680) and bad credit (minimum score of 570).

There are plenty of ways to improve your credit score, from always paying your bills on time to reducing the amount of debt you carry. Be aware that some lenders also may offer discounts if you enroll in auto-pay.

3. Save a Down Payment

In general, RV dealerships require a down payment of 10% of the purchase price—at a minimum. Others may require, or at least prefer, a 20% down payment. To ensure you’re ready to take the leap when you find your perfect RV, start saving for a down payment as soon as possible. A larger down payment will ultimately reduce your monthly payments and can decrease your interest rate and the overall cost of the loan.

If you have less than stellar credit, providing a larger down payment may also increase your chances of RV loan approval because it lowers the amount you need to borrow and reduces risk to the lender.

4. Shop for a Lender

If you decide to finance an RV through the dealer, they will show you loan options from the lenders they partner with. This is the most convenient option, since they take care of the loan logistics for you, but they may not always have the best rates. Some RV dealerships also offer in-house financing options that are more lenient with credit, but they can come at a high cost.

However, many people choose to finance their RVs through a private online or traditional lender. If you go through a private lender, you can typically complete the application online or by phone and get preapproved before you even set foot in the dealership. This indicates to the seller that you’re a serious buyer, which can put you in a better position to negotiate on the price tag.

Once you commit to buying an RV, you will send the purchase agreement to the lender who preapproved you, and they’ll finalize the loan documents. The lender then sends the funds to the dealer to complete the process. This option may be ideal if you want to stick with your existing bank or credit union, or if you find a rate you can’t pass up.

5. Negotiate for the Best Terms

Before you agree to purchase an RV, make sure you’re getting the best price possible. Some dealerships markup RV prices by as much as 50% and many expect customers to haggle on the price. Depending on the RV and the circumstances, you may be able to get the price down as much as 20% to 30% off the sticker price.

You may be able to take advantage of extra incentives or amenities that make the purchase price more acceptable, such as free maintenance or upgrades. By reducing the purchase price of an RV, you’ll cut back on the overall costs of financing—even if you don’t qualify for a low APR.

RV Loan Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is it to get an RV loan?

Just like any loan, an RV loan requires a thorough assessment of your credit and finances. When underwriting RV loans, lenders look for a strong credit history and solid income that shows a likelihood of repayment. If your credit isn’t in great shape, it may be hard to get approved for an RV loan. However, some lenders specialize in RV loans for bad credit by evaluating applications on a case-by-case basis, rather than just looking at credit history.

Can someone cosign an RV loan?

Some types of loans allow borrowers to have co-signers, which is when you get a loved one with a stronger credit history to agree to take on the financial responsibility with you. When it comes to RV loans, it’s up to the lender; some permit it, but many don’t because they see it as a sign that the borrower is too risky for such a large purchase.

 

For example, Bank of the West does not allow cosigners on RV loans. However, some lenders are open to it, so if you think you’ll need a cosigner in order to qualify for an RV loan, make sure to ask if this is an option before you proceed.

What is the current interest rate on RV loans?

In general, RV loan interest rates range from about 4.25% up to 11% or more, depending on the loan amount, term and the borrower’s creditworthiness. However, these are just starting rates for customers with the best credit. What’s more, rates vary from lender to lender, so make sure to shop around before choosing the terms that fit your needs. Even a slightly lower interest rate can make a massive difference in the long run.

Can you buy an RV with an auto loan?

No, you typically cannot use an auto loan for a recreational vehicle. RVs are usually much more expensive purchases, so the loans are larger and require a more in-depth underwriting process. Lenders often consider factors such as your liquidity, net worth and cash flow—factors that aren’t usually reviewed for auto loans.

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Will Missing One Car Payment Hurt My Credit Score?

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The short answer is yes: skipping one car payment can hurt your credit score, but not until it hits a certain mark. One missed payment doesn’t destroy your credit score forever, but it can stay on your credit reports for years.

