Don’t get suckered into buying an RV this way!

Don’t get suckered into buying an RV this way!

By Chuck Woodbury, editor
Do not buy this RV under these terms. Do you see the small print? This price does not include title, license, prep, freight, and dealer document fees.

So let’s assume a buyer got the dealer to lower the price down from here. All those other fees would probably bring it back up to more than the $134,999 as advertised. At the terms offered here with payments of $899 a month, the dealer would receive a down payment of $13,400 and an additional $137,000 to be financed.

But what’s most disturbing about this to me is whoever buys the RV under these terms — putting 10 percent down and then financing the rest at 4.99 percent interest for 20 years — yes, 20 years — will put themselves in a precarious financial position for all that time. For example, buy this RV at age 60 and you’ll still be shelling out $899 a month until you’re 80! The loan would not be paid off until February, 2038!

Does that seem wrong to you? Yet RV buyers fall for this. Notice this particular deal is with Camping World, which many RVers, me included, believe will do just about anything to make a sale. 

What if:
•The buyer loses his or her job?
•The stock market dives and they lose their nest egg?
•The buyer or spouse gets sick and can’t RV anymore?
•The buyer has a big medical bill that robs them of precious savings?
•The RV fall apart in 10 years and they can’t afford to get it fixed?
•The buyer tires of RVing.

An RV does not appreciate – quite the opposite: It depreciates, and quickly. This RV will lose about $34,000 in value the minute it rolls off the dealer’s lot!

AT THE END OF THE LOAN, the buyer will have paid a down payment of approximately $13,500, principal of $137,000 and interest of $78,466 – for a grand total of about $229,000! If they buy today (February, 2018), they will still be paying more interest than principal for six years, at which time they will still owe $109,693 on the loan. Assuming the RV is worth maybe half what they paid for it then (I doubt it would even sell for that), they would receive about $62,000. But wait! They would still owe $109,693 on the loan! So, in order to pay it off, they would need to come up with $47,000 out of their pocket right there and then!

Actually, under the terms of this loan, no matter when the RV is sold – whether in two years or 15 years – the owner would still be upside down on the loan and need to hit their savings account to pay it off.

Be warned: Do not get suckered into such a trap. 




28 thoughts on “Don’t get suckered into buying an RV this way!

  1. Bill

    If you plan properly when going in to a deal like this, and are aware of hidden fees, and with proper financial planning, including a plan B, then problems can be mitigated. It’s a good article for those who fall for the “glamour traps” of buying an new RV, but not for those who prepare properly. Keep up the good work you are doing, but keep in mind not all of us gullible.

    1. Rob

      People, unfortunately, want it now, just walk through an RV show and you can see the folks foaming at the mouth walking through the shiny RV’s. $30 in their bank accounts but have a credit score which allows them to qualify for a loan at 5% for life on a depreciating asset. I bought my old 1993 RV for cash and enjoy camping much more knowing I am not throwing money away each month on interest and an asset that quickly becomes worthless. Our schools should be teaching our kids that money is to be respected and if it is respected your life can be so much easier and enjoyable. IMHO

  2. Bill semion

    Good story. However what about those who must or almost most financethis way.? One solution is to refinance at a search is a credit union which offers far better rates than any RV sales loan person probably can.

    1. Jeff

      IMHO the person who “must finance this way” is buying a RV that is to expensive tor there budget. The solution is to buy a lower price RV,

      1. PeteD

        That was my thought exactly but many are more concerned with image. We met a couple while in Alaska who had bought a $300,000 motor home on the 20 year plan. We asked them if they would like to loin us for dinner at a local restaurant but they declined stating they couldn’t afford it. They sure had a nice rig though. We were parked next to them in our 9 year old used and paid for Winnebago.. we had the time of our lives and money never crossed our mind. If you havenit, spend it but if you don’t, swallow your pride and buy what you can afford. Preferably pay cash.

        1. Bill T.

          Yes it sounds like those folks spent beyond their means. But it is perfectly okay to finance a new/newer rig that better suits your needs. I mentioned earlier that with proper planning and not falling in to those “glamour traps”, you can enjoy a nice rig without having to search all over creation for a used one or worse yet, settling for a piece of junk you don’t want just because it fits your budget.

  3. Roy Ellithorpe

    Stopped at Dennys Park and Sell in Yuma yesterday. An old fellow trying to sell his 2004 Winnebago for $80K. He said he still owed over $90K.

