Your Round-Up of the Top Best Buy Boats in 2020

When it comes to cheap boat buying guides, everyone is quick to sell you the top brands and models, without telling you what types of vessels they are or what the perks are of every kind of cheap boating option. There are different benefits to consider with each type of boat, so it's important to look at the options and see what you really can get for your money.

Below, you’ll find the best types and categories for affordable boats - including some of the top models in each, and what these different types of vessels have to offer. Read up on these best buy boats and find your ideal craft now!

Tracker Pro Guide V-175 SC

Tracker Pro Guide V-175 SC. Photo: Tracker Boats.

Aluminum Fishing Boats

Aluminum is one of the most affordable options for boating. These boats have dominated the market for freshwater fishing, and apparent reason. They offer durability, along with some of the most affordable pricing on the market. Plus, they are lightweight, which makes them easy to move and transport, and makes them seamless on the water. Boats range up to 24 feet or more and can be outfitted with any number of accessories and additional fishing features to enhance your boating experience.

  • Tracker Pro Guide V-175 SC

  • Crestliner Fish Hawk Series

  • Lund 1775 Crossover

  • Ranger VS1882DC

Cheap Bass Boats

Bass boats are some of the most popular fishing vessels for freshwater anglers, as they are explicitly designed for fishing on rivers and lakes. Ranging from 14 to 23 feet in length on average, these boats have a variety of designs that usually feature a center console and high-powered outboard motors with trolling motors for quieter movements near fish populations. There are basic models as well as high-end models that include robust features, making it easy to get what you need. Some of the most popular bass boat models include:

  • Crestliner 1750 Bass Hawk

  • Bass Cat Puma FTD

  • Tracker Pro Team 190 TX

  • Nitro Z6

  • Ranger Z117

Cheap Bowriders

Bowriders are similar in design to bass boats, but they also have extra seats in the bow area, offering room for the entire family or even a group of friends. These easy-to-drive boats are ideal for fishing, water sports, and more. They're also known for being great family boats and good choices for those who are just starting in boating. You can find a variety of models with different layouts and features, as well as various price ranges.

Some of the cheapest bowriders include:

  • Bayliner 160 Bowrider

  • Bayliner VR6

  • Bryant 210

  • Chaparral 191 Suncoast

  • Crownline E 295 XS

Cheap Pontoon Boats

For fun on the water, pontoon boats are a preferred choice for weekend boaters and families that like to cruise and enjoy. These boats are ideal for shallow waters, thanks to their flat-bottom design. They come in various sizes, usually ranging from 15 to 30 feet in length, and are generally used on rivers, inland lakes, and smaller bodies of water. They are ideal for parties, thanks to open decks with plenty of room for passengers, and can also serve as fishing boats or a vessel for all of your water sports activities. Options are available with stern or outboard motors, as well.

You can find affordable pontoons like:

  • Bennington 20 SL

  • Princecraft Vogue Series

  • AquaPatio Express Series

  • Starcraft Majestic Starliner 256

  • Lowe X250

Cheap Skiff Boats

Skiff boats are among the most popular for people who want something cheap and easy to take out on the water. These boats are especially ideal in shallow waters as most have a flat or slightly curved hull. This model is similar to the Jon boat, serving as a great entry-level option for those who are new to boating and need an affordable vessel for cruising or fishing in lakes, rivers, and other shallower waters. Most skiff boats even have a center console for steering and maneuvering the craft. They can be made of aluminum or fiberglass, and come in a variety of sizes, usually only ranging up to about 20 feet or so.

The most affordable skiffs include:

  • Carolina Skiff 17 DLX

  • Mako Pro Skiff 17

  • May-Craft 1700 Skiff

  • Carolina Skiff JVX 18 CC

  • Lowe Stryker 16

How to Choose Your Ideal Boat

There are a lot of factors involved in buying a boat. Of course, the primary consideration is going to be your intended use of the boat. Aluminum boats are available in many categories, for example, including skiffs and bowriders, so you’ll need to think more about the purpose of the boat than the material. The material that you choose does matter. Aluminum is typically more durable and affordable but fiberglass boats are available in budget price ranges as well.

Compare the features of each craft to its price to ensure that you’re getting the best value boat. Remember to consider the suggested use of the boat. That is, some models are designed for entry-level boaters or the more experienced, and may not offer the same boating experience if you’re in a different place. Don’t buy a high-end performance boat if you’ve just started testing the waters, for example.

The Bottom Line

You'll have a much better time on the water when you know that you’ve purchased the best possible vessel for your needs. By taking the time to see what’s out there, you might even find something that you didn’t consider that will serve your boating needs better than you expected. With the information here, you’ll have plenty of assistance figuring out which cheap boats are going to be best for your time on the water.

Remember to consider your budget and intentions, and compare the different options to figure out which boats best match those. Don’t just go out and buy a boat because it looks good, or it seems like a solid investment. Make sure that you purchase the boat that you will be able to put to use so that you can get the most out of your investment every single time.

Written by: Valerie Mellema
Valerie Mellema is a writer, published author and avid bass angler who lives on the shores of Lake Fork in East Texas — the top bass lake in Texas and the fifth in the nation. For the past 10 years, she and her husband have enjoyed the pontoon boat lifestyle while fishing a lake that not only has bass but beautiful wildlife as well. She holds a BS in Agribusiness/Equine Business and regularly contributes articles to, YachtWorld and Boat Trader.