Missed Payments and Your Credit Score

One or two missed payments may not be enough to completely ruin a good credit score, but they can lower your credit score quite a bit. How much your credit score can drop depends on many things, including how much credit history you have and how much time has passed since your missed payment.

How much a missed payment can impact your credit score is heavily influenced by how many missed payments you currently have reported, your current credit score, your credit utilization, how many accounts you have, and more. In other words: your drop in credit score due to one missed car payment is likely to be unique to you. The drop in points could be anywhere from 10 to 100 points, or more.

Will Skipping One Car Payment Hurt My Credit Score?If you have a thin credit file or little to no credit history, one missed car payment can be devastating to your credit score. And, in some cases, having a good credit score and then a reported 30-day missed payment could hurt your credit score more because you have more to lose.

The severity of the missed payment matters too. If you’re 30 days on the payment, it’s not as bad as being 90 days late. Most creditors report missed payments in these timeframes: 30 days; 60 days; 90 days; 120 days; 150 days; and then delinquent/charge-offs after that. The longer you let that missed payment go on being missed, the worse it is for your credit score.

To bounce back from a missed auto loan payment, be sure to make that payment as quickly as you can. The sooner you make up that payment, the better off you are.

How Long Are Missed Car Payments Reported?

Missed and late car payments can remain on your credit reports for up to seven years. How much they damage your credit score lessens each year, but it can still impact your overall credit score years afterward.

Your payment history is the most influential part of your credit score: a whopping 35%. In terms of credit repair, this means making all of your bill payments on time is important. If you have an auto loan that isn’t currently being reported – meaning your loan and on-time payments don’t show up on your credit report – the missed and late payments are likely to be reported anyway. Even auto lenders that don’t generally report their loans to the credit bureaus typically report missed/late payments.

If you think you’re about to miss a payment and you want to avoid hurting your credit, you have some options to explore.

Ask Your Lender for a Deferment

Lending institutions understand that times can get tough. If you think you’re about to miss a payment, contact your lender right away and ask what options are available to you. Keep your lender in the loop if you’re going through rough times – the sooner you get ahold of them the better.

This is especially true right now, given the current pandemic. Many borrowers left without work have been forced to find alternatives to making payments and needed assistance with their car loans and mortgages. There is a process that allows borrowers to take a breather and gather themselves, and it’s called a deferment.

A deferment, in a nutshell, pushes the pause button on your auto loan. Most times, lenders pause the car payments for up to three months and add those payments to the back of the loan term. If you qualify, you may be able to recenter yourself and get back on track. After the deferment is up, the car payments resume and you continue paying as normal.

The only downsides to this option are that your interest charges continue to accrue, and your loan term is extended. However, in the grand scheme of things, a few more months of a car payment and interest charges is better than default or multiple missed payments!

There is a common stumbling block to deferments though: most lenders don’t approve these plans unless your current on the loan. If you’ve already missed one payment or more, then the lender isn’t likely to approve it.

Is Refinancing Your Auto Loan an Option?

If you’re struggling to keep up with your current car loan, refinancing for a lower monthly payment could be the answer.

Refinancing involves replacing your current loan with another one, typically with a different lender. Most borrowers refinance to lower their monthly payments by either lowering their interest rate or extending their loan term (sometimes both).

To refinance, you also need to be current on your auto loan. Most lenders that offer refinancing don’t consider borrowers with multiple missed/late payments on their car loan. Additionally, you generally need to meet these requirements for refinancing:

  • Must have equity in the car or the loan balance must be equal to the vehicle’s value
  • The car is under 10 years old with fewer than 100,000 miles
  • Your credit score has improved since the start of the loan

You may need to meet other requirements, depending on the lender you choose. Refinancing doesn’t typically require a “perfect” credit score, but you may need a good one to qualify.

Ready to Get a More Affordable Car?

