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According to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association , some 9 million RVs are on the road in the United States, the highest number in history. Many are considering buying an RV in retirement, or as a way to share the beauty and excitement of the country with their children.

Seasoned RV owners and those aspiring to purchase their first vacation home on wheels are frequenting RV and camping shows and dealerships across the country. Once you decide on your RV, the next step is financing. Most people don't go to the dealership with cash to buy their new motorhome. As with large purchases, like a house or car, most will have to finance the RV.

If you've ever bought a house, car, or boat, you know how difficult it can be to get financing for these big purchases. You also know that making the right financing decision can save you thousands of dollars and make payments more affordable.

Plan ahead for financing

There are things to know and factors that will influence your financing, which are important considerations when purchasing an RV.

Current interest rates

Like home and auto loans, RV interest rates and terms are not static. Rates will increase and decrease based on market trends. RV rates range from auto loan rates , so if you know that auto loan rates are low, it may be time to jump in on an RV loan.

Credit scor

The interest rate on your loan will depend on your credit score . The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you will receive. However, a low credit score doesn't mean you can't find a good deal. Shop around to find someone who can work on your credit score and get the lowest rate possible.

Initial payment

Depending on how much cash you offer up front, you can get a better annual percentage rate (APR), terms, and more. Ideally, you would want to put up to 10 percent of the total cost of the RV down. Not only does this help you get started shopping for the RV, it will also lower your monthly payments.

Ways to finance an RV

You can finance with the dealer or with a third party, like your bank, and each of these options have benefits and drawbacks.

Dealer financing

Before deciding to finance through your dealer and drive with your RV, it is important to do your research. Check their comments to see if any clients have mentioned financing and its interest rates. If possible, talk to other clients to see if they are happy with the deal they got. 

There are some bonuses when you choose to finance through the dealer. The process is usually quick and convenient because you don't need to go back and forth between the lender and the dealer. Some dealers offer very low financing rates through promotions and limited-time sales. 

There are some downsides to dealer financing as well. Typically, the rates won't be as competitive, and you won't have to consider as many APRs and payment options. The seller can use high pressure sales tactics to get you to sign before comparing prices.

Only finance through the dealer if you are sure they will work with you to find the best deal possible. 

Financing from a bank or credit union

The bank also comes with its pros and cons. Working with the same institution or lender that you previously worked with can give you confidence that they will work with you to find a good deal. A great advantage of financing through your bank is that there will be no intermediary as in the dealer. You'll get direct consumer pricing without the dealer marking.

There are also some downsides to working with the bank. They usually present you with the best possible deal they can do, so there is no negotiation. It's a deal or no deal. Furthermore, financing through the bank may take a few days; You can usually be in and out of a dealership in one day.

Make your financing decision

See what the dealer offers and your bank will give you, then choose the best financing deal. When a RV dealership realizes that they are not going to finance through them and is looking at other offers, they can be more generous.

One of the best things you can do is get pre-approved through your bank and bring this documentation to the dealer. Often times a dealer wants you to finance with them so you can use this as a negotiation tool. The most important thing is to give you several options, so that you can choose the best deal and buy the RV of your dreams.