Considered one of the boating capitals of the world, Florida is a picturesque and ideal place to enjoy boating. In fact, there are more registered boats in Florida than in any other state in the country. There are so many amazing boating destinations in Florida including Key West, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Lake Okeechobee, Naples, Crystal River, and more. 

Whether you live here and own a boat, spend winters here and keep your boat at a Florida marina, or are renting a boat while you’re visiting, you will definitely enjoy the mild winters, diverse scenery, and stunning turquoise waters. 

You can watch manatees play in the intracoastal, dolphins swim in the ocean, sea turtles nest near the beach, and enjoy the breeze sweeping through the mangroves. Palm trees dot the coast, beautiful birds fly overhead, and the weather is almost always sunny. 

Now that you’re ready to go boating in Florida, you need to find out more about boat financing in Florida. If you’re ready to buy a boat, learn how we do boat loans at Trident Funding. We offer used boat loans as well as new boat loans. With more than three decades of experience, we have relationships with over 50 banks so we’re sure to match you with the best boat loan for your specific needs. Our boutique-like service makes the entire loan process smooth sailing. 

Boat Loans in Florida: Everything You Need to Know

By now, you have heard how amazing boat life in Florida can be, so let’s get into the nitty gritty of boat loans in Florida. This way, you can figure out how to pay for your boat and head on down to the Sunshine State. 

A boat loan is made up of principal and interest; exactly how much depends on the interest rate you qualify for. The boat serves as the collateral for the lender that is lending you the money to purchase the vessel. The lender can repossess your boat if you don’t meet your payment obligations or violate the contract. 

Basically, a boat loan is a type of installment loan. It falls somewhere between a mortgage home loan and a car loan. A boat loan is generally paid back over 10 to 20 years, although different lenders do offer different loan terms. 

Boat Loan Terms

The length of the loan is referred to as the term. Typically, you will repay the loan with monthly payments until the loan is paid off in full. The longer your term, the smaller your monthly payments will be, but the more interest you will pay over the life of the loan. And the opposite is true as well: The shorter your loan term, the larger your monthly payments, but you will pay less interest over the life of a loan. 

Let’s take a look at an example. Let’s assume you’re purchasing a beautiful, brand new cabin cruiser for $250,000. You put down 20% as your down payment which is $50,000. This leaves $200,000 as your loan amount. Assuming you have an excellent credit score in the 800 – 850 FICO score range, your rate will be around 6.37%. If your loan term is 20 years, then your monthly boat loan payment will be approximately $1,475.88. Over the life of the loan, you will have paid a total of $354,210.93. 

Let’s compare this to a 7-year loan term. Your monthly payment will be $2,957.32. Over the life of the loan, you will have paid a total of $248,414.54. 

As you can see, with a shorter loan term, your monthly payment doubles, but you do save a substantial amount in interest if you keep the boat for the entire 20 years. Typically, most boat owners choose longer loan terms to make their monthly payments more manageable. And you can always sell the boat, trade it in, or refinance the boat loan in the future. 

Boat Loan Down Payments

Generally, a down payment between 10% and 30% is required for a boat loan. This means that if you want to purchase a $100,000 boat, you will need to put down $10,000 to $30,000. The exact amount of the down payment will be determined by the amount of the loan, the type of loan, the loan term, and the borrower’s credit score, and overall financial profile. 

The purpose of a boat loan is to help you purchase a boat without using all of your own money. Instead, you can leverage the bank’s money, save your own, and just put down the amount required for a down payment. With the money you saved, you can invest in an income-producing asset, save it, or dabble in the stock market, etc. Boat loans make buying a boat much more attainable than if you had to use all of your own money. For example, it’s much easier to come up with $30,000 as a down payment than $100,000. 

How to Apply for Boat Loans in Florida

Applying for Florida boat loans is relatively straight forward. Let’s go through the process of boat financing in Florida. 

