If the pandemic left you a little strapped for cash, you might not be able to afford large purchases at the moment. Of course, this predicament isn’t a serious one if your wish list consists of brand-name appliances and designer clothes because you really can wait on these items. However, if you’re sleeping on a lumpy mattress or driving around on bald tires, you might have to make a few large purchases sooner rather than later.
In this case, a buy now, pay later repayment plan might offer a more affordable solution than dropping hundreds — or thousands — of dollars all at once. Today, there are dozens of BNPL programs and services to choose from, including the following.
1. Use Apps Like Afterpay
If you’ve bought anything online in the past few years, you’re probably familiar with Afterpay. This app is one of the most popular third-party BNPL services globally and allows customers to make four small payments over a six-week period instead of one large payment at checkout.
Afterpay partners with hundreds of merchants, including fashion and beauty retailers like Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and Kylie Cosmetics, so you have plenty of shopping options.
Unlike other third-party apps, Afterpay doesn’t require a credit check, so it won’t affect your credit score unless you miss a payment. It also prides itself on offering interest-free terms. However, you will incur fees if you make late payments, so you must ensure you have enough money in your account before Afterpay makes a withdrawal.
Thus, as long as you can afford to make all four payments, this app can offer an easy, affordable BNPL solution to practically all of your shopping woes.
2. Pay It Plan It With American Express
American Express cardholders looking for BNPL options will appreciate AmEx’s Pay It Plan It feature. Download it for free within the mobile app or access the service by visiting the American Express website. Once you’re all set up, you can choose to immediately pay off purchases less than $100 and plan to pay off items above that price point.
This option allows shoppers to make three, six, or nine payments, each of which will be added to your “minimum due” on your next bill.
Because the Pay It Plan It features charges users a small monthly fee rather than interest, those who carry balances could potentially enjoy bigger savings. However, it’s important to note that you can only have up to 10 payment plans active at one time. There’s also a daily limit on how many payments you can make using the Pay It feature.
Thus, if you want to pay off more than five items, you must make one large payment instead of several small ones.
3. Pay In 4 With PayPal
PayPal has been helping customers make online payments for nearly 20 years. However, it wasn’t until late last year that the company began offering BNPL options at checkout. This fairly recent development involves a feature called Pay In 4, which allows customers to make four payments over a six-week period.
Pay In 4 is completely interest-free and won’t affect your credit score. However, like most other BNPL services, PayPal will charge a fee if you miss a payment.
Use the Pay In 4 feature to buy a TV, mattress, or any other item priced between $30 and $1,500. You can open multiple Pay in 4 installment plans at once and pay them off as you go.
If you’re making a pricier purchase, you might also look into PayPal Credit, which gives you a reusable credit line with six-month payment plans for purchases worth $99 or more.
4. Get More Flexibility With Affirm
Many people have misconceptions about alternative loan seekers, believing them to be desperate shoppers with poor credit scores. However, these myths aren’t true of most borrowers who use Affirm. That’s because this BNPL service checks consumers’ credit scores to ensure pre-qualification.
It also charges an interest rate based on credit, which incentivizes users to make on-time payments and improve their scores. Of course, interest rates and credit checks might scare off some borrowers. However, Affirm uses a soft check that won’t affect your credit score. Moreover, the service charges simple interest and doesn’t charge any fees, so your bills remain predictable.
Because Affirm also offers three, six, and 12-month plans, you’ll also enjoy more flexibility — and financial freedom — by choosing Affirm at checkout. In addition, the company partners with thousands of stores, so there’s no shortage of places to buy now and pay later.
5. Buy in Segments With Splitit
Unlike apps like Affirm, Splitit currently only operates as a web-based service. But that hasn’t stopped it from partnering with major companies like MasterCard, Visa, Stripe, and BlueSnap. In addition, the company differs from its fellow BNPL services in that it allows shoppers to purchase items in segments using an existing credit card. Choose to pay in three, four, six, or up to 24 installments and enjoy zero interest fees, late fees, or credit hits.
The only catch is, if you make a late payment, it’ll incur interest charges at the rate defined by your credit company. Therefore, it’s still wise to make monthly installments and stick to your repayment plan. Splitit has also done away with hard credit checks, so your score will remain untouched. Instead, earn points and rewards with each purchase and use debit or credit depending on the merchant and card provider.
6. Enjoy Lease-Purchase Financing From Snap
If you’re currently rebuilding your credit and looking for BNPL services that support lease-to-own arrangements, Snap Finance should be one of your top choices.
This company provides accessible financing options to those who have been denied traditional loans. Snap also offers up to $3,000 in financing and 12- to 18-month repayment plans to consumers with no credit at all. Instead, the company relies on other factors like a steady income to determine your eligibility and increase your chances of earning approval.
Snap’s lease-purchase financing doesn’t report to TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian, either, so your credit score won’t suffer if you miss a payment. Lease-to-own solutions are now accepted at more than 300,000 retailers, so you can find leases for computers, mattresses, electronics, furniture, jewelry, wheels, and tires. Explore Snap’s online store directory to discover the thousands of vendors partnering with Snap-in, your local community. Get instant access and start shopping immediately upon approval.
7. Get Rewards With Klarna
Like Snap, Klarna doesn’t use a hard credit pull to determine whether you qualify for installments or pay later. However, financing plan applications can trigger a credit check, and the company may charge late fees for missed payments.
Repayment plans may differ depending on where you shop. However, most plans include four installments over a six-week period. You might also choose to make the first payment after your order has shipped or up to 30 days after you’ve made a purchase.
This BNPL service also offers a rewards program called Vibe. Each $1 spent equals one Vibe, regardless of where you shop. Once you’ve earned enough Vibes, you can use them to purchase gift cards from customer favorites like Uber, Starbucks, and Foot Locker. In addition, Klarna’s followable wish list allows consumers to save must-have items from any online store and opt into price-drop alerts, so they never miss a great sale.
8. Improve Your Finances With Sezzle
Many of the above BNPL services won’t report your repayment behavior to credit bureaus, which is great if you think you might miss a payment.
However, those who want to improve their credit score and are confident they can afford bi-weekly payments can opt for Sezzle Up. This program is part of Sezzle’s effort to improve users’ credit and spending habits. The company also incentivizes better financial habits with fees — and fee forgiveness.
For instance, if you fall behind on payments, Sezzle will freeze your account, so you’re unable to make any additional purchases. In order to reactivate your account, you must pay a $10 fee and bring your account current, so you’re in good standing.
On the other hand, if you only miss one payment, Sezzle will charge you a fee, which they’ll refund if you make a payment within 48 hours. You can also reschedule one installment per order for free. Each additional reschedule will incur a $5 fee.
Choosing the Best BNPL Option
Which buy now, pay later option is best for you? The answer depends on your financial situation and long-term budgeting goals. For example, do you want to earn rewards or enjoy longer interest-free repayment plans than your credit card company can offer?
On the other hand, maybe you’d rather make one large payment and pay off the remaining balance over the next few months. Whatever your preferences, there’s likely a plan out there for you.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Still, the best BNPL plan is the one you can pay off. If you agree to a plan, purchase an expensive item, and can’t make payments, you may end up paying even more than you originally intended, which could wreck your finances.
If you have any doubts about making payments, you should find a more flexible BNPL service or patiently save until you can pay for the item in full. Do your research and choose responsibly.