Are RV Deposits Refundable?

If you’re trying to purchase an RV, know that RV dealers require a deposit to hold an RV. But what if you change your mind, or your financing falls through? Are RV deposits refundable?

RV deposits are fully refundable prior to the would-be owner taking possession of the RV. The deposit is used to hold the RV while the buyer arranges financing, but it also allows a small window for the purchaser to change their mind.

I know this firsthand!

Before buying the Newmar Bay Star I own, I put a deposit down on a Keystone Avalanche fifth wheel. But the next day I changed my mind. I got my money back and kept looking.

But there is much more to know about RV deposits and purchasing.

After all, do all dealers refund deposits? How much are they, and how long does it take to get a deposit back? Is it a hassle?

Just keep reading!

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How binding is a purchase agreement for an RV?

RV purchase agreements are not legally binding and are merely an agreement of an intent to purchase. But until the buyer takes possession and pays for the RV fully or with financing, a purchase agreement can be canceled.

But when you sign a purchase agreement, you are committing to purchase an RV, and the seller is committing to sell you the RV.

And for the seller, they are taking it out of their inventory, potentially passing up sales to others to hold it for you. So, it’s important to only sign a purchase agreement when you’re serious.

Of course, there are specific criteria that need to be met on both sides. You, as the buyer, must make a deposit. You must also finalize the purchase in a certain amount of time. Usually 1 to 2 weeks, but it can be longer.

But you can withdraw from the purchase at any time prior to driving off in the RV.

But as I’ve mentioned, in most cases, you can get your deposit back fairly easily. But make sure to ask and check the wording of the purchase agreement before signing.

In my case, as I mentioned above, before buying the RV I own now (a Newmar Bay Star), I actually put a deposit down on a different RV at a different dealer. At that moment, I was serious, and I really liked the Keystone Avalanche fifth-wheel I was prepared to buy.

But I went home and slept on it and panicked.

I called them the next day and canceled the deal. The deposit ($500) was refunded to me within a few days, with pretty much no questions asked. I didn’t even have to go back to them to arrange it (luckily, since it was about 2 hours from my house).

Now to be fair, if they had had a nice Class A motorhome, I would have been happy to switch the deposit over to another RV. But they had none at the time, and I didn’t want to wait.

But if you go through with the purchase, your deposit goes towards the final purchase price. And the seller must sell the RV to you unless you withdraw your offer or do not complete the purchase.

How do you cancel an RV purchase?

Cancel an RV purchase prior to taking possession of it simply by notifying the dealer. There may be a form to sign, but generally, a call will suffice, and the deposit refund will be processed back to the card used, and the contract canceled.

Of course, if you’ve already paid in full and driven it away, there’s not much you can do other than sell it.

Canceling an RV purchase also depends on the consumer protection laws in your state. There could be a lemon law or other law in your state that may allow you to return it after taking possession of it.

The FTC does have a Cooling-Off Rule that may apply to your situation. The Cooling-Off Rule gives you three days to cancel certain sales.

However, if you made the purchase at a dealership, it can’t be canceled under the Cooling-Off Rule. But it might apply if you purchase your RV from an individual.

By law, the seller has to tell you about your right to cancel. They must also provide you with a copy of the contract or receipt and a cancellation form.

Outside of that, there really isn’t anything you can do if you just have buyer’s remorse.

There may be legal routes you can take if you purchase an RV that has a lot of unexpected problems. If you’ve just put a deposit down and are still within the window to cancel the purchase, refer to your paperwork for cancellation instructions.

How much is the deposit for an RV?

An RV deposit is generally $500, although it can vary by dealership. But the deposit is different from the down payment. When finalizing the purchase, plan to put 10%-20% of the total purchase price as a down payment. This can generally be financed as well.

A deposit is nothing like a down payment.

The deposit just lets the dealer know that you are serious about making the purchase. They will hold the RV until financing is approved and you are ready to move forward with purchasing.

It is usually a small amount compared to the total cost of the RV. Expect to pay at least $500 for a deposit. It could be more depending on the total cost of the RV.

However, when you make the purchase, expect to put 10%-20% down as a down payment. The deposit will go towards your down payment.

The larger the down payment, the lower your monthly payments will be, and the shorter amount of time you’ll be making payments.

If you are purchasing a used RV, understand that manufacturer warranties do not transfer when the unit is sold to a new owner.

Extended warranties will often transfer to the new owner, sometimes for a fee. 

To read more about RV warranties, read this recent article. I get into if you need one, what they cover and what they don’t, how to transfer one if you sell, and which companies have the best ones.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How long do I have to cancel an RV purchase?

Generally, prior to taking delivery of the RV, the purchaser has three days to back out of the deal. Once delivery has been taken and payment made or financing finalized, the purchaser cannot cancel the purchase in most cases.

This may not be the case in every state, so be sure to do your due diligence before you sign the contract to purchase.

This means checking for any recalls, having the rig thoroughly inspected, and having financing secured before signing any paperwork.

Read the contracts and warranties very carefully before you sign the dotted line. 

If you’ve just made a deposit, changing your mind isn’t that big of a deal. But if you’ve put down a down payment, signed the purchase agreement, and driven off the lot, you’re out of luck.

Now, it’s a used vehicle, and you’re stuck.

You probably already know that RVs depreciate just like cars. But you might be surprised to know that RVs depreciate faster.

To read more about why RVs depreciate faster than other vehicles, check out this recent article. This is due to the complexity of being both a vehicle and a living space. But some types of RVs depreciate much faster than others.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How long does it take to get an RV deposit back?

Most RV dealers will refund a deposit within 3-5 days. However, if the deposit was made by paper check, expect at least 2 weeks for a refund as they have to first wait for the check to clear before processing the refund.

If you make your deposit with a credit card, the dealership will simply void the transaction or chargeback the refund.

This will take as much time as your credit card company takes. If you paid with cash or with a debit card, the dealership should be able to cut you a check for your deposit. This shouldn’t take long at all and can probably be done the same day.

But as I mentioned, paper checks (does anyone still use those??) will take the longest.

Regardless, read your paperwork very carefully. If you haven’t signed a purchase agreement, you should have some other receipt paperwork with the terms and conditions of your deposit.

Buying an RV is a substantial investment. A used RV can be anywhere from 20-40% less than a new one.

But there will already be wear and tear and likely won’t have the factory warranty anymore. To read more about the pros and cons of purchasing a used RV, check out this recent article.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Final Thoughts

Buying an RV is a big deal and shouldn’t be done spontaneously.

Typically, RV deposits are fully refundable but make sure to read the fine print before you sign. It could take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to get back that deposit. So don’t put down a deposit unless you are serious about purchasing.

Once you’ve signed the purchase agreement and taken delivery of the rig, all bets are off.

Image by flyerwerk from Pixabay

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