  4. Jack Duncan

    I saw saw post on Facebook that Camping World owner wants all Trump supporters to keep out of Camping World. Did anyone else see this? Just asking.

    1. Rich

      Yes, haven;t been in one since!!!

      1. Vick

        I guess I am welcome then!

    2. Glenda Alexander

      I’m not a Lemonis or Camping World fan; but maybe it would be helpful to get a fuller picture of this by checking out this Snopes article :

      1. Tommy Molnar

        I no longer have any faith in Snopes if ‘it’ can be in any way political.

        1. Terry

          So sorry for you, Tommy.

  5. Doug

    I’m guessing, but I think I see many instances of upside down folks trying to sell their RV’s on They advertise their rigs way above other comparable listings or NADA values. They also include info such as “5 years left on warranty”. I am hesitant to contact folks about their RV’s with these advertisement characteristics. I just don’t want to confront them about their pricing even though I have been interested in a few of these RV’s.

  6. Jeff

    One of the biggest things to take away from this article is NEVER BUY FROM CAMPING WORLD!

  7. Sick of it!

    Political posts AGAIN?????????

    Can we have no respite from this constant barrage ANYWHERE?????

  8. Gary D Bogart

    Never put both husband and wife name on a motor vehicle title. If circumstances create a money problem, assets of the marriage can be attached. Also in the event of an accident involving personal injury same scenario

  9. Jerry X Shea

    Keeping any particular dealership out of the picture, let me give an opposing viewpoint on financing an RV. Assuming a couple/person is retired and living off their retirement accounts (Pension/IRA/401k) plus Social Security. They could take 120k and pay cash for an RV. Or, they could put 20k down and make payments for 20 years. Here is their “choice.” Take 120k of your retirement money and buy a depreciating asset and not make money on that 120k. 2nd choice, put 20k down and leave that 100k in your retirement portfolio and earn 10,12,14% interest on that money over the next 10 years (because you will sell the rv then) while you make monthly payments at 4% interest. In many cases, the monthly payment can be made from your SS check without touching your long term investment. In ten years when you sell it, yes, you may be “upside down” and have to come up with more cash but it won’t be that 100k. In retirement it all comes down to “cash flow” and having money for your future, however long that may be. Blowing 120k of your retirement money today – NO WAY JOSE.

    1. Chuck Woodbury

      Jerry, maybe these people should not be buying an expensive RV in the first place. It’s a terrible investment. It’s a luxury item. Your argument has merit, but if people can’t easily afford an RV and need to finance for 20 years, then they should not are buying an RV in the first place.

    2. Bill T

      Hi Jerry:
      Well said. People who plan properly can have a great retirement RV’ing, without going in the whole. Depending on the age they retire at, they could have the rig for twenty or more years. My Aunt and Uncle did that, had their rig for 28 years before their health made them stop. Making small affordable payments is easy to manage in exchange for having fun in your retirement. So many people die or become too sick to enjoy their retirement. Get out there and have some fun. As an additional thought, if both retirees die before the rig is paid off, who cares? You can’t take it with you.

      1. Jerry X Shea

        Hi Bill T. – nice to see someone understand how to manage your money in retirement. A lot of people buy a 500k house, not because they have 500k but can make the monthly payment. I don’t think Chuck understands the concept. In my post he felt that if you can’t afford an expensive coach you shouldn’t buy it. I can’t agree with that. If you can make the monthly payment you can buy what you want and enjoy a “quality” of life. As you said “you can’t take it with you” and it is my money, not my kids. It may be a depreciating asset but “so am i.” Ha

        1. Chuck Woodbury

          Jerry, I understand from a purely financial point of view. But you do not get the mail I get from desperate people four or five years into such a loan, who are upside down when they get suddenly sick or lose a spouse, or their income suddenly takes a nosedive. You don’t sit where I sit and read their pleas, “But, Chuck, where I am I going to get $50,000 to pay off the loan?” Looking at this from a purely financial angle, 10% down, low interest and 20 years to pay if off can make sense. But look at it from knowing we live in an imperfect world, where things don’t always work out as we plan, and it does not make sense. I say if you cannot easily afford an RV without financing is for a ridiculously long 20 years, don’t buy it. Buy something a few years old, finance it for eight years and don’t risk a financial crisis down the road when things don’t go just as you dreamed. Finance a home for 20 years, but not an RV, or you’re cruising’ for a bruisin’.

