If you love being out on the water as much as we do, you probably have dreams of owning your own boat one day. A pontoon boat can be a fantastic way to get out onto the water with friends and family and they’re a great vessel for people looking to invest in their first boat. Many retailers, however, don’t actively advertise the prices of their pontoon boats out of a fear that buyers could ultimately drive down prices. Unfortunately, this leaves many of us would be pontoon-owners to scratch our heads and wonder, “How much do pontoon boats cost?”
The average cost of a brand new pontoon boat is usually somewhere between $18,000 and $70,000, with the most popular boats falling in the $20-40,000 range.
Here are some of the models and prices you might find on the market today:
- Fishing Pontoon: 22’G3 (Suncatcher) X22RF Fishing Pontoon, 115hp engine – starting at $28,500
- Luxury Pontoon: 25’ Tahoe Pontoons Vision Rear J Lounge, 300hp engine – starting at $72,265
- Cruising Pontoon: 23.5’ Lund LX220 Pontoon Boat, 200hp engine – starting at $26,422
- Ski Pontoon: 21.4’ Lowe 115 ELPT PRO XS Command Thrust FourStroke, 115hp engine – starting at $22,668
- Tritoon: 24’ Sun Tracker Party Barge XP3, 115hp engine – starting at $34,555
Before you dip into your life’s savings for that new pontoon boat, however, there are some things you ought to know. To help you become a more informed future pontoon boat owner, we’ll give you some insight into the different pontoon boat brands, the pros and cons of new and used pontoon boats, their average cost, and the change in their value over time. We’ll also discuss the costs of owning and maintaining a pontoon boat and whether or not you should consider a tritoon instead. Here we go!
Should I Buy a New or Used Pontoon Boat
Many budget-conscious boaters question whether or not they should consider buying a used pontoon boat instead of a new one to save some money. This might seem like a no-brainer at the outset for some of us, but buying a used pontoon boat requires as much, if not more, consideration than buying a new one.
New pontoon boats are great because they come with the piece of mind that you’re not paying some of your hard earned money for a boat that’s been improperly stored or cared for. Even if a boat has been expertly cared for, wear and tear does take its toll on a boat, so there are often higher maintenance costs on an older vessel. Plus, new pontoon boats usually come with a warranty against repairs in the first year or so of ownership, but you likely won’t be able to benefit from this warranty if you’re not the first owner.
Finally, if you buy a new pontoon boat, you can fully customize it to fit your needs. While you can likely find a used boat that has most of what you want and add on some other accessories, there’s nothing better than knowing that your stylish, new pontoon boat was made specifically to maximize your enjoyment out on the water.
That being said, for some of us, buying a new pontoon boat isn’t reasonable financially. Luckily, there are a lot of fantastic advantages to buying a used pontoon boat, which is great news for those of us who love being out on the water. First and foremost, the lower price of a used pontoon boat means you can potentially get a nicer model with more accessories for the same price as a less swanky new boat.
Used pontoon boats also have an added benefit of being time-tested against the elements. So long as they’ve been properly cared for and maintained throughout their years of service, a used pontoon boat has proven itself to be a worthy vessel, which is a for boosting your confidence in a large investment.
Average Cost of a Used Pontoon Boat
Used pontoon boats, much like new pontoon boats, vary widely in cost. An older, no-frills boat that can accommodate only a handful of passengers can be purchased for as low as $10,000- 15,000 if you find the right seller. You could certainly find a boat under that price range, but it’d likely need a significant amount of work and money to get it into shape for the water, so you might be better off investing a bit more at the outset.
Do Pontoon Boats Hold Their Value
The reason you can find a used pontoon boat at a considerably lower price than you could find a used model for is that, like cars, pontoon boats depreciate in value. While a used higher-end pontoon boat will almost always be worth more than a lesser quality boat of the same age and degree of wear and tear, all pontoon boats will decrease in value from about 25-35% after the first year or so of use.
This is one of the reasons why it’s worth considering a used version of a past season’s model as an economical alternative to a new boat. With a one or two-year-old used pontoon boat, you can experience significant costs savings while still getting a high-quality, minimally-used boat.
Cost to Maintain a Pontoon Boat
One of the longest running jokes in the maritime industry is that “BOAT” stands for “bill out another thousand.” We’re here to tell you that this is not a joke. Although you might think that the purchasing of a boat will be the only real financial investment you’ll have, experienced mariners will tell you that you’d better set aside some funds for when things go awry or even just for regular maintenance fees.
Beyond the purchase price of your boat, you’ll probably have to pay state sales tax (which can be upwards of 6-10% of the total cost) and fees for registering your boat with the Coast Guard or other authorities. You’ll also want to get yourself some insurance to protect your investment and yourself, in the event of an unfortunate incident. Insurance varies with a number of factors but is usually somewhere in the $20-$50/month range.
Once you own your boat and it’s all licensed, registered, and insured, you’ll still have plenty of expenses to cover over the lifetime of your boat.
There are some one-time fees to cover the costs of things you’ll need just to get started:
- Boat trailer: $2,000 – $5,000
- Essential safety equipment: $1,000 – $1,500
- Training courses (for those new to boating): $250-$300
Here are a few other annual fees you might expect:
- Mooring fees: $3,000 – $15,000
- Fuel: $2.50+ per gallon
- Repairs/Maintenance: $1000+
- Cleaning fees: $450
What Brands of Pontoon Boats are The Best
This is, of course, a matter of serious contention, as everyone has a different opinion on the matter. Thus, instead of giving you a black and white answer about what pontoon brand is the best, we’ll give you a list of some of the top manufacturers out there. These brands include:
- Sun Tracker
Should I Buy a Tritoon Instead
Effectively, a tritoon is a triple-hull pontoon. Since pontoon boats normally have just two aluminum tubes in their hull, while tritoons have three, tritoons have a number of significant advantages, when compared to a pontoon. This makes them an attractive option to consider when shopping around for a new boat.
The third aluminum tube of a tritoon sits between the two tubes of a pontoon. This helps distribute the weight of the boat more evenly across the water, which adds stability and structure to the vessel. Thus, tritoons can manage more horsepower than your standard pontoon and are also better constructed for rougher seas.
While it might seem like a no-brainer to go out and buy a tritoon instead of a pontoon, it’s important to remember that this extra tube and stability comes at an extra cost. Thus, before you set your sights on a tritoon, you should first identify whether or not it’d actually be worth the extra money.
If all you want is to have a nice lunch or afternoon of fishing out on your boat in calm water, then you will probably do just fine with a pontoon, saving yourself some serious cash money along the way. On the other hand, if you want to go water skiing or just cruise along at your maximum speed, then a tritoon will better serve you in the long run.
The fact of the matter is that the final cost of a pontoon boat depends as much on the brand and model of the boat as it does on the accessories and additional features you customize it with. Moreover, pontoon boats designed for different purposes, whether that be fishing, cruising, skiing, or what have you, will have different features and different final costs.