If you visited the recent Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, or traveled to Atlantic City for the gigantic Atlantic City Boat Show, and spied a boat rig you’d like to have, perhaps you may need to start shopping for a loan to finance it.
The Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), the nation’s largest advocacy, services and safety group, urges boaters to be smart when it comes to financing a new or used boat. They offer three tips to help you avoid common problems when applying for a loan.
“Boat buyers can help themselves by knowing three key things: how loan rates work, how much of a boat loan you can afford, and your credit score,” said BoatUS Boat Finance Department Manager Rache’ Llerena. “We see these same three mistakes every day. Educating yourself and being candid about the numbers make you a wise consumer and may put you in stronger position when seeking a boat loan.”
Here’s what you should find out before applying for a boat loan, says BoatUS.
*Know how boat loan rates work: Fixed-rate, fixed-term, simple-interest loans are the most common. They have the same monthly payment for the life of the loan, typically from 10 to 20 years. Down payments from 10% to 20% are the norm. Generally, interest rates are lower and loan terms are longer for newer boats and larger loan amounts. Each are dependent on a variety of factors including model year, loan amount and down payment. Be prepared for lenders to require larger down payments, charge higher rates and offer shorter terms on older boats, especially those over 20 model years. There could also be a rate difference between some consecutive model years, so talk with your lender to better understand the rate and term structure.
Know how much you an afford: Estimate your monthly payments using BoatUS’s online loan calculator. This is a good starting point in figuring what is affordable, but remember your lender will look at your debt-to-income ratio and other criteria, which may change the amount.
*Be an open book with your credit report: The closer the score to 700 or higher, the better the chances you’ll be approved. So before you apply for a loan, ensure your credit report is accurate. That goes for both applicants if two people (siblings, spouses, business partners or friends) are buying a boat together. While you can get free copies of your credit report from three national credit bureaus, go to “annualcreditreport.com,” the only site authorized by federal law for your credit score.
Additional options are to buy it from all three credit bureaus individually or through an online service. Also note that depending on the bank, a credit report ding like a past bankruptcy or foreclosure may not preclude you from getting a loan. More information is available at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
According to Willie Marx from Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, this is the worse ice fishing season he’s seen in some time. He says avid ice anglers have had to fish Pocono area waters to find safe ice while a few have traveled to New York State.
Last week, I saw but two anglers fishing the most popular stretch of the Little Lehigh for the 30-plus golden rainbow trout stocked there by Lehigh F&G. The fish were donated by Cabela’s.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.