Best Motorcycle Loans

As with all automobiles, many motorcycle owners finance their rides. While motorcycles cost less than cars on average, the option to pay monthly rather than up front works better for riders on a budget.

About Motorcycle Loans

Car Talk took a look at which lenders had the best reputation for motorcycle loans. We considered first whether the lender offered this type of loan. Not all companies who offer auto loans also offer motorcycle loans. Next, we considered rates, credit requirements, loan terms and structures, as well as Better Business Bureau ratings. We did not consider borrower reviews. Who goes out of their way to write a positive review of a loan? As it turns out, nobody.

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Types of Loans

There are two types of loans available;

  • A secured loan. This is a loan which uses the financed item, in this case your motorcycle, as the collateral.
  • An unsecured loan. This type of loan acts like a line of credit from a financial institution. Your credit rating is on the line, but not the bike itself, should you miss some payments.

Top-Rated Motorcycle Lenders

LenderBBB Accredited?BBB Rating?Online Loan Application?Same Day Approval?Loan Type

Harley Davidson Financial Services

Harley Davidson Financial Services makes sense if you are buying a new Harley Davidson. Owners buy clothing branded with the Harley Davidson logo, buy car trims named after the company, and like to live the Harley Davidson lifestyle. Wouldn’t a motorcycle loan from a company riders love so much be a slam dunk?

Here’s more good news. Harley Davidson can also cover your motorcycle financing needs even if it is not new. Add to Harley Davidson Financial Services' many plusses that active duty and retired military personnel are offered generous discounts and zero-down loans in recognition of their service.

Pros and Cons

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  • You must finalize the loan on new bikes at a Harley Davidson dealership
  • Covers Harley Davidson brand bikes only

Harley Davidson Coverage Options

Harley Davidson offers low APRs for those with driver education, military personnel, and other special circumstances. Offers at the time of publication include low APRs, zero-down payments, and loan durations of up to 84 months.

LightStream SunTrust

If you have good or better credit, LightStream is an attractive motorcycle loan option. LightStream is unusual in that the company provides unsecured loans. That means your motorcycle is not going to be held as collateral. LightStream offers these type of loans for things like boats, tiny houses, and pretty much anything you can think of.

LightStream has been in business for 150 years, and was accredited by the BBB during the Kennedy administration. That’s quite a long track record. And it has maintained an impressive rating of A+. LightStream is part of a larger banking company called Truist, which was the result of a merger of two big online banks in recent years, SunTrust and BB&T.

LightStream is a lender that Car Talk added to its list of the best auto loan providers and appears on almost any top-down list of motorcycle lenders you will find.

Pros and Cons

  • Exemplary history and BBB accreditation and rating
  • Unsecured loans mean that your bike is not used as collateral
  • You get the money and buy the bike with cash, so down payments are moot
  • You need credit so good, you probably could buy the bike with cash anyway
  • Not always the best possible rate

LightStream Coverage Options

LightStream lends borrowers with good or better credit from $5,000 to $100,000. The rates from LightStream are good, but are not necessarily going to be the best in the business. However, there is one additional upside. LightStream gives you your money, not the motorcycle retailer. That allows you to buy the bike for cash. In certain circumstances this provides you with flexibility and negotiating power. However, some retailers may profit from brokering your loan, so you may not necessarily get a better deal on your new bike by using cash. This is often true with automobiles.

See our full review of LightStream SunTrust Auto Loans here.

USAA

Looking to finance a new or used motorcycle, scooter, or new off-road dirt bike? If you have served your country and are a current or former service member of the U.S. Armed Forces, USAA may be the right lender for you. If you are the spouse or child of a service member you may also qualify. USAA offers motorcycle loans as well as motorcycle loan refinancing. USAA has been in business for a century and has an A+ BBB rating.

In addition to providing you with a motorcycle loan, USAA may also be your motorcycle insurance provider. Many service members use USAA’s services in many different ways. If you already are a USAA member and wish to stay in the family, consider a USAA motorcycle loan.

Pros and Cons

  • Offers both motorcycle financing and refinancing
  • Offers motorcycle insurance as well
  • Excellent BBB rating
  • This is an old-school loan type. You need to sign a purchase agreement for your bike first
  • Loan paperwork can take up to three business days to complete after you make your purchase

USAA Coverage Options

USAA advertises APRs as low as 5.49%. Discounts for autopay are available. Information on USAA loans we found indicate that loan terms of up to 72 months are offered. Maximums and loan to value ratios do apply. So plan to make a down payment using your own cash.

See our full review of USAA Auto Loans here.