          1. Terry

            I think both of you (Jerry and Chuck). Jerry paints a picture of a couple who may well be able to afford the RV. They could well have multi-millions of dollars in their IRA account. But it is not a smart financial decision to take the cost of the RV out of the retirement. There are two reasons for that. One, as Jerry says, the average return of the market over a decade or two is likely to be far more than the interest incurred for the RV loan. And, two, the tax bite from going into another income tax bracket will increase the initial outlay significantly. Chuck paints a picture where the couple does not have sufficient funds to cover contingencies. Perhaps they only have a few hundred thousand in their account. There just isn’t sufficient income buffer from that size investment to take the risk.

    3. Rob

      10,12,14% interest. Most folks are lucky to get 4% on their retirement investments if invested to ensure you don’t lose your money. However, that said I do agree that taking $120000 cash out of retirement monies and buying a quickly depreciating asset makes no sense at all. It’s all relevant in my opinion. If you have a guaranteed income from an indexed pension paying that payment for 20 years might make sense since an indexed pension is 99% secure. My thought has always been just because you can pay a payment doesn’t mean you put yourself in that position. Every situation is different. Me personally I would sleep at night knowing I was paying $224000 for a vehicle worth half that. It almost makes sense to stay in Hotels or buy a rental property down south than throw away all that money on interest and depreciation. IMHO

  10. DA

    Bought our 2013 RV less than 2 yrs ago. Seller was upside down and came to the table with $30k to pay off their loan. Luckily this young couple could pull thie money out of savings but I worry 90% of the impulsive buyers today can’t do this especially since the stats we are hearing are the younger generation making the purchases. It is just a matter of time that the RV industry will implode and we can pick up RVs cheap. New RVrs will get fed up because they can’t find a reservation, quality and repairs will frustrate newbies and the financing woe as stated in the article will lead to repossession.

    1. Rob

      We have re-thought our retirement plan for exactly that. With the RV population exploding and the scarcity and quality of RV sites available (cost of those sites) and the price of fuel to tow our 5th wheel, it really doesn’t make sense in my opinion. The last thing we want is to be worried about where we are going to park our rig. Even though we are lucky to not have payments on our rig or truck if overall the cost per night is more than a hotel room or owning a mobile home down south etc makes more sense and these choices can appreciate in value over time. When did retirement get so costly and stressful?

  11. Wayne Caldwell

    We are so very fortunate. Back in ’87, I bought a 26′ Nomad Weekender to live in after divorce. Subsequent marriage and not using it because of work schedules, we sold it after almost 20 years of ownership for half what I paid for it. Not a bad deal. Then A couple of years ago, we started giving thought to getting another trailer (I’m now retired, my bride still works, empty nest, house and vehicles all paid off, etc, etc). A couple at church made us a deal that was impossible to pass up. We bought their (at the time) 15 year-old 32+ foot CrossRoads travel trailer for about 15% of what they originally paid. Like others have said, the bugs are all worked out, it’s in almost new condition. It’s paid for, we’re not up-side-down, and we thoroughly enjoy it. (Ok, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to set up or take down, but with what we paid I can spend that much time). And, so far, my 20 year-old Dodge Ram Cummins diesel pulls the CrossRoads at 65mph just fine. And we can afford the RV lifestyle.

  12. Denny Brandt

    We/ve been full timing for 13 years and enjoying it all. Sometimes we are workampers and sometimes we just kick back and enjoy. I find it interesting that in all this talk about buying a high end rv and being able to afford it there has been no mention of the reality of what happens when you do buy a brandI new rv and expect you will be OK because you have a full warranty.. I’ve bought 2 new units and both of them spenct more time in the shop having “warranty work” done than being on the road. If you buy new, expect to spend lots of time getting to know your dealer as you live in his back lot waiting for repairs to be done. My advice to newbies….buy a unit that is at least 2 to 4 years old and save yourself a lot of grief and a lot of depreciation. You can buy an aftermarket warranty to cover everything on that vintage of unit for a reasonable price and you won’t have to keep taking it back to the dealer you bought it from for repairs. If you are a full timer it’s no fun to have to drive hundreds of miles back to the selling dealer for repairs as required by the manufacturer in most new units

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