If you’re struggling to make ends meet and worried about skipping payments, then it may be time to sell your car and get something more affordable. If you’re concerned that a poor credit score could get in the way of your next auto loan, then consider a subprime lender through a special finance dealership.

Subprime lenders are indirect lenders that are signed up with certain dealers. They assist borrowers in all sorts of unique credit circumstances, and they could help you get into a more affordable vehicle if you qualify.

Finding a subprime lender can be as simple as completing our free auto loan request form. Here at Auto Credit Express, we work to match borrowers to dealerships with bad credit lending resources in their local area, at no cost and with no obligation. Get started today!

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How to Avoid a Prepayment Penalty When Paying Off a Loan | Pennyhoarder

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Look at you, so responsible. You received a financial windfall — stimulus check, tax refund, work bonus, inheritance, whatever — and you’re using it to pay off one of your debts years ahead of schedule.

Good for you! Except… make sure you don’t get charged a prepayment penalty.

Now wait just a minute, you say. I’m paying the money back early — early! — and my lender thanks me by charging me a fee?

Well, in some cases, yes.

A prepayment penalty is a fee lenders use to recoup the money they’ll lose when you’re no longer paying interest on the loan. That interest is how they make their money.

But you can avoid the trap — or at least a big payout if you’ve already signed the loan contract. We’ll explain.

What Is a Loan Prepayment Penalty?

A prepayment penalty is a fee lenders charge if you pay off all or part of your loan early.

Typically, a prepayment penalty only applies if you pay off the entire balance – for example, because you sold your car or are refinancing your mortgage – within a specific timeframe (usually within three years of when you accepted the loan).

In some cases, a prepayment penalty could apply if you pay off a large amount of your loan all at once.

Prepayment penalties do not normally apply if you pay extra principal in small chunks at a time, but it’s always a good idea to double check with the lender and your loan agreement.

What Loans Have Prepayment Penalties?

Most loans do not include a prepayment penalty. They are typically applied to larger loans, like mortgages and sometimes auto loans — although personal loans can also include this sneaky fee.

Credit unions and banks are your best options for avoiding loans that include prepayment penalties, according to Charles Gallagher, a consumer law attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Unfortunately, if you have bad credit and can’t get a loan from traditional lenders, private loan alternatives are the most likely to include the prepayment penalty.

Pro Tip

If your loan includes a prepayment penalty, the contract should state the time period when it may be imposed, the maximum penalty and the lender’s contact information.

”The more opportunistic and less fair lenders would be the ones who would probably be assessing [prepayment penalties] as part of their loan terms,” he said, “I wouldn’t say loan sharking… but you have to search down the list for a less preferable lender.”

Prepayment Penalties for Mortgages

Although you’ll find prepayment penalties in auto and personal loans, a more common place to find them is in home loans. Why? Because a lender who agrees to a 30-year mortgage term is banking on earning years worth of interest to make money off the amount it’s loaning you.

That prepayment penalty can apply if you want to pay off your loan early, sell your house or even refinance, depending on the terms of your mortgage.

However, if there is a prepayment penalty in the contract for a more recent mortgage, there are rules about how long it can be in effect and how much you can owe.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ruled that for mortgages made after Jan. 10, 2014, the maximum prepayment penalty a lender can charge is 2% of the loan balance. And prepayment penalties are only allowed in mortgages if all of the following are true:

  1. The loan has a fixed interest rate.
  2. The loan is considered a “qualified mortgage” (meaning it can’t have features like negative amortization or interest-only payments).
  3. The loan’s annual percentage rate can’t be higher than the Average Prime Offer Rate (also known as a higher-priced mortgage).

So suppose you bought a house last year and then wanted to sell your home. If your mortgage meets all of the above criteria and has a prepayment penalty clause in the mortgage contract, you could end up paying a penalty of 2% on the remaining balance — for a loan you still owe $200,000 on, that comes out to an extra $4,000.

