If you're looking to finance the purchase of a new recreational vehicle (RV), our RV loan calculator makes it simple to work out what the best deal will be for you. Thanks to our smart RV loan payment calculator you can not only asses the monthly and overall costs of the loan, but also choose the best RV loan on the market.

RV financing doesn't need to be complicated, as long as you have an RV payment calculator helping you to plan your purchase.

Keep reading to find out:

  1. What is a recreational vehicle (RV)?
  2. How to approach RV financing?
  3. How to use our RV loan payment calculator?
  4. What are the most common types of recreational vehicles (RV)?
  5. What do you need to consider before you take your first RV loan?
  6. What are the hidden costs of having a recreational vehicle?

What is a recreational vehicle (RV)?

A recreational vehicle, commonly referred to as RV, is a term widely used for a vehicle which has living space and some amenities usually found in a home. A typical recreational vehicle has a kitchen, a bathroom, and a few sleeping places. That is why RV is frequently named as the movable home.

Depending on their primary purpose (and the price…) recreational vehicles may have only basic facilities like places for sleeping that only roughly resemble cozy beds and a simple cooking place with an ordinary gas stove. The luxurious (and incredibly expensive) recreational vehicles have conveniences usually met in best apartments: comfortable double-size bed, automatic air conditioning, kitchenette with fridge and oven, bathroom with shower, a TV set and a Hi-Fi set.

Recreational vehicles can either be self-motorized motor vehicles or trailers that are towed behind a motor vehicle. Usually, RVs are single-deck. However, some of them are also double-deck. Some recreational vehicles have expandable sides called canopies which makes them compact while in transport and spacious during camping.

Financing the RV purchase

Whether you're interested in purchasing a new recreational vehicle for road trips or long-term vagabonding adventures, smart financing makes it possible to take the leap much sooner.

Paying outright for an RV can be prohibitively expensive. You can use our dream come true calculator to answers the question: how long do you have to save to afford your dreamed RV?

If it is to long, you can always take a loan. However, paying for a vehicle with a loan is not to be taken lightly. You'll need to know your numbers before you commit, and the RV loan calculator helps you do just that.

The main decision when it comes to financing is how long you want repayments to continue for.

  1. Longer financing plans mean you spend less now, but end up paying more for the vehicle in the end.
  2. Short-term RV financing means you pay less overall, but you'll need to fork over more now.

A nice side-benefit of RV financing is that your credit score will rise by a few points if you make all your payments on time. Within the calculator, make sure that the Payment field shows a figure you can very comfortably afford every month. The same principle applies when using the mortgage calculator.

And one more thing - remember that when planning to buy the RV, you can always consider other ways of financing like leasing.

How to use our RV payment calculator?

The recreational vehicle loan calculator contains seven following fields:

  • RV Price – the purchasing price of the recreational vehicle
  • Down payment – the money you have and want to spend on purchasing an RV
  • Term – the period for which you want to take the RV loan
  • Interest – the interest rate of your RV loan
  • Loan amount – the actual amount of your RV loan (it is equal to RV price minus your Down payment and it is computed automatically)
  • Payment – the monthly payment of the RV loan
  • Total paid – the total amount you need to repay during the loan term
  • *Cost of loan – the actual cost of taking a loan for purchasing the RV (it is equal to Total paid minus RV price.

How to calculate your monthly RV loan payments, the total amount you'll eventually pay before the RV is entirely yours, and the cost of your loan? All you need to do is to enter the first four values. Then comes the magic of our calculator.

If you don't like the monthly Payment figure, the Total paid number or cost of loan you can adjust them and the calculator will show you what the other figures need to be to make that happen. Say you need your monthly RV payment figure to be lower. Type in the value you can afford into that field, and the calculator will tell you how much you'll need to extend the Term of the loan to make that happen.

Now, thanks to our RV loan calculator you should be able to choose the RV loan that suits you best.

To make all of your financial decision smarter, don't forget to try our other calculators. In personal finance issues, especially interesting should be the buy or rent calculator and personal loan calculator.

Types of RVs

There are a lot of different types of recreational vehicles. They vary with size, construction, built-in facilities, and main purpose. And last but not least, different RVs have different prices…

  • Motorhome

A motorhome is the largest, the roomiest and the most comfortable type of recreational vehicle. It usually has separate bunks which guarantees comfortable sleep for 4-8 persons.

The kitchenette in motorhome contains cooking equipment which varies depending on the model. The most basic motorhomes have an oven, a refrigerator, and a sink. In more comfortable models you can find a microwave and dishwasher. A standard solution in motorhomes is also a small bathroom with a shower and a toilet. Moreover, motorhomes have a kind of dinette with a table, sofa and TV set. A motorhome also has a driver cab with two or three seats.

The price of brand new motorhome starts from $300,000. The ceiling is not defined. The most luxury models can even cost more than $2,000,000!

  • Campervan (camper)

Sometimes the term campervan is used interchangeably with motorhome. Campervans, however, are constructed differently and are smaller than motorhomes. A campervan is usually a van fitted out with a coach built body which is used as a living and sleeping area. Among different types of campervans you can find the following: A-Class, overcab, low profile, hight top, rising roof and dismountable. Without going into details, the rule of thumb says that in campervans, the most significant features are mobility and low cost. On the other hand, in motorhomes, the emphasis is put mainly on comfort.

