• Katie Krivolavek

How to get the deal you want on an RV

Buying an RV can be an overwhelming experience. You spend days searching for just the right camper and then have to worry if you're getting a good deal on your rig! It's enough to make you forget the whole idea of buying an RV in the first place. We're here to help!

We purchased a new RV in 2018 and have a few tips to help you get the deal you're looking for in a camper. Really, it's about knowing what you want, what your budget is, and understanding how dealerships work.

Tip #1: Do Your Research

Make sure you have a good understanding of what you are looking for in a camper. From the reputation of the brand you are purchasing to the features you can't live with out. It's a good place to start narrowing down your search and understanding what you need to get out of your deal. Here are some things to consider:

  • Will you strictly be camping on the weekends or short trips? Or will you be taking longer trips or even living full-time in your rig? If you will only be using your camper on weekends, you may not need to look for the campers that are geared for longer-term travel and therefore may be more expensive.

  • What features do you need? Are you looking for something that's family friendly or a tail-gate on wheels? Are you big into technology or a simple rig? Do you want to be able to access the roof for quick maintenance or would you rather have a place for your grill? Each added comfort or feature can add to the price tag of your rig, so make sure you are looking for a rig with only the features you are in the market for.

  • Does the brand have a good reputation? Look at build quality, customer service, and feedback from people who own these RVs. There are often Facebook Groups dedicated to the owners of a particular brand of RV and you can generally join if you are looking to purchase that brand. It give you a chance to ask questions directly to the owners and is an invaluable resource. Because, well, frankly sometimes you get what you pay for! Get real-world reviews.

  • Find the MSRP for your rig of choice Often times you can find the MSRP for a rig on the brand's website. Just be sure that you're looking at the MSRP for the rig that has all the features you're looking at. If you can't find the MSRP online, you can ask the dealer directly for the invoice so you can get the MSRP.

There are a lot of things to consider when you're looking for which particular camper, which we will discuss in further detail in a later post. For now, let's stick with getting you the deal you want!

Tip #2 : Know The Deal You Want

Now that you have done your research and know the brand and camper you want, as well as the MSRP for the rig, figure out your top dollar. Typically you can get anywhere between 25-40% off MSRP for the purchase price of your rig. What are you comfortable paying and what will you likely be able to get for the rig you're looking at. Here's what to consider:

  • Is the rig a brand new model? If you're looking at last years model you'll be much more likely to get that coveted 40% off of MSRP. However, if you're looking at the latest and greatest, particularly a new, highly sought after floor-plan, you may not even be able to get 20% off.

  • What time of year are you looking? A dealer will be more generous if you're purchasing in the off season or at the end of season. They don't want to have rigs on their lot all winter to take care of. And they also want room for new arrivals in the Spring.

  • What is your budget? Knowing what you can afford can also set the limits of your deal. Setting the top dollar can help you see clearly, hold your ground, and only go for a deal that works for you.

Tip #3: Don't Rush Into a Deal

A camper isn't a house. "THE ONE" isn't going to sell out from under you from a higher bidder. That's the beauty of an RV, there are a hundred more just like it out there. Sure, you may have to travel a little farther to pick up the rig, but you can get the deal elsewhere.

  • Is this really the deal you were looking for? 5% can be a pretty big difference in the price of your RV, so if the deal is close but not quite what you were looking for...keep looking. The right deal will come along.

  • Start looking for your rig early. Give yourself the chance to get the deal you want. If you start looking a month before you need your rig, you may not be able to find the price you wanted in the time allowed.

Tip #4: Get an Inspection & Evaluation on Used Trailers

There are seemingly great deals out there on used rigs, but buyer beware, they may not always look as great as they are. Here are our suggestions for buying a used rig:

  • Get an inspection. Never buy a used rig without having a professional, or at least an experienced friend, look at the rig. There can be several hidden issues with campers and to be fair the seller may not even know they exist themselves. Having a through inspection can save you from a costly mistake.

  • Try EVERYTHING Leave no switch, nob, system or feature go unchecked. If you're going to buy used, before you seal the deal make sure you've seen it all work. If something isn't working properly, make sure the price is set accordingly.

  • Work with the dealer. Dealers constantly have trades coming through their doors, and often keeping them on the lot isn't cost effective. So, speak with a manager and let them know what you're looking for. If they get something similar in on a trade they may be willing to cut you a deal. It's a win-win...the dealer gets to make more off of you than selling it to a third party seller, and you get a sweet deal on the camper you were looking for by cutting out the middle man.

Tip #5: Shop Around to Multiple Dealerships

Don't fall in love with a particular dealership. Sure, it's nice to have the dealer down the road or to use the place recommended by friends and family...but if you're looking for the best deal sometimes you need to look far and wide to find the deal that fits your needs.

  • Search the whole country. Often times, unless you live in a very large city, there is only one dealer in town that carries a particular type of camper. Which means, there is no competition to drive down the price of a rig. Lucky for you the internet has helped remedy that situation no matter where you are. Sites like RV Trader can help you scour the entire country looking for your perfect RV deal.

  • Not all dealers are created equal. See Tip #6. There can be huge differences between dealerships from the perks they offer you when you purchase a rig, to simple customer service and industry knowledge. If you're not comfortable, it may be a better deal for you to spend a few hundred more dollars elsewhere.

  • Use RV shows to your advantage. RV shows give you the opportunity to meet multiple dealers as well as tour as many campers as you can possibly imagine. Just be wary of a sales man who just wants to make the sale. If you're going to purchase at the show, use the same diligence with knowing the MSRP and appropriate deal as you would at the dealership.

Tip #6: Look for Hidden Dealer Fees

It's getting less common for Dealers to hide fees in their deals, but it still happens. There can be anything from paperwork fees to service fees and beyond. Don't let a hidden fee send your perfect deal to the not-so-great territory.

  • Ask upfront. They have the rig you want...before you spend anymore time at that particular dealer, ask them if they have any fees not listed on their website or sticker price.

  • Negotiate the fees out. Ask the dealership to remove the fees. Often these can be fees that are "administrative" fees, which just means it's money in their pocket, so they may be willing to remove or lessen a fee.

Tip #7: Buy Last Year's Model

As mentioned above, last years model can be much easier to get a deal on. Here's what to look out for if you go this route:

  • Make sure the rig has the features you want. For instance, we purchased a 2019 Grand Design Reflection 312BHTS in 2018. We could have gotten closer to 35% off MSRP if we would have purchased a 2018 model, however, there was a significant upgrade to the bunkhouse in the 2019 model and we knew we did not want last year's model. So, check that all the features you're looking for are in the model year you're looking at.

  • Newer isn't always better. Often times there aren't any significant changes from one year to the next, so if it can save you $5,000-$10,000 or even more, is it really worth being able to say you have one year newer? Probably not.

Tip #8: Hold Your Ground

Buying something you have your heart set on can be an emotional experience. Keeping your emotions out of the game and sticking to your original plan can be one of the biggest pieces of advice we can give you.

  • Don't let excitement win. The dealership has come within $5,000 of your asking price, you better take what you can get and run, right?! I mean, if you don't you will never find a deal like this again! ... it's SO easy to get caught up in a head game like that when you find the rig of your dreams and you're so close to making the deal. But, hang in there a bit longer and see if you can't get the deal you're really looking for. Even if the rig is gone tomorrow, there is probably another one just like it on order headed to the dealership before the ink dries on the last one.

  • Write your expectations out like a checklist. Write down the price you want to pay, the features you want included, what you want to make sure you're not paying for, and work your way down the list as you make your deal. This can help guide you through so you don't miss anything when you're in the heat of negotiation.

Tip #9: Ask for Extras

A little known fact is that dealerships can often throw in extras from their shop to supplement a deal on an RV. And, quite frankly there are a lot of accessories you can't live without if you're buying a new rig. You can easily spend over $1,000 on parts after your purchase. So, save some money by having them thrown into the deal. Here are some tips for asking for extras:

  • Get the essentials. Especially if you've never owned a camper in the past, ask for the things you know you will need to get started with your rig. For example: a sewer hose, water hose, chocks, etc. If you can't camp without it, ask the dealer to throw the into the deal.

  • Get the big ticket items. Many dealerships will throw in a hitch if you do not have one. You can also get surge protectors, upgraded hoses and accessories. Get creative with what you're asking for if they don't give you the first thing that comes to mind.

  • Ask for free labor. Get the dealership to install the accessories you purchased for free. Anything from vent covers to surge protectors...have the dealer get them on the rig before you leave as a part of the deal.

Tip #10: Get Two Dealerships Competing

This is our ultimate tip for getting the deal you're looking for on a rig. Without getting two dealerships involved I don't believe I would have gotten the 30% MSRP we got for our rig. If you do, here are some things to consider:

  • Know the details. If you call a dealer claiming you have an offer from another dealership offering the a better price, you better have your proof. They're going to want to know what dealership, the specs on the rig you have an offer on, and any dealer fees they may have.

  • Be ready to take the other offer. Often, to have two dealers competing one dealership will have to be an out of town dealer. Be ready to take the offer from the dealer farther away (or continue the search for your perfect deal) if the local dealer won't budge.

  • Be ready to travel to get your rig, but be wary of travel costs. Sometimes the better deal isn't going to be the local dealer, so be ready to go get the rig of your dreams. But, you should always consider the cost of travel to go pick up the rig or have it transported. If the travel costs end up being more than the difference in price between the two dealers, it may be better to buy the more expensive rig and save on travel costs.

There you have it. Our 10 Tips for Getting the Deal You Want on your RV. We hope these help you in your search for your rig and make you life a bit easier (and hopefully save you some money)! Please let us know in the comments if you have any questions about the RV buying process, we will be glad to help where we can.

If you're an experienced RV buyer, leave your tips below...they may get featured on our page or social media!

About Us

We are a family of 5 traveling the U.S. whenever we can. We love a good adventure and are out to find the important stuff in life. 

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