Over 457,000 new motorcycles were sold in 2018 according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. If you’re in the market to buy a new or used motorcycle, you may be considering a motorcycle loan. These loans may be secured loans, meaning the lender can repossess your motorcycle if you miss payments, or unsecured loans, which means they can’t.
Sometimes, separate loans with different terms exist for new and used motorcycle purchases. Loans typically require 24 to 72 monthly payments, and they have APRs that vary based on your credit score, the loan length, the type of loan you choose, and other factors. You can even use unsecured personal loans to buy motorcycles.
To help you find the best motorcycle loan, we analyzed loan offerings from more than 20 companies before deciding on the top five. We looked at interest rates, loan lengths, credit requirements, and other factors when analyzing each option.
The 5 Best Motorcycle Loans of 2021
Best Overall: Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU)
DCU, founded in 1979, is a credit union based in Marlborough, Massachusetts. You don’t need to live near a branch to get a motorcycle loan through DCU. Half of their members never use a DCU branch.
We chose DCU as the best overall motorcycle loan because they offer some of the lowest APRs we could find on both new and used motorcycles and the ability to borrow up to 125% of the NADA retail book value or purchase price, whichever is less. DCU even offers financing for off-road motorcycles and refinancing options. Loan terms extend up to 60 months.
To get a loan through DCU, you must become a DCU member. If you live in an eligible Massachusetts community or work for a qualifying employer, you automatically qualify for membership. Others can join by becoming a member of a qualifying organization for as little as $10.
You can apply for a loan before joining the credit union, so you won’t have to join a qualifying organization unless you’re approved. There are no application fees for this secured motorcycle loan. APRs start as low as 3.50% for street motorcycles and 7.85% for off-road motorcycles.
DCU looks at your entire credit profile before approving or denying your application and doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score required. You may have to provide a sales agreement, title information, and signed loan documents before DCU will FedEx you a check for the loan amount.
DCU’s motorcycle loan received an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars from 233 member reviews. Reviewers cited low interest rates and an easy application process as reasons for their high ratings.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: LightStream
LightStream is an online lender owned by Truis offering personal loans for a variety of purposes, including motorcycle purchases and refinances. We chose LightStream as runner-up, best overall motorcycle lender because of their fast funding time and transparent APR disclosures.
LightStream only charges you interest based on the APR you qualify for. There aren’t any prepayment penalties, administrative fees, or origination fees. If you live in Florida, you will have to pay documentary stamp taxes.
Their rates start as low as 4.29% APR but require you to set up auto-pay to qualify. Otherwise, rate ranges are 0.50% higher than the APRs shown on its website, which can end up as high as 12.39%. Loan terms are as short as 24 months or as long as 84 months for loans of $25,000 and up. The online application process is fast and funds can be disbursed within 24 hours as long as the next day is a business day.
No vehicle-related paperwork is required since this is a personal loan, not a secured motorcycle loan. You should have fair to excellent credit for the best chances of getting approved.
Over 16,000 LightStream customers gave the company’s loans an average review rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars. Customers reported fast loan disbursement times and a quick application process.
Best for Bad Credit: Avant
Avant, founded in 2012, is an online personal loan lender. They have helped 800,000 everyday people get needed credit. We chose Avant for the best bad credit motorcycle loan because they lend money to those with credit scores between 600 and 700.
They offer personal loans from $2,000 to $35,000. You can use the funds for anything you wish, including a motorcycle purchase or refinance. Their APRs range from 9.95% to 35.99% and loan lengths fall in the 24- to 60-month range Avant charges up to a 4.75% administrative fee for issuing the loan.
The application process is straightforward. It requires employment, salary, and monthly expense information. You won’t need a sales agreement or title to get your funds disbursed. Checking if you qualify for a loan doesn’t impact your credit score, and borrowed funds can be received as soon as the next business day.
Avant received average review ratings of 4.7 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot for their entire company. Loan applicants reported a speedy application process and helpful customer service agents.
Best for Manufacturer’s Financing: Harley-Davidson
Harley-Davidson, an iconic motorcycle manufacturer, provides motorcycle financing through Eaglemark Savings Bank, a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson Credit Corp. We chose Harley-Davidson as the best motorcycle loan for manufacturer’s financing because they offer new and used motorcycle loans for purchases at their dealerships as well as private-party financing on used Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
The company often advertises special financing deals on their new motorcycles and APR discounts for rider training graduates. Depending on the loan you choose, terms can stretch as long as 84 months. APRs can be as low as 3.49% for rider training graduates that fall in the highest credit tier if the loan term is 60 months or less. Military members may also qualify for reduced rates, flexible term options, and a $0 down payment.
