Everyone dreams of owning their own boat one day. Pontoon boats are certainly a great option for those who are looking to invest in their first boat because they’re versatile and they provide good value for their price.
Pontoons are fantastic to get out on the water with friends or family as they’re built to be party boats. They offer many options and allow for limitless customization, so you’ll be able to find the perfect pontoon boat that fits your lifestyle, location, and budget.
However, with too many options and features, it can be overwhelming to determine which boat will be right for you. Also, many retailers don’t actively advertise the prices of their pontoon boats.
So, how much does a pontoon boat cost? A new pontoon boat’s average cost can range from $14,000 to $50,000, and some high-end boats might cost up to $150,000. You will also pay for licensing fees, fuel, accessories, and maintenance. Costs vary depending on the size, material, features, and engine. Pontoons depreciate 53% on average after 10 years.
Keep reading to learn more about the costs of purchasing a pontoon boat and the key factors you need to consider to choose the boat that best fits your needs.
Table of Contents
Why Buy a Pontoon Boat?
Pontoons are considered one of the most popular inland water boats in the U.S.
These boats are designed to be flat and they have a significant amount of buoyancy.
They’re rectangular in shape with a spacious deck area that allows passengers to move around freely and can also be fitted with lots of additional luxuries such as LED lights, sound systems, bars, built-in coolers, lounge chairs, and tables.
This makes pontoon boats extremely popular for families or larger groups of friends, and they are even referred to as “party boats”. They can also be used for multiple purposes including cruising inland water during warmer months, fishing, and even water sports.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Pontoon Boat?
The initial cost of a pontoon boat depends mainly on factors such as the size of the boat, the materials used to build the boat, and any features or accessories included with the purchase.
Here are the average costs of pontoon boats depending on the size:
- The average cost of a small pontoon boat starts from $14,000
- The average cost of a medium-sized pontoon boat is about $22,000 to $35,000
- The average cost of a large pontoon boat is about $47,000 to $50,000
Beyond the initial price of purchase, you’ll need to pay a state sales tax which is about 6-10% of the total initial cost, but the percentage may vary from one state to the other.
You also need to pay a fee to get a boating license and to register your boat with the Coast Guard or any other relevant authorities. The boating license fee is about $50 to $75 per year while the registration fee varies depending on the state.
If you want to start exploring the waters without paying all this money, you should start with kayaking. You can get an awesome kayak for less than a grand, and there are some awesome kayaks out there. You can start by checking the best affordable kayaks here.
Additional Running Costs
Now that you’ve purchased your boat and it’s all licensed and registered, there are still some additional expenses you need to cover over the lifetime of your boat.
It’s important to determine how much you can afford each month and to make sure you still have enough budget for all the additional expenses that come with owning a boat.
Let’s break down these additional expenses:
- In order to protect your investment and yourself in case of any unfortunate incidents, you need to have some insurance for your boat. Insurance fees depend on a number of factors but they usually range from $100 to $360 per year.
- If you’re completely new to boating, you’ll need to take some training courses and lessons which usually cost around $250 to $300.
- You need to buy some essentials for the boat including safety equipment, anchors, lines, and ropes. Their costs can range from $1,000 to $1,500.
- You also need to buy a boat trailer if it’s not included with the boat purchase. Boat trailers’ costs typically range from $3,000 to $6,000.
- The maintenance and cleaning costs of the boat start from $1,000 per year.
- The marina rental costs can range from 1,500 to $2,500 per year depending on the marina.
- The gas and fuel costs depend mostly on your location and your usage, but the average is about $2.50 per gallon
Now, let’s take a look at the cost of some of the accessories you can purchase to customize your boat to your liking:
- Pontoon boats come with one standard Bimini, but you can purchase a double Bimini for $700
- You can purchase a wireless MotorGuide trolling motor that comes with two batteries, wiring, battery boxes, and an onboard charger for about $2,000.
- You can purchase a live well for about $200 – $400 if you plan on using the boat for fishing. The price usually depends on the size and it can go up to $1,000
- You can buy Ski tow bars which cost between $200 and $700, while Ski ladders can cost between $200 and $500 if they aren’t built-in.
- You can upgrade from carpet to vinyl for a cost that starts from $300 and goes up to $1,200, depending on the size of the boat.
What Are the Best Pontoon Brands?
There are several brands that manufacture high-quality pontoon boats of different sizes and features, and they all come at different prices.
Check the following table for some of the best pontoon brands on the market along with the average cost of some of their top-rated models:
|Party Barge 24DLX
|25 Oasis SR SHP 575
Is It Better to Buy a Used Pontoon Boat?
If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to buy a used pontoon boat instead of a new one to save some money. Just keep in mind that buying a used boat requires a lot of consideration.
There are advantages to buying a used pontoon boat aside from the lower price. For example, you might find a nice model with accessories or upgrades from the previous owner.
Used pontoon boats also have the added benefit of being time-tested against the elements and they might last you a long time if they were properly maintained and cared for.
