How to Afford the Jet Ski of Your Dreams Without Breaking the Bank

If you are looking to purchase a jet ski, the first thing you will likely realize is that a jet ski can cost a pretty penny. There is quite a range of jet ski prices as well. They can cost anywhere from the price of a cheap used car, to the price of a less cheap used car, to even as much as some new cars.

Purchasing a jet ski entails much more than just going to your nearest dealer and asking for a jet ski. There are some things you should know before diving into the search.

In this article, we will look at some tips that will hopefully help you on the path to purchasing not only the right jet ski for you, but also making the smartest decisions in regards to that purchase.

Decide On an Appropriate Model

When it comes to jet skis, there are many different makes and models available for purchase. That may come as a surprise to people. Of course there is not nearly as much variety as in the auto industry, but I will admit I was surprised at how many different models there were when I first started learning about them.

Before starting on the path to paying for a jet ski, you should know what exactly you want to get out of it. Do you have an interest in competing? Is that interest in racing or trick competitions? Do you want to be able to tow kids on a tube behind you or do you just want to jet out to a secluded island to enjoy a picnic with that special someone?

While you can tow with a lot of jet ski models and they will certainly all get you out to an island as long as it is close enough, there are certain models that are better for doing certain activities. We can take a look at a few here to start to get an idea of what is out there.

Rec Lite Models

These are the smallest and most affordable models available. Their small size and light weight mean that they are the easiest to transport and store. What these models are best for is just getting on the water and zipping around, maybe jumping some wake and doing other tricks.

The Sea-Doo Spark made by Bombardier leads this class in terms of smallest size. At just 110 inches long in its two-seater variety, it is the shortest out there. If you make it a three-seater it adds on about 10 inches. The next smallest is the Yamaha WaveRunner EX. It has a total length of about 123 inches.

These are just a couple examples of rec lite models. If you just want something small and simple, this could be a good choice for you.

Recreation Models

Next up are recreation type models. These are slightly larger than rec lite models and perform at a higher level. Their larger size means that they have larger gas tanks, more storage space, and more versatility when it comes to use. You will be able to go further, stay on the water longer, and bring more with you.

A couple of models included in this category are the WaveRunner VX-C by Yamaha and the Jet Ski STX-15F by Kawasaki.

Luxury Models

Luxury models are made to deliver the smoothest, most stable ride, among other things. They are larger than recreation type models, have a greater fuel capacity, and greater storage capacity.

A couple of models which fall under this category are the WaveRunner FX HO and the Sea-Doo GTX.

Performance Models

These are the models used to win races. If you are looking for as much speed as possible, this is the category to look in.

The Kawasaki Jet Ski Ultra and the Yamaha GP 1800R are included in this category.

Stand-Up Models

When jet skis first started becoming popular in the 1970s, there were only stand up models available. Sit-down models were not commercially available until later in the 80s. These days, the opposite is true. Most jet skis you see are the sit-down type, and only two manufacturers even still make stand-up models.

These models are the best for performing tricks, and they are also used in races.

The two models still produced today are they Yamaha Superjet and the Kawasaki Jet Ski SX-R.

Specialty Models

Although not very common, there are some jet ski models that are made specialized for one activity.

Bombardier manufactures a Sea-Do which is designed specifically to be ideal for tow sports, as well as another model which is made just for fishing.

Get to know the Price Range

Now that we have looked at a few different models that are out there and you might have an idea of what you are looking for, we should get into how much they can cost. Some of those models sound pretty fancy, and it is safe to assume that the price tag matches what you get.

The price of a new jet ski can range anywhere from the price of a cheap used car, to the price of a not as cheap used car, and even up to the price of some new cars.

The price of a jet ski obviously depends on what type of model it is. The more there is to it, the more it is going to cost. The categories of models above are actually in ascending order by price. We can take a look at the more exact numbers now.

Rec Lite

As mentioned above, rec lite models have the most modest price tag out of all of the categories. The Sea-Doo Spark leads the pack as not only the smallest but also the least expensive model on the market right now. The MSRP for this machine starts at about $5,400.

The WaveRunner EX runs a bit higher, with an MSRP starting at about $6,800.

For most typical folk, these prices are not what would be considered “cheap.” However, after looking at some of the other prices, they will likely seem pretty reasonable.


With the recreation models, we see quite a price jump from the rec lites. As far as jet skis go, the prices are about in the middle of the possible range.

The WaveRunner VX-C has a starting MSRP of about $9,000, and the Jet Ski STX-15F has a starting MSRP of about $9,700. Now we are really starting to see that these vehicles can cost as much as, and even more than, many cars.

Luxury Models

You can probably guess by the name that a luxury model jet ski is going to be on the more expensive end.

The WaveRunner FX HO has a starting MSRP of about $13,500. Another model in the same series, the WaveRunner FX Cruiser SVHO, has a starting MSRP of about $16,200.

The Sea-Doo GTX 155 has a starting MSRP of about $12,800. In the same series, the Sea-Doo Limited 230’s MSRP starts at about $16,100.

Here we see that even within the same series made by the same manufacturer, there can be a significant difference in price.


There are a few models available in the Jet Ski Ultra line, and their prices range from about $15,300 to just under $18,000.

The Yamaha GP 1800R starts at just over $14,000.