  1. First, use an online boat loan calculator to get an idea of how much boat you can afford, what your potential interest rate will be, and what your monthly boat loan payment will be. You can play around with the numbers. For example, if the payment on a $200,000 boat is too much for your budget, you could input $125,000 and see what the difference will be.
  2. Work with a lender, get pre-approved for a boat loan, and start the application process. You will need to provide a copy of your identification, social security number, and proof of employment. Additionally, you will need to provide proof of income in the form of tax returns, bank statements, or profit and loss statements. You will also give the lender authorization to pull your credit. They will look at your credit score, credit history, and your debt to income ratio. It’s important to know your budget and what boat you can actually afford before you start shopping for boats. You don’t want to fall in love with a brand new yacht and realize you can only afford to buy a pre-owned deck boat.
  3. Let the boat shopping begin. Now you know your budget, it’s time to browse online. Consider new and used models, and choose a boat that best fits your lifestyle. Consider how many people will be onboard, where you will take the boat, and how often you will use it. After you look online, it’s time to see some boats in person. Check dealerships, boat shows, marinas, private sellers, and boat manufacturers. 
  4. Once you select the boat you want to purchase, let your lender know and you will finish the boat loan application process. Your loan will go to underwriting where all the documents you submitted are reviewed with a fine tooth comb. The underwriter may verify your employment, may ask for supporting documents, and may pull your credit again. Now is not the time to quit your job, switch careers, or make any major purchases.
  5. Depending on if the boat is used or new, you may need a boat inspection and may even need a U.S. Coast Guard inspection. Then it’s time for closing. You will need to register the boat in your name and provide proof of insurance. Also, don’t forget to find a place to keep your boat: whether that’s at your house, at a marina, or in a boat yard. 

Boat Lenders Florida

Trident Funding is Florida’s top marine lender. They offer new and used boat loans in Florida, as well as boat loan refinancing and yacht loans. The company has a dedicated team of top professionals to assist you with all of your marine financing needs. They provide attentive service and will match you with the right lender and loan product specifically suited for your needs. You’re never treated like another number, but instead like a friend or family member. You can apply online, call to speak to a loan specialist, or stop into one of the company’s boutique-like branches. 

Some additional places to find boat loans in Florida include:

  • Florida credit union boat loans
  • Local and national banks that offer boat loans
  • Personal loans with no use restrictions
  • Dealer or manufacturer financing offered in house or through referral lending partners
  • Online loans, specifically online boat loans 

Some alternatives to boat loans include:

  • Borrowing the money from friends or family
  • Using your savings to fund the purchase of a boat
  • Liquidating investment accounts
  • Using a HELOC (home equity line of credit) or a home equity loan to pay for the purchase of a boat. Keep in mind you and your property would have to qualify to get these types of loans 

Boat Loan Rates Florida

Boat loan rates are constantly changing. They’re affected by the economy and supply and demand. Your specific rate will also be based on a number of factors including the amount of the boat loan, the year of the boat, if it’s new or used, your credit score, your overall financial history, the type of loan, and the loan term. 

As of January 2023, boat loan rates in Florida are approximately:

  • 6.37% – 6.99% for excellent credit (800+)
  • Around 7.37% for great credit (700-799)
  • About 10.74% for good credit (680-699)

Keep in mind these rates are just an estimate based on a $100,000 new boat loan. If your credit score is under 680, you may still qualify for a boat loan, but may need to put more money down, and will need to go over the details of your finances with a boat loan specialist. Remember that the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be. 

Additional Expenses Not Included in Florida Boat Loans

Some expenses to consider when purchasing a boat include:

  • Boat insurance
  • Storage and docking fees
  • Maintenance and service costs
  • Cleaning costs
  • Repairs
  • Fuel 
  • Boat accessories and water toys

The Wrap Up: Boat Financing Florida 

Boat loans in Florida can help you finance the boat of your dreams. Whether you want a fishing vessel to expand your business, a deck boat to take out on the weekends, or a yacht to island hop around The Keys, a boat loan can make your boating dreams a reality. Work with a reputable lender, use an online boat loan calculator to see how much boat you can afford, and choose a boat loan term that best suits your budget. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Florida Boat Loans

Why Go Boating in Florida?

There are so many reasons to go boating in Florida. Some of the top reasons include:

  • Boating can be done year-round in most parts of Florida. You rarely have to worry about snow or cold weather and it is sunny all year long. 
  • Stunning scenery is everywhere. There’s South Florida and its Art Deco architecture that can be viewed from the intracoastal and many canals, to the Gulf Coast’s turquoise waters and pearl white sands, to the Everglades and the thrill of spotting alligators. 
  • Boating is a popular pastime in Florida which means boats are plentiful, easy to rent, and there are lots of options for storage, marinas, cleaning services, and mechanics. 

What are the Advantages of a Boat Loan?

Some of the advantages of getting a boat loan include:

  • Keeping your money in your pocket and using the lender’s money instead
  • Investing the money you saved by financing the boat instead of paying for it cash. You could make more money with this money, invest in assets, and then use it to pay for your monthly boat loan payment. 
  • Less risk: If something happens like an emergency or an unexpected expense, you don’t need to sell your boat. You can use the money you saved to pay for the emergency and then move on. 
  • You’re building your credit. As long as you pay your monthly boat loan payments on time, it’s regarded as a positive line of credit. It shows creditors that you’re responsible and pay bills on time so they may be more likely to lend you money for various purchases.