Pontoon boats aren’t cheap, but the actual cost will very much depend on the size, engine, what features it comes with, the manufacturer, sometimes your location, and whether you buy new or used. It is possible to pick up some amazing bargains on the used market, but my advice to people new to this hobby is to always buy from new. In this guide I am just going to focus on the cost of a new pontoon boat, as there are so many factors in the used market, that it would make it very difficult to supply you with estimates when buying second-hand.
Rough prices for average-sized pontoons, in other words the ones that you see on the lakes being used by families and fisherman, will range between $19,000 and $65,000 from new.
If we take the most popular size of pontoon, which would be a 22-footer with a 115 horse power engine, you’re going to need to pay around $37,000 if buying from a dealer.
If you opt for something a little smaller, a great choice for a beginner would be an 18-footer. You can pick a new one up at as low as $14,000.
How Much Does a Pontoon Cost?
The reason you probably reached this guide initially, is that you are struggling to find advertised prices listed on dealer websites. There’s a reason for this.
The top manufacturers don’t actually let dealers list prices publicly. The reason being is that they want to avoid situations where buyers like you and I can see a price listed and then go and use that information to barter with the dealers, which in turn would start to push the prices down.
Obviously, the manufacturers have a vested interest to keep prices high, as that’s where they make their margins. And who can blame them? You can still find recommended retail prices though on some of the manufacturer websites, so you can use that as a general steer on price range.
But, don’t let that put you off, as you can still negotiate when buying a new pontoon, and I’ve put some essential tips on how to do so in my pontoon boat buyer’s guide. It’s a great resource for beginners so please go and check that out.
Example Pontoon Boat Price Guide
What I did was contact dealers around the United States to see what their average prices were on a set of the most popular boats currently on the market for 2018. If you are reading this guide after that point, then you can assume that the prices will probably have gone up.
Handy Hint: Bear in mind, pontoon boats can differ in price from state to state. Strange, but true! It sometimes pays to shop around, and then trailer back home despite distances.
Here’s that list of pontoon costs based on the top 10 most popular models of 2017 into 2018:
- Avalon LS Cruise 18 Foot – $14,742
- Bennington 188SL – $15,875
- Avalon GS Fish 21 Foot – $16,328
- Sweetwater SW 1880 FC – $18,054
- Sun Tracker Bass Buggy – $22,310
- Sylvan Mirage 8520 Cruise – $24,756
- Aqua Patio AP 235 Sport 25 – $26,470
- Bennington 20 RL – $43,950
- Harris Grand Mariner 250 – $48,482
- Sylvan Mandalay 8525 Sport Lounger – £52,607
Handy Hint: Prince Craft let you pick your boat and spec to generate a price. You can try for yourself here and build a pontoon to your own spec and preference.
The Average Cost of a Pontoon Boat
So now that we have all those example prices, we can have a decent stab at what the average cost of a pontoon boat would be. I’ve split these costs down into large, medium, and small which might help you in your buying decision.
- Average cost of a small pontoon boat – $14,500
- Average cost of medium-sized pontoon boat – $22,000
- Average cost of a large pontoon boat – $47,000
There are additional factors that will also help to determine price. You can find out what those are below.
Choice of Engine / Motor
When you buy a new boat, think very carefully about how you are going to be using it. I always recommend that beginners go for something smaller, but at the same time, if you are going to be pulling inflatable tubes, you will need a motor with a bit of power.
You will also need to think about how many passengers you will have on any given day when out on the water. These factors will dictate what type of motor you opt for, and it can make a massive difference to how much a pontoon boat costs.
Handy Hint: I wrote a guide about what you should consider when choosing the right engine for your pontoon boat. You can read it here, as it will help you when talking to a dealer.
With the average lifespan of a pontoon boat being around 18 years, they are built to last. The same can’t always be said of the motors, and it’s highly likely you will need to change or upgrade it at some point during the ownership period.
With that in mind, don’t scrimp on quality or horse power if you can afford it. Believe it or not, new boat engines can sometimes sell for $14,000 so when you see your boat price, that will be factored in. Having a high-quality motor that comes with a warranty, from a good brand, and that will last a long time is essential.