These are some of the most expensive models available. It makes sense because most people who buy and use these models are the ones who need the highest performance level.


The Jet Ski SX-R has a starting MSRP of about $10,000, and the Yamaha Superjet has an MSRP of about $8,500.

These models are comparatively expensive when looked at along with other types. For example, with any other model you can get at least two riders on, and most of the time they hold three riders. Stand-up models can only accommodate one rider at a time.

Stand-up models are also sort of niche. There are only a few things that you can do with them because that is what they are made for. All in all, they are not the type for the casual rider to purchase.


The Sea-Doo sport fishing model has an MSRP of about $14,800, and the Sea-Doo tow sports model has a starting MSRP of about $12,000.

Prices can range from a little over $5,000 to nearly $20,000. That is a good chunk of money on either end, so a jet ski purchase is not something to be done on a whim.

Pricing information for Sea-Doos, WaveRunners, and Jet Skis.

Make a Budget

So, now that we know how much to expect to spend on a jet ski, we can take steps toward being able to afford one. One of the best ways to get to know your finances is to create a budget. A budget is basically a list of all your monthly incomes and monthly expenses. It helps you see how much money you have coming in versus how much you have going out.

To make an accurate budget, make sure all sources of income and spending are accounted for. That means your wages from working as well as other sources like rent, interest, or dividends, to name a few.

Expenses are usually a little harder to get exactly right. The amount you spend on groceries, electricity, water, and gas could vary from week to week and month to month. As long as you look at past bills to come up with an average, that will be a good estimate.

As a general rule, expenses should never exceed your income. If after making a budget you find that they do, you should stop right here because now is not the time to buy a jet ski or make any other large, unnecessary purchase. If your income does exceed your expenses, then you are in good shape.

To start saving for your jet ski, you can create another expense category called jet ski fund or something similar to that. Then you can choose a certain amount of your excess income to contribute to that fund each month. It could be as little as $25 a month or as much as $200, depending on your unique situation.

Reduce Your Spending Each Month

If after starting your fund you decide that you are not contributing enough each month, start looking to other expenses to see if you can reduce their costs.

Instead of going out to eat four or five times a month, try cutting it down to just two times a month. Look at your grocery receipts and decide on two items that you do not really need and stop buying them. You can shorten the time that you shower by a few minutes. Make sure you only have lights on when you are using them.

All of these tips might seem small and they might only save you a few dollars at a time, but over time those dollars really add up. Also, the more changes you make the more you will be able to save each month, and there are always changes that can be made.

Look For Used Models

Even after making adjustments to your budgets and monthly spending habits, it can still take a while to save up as much as you will need to buy the jet ski of your dreams. If the prices still seem too high, you can always consider buying a used model.

The prices that we looked at earlier were all for new, current year models. Jet skis are subject to the same concept of depreciation as all other vehicles. That is, over time they become worth less money. As a buyer, that can be used to your advantage.

Just a few years can take hundreds or even thousands off the price of a jet ski. In a search I just did, I found a variety of models for sale by owners that ranged from about $1,000 to $5,000. That is quite a bit lower than the new model prices.

If you are wary of buying from a private seller for any reason, you can always check what used models a dealer has. Dealers nearly always carry a fairly healthy stock of used models.

Take Your Time, Don’t Be Compulsive!

Like we already decided, buying a jet ski on a whim is not a wise decision for people who do not have thousands and thousands of dollars burning a hole in their pocket.

It is much better to be patient and save up than it is to get yourself stuck in a contract just for something to happen later and put you in an even tighter spot financially.

Saving up, even for the cheapest models available, can take a long time depending on your circumstances. Just remind yourself that it will be worth the wait, even if it takes a couple of years to get there.

If You Decide To Finance, Search For the Lowest Interest Rate Available

If you do decide that you want to finance the jet ski instead of saving the whole or at least most of the amount, there are smart ways to go about doing that.

Firstly, you will want to make as big of a down payment as you can. This means that you will have to borrow less money. It also means that your monthly payment will be lower than it would be if you borrow the full amount.

Second, but possibly more importantly, you will want to find the lowest interest rate possible. Luckily, there are various sources that you can look to.

Many banks offer boat or powersport loans that can be used for jet skis. Some private lenders offer better rates than some banks. And always be sure to talk to the dealership about in-house financing. They will sometimes offer the best rates.

As another tip, keep an eye out for sales. Dealerships often run sales at different times of the year, so if you can, take advantage of that.

Whatever your ultimate decision is, just make sure that you have compared it to all other available options.

Treat Your Jet Ski as an Investment

In other words, take care of your jet ski. An investment is something that you put money into in hopes that you will get something out of it. The main output of a jet ski is fun, and can you really put a price tag on fun? Well even if you can’t, you can put one on a jet ski.

But the $5,000 you spend on one does not have to be $5,000 that is gone forever. As long as you treat the jet ski carefully and do not cause any damage to it, you will be able to sell it later when you are done with it. It likely will not be for how much you paid, but it is better than nothing.

Keep Your Priorities in Mind

Remember, the main idea behind all of this is not breaking the bank. It is entirely possible to afford a jet ski, even on a modest income. Plan carefully and if you determine that now is not the right time to buy a jet ski that’s fine. There will still be plenty to buy in five years.

So, make a budget and start saving!

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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