The cheapest campervans cost nearly $100,000, larger and more comfortable can cost even $200,000.

  • Caravan (travel trailer)

A caravan is a type of a recreational vehicle that is towed behind the car. The interior of a caravan is quite similar to motorhomes and campers. However, caravans are usually smaller and less comfortable, the variety of amenities in caravans is also lower. Similar to motorhomes an campervans, the range of caravans models is vast, they vary from small, modest trailers to a huge and luxurious houses on wheels.

In practice, the vast majority of travel trailer models are compact and lightweight. It is because they are designed to be towed by cars without powerful engines (e.g. SUVs). The equipment in the most popular trailers is also rather moderate and not too expensive as they are designed as an option for people looking for an inexpensive alternative for motorhomes and campers.

The average cost of a new caravan is around $20,000-$25,000. However, you can also find models from $15,000 to $50,000.  

  • Fifth-wheel trailer

A fifth-wheel trailer is a type of travel trailer. The main difference between the camper and the fifth-wheel trailer is that while the former is attached to a hook of a towing vehicle, the latter is supported by a hitch situated in the center of the bed of a pickup truck. In fact, the construction of the hitch used in the fifth-wheel trailer and the ones used in large 18-wheeler trucks are similar.

The fifth-wheel trailers are from 25 ft (7.6 m) to 45 ft (13.7 m) long. The largest models offer more space than any other recreational vehicle. Can you imagine that sometimes this space is even divided into separate bedrooms? Definitely, fifth-wheel trailers are the best solution for people who plan to travel the whole year. The fifth-wheel trailers are also very popular among recreational vehicle lovers, who spend a lot of time in one place and use their pickups for short distance one-day trips.

It's worth knowing that fifth-wheel trailers are the most popular in North America (the US and Canada) because the roads here are broader and less curved than in other parts of the world. In Europe, you can barely find any fifth-wheel trailers.

Fifth-wheel trailers are generally less expensive than the comfortable motorhomes and caravans. They cost from $40,000 to $140,000.

  • Pop-up camper

A pop-up camper is a type of recreational vehicle that is towed by a car. Its main characteristic feature is that it can be collapsed for easy storage and transport. A folded pop-up camper looks like a big box on a trailer frame. The top of the box is, in fact, a hard roof of a dismounted tent-like structure. Beneath it, there are hidden ready to assemble walls made out of vinyl or canvas, pull-out bunks and some basic amenities like a toilet and a small kitchen.

The most significant advantage of pop-up campers is that they are the most compact and the cheapest recreational vehicles on the market. Drivers and travelers will also appreciate other features of pop-up campers like easiness to tow and park, and readiness to quick transformation into a comfortable shelter for a couple of people. On the other hand, pop-up campers usually have limited portal cid="195">volume, are not well-equipped, and you won't feel as comfortable inside them as in other recreational vehicles.

The prices of new pop-up campers are relatively low. For the most popular models, they vary between $5000 to $20,000.

  • Truck Camper

Truck camper (also TC, cab-cover) is a type of recreational vehicle that can be carried directly in the bed of a car (e.g. pickup truck, flatbed truck). Usually, truck campers are dismountable, so you can attach or detach them to your car whenever you need.

The truck camper is a perfect solution for a traveling couple that doesn't expect luxury and excess facilities when traveling. Standard amenities in truck campers is a simple cooking area and a basic toilet with shower.

Purchasing price of truck campers varies depending on their quality and equipment. The lowest starts from $10,000, the more comfortable models cost around $40,000 – $50,000.

Things to consider before buying the recreational vehicle

When you consider the purchase of RV, the cost of the RV loan is not the only thing you should take into account. First of all, you need to choose the type of RV that suits you best (see section Types of RVs). Then, you should consider at least the following features of your future RV:

  • fuel economy,
  • quality - materials, equipment and overall quality of mounting,
  • drivability and controllability (how easy is the RV to park and drive?),
  • size and floor plan (e.g., number of bunks, toilet, kitchenette),
  • place for storing your equipment, food, and clothes,
  • possibility of customizing – it is especially important if you are keen on personalized solutions,
  • built-in amenities and comfort.

Hidden cost of having RV

When buying a new RV, remember not to focus solely on the purchasing price and costs of the loan. Having your own recreational vehicle results in a lot of additional, not so obvious costs. Sometimes these costs are referred to as a hidden cost of ownership. It is because you don't even know they exist - as long as you're not the owner.

Among the hidden cost the most significant are:

  • fuel costs
  • maintenance (regular service),
  • towing (e.g., adding a car hook to your car),
  • insurance (motor insurance),
  • parking (when on holidays, and during the rest of the year),
  • taxes (especially the sales tax).

And last but not least, do not forget about the depreciation of your RV.

Other considerations

Owning an RV leaves you feeling as free as a bird. You can go anywhere, stay for any period of time, and never be away from your creature comforts. However, planning your trip is still essential.

For every trip, make the following steps a habit:

  1. Calculate how much gas you need for the trip using our gas calculator. Be sure to pack spare gas canisters as well.
  2. Perform error-checks for all the RV's systems. Are the electrics working? Is the water topped up and flowing correctly? Is the engine well-oiled and the tires pumped-up?
  3. Plan your adventures to intersect with places to re-stock supplies in case you need to.
Tomasz Jedynak - PhD, Mateusz Mucha and James Mathison.

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