Buy now, pay later
If a retailer offers the option to pay using a “Buy Now, Pay Later” app, you may be able to buy more than you normally would. You will request it at the point of sale and, if approved, the purchase will be divided into equal installments. In some cases, the payments are minimal and do not include high fees or interest.
Buy Now, Pay Later apps provide an affordable and convenient way to shop. Some BNPL companies also report to credit bureaus to help you establish credit, assuming you make timely payments. Still, they might not be the best option for you, as you might be tempted to overspend and incur significant penalties if you fall behind on your payments.
Top buy now pay later apps of 2022
Here are the best apps to buy now, pay later if you’re in dire financial straits and need to make a big purchase:
|To affirm||Affirm Pay in 4: No interest charges or late payment penalties
Monthly payments: APR up to 30%
|After-payment||Pay-in-4 orders: Late payment fee up to 25% of the purchase price||4.6/5.0||4.9/5.0|
|PayPal Pay in 4||No interest charges or late penalties||4.3/5.0||4.8/5.0|
|Perpay||No interest charges or late penalties||3.4/5.0||4.7/5.0|
|Sezzle||No interest charges
Rescheduled payment fees, failed payment fees and convenience fees may apply
$10.00 reactivation fee if your account is deactivated due to non-payment
|Zip (formerly Quadpay)||$4.00 payout fee per order (or $1.00 per payout)
Late penalty up to $7
Affirm is a buy now, pay later option that avoids late penalties, making it a top choice for consumers. It’s accepted at over 29,000 retailers nationwide, and you can make purchases interest-free by selecting the four installment payment plan. But if you opt for the monthly payment option to get a longer repayment period and a credit limit of up to $17,500, your purchases could earn interest. There’s an upside, though, because Affirm charges simple interest that keeps your balance from growing over time.
- Accessible online or via mobile app (for in-person purchases)
- No interest charges on purchases made with Affirm Pay in 4
- Create a credit with the monthly payment option
- No late penalties
- Purchases made with the monthly payment option may be subject to interest
- Late payments could hurt chances of future approvals
- Payments made on Affirm Pay in 4 cannot help build your credit
Afterpay is another buy now, pay later app that lets you shop now, but you’ll pay over six weeks in four interest-free installments. It can be used for online purchases or you can pay at participating outlets using the virtual card. Additionally, you can change the due date of an upcoming payment without incurring any penalties. You can get started with Afterpay without affecting your credit score, as the app only does simple credit extraction.
- No interest on purchases
- Soft pull when requesting an account
- Buy online or in stores
- Earn rewards by shopping with Afterpay and paying on time
- Late payment penalty of up to 25% of the purchase amount
- First payment required at point of sale
- Does not help establish credit, as timely payments are not reported to credit bureaus
PayPal Pay in 4
You can use PayPay Pay in 4 to split purchases between $30 and $1,500 to make them more affordable. The first payment is due at the point of sale and the other three are due every two weeks. This payment option has no registration fees or interest charges, and you will not be subject to late payment penalties.
- No interest charges or late payments on purchases
- Accepted at millions of online retailers
- No credit check required
- Includes purchase protection to protect your information
- Only available in certain states
- Not accepted for in-store purchases
- Purchases capped at $1,500
Perpay is a “Buy Now, Pay Later” app that gives consumers the best of both worlds: you can make daily purchases and pay over time while building your credit. You may be approved with less than perfect credit because there is no credit check. The average user sees a 39 point boost while using the app, and payments are automatically deducted from your paycheck to make managing your account easier. Payment history is reported to major credit bureaus to help improve your credit health.
- No credit check
- Interest-free purchases payable over time
- Consumers with bad credit may qualify
- Access higher spending limits and more affordable payments over time
- Purchases must be made through Perpay’s marketplace
- Reimbursement limited to direct deposits via payroll
- Shipping delayed until first payment is received
Plus an interest-free buy now, pay later option, Sezzle is quite flexible as you can enjoy a generous credit limit of up to $2,500 and make four interest-free payments over six weeks. Plus, you’ll have the luxury of deferring one payment per purchase for up to two weeks without incurring additional fees. You can also defer later payments to meet your needs, but fees will apply.
- Can be used online or in person at over 45,000 stores
- Flexible credit check that won’t affect your credit score
- No interest charges or late fees
- 25% deposit requirement
- $10 reactivation fee for deactivated accounts
- May be subject to failed payment or convenience fees
Zip (formerly Quadpay)
Formerly known as Quadpay, Zip can be used online or in-store with a virtual card where Visa is accepted. You will repay what is due in four installments over six weeks, with the first installment due at checkout. There is no credit check when you apply, and account activity will not impact your credit score since Zip does not report to major credit bureaus.
- Instant Approvals
- No interest charges on purchase
- Good credit is not necessary
- No unfavorable credit reports for late payments
- First payment due at checkout
- $4 installment fee per order
- Late fees up to $7
Advantages and disadvantages of buy now, pay later
Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of buy now, pay later applications before applying for a loan.
Consumers often prefer this payment method over others because of its convenience. You will find that it is more readily available than a credit card or personal loan, especially if you have bad credit.
Plus, it’s relatively simple to apply, and you’ll know immediately if you’re approved, along with the terms of the payment plan. Another big plus is that many applications don’t do a thorough credit check — which could lower your credit score — when you apply.
Despite their streamlined application process and simple payment plans, these apps have some downsides that are worth considering. For starters, you could easily become overburdened if you overspend and have trouble keeping up with payments, which can lead to late fees and unfavorable credit reports.
Some apps report on-time payments to credit bureaus, but others don’t. So even if you make timely payments or prepay the loan, your credit health might not reap the benefits.
How to compare apps
When evaluating buy now, pay later apps to find the best option, consider these factors:
- Availablity: Can the app be used online and in-store, or is it limited to one or the other?
- APR and fees: Does the app charge interest or fees on purchases? Are there any late penalties or prepayment charges?
- Interest rate: If so, are the interest rates comparable or lower than other paid apps?
- Repayment Terms : How long are the repayment periods? Will you repay in equal installments, and how often?
- Credit report: Are on-time payments reported to major credit bureaus to help you build your credit? If not, are late payments reported?
Alternatives to buy now, pay later
If you’d rather explore other options before deciding to buy now, pay later, here are a few worth considering:
- Personal loan: This debt product gives you an extended repayment period and a more affordable monthly payment. However, you will probably pay a lot more interest. Also keep in mind that the longer the term of the loan, the higher the borrowing costs.
- 0% Interest Credit Card: You can make interest-free purchases during the APR promotional period, usually between 12 and 24 months. Be sure to pay the balance in full before it expires or interest will start to accrue and be added to the outstanding balance.
At the end of the line
A buy now, pay later app can ease the financial stress if you need to make a purchase but don’t have the necessary funds. The application process is often transparent; you can start making purchases immediately if approved. Still, these apps aren’t without their downsides, so you should do your homework and compare options before deciding which app to use or whether a funding alternative, like a personal loan or a 0% interest credit card, would work. better suited.