RV Shopping Tips: Find the Lowest Price for Your RV

Once you’ve decided an RV is right for you there is nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out what the heck is going on with online RV prices. Some RVs are listed less than the actual cost, some are higher, and others are just right.

Well, Goldilocks, here at Bish’s RV we believe you deserve to know what is going on with online RV prices, so you never buy for an unfair price.

Here we’ll share what you need to know about the craziness that is falsely low, predatory RV pricing tactics, weirdly high manufacturer list price rules, and finding dealers who give legit prices online.

And hey, we’ll also throw in the tricks that will help you get your RV for the lowest price possible – even when the list price is accurate.  

Table of Contents:

Beware of Low RV List Prices with Hidden Fees

All RV dealerships don’t operate the same way. Sometimes a dealership’s online price is a lot lower than what they’ll actually charge you. 

It’s not pretty, but it’s true that some RV dealers have earned their “bait and switch” reputation. They’ll get you in the door with an ultra-low price just to tack on hidden fees later.

Some RV dealers use falsely low online prices to bring you in store

You go in expecting to pay $20,000 for a travel trailer. When the paperwork shows up at closing these dealers throw in “required fees” that add thousands of dollars to your final total. 

Before you know it, you’re spending over $25,000! 

The RV that fit your budget perfectly? Now it’s maxxed beyond what you can afford!

Did the ick factor of that make your skin crawl?

Yeah, us too.

It’s time for these scammy tactics to stop. They’re not good for RVers, and it’s time to put an end to it.

The more RV buyers are aware of hidden fees the sooner the industry will have to stop using them. Get educated about how to protect yourself and detect hidden fees before you close on your RV.

Once you’re educated, share with a friend, more awareness will make RV buying better for everyone! 

How to Spot an RV Dealer with Hidden Fees

RV dealers with hidden fees with inflate rv prices well past list price

Before you buy from a dealer you can ask other RVers about their experiences, read reviews, and ask the dealers about hidden fees and their “out the door” price.

A trustworthy dealer won’t dance around your questions or hide how they price their RVs.

Reputable dealers are doing their part to stop the scam by making their low online price the real, or as close to real, price as possible.

You can feel confident that the price you see online at bishs.com is our actual price, unless, for legal reasons, our actual price is lower than the online price.

When that happens we’ll always provide you the lower, real price before you decide to purchase.  

Curious why dealerships sometimes have to list RVs much higher than the real price? Well, my friend, you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers. Read on to find out.

When an RV’s Online Price is Higher than True Price

Some RV builders require dealerships to list RVs at a minimum advertised price (MAP) online or for minimum suggested retailer price (MSRP).

Manufacturer requirements cause some RVs to be listed higher online than they really are.

All new RVs from manufacturers requiring MAP cannot be listed lower than a certain price. If the builder requires MSRP, the RVs will be listed for the same online price across all dealers.

You’ll know you’re looking at an RV with these requirements if the dealer’s website shows an RV’s price as MSRP with a button or link that has wording like:

“Request price,” “too low to show,” “get best price,” “get lowest price,” or “unlock lower price.”

At first glance this may seem like a sleezeball sales gimmick. But it’s actually a good sign that the dealer is honoring their agreements with that RV’s manufacturer.

Trust us, every dealer listing RVs at MAP or MSRP would love to show you their actual list price. 

Grand Design Imagine RV listed at MSRP. Clicking “Get Lowest Price” will get you the dealer’s actual, lower, price.

A dealer can only give you the lower price information if you request it. Feel free to click the dealer’s link, send a message to the dealer, call, or stop in. They’ll happily give you their price. 

We recommend getting prices from several different dealers to get an idea of that RV’s real price range if you’re shopping for an RV brand with MAP.

Which RVs Have MAP

The list of RV manufacturers that require MAP changes often. The best way to know you’re dealing with an RV listed at MAP is whether there is information on the online listing showing that a lower price is available.

These dealers will likely have MAP online:  Alliance, Grand Design, Newmar, Forest River Vibe, Forest River Heritage Glen, some Winnebago towables, many Thor Motorized, some Northwood, Keystone Montana & Cougar, some Outdoors RV, Ember, and East to West – Ahara, Alta, Entrada, Tandara

Finding Accurate RV Prices Online

We’ve found it, Goldilocks! The just right price! 

Some dealers provide a real online price.

Some RV dealers have shunned the ick and decided to list their RVs at the price they are willing to really charge for them.

As explained above, Bish’s chooses to price their RVs this way, so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises at closing. 

Dealers who share our approach use mostly accurate online prices, aside from MAP situations.

Though, depending on your particulars, there may still be some wiggle room to get a lower price.

(Just don’t tell my boss I told you all this.) 

