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.
Aug 26, 2022

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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 our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:

partner offers

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 Bonus points offer - Terms Apply
Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card
New! Earn a 30,000 bonus point offer - Terms Apply
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
25,000 online bonus points offer - Terms Apply

Partner offers

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

With a $95 annual fee & an outstanding sign up bonus, this card is a great option, especially if you transfer points from other Chase cards
APPLY NOW

on Chase's website

Highlights:
  1. 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 Ultimate Rewards®
  2. Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X on dining and 2X on all other travel purchases, plus more
  3. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  1. 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 Ultimate Rewards®
  2. Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X on dining and 2X on all other travel purchases, plus more
  3. Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
APPLY NOW

on Chase's website

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Credit Card

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card

Earn unlimited points on all purchases and 3X points in a host of common spending categories. With a great bonus offer as well, this card offers so much value, all for no annual fee
APPLY NOW

on Wells Fargo's website

Rates & Fees
Highlights:
  1. Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
  2. Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up - like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases
  3. $0 annual fee
  1. Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
  2. Earn unlimited 3X points on the things that really add up - like restaurants, travel, gas stations, transit, popular streaming services, and phone plans. Plus, earn 1X points on other purchases
  3. $0 annual fee
APPLY NOW

on Wells Fargo's website

Rates & Fees
Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card

Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

This card makes its bones with simplicity and value: solid rewards on every purchase for an annual fee of $0
APPLY NOW

on Bank of America's website

Highlights:
  1. Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  2. 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  3. Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
  1. Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
  2. 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  3. Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions
APPLY NOW

on Bank of America's website

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