how much does it cost to rent a pontoon boat

How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Pontoon Boat?

So maybe you’re not too sure about buying a pontoon boat just yet and you want to try it out before you make a decision. Or maybe you don’t really need to own one, and you’re just looking for a way to enhance your next summer getaway. A pontoon boat rental might be just the thing.

It’s often said that renting a pontoon boat can be loads cheaper than owning one. And while that might be true, that doesn’t really mean you shouldn’t expect to cough up a pretty penny to borrow that watercraft. So how much does it cost to rent a pontoon boat? Find out here.

Pontoon Boat Rental Fees

Before anything else, it’s important to keep in mind that pontoon boat rental fees depend on a variety of factors. So the prices tend to fluctuate wildly over a wide range. Some of the factors affecting pontoon rental fees include:

  • Location
  • Size of the watercraft
  • Available features and amenities
  • Added services and perks
  • Length of rental time
  • Deals and packages

All of that considered, you can expect pontoon rental prices to start anywhere from $100 for a half day, up to $400 or more for a whole day. Some marinas also offer hourly rental rates in case you don’t expect to be out on the water for too long.

But again, one of the biggest factors affecting pontoon boat rental fees involves the location. Here are some price ranges for pontoon boat rentals in the states where pontoons are most popular:

  • Florida - $275 daily for 8 passengers
  • California - $150 daily for 4 passengers
  • Missouri - $435 daily for 10 passengers
  • Wisconsin - $650 daily for 10-12 passengers
  • Illinois - $400 daily for 8 passengers

Tips for Renting a Pontoon Boat

Pontoon boat rentals are anything but cheap, so it pays to know the ins and outs to maximize the experience. Here are a few tips to guide your rental choices so you can spend less and have more fun:

Ask About Deposits

Pontoon boat rental services will likely ask you for a separate deposit from the actual rental fee. The purpose of the deposit is to protect the rental service in case you don’t show up for your reservation, or if you break anything on board. Make sure the rental company has the relevant insurances for the pontoon boat.

Most rental services will allow you to refund your deposit once you return the rental. Others will refund the deposit if you forfeit your reservation more than 48 hours before your scheduled date. And then of course, there are those who will not refund the deposit under any circumstances, which can increase the fees you pay.

See to it that you ask about deposits first and choose a rental service with more flexible deposit regulations to keep yourself from spending more than you should.

Size Up Your Operation Skills

Interestingly enough, some pontoon boat rental services will let you rent their watercraft even if you don’t have prior operating experience. That mainly happens in areas where there isn’t a lot of traffic on the waves. But that can change if you choose a crowded area on a particularly busy time of the year.

In that case, you might have to undergo a quick safety and basic operations course. Some areas might refuse your reservation all together in an effort to preserve their pontoons from damage. Then again, you could always ask if you could hire someone to operate for you, but that also entails paying extra fees.

Don’t Underestimate Your Time

As the old saying goes, time flies when you’re having fun. Don’t try to cut down on your rental time to save up on costs especially if you can’t guarantee that you’ll be back by the time you specify. It’s easy to lose track of the hours when you’re having fun, so try to extend your rental hours beyond what you might estimate as necessary.

Returning a boat after your schedule has ended creates problems for the rental service especially if they had someone lined up after you. This can result to steep penalty fees that would cost way more than simply paying for a longer rental up front.

Carry Extra for Fuel

The rental fee that you’re quoted may not include the cost of fuel. Some rental services might, but that’s not something that all of them do. So while the boat might have fuel in the tank, that doesn’t mean you’ve already paid for it with your rental fee.

The rules change from rental service to rental service. So it helps to ask around. Others will offer to sell you fuel from their marina, but that could also set you back way more than you would spend buying gas at a local station. Either carry extra to pay for the expensive fuel or carry a jerry can filled with cheaper fuel from your local station.

Book in Advance

You’d be surprised how many people actually rent pontoons. Peak season in the summer can see pontoon boats fully booked even months in advance. That’s why it might work in your favor to book way, way, way in advance to get ahead of the busy season. The same goes if you’re planning to enjoy a pontoon ride over a holiday.

As a rule, you might want to call in two to three weeks before your desired schedule. In some cases, a rental service might even offer an early bird promo for renters who are willing to pay in full for a future date. The deposit and refund fine print might be slightly different though, so see to it that you read into that before you finalize your decision.

Low Commitment Pontooning

So, how much does it cost to rent a pontoon boat? Not as much as it costs to own one, that’s for sure. If you’re the kind of guy who just wants to enjoy a pontoon for a while, and you’re not really invested in spending all of that money and time on maintenance, go ahead and ask about rentals. Offering the same experience minus the commitment, a pontoon boat rental might be just what you need to bump up your summer activities.

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