Just kidding. My boss is a rock star who asked me to make sure you have all the information you need to get a killer deal on your next RV – even if it means Bish’s makes less when we sell our RVs. 

In fact, while we’re at it – let us know what other insider tips you need on RVs. We’ve got the knowledge, and I need the job! Help an RV friend out and let us know what you want to know!

How to Get the Lowest Price for Your RV:  

It goes without saying that an RV dealer is a company and needs to make money to stay in business, so there is a limit to how low they can go on price.

Still, there are ways you can get the price of your RV down to get the lowest price possible. 

Here are ways you can get a lower price:

  • Trade in: If you already own an RV and have decided you don’t want to sell it yourself, you may trade it in to the dealer.

    If the dealership wants your trade, they may be willing to lower the price of your next RV because they’ll know they can make up the difference when they sell your last RV.

    Depending where you live, trading may also lower your total because it can lower the sales tax you have to pay.

    Depending on the state where you buy and the dealer you work with, you may also be able to trade in non-RV vehicles. Or other cool stuff. I’ve heard a rumor about a Bish’s RV location taking in a bouncy house on trade (though I’m still waiting for my turn to take a jump on it. Something about it just being for children . . .).

    I’ve been told, in fact, that if it doesn’t need to eat or poop – we’ll consider taking it as a trade. If you’ve got something interesting, ask your dealer if they want it.

    Check out our guide ton how to get the most for your trade in.
  • Financing: 70-75% of RV buyers finance their RV purchase. So, if you’re like most RVers, you will too.

    Shop around at different banks and lenders and through the dealer to find out what interest rates you can expect. Get tips here on how to get the best RV loan deal.

    Keep in mind, your dealer may have built a relationship with banks that could get you a lower rate. The dealership will also make some money back in financing that may make up the difference and allow them to lower your sales price. The lower list price will then lower your sales tax.
  • Ask about last year’s model: Dealers need to move old inventory to make room for the new RVs. If you know what RV you want and can find a model left from the previous year, a dealer may be able to give you a discounted price to move it off their lot.

    Find out what may be different on RVs with a different model year.
  • Ask about show pricing. If a dealer has an RV show coming up, you can ask them about their show price. If they can sell you that RV without spending the time and money moving it to a different site, they may be willing to give you the show discount outside of the show.

    Our guide to getting pre-show RV prices can help no matter where you shop.
  • Buy later in the year. Most RV buyers want to buy in the late spring or summer before the camping season.

    Your dealer may have a sale price and/or be able to offer a manufacturer discount if you buy during the “off-season.” If you’re willing to shop later in the year, like the fall or winter, it could be your ticket to saving more.

    Manufacturers want to move more RVs later in the year so they can keep their shops building through the slow months. They’ll give dealers discounts to encourage them to sell more, which gives the dealer the chance to pass savings along to you. 

    Learn the best time to buy an RV before you shop.
  • Be Willing to Travel: Other RV dealers may not want you to know this, but if you live closer to the coasts, consider shopping around at dealers closer to where your RV is actually built.

    Transporting an RV is not free, and a dealer has to pay freight costs for the RV. Your dealer will have to cover these costs in your list price.

    Sometimes you may be surprised to see two RVs that are identical – options and all – listed for different prices on bishs.com. This happens when the freight costs are different. The more expensive RV likely had to be shipped further.

    If you’re willing to travel closer to the manufacturer (usually the Midwest, but not always) you can get a lower price and drive the RV home yourself. You’ll get a discount and a built-in maiden voyage at the same time! 

    Read up on the things you need to know before you buy from an out of state RV dealer.

See more about RV freight costs from Josh the RV Nerd:

Josh the RV Nerd: THIS is why RV Pricing Varies so much!

What’s Next?

No one wants to buy something only to feel later like they had the wool pulled over their eyes.

With a clear picture of why RVs are listed too low sometimes, too high other times, and how to get the lowest price even when it’s a true price, you can feel confident you have the education you need to pay a fair price on your next RV. No matter where you buy. 

Keep doing the research that makes you an empowered RV buyer! If you are ready to see an RV you like, want more information, or have any questions about prices – or anything else – reach out! We’d love to help you here at Bish’s RV. 

Want more insider RV info? Check out these articles: 

What Does an RV Cost?

The Cost of Owning an RV

The 10 Best-Selling RV Manufacturers

You can also learn about GO PLAY RVs – high-quality, low priced travel trailers exclusive to Bish’s RV. 

Josh the RV Nerd: Go Play – New RV Series Exclusive to Bish’s RV

becki johnson at bish's rv

Becki Johnson

Bish’s RV Content Editor & Writer

20 years in the RV industry and a lifetime around RVs have convinced me that nature is a lot better with a comfortable bed and working bathroom.

I love to use what I’ve learned to help RVers find the best RV for the best possible price.