11 Money-Saving Tips for Buying An RV

RVs can cost you tens - and even hundreds - of thousands of dollars. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to leap right into the RV of your choice without breaking the bank.

A collage of salesperson negotiating to a buyer and a rv parked near the beachHow To Get The Best Deal On An RV [5 Crucial Tips]

While preparing to buy our first RV, we’ve done extensive research and put together some of the best ways to secure an RV—whether new or used—at the most affordable prices.

1. Know Exactly What You Need

Before diving into deals and negotiations, ensure you're crystal clear on the type of RV that fits your lifestyle. The RV market is vast and complex - you're essentially buying both a vehicle and a home in one!

Are you after a motorhome (Class A, B, or C) or a towable (travel trailer, fifth wheel, or toy hauler)?

Each has its pros and cons in terms of space, maneuverability, and comfort. Consider your travel style, storage options, and towing capacity if applicable.

illustration showing different types of RV

If you're new to RVing, renting different types before buying can provide invaluable insights. For experienced RVers, reflect on what you love about your current setup and what you'd like to improve.

Remember, the best deal isn't just about price - it's about finding the right RV for your needs. Take the time to educate yourself on the options available. Your future self will thank you for making an informed decision.

New to RVs? Start here: 7 Types of RVs You Simply Must Know

2. Find Out The Average Price Of Your Desired RV

The asking prices and MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) are figures that rarely tell the entire story.

You must know the actual market price for the RV model you’d like to buy. Knowing the actual price makes negotiations with your dealer much easier.

Visit NADA to research the typical cost

NADA, which stands for the National Automobile Dealers Association, is a trusted resource in the automotive and RV industries.

Their vehicle valuation guides, accessible through their website, provide comprehensive and up-to-date pricing information for various vehicles, including RVs.

NADA's data is based on extensive market research, taking into account factors such as make, model, year, features, and current market conditions. This makes NADA an invaluable tool for both buyers and sellers.

For RV shoppers, consulting NADA guides can provide a realistic baseline for negotiations, helping you understand the fair market value of the RV you're interested in.

By using NADA as a reference, you can approach dealerships with confidence, armed with accurate pricing information, to help you secure a fair deal.

Get the figure and base your negotiation around it. If possible, try to get a deal that’s lower than the original price.

3. Don’t Look Vulnerable On The First Visit

Walking into an RV dealership can feel like entering a lion's den, especially if you're a first-time buyer. Salespeople have a knack for spotting newcomers, often assuming they're unaware of industry practices or pricing norms. Don't fall into this trap.

When you visit, project confidence. Make it clear that you're shopping around and comparing prices.

Woman in RV dealership lot

Don't be afraid to let them know you're willing to walk away if the deal doesn't meet your expectations.

Most importantly, avoid revealing that you're a first-time buyer. Knowledge is power, and in this case, the appearance of knowledge can be just as powerful.

4. Master the Art of Negotiation

Negotiating the price of an RV is not just expected – it's essential.

Don't be fooled by "low price" stickers plastered across windshields. These are often starting points, not final offers.

Begin your negotiation with a surprisingly low offer – even as low as half the asking price. This might seem bold, but it sets the stage for a negotiation that could end in your favor. Remember, if you don't ask, you don't get it.

Be prepared with some clever negotiation tactics. Try suggesting you'll buy two RVs if they lower the price – you might have a friend or family member in the market too.

Mention that you know a dealer offering better financing, or point out that their warranty is shorter than another dealer's. These approaches can open up new avenues in your negotiation.

5. Consider Used RVs

While the allure of a brand-new RV is undeniable, don't overlook the benefits of buying a used one.

A pre-loved RV often offers more bang for your buck and gives you greater control over your budget. With a used RV, you'll likely pay less upfront, leaving you with extra cash to customize or upgrade your rig.

RV interior

Want a fancier entertainment system or a more comfortable bed? The money you save on a used RV can make these improvements possible.

And yes, you can totally renovate your RV to suit your interior design tastes. See more here: 31 Stunning RV Interior Remodelling Ideas (With Pictures!)

Plus, you might find that slightly older models offer features and build quality that rival their newer counterparts.

6. Shop Around

When it comes to RV shopping, the old adage holds true: never settle for the first offer.

Cast your net wide and explore multiple dealers, both online and in-person. Don't limit yourself geographically – a nationwide search could uncover some hidden gems.

Use the internet to your advantage. Look up the specific model you're interested in and see what dealers across the country are offering. You might be surprised at the price differences you find.

Remember, a little extra legwork at this stage could save you thousands in the long run.

7. Explore RV Shows

RV shows can be a goldmine for great deals, especially if you're open to slightly older models. It's not uncommon to find discounts of up to 40% off MSRP for RVs that are just a few years old.

Before attending a show, do your homework. Know exactly what you're looking for and what it should cost.

RV in show room

This preparation will help you spot the truly good deals among the noise and excitement of the show.

And don't forget – at RV shows, everything is negotiable. Come prepared to drive a hard bargain.

8. Understand Dealer Negotiation Tactics

Most RV dealers are open to negotiation, but they have their own playbook of tactics.

They might offer various incentives to discourage you from lowering the price. Some dealers are more flexible than others, so pay attention to how they respond to your offers.

Always be prepared to walk away if you can't reach a deal that satisfies you. Sometimes, the act of leaving can prompt a dealer to suddenly "find" a better offer. Remember, you hold more power in this transaction than you might think.

9. Know How Much You Can Negotiate

The amount of wiggle room in RV prices can vary widely. For new travel trailers, you might aim for up to 35% off the original price. Used trailers from private sellers could have even more flexibility.

To maximize your chances of a great deal, always negotiate with multiple dealers. This not only gives you a better sense of the market, but it also provides leverage.

Nothing motivates a dealer quite like knowing you have other options on the table.

10. Understand State Differences in RV Purchases

While it might be tempting to shop for your RV in a different state to save on taxes, it's crucial to understand the complexities involved. The rules around RV purchases and taxes can vary significantly from state to state.

Some states may have lower sales tax rates, which could potentially lead to savings on your purchase.

However, it's important to note that in many cases, you'll be required to pay taxes based on your state of residence or where you plan to register the RV, not where you buy it.

Before considering an out-of-state purchase, do thorough research on both your home state's laws and those of the state where you're considering buying. Some key points to investigate include:

  1. Your home state's tax laws regarding out-of-state vehicle purchases
  2. Any reciprocity agreements between states
  3. Registration requirements in your home state
  4. Potential double taxation issues

Remember, while saving money is important, staying compliant with tax laws is crucial.

It's always a good idea to consult with a tax professional or your local DMV for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding RV purchases and taxes in your specific situation.

By understanding these state-to-state differences, you can make an informed decision that balances potential savings with legal compliance.

11. Time Your Purchase Right

In the world of RV sales, timing is everything. The best months to buy are typically fall and winter when sales slow down and dealers are more motivated to move inventory.

Read more: 19 Top Tips For Buying an RV for the First Time

Avoid peak seasons like spring and summer when demand (and prices) are at their highest. If you can wait until the end of the season, you might catch some fantastic clearance deals as dealers make room for next year's models.

Good luck with finding the right RV deal for you!

By keeping these tips in mind, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the RV market and secure the best deal possible on your dream rig.

Have more tips to share? Leave us a comment below!

Remember, patience and preparation are your best friends in this process. Happy RV hunting, and may the road ahead be filled with adventure!

Share this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *