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Most recreational vehicle buyers already own cars and trucks for everyday use and are familiar with the vehicle financing process. However, financing an RV has some important differences.

First, motor homes, trailers and fifth wheels are generally considered luxury vehicles, so lenders will require borrowers to have better credit than they would for an automobile. The paperwork for an RV loan also tends to be more voluminous and more demanding. RV buyers must fill out a personal financial statement, which is not always required for auto loans.

Recreational vehicle loan rates are closely tied to automobile interest rates and they work basically the same way — RV interest rates are based on what the market will bear. Just like automobile buyers, RV buyers are well advised to time their purchases when interest rates are as favorable as possible. It’s important not to get into a rush! And that can be difficult, because it’s so exciting to buy an RV.

RV loans require a down payment between 10% and 20% of the purchase price — potentially a bit higher than for automobiles. However, a wide variety of lenders and loans are available. Some lenders may even offer zero-down loans. Shop around to find a loan with the best features, and beware of penalties and hidden costs on loans with lower interest rates. Most RV loans are made for a period of 10 to 15 years, but they can go longer for more expensive units. If your RV qualifies as a second home (has basic sleeping, toilet in cooking facilities), interest is tax-deductible.

Full-timers who consider their RV a primary residence may have to jump through more hoops to get a loan. This is because the loan is considered a higher risk. Full timers don’t have equity in a permanent home to solidify their financial standing. They also use their RV daily, which increases the potential for damage and decreasing value. Full-timer loans often require additional qualifying paperwork, and some lenders would rather not deal with the extra requirements. As a result, recreational vehicle loans may be more difficult to get for these RV owners.