You don’t need to pick out a motorcycle before applying for financing. A loan decision can be made in minutes, and all financing is facilitated by the dealership, even if you apply online. This includes private-party financing. If you don’t have a dealership nearby, this could present issues, as both the buyer and seller must visit a Harley-Davidson location to finalize financing.
They do not specify a minimum credit rating required, but higher credit scores qualify for better loan terms. You must have a photo ID, proof of motorcycle insurance, and any additional documents requested in your credit decision to finish the financing process.
Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Inc., has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The Better Business Bureau generally only receives complaints, but Harley-Davidson Financial Services quickly responded to most complaints stating they will investigate the matter and mail a written response within 30 days.
Best for Military and Veterans: USAA
USAA, founded in 1922, is a financial services and insurance company focused on meeting the needs of military members, veterans, and their families. We chose USAA as the best motorcycle loan for military and veterans because of their ability to handle unique situations military members face.
You must be a USAA member to apply for a USAA motorcycle loan. You can qualify if you’re a U.S. military member, veteran, or a pre-commissioned officer. Spouses and children of USAA members also qualify.
USAA motorcycle loans can finance new and used motorcycles, scooters, and new off-road dirt bikes. They come with APRs as low as 5.99%, including a 0.25% autopay discount, and loan terms of up to 72 months. You must finance at least $5,000 to qualify for 12- to 48-month terms, $10,000 to $15,000 for 60-month terms, and $15,000 or more for 72-month terms. The loan-to-value ratio must be 90% or lower. They have no minimum credit score requirement and look at your entire financial picture before approving or denying your application.
You’ll need a signed contract with a dealership or title information from a private party. USAA requires you to sign loan documents and sends a check to you or the previous owner’s lender by FedEx, which takes one to three business days.
USAA customers cite a hassle-free loan experience and good customer service but strict credit standards in their reviews.
How Do Motorcycle Loans Differ From Car Loans?
Motorcycle and car loans have a few fundamental differences. For example, not all motorcycle loans are secured loans, while most car loans are. And the unsecured loans you can take out for a motorcycle usually have higher interest rates because the lender takes more risk.
Motorcycles aren’t generally a person’s primary transportation, so the likelihood of defaulting on a motorcycle loan is higher than a car loan. This pushes interest rates higher than a typical car loan and may result in stricter lending requirements. Thankfully, motorcycles are often less expensive than cars, resulting in lower loan amounts and shorter loan lengths.
Who Should Get a Motorcycle Loan?
Financing a motorcycle for a secondary mode of transportation isn’t usually a good idea. These luxury purchases are often best paid for with cash to avoid interest charges.
However, buying a motorcycle as your primary way to get around town could make sense. Even though motorcycles cost less than most cars initially, you should consider the additional costs of motorcycle ownership including riding gear, more frequent tire changes, and more costly maintenance. To get the best rates on your motorcycle loan, you need excellent credit, a reasonable debt-to-income ratio, and a stable source of income.
Can I Get a Loan for a Used Motorcycle?
You can usually get used motorcycle loans. The specific details will vary based on the lender you choose. Some lenders have minimum loan amounts that may not be met when buying older motorcycles while other lenders may limit the motorcycle to a particular model year age. Getting a used motorcycle loan isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but paying for a motorcycle with cash could save you interest payments and any other fees.
What’s a Good Credit Score for a Motorcycle Loan?
An excellent credit score will help you qualify for the best rates. It’s still possible to get motorcycle loans with lower credit scores, such as 600. You should expect to pay a higher interest rate on your loan, though.
APRs should decrease as your score increases into the 700s and 800s, assuming you meet all other criteria.
How Much Do Motorcycle Loans Cost?
Traditional motorcycle loans normally only require paying interest on the amount borrowed. Rates as low as 3.49% APR or less could be available if you find the right lender. People with less-than-ideal credit may have to pay an APR of 10% or higher.
Borrowers who take out personal loans to purchase a motorcycle may have to pay administrative or origination fees of a few percent of the amount borrowed. Interest rates on personal loans are usually higher than traditional motorcycle loans, too. Read the application and loan terms carefully before applying to see what fees you may have to pay.
How We Chose the Best Motorcycle Loans
We looked at over 20 lenders before deciding on the five best motorcycle loans. Lenders considered included traditional banks, online lenders, personal loan lenders, and credit unions. We examined APRs, loan amounts, loan features, loan lengths, eligibility to apply for loans, discounts, and credit criteria required when making our selections.
All of the loans selected offered competitive APRs and loan lengths, had a simple application process, were available to a variety of borrowers, and had solid reputations among customers.
Bureau of Transportation Statistics. "U.S. Sales or Deliveries of New Aircraft, Vehicles, Vessels, and Other Conveyances." Accessed November 25, 2020.
Trustpilot. "Avant: Reviews." Accessed November 25, 2020.
Better Business Bureau. "Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Inc." Accessed November 25, 2020.