Thinking about buying a pontoon boat? Having fantasies of summertime cocktails at sunset out on the water? We don’t blame you! Let’s break down how to make that dream a reality.
The average cost of pontoon boats ranges from $15,000 to upwards of $175,000. The price will vary greatly depending on factors like size and accessories. We will break down how each choice may affect pricing below.
New or Used
Buying a new pontoon boat instead of a used version does carry a significantly higher price tag. However, buying new from a dealership will include a warranty from the manufacturer and less burden for pricey repairs, cleaning, and maintenance — buying an old engine without a warranty is risky.
Dealers often provide safety gear and additional equipment as part of the package. Used pontoon boat prices can be as low as $5,000, though newer pontoons can still push a budget to $30,000. Ultimately, while buying used saves money on the upfront cost, purchasing a new pontoon boat is often more financially sustainable in the long run.
One of the most important variables in pricing to consider is what size boat you desire. The majority of American leisure pontoon boats average 20 feet in length, with smaller models at 17 feet and larger models pushing 25 to 28 feet. The average cost of pontoon boats greatly changes depending on which size boat you choose.
Consider what you and your family might need. The difference of several feet in boat size directly impacts passenger capacity: smaller pontoon boats fit about eight people, whereas the larger models can accommodate 15 or more. For every two-foot increase in length, you can expect a cost increase of $1,000-$1,500 for the same model. See our pontoon boat buying guide for more information on the differences between the boat types and sizes.
Be sure to examine your horsepower needs as well – are you mostly lounging and fishing, or are you hoping to try waterskiing? As your power requirements increase, so does the price. A small $15,000 pontoon boat can quickly jump a few thousand dollars with an engine upgrade. A mid-size new pontoon (22-feet-long with a 90hp engine) averages around $30,000. High horsepower boats meant for longer distances or twin-engine models will increase cost accordingly.
All pontoon boats are not the same. Some are best for entertaining, with bar tops and plenty of seating. Fishing boats often include features such as a depth/fish finder and tackle holder, with optional trolling motors to avoid scaring off fish (these alone add $400+ to your overall cost). Some models feature quad seating, with trademark lounges tucked along the bow and stern, providing extra space for larger families. Lounge models generally run more expensive than those designed for fishing.
When you’re considering pontoon boat prices, it’s important to factor in fuel, boat insurance (between $100 to $300 annually), a boating license ($55 to $65), and the title and registration. If you don’t live on the water, annual marina and storage fees will apply as well, tacking on roughly an extra $2,000.
While there are certainly costs associated with boating, pontoons can last for 20 years or more with good cleaning and maintenance, so you’ll get your money’s worth.
From sturdy equipment like boat trailers, boat covers, and anchors to small aesthetics like cushions and martini glasses, customizing your pontoon boat is part of the appeal. Accessories and estimated price may include:
- Boat Trailers: ~$2,000
- Boat Covers: $200 to $500
- Anchors: $50 to $200
- Bottom Keels: $150 to $400
- Waveshield: ~$1,500
- Power Assist: ~$2,500
- Deck Features (patio pad, diving board, etc.): ~$2,000
- Stand Features (Speakers, Trim, Remote, Depth Finder, etc.): ~$3,500
- Wall Features (Gate, Buoy Holders, etc.): ~$1,000
- Furniture Features (Table, Underwater Lights, Floor matting, Seat covers, etc.): ~$2,000
Pontoon boats come with a range of extras; buyers can opt for built-in sound systems, reclining chairs, luxury lighting, and even attachable water slides. Buying new from a dealer allows consumers to articulate their individual needs and preferences, but it can easily add a couple of grand to the base cost.
Materials can affect pontoon boat cost as well. While all pontoons are made from aluminum, buyers can opt for pricier fiberglass siding. Fiberglass doesn’t rust and presents a sleeker look to the overall vessel. Variations in onboard materials also contribute to fluctuating overall costs.
Decking, which provides essential support for your passengers and equipment, can come in marine-grade plywood, aluminum, vinyl, and composite wood. Plywood and composite wood often run cheaper, but require additional covering materials, whether carpet, turf, or vinyl flooring, bumping up your price.
We know purchasing a pontoon boat is a big decision, no matter your budget. Be sure to do your research and ask questions. Compare prices from the manufacturer’s website with that of your dealer. Take a few models out for a test drive. At the end of the day, be sure your pontoon boat fits your budget and your needs.