DCU Digital Federal Credit Union

Looking for the best rate? Want to finance 100% or more of the value of the new bike? DCU is the lender to look to for these scenarios. DCU offers loans for both on and off-road motorcycles and new or used on-road motorcycles.

Back in the 1970s when people thought computers would be a big thing (boy were they wrong!), Digital Equipment Corp (DEC) was the hot computer and computer chip maker on the East Coast. DCU was its employee credit union. Intel and Compac bought DEC, but DCU carried on, as banks often do after their original mission has been changed. DCU is based in Massachusetts, but you don’t have to be a resident of the Commonwealth to apply. They have a club you can join to qualify.

Pros and Cons

  • Low rates
  • 100% or more of value financing
  • New or used, on or off-road loans
  • We didn’t see any loan durations over 60 months
  • Traditional secured loan (your bike is the collateral)

DCU Coverage Options

DCU advertises APRs under 4.0% right now for loans of up to 48 months. APRS for 60 month loans are advertised at 4.75%. Those were among the lowest rates we found anywhere. And you can finance not just 100% of your loan, but even more than the fair market value of the bike.

Upstart

Not everyone has outstanding credit. We can sympathize with that. For those who want the loan application manager to consider more than just their credit score, Upstart is the personal loan company to check out. Upstart uses AI and online processing to approve or decline loans, not just a single factor.

With Upstart, you are using a personal loan to buy whatever you want. In this case, a motorcycle. If you have better than good credit, you will want to look at other options because your rate and fees will likely be better with this company.

Pros and Cons

  • Possibly your best bet if your credit is not stellar
  • No prepayment penalty
  • Maybe pay off another loan while you’re at it
  • Higher rates than traditional motorcycle loans
  • Origination fee may be higher than other types of loans

Upstart Coverage Options

Upstart’s loans are going to have rates around 6%, and durations that will run to as long as 60 months. Expect to pay an origination fee. While your credit need not be impeccable, you may still need to meet a minimum rate in the high 500’s and have a paying job to apply.

Is It Hard to Get Financed for a Motorcycle?

Obtaining financing isn’t hard in America. Maintain good credit, keep your debt to income ratio looking good, and have a down payment ready. If you do these things, and can tolerate filling out a half-hour of boring info on a phone app, you can finance pretty much anything, including a motorcycle. You may have a harder time explaining to your spouse that you bought a Ducati that can leap from 0-60 MPH in 2.5 seconds. Maybe get two?

How Many Years Can You Finance a Motorcycle?

When you finance anything, the longer the duration of the loan, the harder the math hurts you. Interest on a short loan is tolerable, but it gets bad fast as the years add up. Early on, you may see that your monthly payment is nearly all interest. Ok, so the official answer is we saw loans as long as 84 months. That’s seven years according to our long division. A very long time to pay for a depreciating asset.

Read more on Average Auto Loan Lengths here.

What is the Best Way to Finance a Motorcycle?

The best way to finance a motorcycle is the way that costs you the least in fees and interest. Check out DCU for the lowest rates on our list. Always opt for the shortest duration loan possible and always ask about fees, particularly origination fees on the loans that are unsecured.

Read our full recommendations on the Best Auto Loans here.

Read more on the Best Motorcycle Shipping Companies here.

Read more on the Best Motorcycle Insurance options here.

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FAQ

Where is the best place to get a motorcycle loan?

Many retail outlets offer financing on-site. However, if you prepare ahead of time, you may be more confident that the rate you are offered is fair.

Are motorcycle loans hard to get?

If you have decent credit and a down payment of about 10%, getting a motorcycle loan will be a lot easier than the talk you'll have to have with your significant other (or mom) about the fact that you got a motorcycle.

What kind of loan can I get for a motorcycle?

There are multiple types of loans for a motorcycle. Secured loans are like traditional auto loans. The vehicle is held as collateral by the bank or lender. Unsecured loans do not use the bike as your collateral. Personal loans can be used to buy whatever you want. Beware fees and high rates for unsecured loans.

What banks will finance a motorcycle?

Many “banks” will finance a motorcycle. We found LightStream to be among the best bank-type lenders for motorcycles and DCU is a credit union that offers great rates.

Can I finance a used motorcycle?

Many lenders do offer loans for used on-road motorcycles and it is a normal part of their business. Off-road motorcycles, not so much.

Can I refinance a motorcycle loan?

Yes, many lenders including Harley Davidson Financial Services are eager to refinance your motorcycle loan. Ask around for the best rate. If you find a good rate and shorten the duration of the loan, it could save you meaningful money and be well worth the time.

Editor's note and disclaimer: Car Talk is supported by our fans, readers and listeners. When you click on some of the links on our website, we may receive referral compensation. However, you should know that the recommendations we make are based on our independent editorial review and analyses.