Find out what you need to know about this popular checkout option.
Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) options have quickly emerged in the retail space. In fact, you’ve probably encountered an offer if you’ve been given the opportunity to pay for a purchase in installments at checkout.
While this can be a great option, it might not make sense for everyone. Here’s what you should consider the next time an offer is presented to you.
How It Works
While the details will vary by provider, most BNPL programs boast about not charging fees or interest, provided you pay as agreed in the terms and conditions. Here’s a list of some of the most popular providers and an overview of their terms.
- Affirm – Interest may or may not be charged depending on the purchase amount and where you’re shopping. There are no late, prepayment, annual, or account opening or termination fees.
- Klarna – Choose between splitting the cost of a purchase into 4 interest-free payments, paying in 30 days, or financing for larger purchases. Only the latter will have interest charges.
- PayPal Credit – With Pay in 4, you can break your purchase up into 4 interest-free payments without impacting your credit score. Purchases can be made online wherever PayPal is accepted.
- Afterpay, Sezzle, Zip – Split any purchase into 4 installments over 6 weeks without impacting your credit score or paying interest. Shop online or in store using a digital wallet.
There are a number of perks that come with most BNPL options. Here are some of the most notable:
- Little-to-no interest and fees: If you’re unable to pay in full, a zero-interest option can help avoid needing to qualify for a loan or charging purchases on a high-interest credit card.
- No credit impact: Most companies explicitly state they initiate a soft pull on your credit report and that establishing an account will not affect your credit score.
- Convenience: Instant approval offers are integrated into a large number of retail sites and give you an opportunity to break balances of $1,500-$2,500 up into interest-free payments.
It’s important to note that availability may vary by state. Here are some more noteworthy drawbacks:
- Facilitates overspending: Though being able to access money you don’t have is nice, programs like this can enable you to live beyond your means.
- Can be costly: There may be fees and interest under certain circumstances. Klarna and Afterpay, for example, can charge up to 25% of the purchase price in late fees. Affirm, who charges interest in some cases, offers rates ranging from 0-30% APR* with approved credit.
- Credit implications: Your payment history and behavior often aren’t reported to the credit bureaus, so most accounts won’t help you build credit. However, accounts in collections or negative payment remarks with Klarna Credit, Affirm, and Sezzle Up, can be reported.
As always, it’s important to do your research before agreeing to anything. When it comes to evaluating your options, refer to the legal terms, FAQs, or help center, for information on how the account works, possible costs, and credit implications.
*APR=Annual Percentage Rate
Providers and products are mentioned for educational purposes only. This in no way constitutes an endorsement or approval by A+FCU. Refer to the external organization’s site for the most up-to-date information as their products and terms are subject to change.