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How to pay for a jet ski: 4 financing options

Yahoo Personal Finance· Getty Images

A jet ski can be a thrilling way to enjoy the water, and these personal watercraft often come with a more affordable price tag than many boats. But jet skis aren’t cheap, with some high-end models costing five figures.

Jet ski financing is an option if you’re interested in purchasing your own. Here’s what to know about the cost of jet skis, your financing options, and how to choose the best financing.

How much do jet skis cost?

Jet skis vary in cost considerably depending on age, make and model, and the features you’re looking for. According to consumer research company J.D. Power, a new jet ski costs between $5,000 and $20,000. You might pay less if you opt for a used model — older jet skis generally come with lower price tags.

4 jet ski financing options

If you’ve looked at your finances and can’t afford to pay a large sum upfront for a jet ski or waverunner, consider these financing options to spread the cost into monthly payments.

Personal loan

Many lenders offer unsecured personal loans, which don’t require your jet ski as collateral as a condition of loan approval. You can find these loans from online banks, local banks, and credit unions; loan amounts, rates, and terms differ across lenders. But generally, you can borrow up to $50,000 with a personal loan, and terms can be as long as five or seven years.

The current average rate for a two-year unsecured personal loan is around 12.17%. This rate is lower than what you might get with credit cards, which have average rates of 21.19%, per the Fed.

Lenders have different borrower requirements for personal loans. But in general, you’ll need good credit or excellent credit to qualify (though it’s possible to get a loan with bad credit). Many lenders offer online applications for personal loans, and if you’re approved, you may receive your loan funds as soon as the same day or within a few days.

Credit card

Credit cards often have higher rates than personal loans. That said, you may be able to qualify for a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) credit card if you have a good or excellent credit score. These cards provide deferred interest for a set time period, often a year or 18 months, meaning you won’t pay interest on your jet ski as long as it’s repaid in full before the introductory period ends.

The total amount of credit you’ll qualify for depends on your situation, so keep this in mind if you’re looking to finance a more expensive jet ski. For a larger purchase, it’s possible you’ll need to make a down payment to cover the entire cost.

You’ll generally know if you’re approved for a credit card within a few minutes of applying, and if you qualify, you’ll receive your new card in the mail within a few business days.

Personal watercraft loan

A personal watercraft loan is a type of personal loan that’s generally secured by your jet ski. But, some lenders such as LightStream also market unsecured personal loans as personal watercraft or jet ski loans.

If you miss payments on a secured loan, your lender can put a lien on your jet ski or even seize it. Because the collateral helps reduce the lender’s risk, these loans may have lower rates than unsecured personal loans. Minimum credit score requirements may also be slightly more flexible.

Personal watercraft loans are available from online lenders, specialty lenders, or local banks and credit unions.

Manufacturer financing

Powersports manufacturers such as Sea-Doo and others regularly offer financing — sometimes even 0% interest financing for a set time period. The types of financing, rates, and terms will vary across different companies and dealerships.

While financing your jet ski where you buy it may be convenient, it’s smart to compare financing options — and even pre-qualify for an outside loan — before heading out to a manufacturer or dealer. Doing so may take time, but it can help ensure you get the lowest rate and best terms.

personal loans

How to choose a financing option and apply

There’s no one right jet ski financing option for everyone, so consider your budget, credit history, and what’s important to you as you shop around for loan offers. For instance, you might consider applying for a 0% introductory APR credit card to finance a portion of your jet ski if you have a down payment and excellent credit. But if you’d rather spread your payments out over several years, a personal loan could be a better choice.

Besides your budget and needs, you’ll also want to consider the following:

  • APR: This is the interest rate you’ll pay for your loan or credit line, plus any applicable fees. Generally, the lower the APR, the more affordable the financing option.

  • Loan or credit line amount: The total amount you can borrow will also impact your purchasing decision. For instance, if you can only qualify for a loan or credit line of $2,500, you may need to opt for a less expensive jet ski.

  • Repayment term: Your repayment term is when you repay your loan. Personal loans generally have long repayment terms, which can be useful if you’d rather pay off your jet ski over a long time period. (Credit cards are revolving credit and thus don’t have a payoff deadline.)

FAQs

What credit score do you need to finance a jet ski?

There’s not one specific credit score that guarantees eligibility for jet ski financing. It depends on the financing option you choose. Most lenders and credit card issuers require good or excellent credit for an unsecured personal loan or 0% introductory APR credit card. Secured personal loans and manufacturer financing often have more flexible credit score requirements.

What’s the average loan term for a jet ski?

Loan terms for jet ski financing can vary significantly depending on the lender or manufacturer. That said, lenders often offer repayment terms of five to seven years.