Generally speaking, if the boat you are looking at has a 90 horse power engine but you think you are going to need 115hp, then you could be looking at a maximum price increase of up to $3,700.
Choice of Accessories & Optional Extras
Your dealer will try to encourage you to add as many extra, features, and accessories as possible. Are they all necessary though? Not always, so try to think about what you need today, what you can afford to pay, and what you might be able to add on yourself cheaply in the future.
Here are some example aspects that you might want to buy from the dealer, which will increase the cost of a new pontoon boat.
- Fishing Livewell – Between $200 and $1,000
- Vinyl or Carpet – Vinyl will cost more, typically near to $700 (read guide)
- Sound System – Most new boats have a great system pre-installed
- Trolling Motors – Fishermen will demand this, costs around $2,000
- Boarding Ladders – A must for water sports, costs around $400 (read guide)
- Fishing Rod Storage – Just add yourself to save on money (read guide)
- Fenders & Bumpers – Just add yourself (read guide)
- Boat Covers – Again, buy yourself to save money (read guide)
Handy Hint: Here is a comprehensive list of the 33 must-have pontoon boat accessories you might buy in the future once you own your boat.
How to Get a Good Deal on a Pontoon Cost
When buying from new or used, then being able to negotiate on price is an essential part of the process. I appreciate this isn’t always comfortable for people to do, so I advise that you take some tips on negotiating price.
It’s also not always the case that the main dealers will have the lowest prices. I have seen pontoon repair shops near me that sell new models, but at greatly reduced costs. Why? It’s because they don’t have the larger overheads that the big-name dealers do, so are able to compete a lot better on price.
No matter who you do a good deal with, if you can build up a relationship with them during the buying phase, it’s going to stand you in good stead when it comes to future repairs and maintenance.
If price is important to you, and you don’t think that you can afford anything in the pontoon boat price range displayed on this page, then explore the used market.
Pontoon boats are like cars. They will depreciate in value the minute that they leave the dealership. Because of that, you as a buyer can pick up a great bargain on boats that are as little as 12 months old, particularly if they haven’t been used very much during that time period.
Pricing a Boat
As I mentioned earlier, recommended new pontoon prices are set by the manufacturer, but it’s up to the dealer to set their own price. Before you make any purchase, visit at least three dealers who are selling the same boat, so you can get an idea on what price you should be paying.
There are also regional price differences too, which I alluded to earlier.
The pontoon industry can be a strange one, with some boat brands more popular in certain areas across the United States than other. Because of this, you might have to pay more depending on how popular your pontoon is where you live.
Sometimes you can get a better deal by travelling to a different part of the country, and then paying for transportation back to your home or marina.
As a consumer, it can be a good idea to take a look at these books, so you have a greater understanding of how much you chosen pontoon should cost. Those books are:
- BUC Valu Search – Includes retail high and retail low prices – visit website
- NADA Guides – Provides low, average, and high prices for models – visit website
- ABOS Marine Blue Book – Only available to brokers and dealers – visit website
Annual Running & Ownership Costs
This guide doesn’t factor in longer-term pontoon costs that any boat owner will need to consider when buying. The money doesn’t’ just stop at the point you purchase the actual boat, as there are multiple other aspects you will need to factor in.
This will include aspects such as, but not limited to:
- Fuel and Gas
- Upgrades and Customization
I will not list these out on this page, as there’s a lot to it. Instead I have put together a different guide which tells you what your annual running costs are going to be.
I hope that this has helped you to get a better understanding when asking the question of “how much does a new pontoon boat cost”. The pricing guide and range data that you see above is all taken from 2018, so chances are they could be a little bit different by the time you come to purchase.
If you do decide to buy, then please do bookmark Pontoonopedia, as it has everything you would ever need to know about your boat in it, with guides, hints, tips, tutorials, as well as advice on what you need to buy to get the most from your new hobby.
If you are a manufacturer, and you would like your boat prices listed on the Pontoonopedia website then please do contact me via the usual channels. I also review pontoon boats regularly should you wish your new model to be featured.
Want help buying a used pontoon? I recently published a used pontoon boat buyer’s guide including the questions you need to ask, what to look for, and how you can negotiate on price.