How to Buy an RV for the Best Price: A Dealership’s Online Price Isn’t Always the Lowest Price

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 why online RV prices are so different and how to get the best price for your RV before you buy one at an unfair price. Or, before you get so discouraged trying to figure it all out, that you give up completely and take a Goldilocks style rage nap in that funky RV from the ‘80s at the back of the lot. (We don’t want that for you – no one should have to smell that thing.)

Buckle up and enjoy the ride while I provide the ins and outs of the craziness that is falsely low predatory RV pricing tactics, manufacturer list price rules, and dealers who give legit prices online. For no extra cost, I’ll also throw in the tricks that can help you get your RV for the lowest price possible – even when the list price is accurate.  

What’s Ahead:

Sometimes the List Price is Lower than What You’ll Pay:

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

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.

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, me too.

You can avoid getting trapped by these tactics by learning more about how to protect yourself and detect hidden fees before you close on your RV

We want scammy tactics to stop. It’s not good for you when you buy an RV and it’s not the reputation we want for the RV industry. 

How Can You Avoid Scammy Dealers?

Before you buy from a dealer you can ask other RVers about their experiences, read reviews, and ask the dealers about hidden fees and final 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 price whenever possible.

On Bish’s site you can feel confident that the price you see online is our actual price, unless, for legal reasons, it’s higher than our real price. In that case we’ll always provide you the lower, real price before you decide to purchase.  

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

Sometimes an RV’s Online Price is Higher

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

Dealerships are required to list RVs from specific manufacturers at a minimum advertised price (MAP) online.

All new RVs from manufacturers requiring MAP will be listed for the same online price across all dealers. RVs listed at MAP will usually only show the MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price). 

You’ll know you’re looking at an RV with MAP if the dealer’s website shows an RV at 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. Every dealer listing RVs at MAP would love to show you their actual list price. 

Grand Design RV listed at MSRP. Clicking “Get Lowest Price” puts you in contact with someone who can give you the actual, lower, price.

A dealer can only give you the lower price information if you talk with a salesperson online, on the phone, or in person. Feel free to click the link, send a message to the dealer, call or stop in. They’ll happily give you their price. 

If you’re shopping for a particular brand of RV that requires MAP, we recommend requesting prices from several different dealers to get an idea of that RV’s real price range.

Which RVs Have MAP

The list of RV manufacturers that require MAP changes frequently. Your best bet to know if 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

Sometimes the List Price is Pretty Close to the Actual Price

Some dealers provide a real online price.

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

For dealers with an approach like Bish’s, the online prices are mostly accurate, aside from MAP. But, depending on your particular situation, 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. You may also be able to lower your total by trading in because trading can lower your sales tax amount, depending where you live.

    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.
  • Financing: If you’re like the majority – 70-75% – of RV buyers you’re probably planning to finance your RV purchase. Shop around at different banks and lenders and through the dealer to find out what interest rates you can expect.

    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. Lower sales price can also, just like with trading in, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • Be Willing to Travel: RV dealers close to you may not want you to know this, but if you live closer to the coasts, consider shopping around at dealers closer to your RV’s manufacturer.

    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 This happens when the freight costs are different. The more expensive RV likely was shipped further from the manufacturer.

    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! 

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.

Now that you have a clear picture of how online RV prices work – why they’re 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, wherever you buy it. 

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

Bish’s RV Content Writer & Editor

Thinks nature is great. Thinks it’s greater with a comfortable bed and working bathroom.

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