Prepayment penalties apply for only the first few years of a mortgage — the CFPB’s rule allows for a maximum of three years. But again, check your mortgage agreement for your exact terms.

The prepayment penalty won’t apply to FHA, VA or USDA loans but can apply to conventional mortgages — although the penalty is much less common than it was before the CFPB’s ruling.

“It’s more of private loans — loans for people who’ve maybe had some struggles and can’t qualify for a Fannie or Freddie loan,” Gallagher said. “That block of lending is the one going to be most hit by this.”

How to Find Out If a Loan Will Have a Prepayment Penalty

The best way to avoid a prepayment penalty is to read your contract — or better yet, have a professional (like an attorney or CPA) who understands the terminology, review it.

“You should read the entirety of the loan, as painful as that sounds, because lenders may try to hide it,” Gallagher said. “Generally, it would be under repayment terms or the language that deals with the payoff of the loan or selling your house.”

Gallagher rattled off a list of alternative terms a lender could use in the contract, including:

  • Sale before a certain timeframe.
  • Refinance before a term.
  • Prepayment prior to maturity.

“They avoid using the word ‘penalty,’ obviously, because that would give a reader of the note, mortgage or the loan some alarm,” he said.

If you’re negotiating the terms — as say, with an auto loan — don’t let a salesperson try to pressure you into signing a contract without agreeing to a simple interest contract with no prepayment penalty. Better yet, start by applying for a pre-approved auto loan so you can get a pro to review any contracts before you sign.

Pro Tip

Do you have less-than-sterling credit? Watch out for pre-computed loans, in which interest is front-loaded, ensuring the lender collects more in interest no matter how quickly you pay off the loan.

If your lender presents you with a contract that includes a prepayment penalty, request a loan that does not include a prepayment penalty. The new contract may have other terms that make that loan less advantageous (like a higher interest rate), but you’ll at least be able to compare your options.

How Can You Find Out if Your Current Loan Has a Prepayment Penalty?

If a loan has a prepayment penalty, the servicer must include information about the penalty on either your monthly statement or in your loan coupon book (the slips of paper you send with your payment every month).

You can also ask your lender about the terms regarding your penalty by calling the number on your monthly billing statement or read the documents you signed when you closed the loan — look for the same terms mentioned above.

What to Do if You’re Stuck in a Loan With Prepayment Penalty

If you do discover that your loan includes a prepayment penalty, you still have some options.

First, check your contract.

If you’ll incur a fee for paying off your loan early within the first few years, consider holding onto the money until the penalty period expires.

Pro Tip

If you don’t have a loan with a prepayment penalty, contact your lender before sending additional money to ensure your payment is going toward principal — not interest or fees.

Additionally, although you may get socked with a penalty for paying off the loan balance early, it’s likely you can still make extra payments toward the balance. Review your contract or ask your lender what amount will trigger the penalty, Gallagher said.

If you’re paying off multiple types of debt, consider paying off the accounts that do not trigger prepayment penalties — credit cards and federal student loans don’t charge prepayment penalties.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance website that empowers millions of readers nationwide to make smart decisions with their money through actionable and inspirational advice, and resources about how to make, save and manage money.

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10 things you didn’t know will help you get a mortgage

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Anyone who wants to apply for a mortgage right now will know that it’s not easy. Coronavirus has made the process of applying longer, while lenders are now more careful than ever about who they will lend to. You probably already know that having a healthy credit score is essential to a successful mortgage application, but how can it be achieved? Personal finance experts from Ocean Finance  weigh in with the top tips for making sure your application is a success – that you may not have heard about. 

1. Make sure your name is on all household bills

If you share a rental, it can be tempting to let someone else put their name down on the utility bills and just pay them back. If you want a mortgage, avoid doing this: bills with your name and address on them are proof that you pay them on time. This especially applies to the rent itself – never move into a house share without your name being on the contract. Before applying for a mortgage, ask your landlord for a letter confirming that you pay on time. 

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