However, there are also some disadvantages to buying a used pontoon boat as there can be some hidden issues with the boat which might require you to pay high maintenance costs or repair costs to get the boat back in shape. Also, you might not be able to benefit from any warranties on the boat.
How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Used Pontoon Boat?
The cost of used pontoon boats can vary depending on the boat’s age and state. You might be able to purchase a good pontoon boat for as low as $10,000 if you find the right seller.
However, it’s highly unadvised to buy a boat older than 5 years because you might end up spending more money to repair it. It’s recommended to go look for a pontoon boat that has been lightly used for about 2 years or less.
How to Choose the Right Pontoon Boat?
Buying a pontoon boat is a big decision, no matter what your budget is so you need to do a significant amount of research to ensure you make the right decision.
In order to choose which pontoon boat to purchase you need to set your budget, determine what you’ll be using the boat for, make a list of all the features you want your boat to have, and compare different models from different brands.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few models, it’s recommended to take them for a test drive and see which are you most comfortable in.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Pontoon Boat
There are some factors you need to keep in mind before buying a pontoon boat as they can affect its price and value.
Let’s break down these factors in more detail:
The length of a pontoon boat is different from one model to another and it can determine how expensive the boat will be.
It also determines the number of people the boat can carry, the amount of deck space, and the amount of storage space.
If you’re choosing the boat’s size based on the number of people it can carry, consider the following:
- For 2-6 people, the pontoon boat’s size should be between 18 to 20 ft.
- For 6-10 people, the pontoon boat’s size should be between 22 to 24 ft.
- For over 10 people, the pontoon boat’s size should be 24 ft. or larger.
The materials used in making the pontoon boat can affect its durability and cost as well.
Pontoon boats are usually made from aluminum, fiberglass, or a variation of different materials.
Aluminum is cheap but less durable and more prone to rust while fiberglass doesn’t rust and presents an overall sleeker, but it’s more expensive.
The deck area which provides the main support for the passengers and equipment is made from different materials such as marine-grade plywood, composite wood, aluminum, or vinyl.
Plywood and composite wood are often cheaper, but they require additional covering materials such as carpet, turf, or vinyl flooring which increases the cost.
The floorplan is basically the layout of the interior of the boat. It varies depending on how you plan to use the boat and it determines the placement of the furniture on board.
Most brands offer standard floor plans that include a rear lounge, a front lounge, and a captain’s seat.
The cost of the boat may increase if you choose a floor plan that’s more unique or versatile. Such floor plans usually include fishing chairs or bar tops.
Features (Standard and Optional Add-ons)
Going through the standard features and optional add-ons can be quite overwhelming.
It’s important to know which features are included in the initial price and which ones you’re paying extra for. Having more optional add-on features on your pontoon boat will increase its price.
So, it’s a good idea to look for a pontoon boat that has more standard features and fewer optional add-ons as this will ensure you get the most value possible for the price you’re paying.
Standard features are the essential features you need on a boat and they include things like a Bimini, a mooring cover, cup holders, docking lights, etc. While optional features include things like LED lights, sound systems, built-in coolers, etc.
Are Tritoon Boats Better Than Pontoon Boats?
A tritoon boat is basically a triple-hull pontoon. Pontoon boats have only two aluminum tubes in their hull, while tritoon boats have three tubes. The third aluminum tube of a tritoon boat is located between the two tubes of a pontoon boat.
Tritoon boats can have some advantages compared to pontoon boats. The additional aluminum tube helps in distributing the weight of the boat evenly across the water which will increase its stability
Tritoon boats can also handle more horsepower than a standard pontoon boat and they’re more ideal for rougher waters.
However, keep in mind that these advantages come at an extra cost. So, before buying a triton boat instead of a pontoon boat, try to determine whether it’s worth the extra cost or not.
How Much Does the Engine Impact the Price of the Boat?
The engine can significantly impact the price of any boat. If your pontoon boat comes with a standard 90hp motor and you want to upgrade it to a 115hp motor, it will add an extra $900 – $2,000 to the price. If you want to go from a 115hp motor to a 150hp motor, it will add an extra $2,400 – $3,500 to the price.
When Is the Best Time to Buy a Pontoon Boat?
The best time to buy a pontoon boat is the off-season which is usually during fall or early winter depending on your location. During these times, retailers will try to sell the older models to make room for the newer models that come out in the summer. So, you’ll be able to find decent pontoon boat models at a reduced price.
Can You Rent a Pontoon Boat?
You can rent a pontoon boat which is basically buying the right to use the boat for a certain amount of time without actually owning it. This can have some advantages such as being a lot less expensive. There are also no additional costs for maintenance, trailering, or storage.
Do You Need to Register Your Boat in All American States?
Some states such as Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Arizona insist on boat registration, while other states do not. Several rules govern the registration of a boat in the states where it is required and you’ll need certain documentation to register. Once your boat is registered, you’re good to use it in the waters within that particular state.
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