RV vs. Hotel: Which is More Economical?

RV travel is trending of late. It might be a better deal than driving your car and staying at a hotel.
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Written by Sally French
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Edited by Jeanette Margle
Lead Assigning Editor
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More and more, digital nomads, couples and families are dipping their toes in the recreational vehicle craze.

But when weighing RV vs. hotel, which is the better deal? Here are six trip factors to consider as you make this travel decision.

The number of people on your trip

Some hotels allow you to squeeze four people into a hotel room, which might work to decrease costs, especially if you snag a hotel deal. But if you have five or more people, an RV might be your most cost-friendly option. There are multiple RV sizes, and choosing certain ones could allow you to avoid paying double (two rooms instead of one) at a hotel.

The location of your trip

Is where you're headed remote or well-populated? Will traveling in an RV allow you better access to your destination? What’s the closest hotel to your intended location? You might find it more convenient to stay in an RV, because you’re not limited to the confines of a hotel. If you’re vacationing at, say, a national park, lodging can be limited or nonexistent. Vacation with an RV, and you’ll have better odds of actually getting to stay in the middle of the action, as long as campground space is available.

The distance

The more miles you log, the more money you have to spend on gas. Consider how gas efficient your car or RV is, as well as the vehicle maintenance costs. Also, think about your travel rewards strategy: Do you need to meet a monthly minimum spend or are you aiming to earn rewards via gas credit cards?

Your travel style

Do you like cooking your own food, or do you like trying a new restaurant every night? If you don’t mind making your own PB&Js on the road, RVs can pan out to be a big money saver by allowing you to cook your own store-bought groceries. Note that some RV rental companies will charge you a fee to rent cookware.

And how much do you value waking up to a sunrise over the ocean? A hotel with a beachfront view can command a hefty premium. If you demand the views on vacation but don’t mind whether you sleep in a Ritz-Carlton or an RV, you won’t have to try too hard to find a campsite with ocean views for less than $100 a night.

What travel rewards could you earn?

Are you are able to pay for hotel nights with rewards from travel credit cards or hotel credit cards? Perks like free nights and free breakfast can offset lodging expenses.

How often you travel

You probably can’t afford to buy a hotel outright, but you might be able to buy your own RV. If you travel often enough, you could find it more economical to skip the RV rental company and purchase an RV.

Renting an RV can come with additional fees you didn’t anticipate, such as fees for:

  • Miles driven.

  • Using items inside the RV, such as cookware and bedding.

  • Offsetting environmental expenses rental companies incur, like for oil disposal.

RV ownership comes with its own expenses, such as:

  • Registration and taxes (the Department of Motor Vehicles has a tool to calculate registration fees and taxes for motor homes in some states).

  • Maintenance.

  • Storage.

If you’re considering financing an RV purchase, use our RV loan calculator to understand how much you’ll owe over the course of the loan:

The bottom line

If you are paying for several nights of hotel stays and meals for five or more people, RV travel can come out cheaper depending on your travel style and amenity requirements.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are some of the best travel credit cards of 2024:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


Intro offer


Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.


Intro offer

Up to $300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate


Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


Intro offer


Enjoy $250 to use on Capital One Travel in your first cardholder year, plus earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening - that’s equal to $1,000 in travel.

See more travel cards
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