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Is Buy Now, Pay Later Worth It?

Tis the season...to buy now and pay later. According to Adobe Analytics, buy now, pay later platforms like Klarna and Affirm surged 20% from last year during Cyber Monday. These financial companies partner with retailers to arrange a short-term loan that allows consumers to make a purchase now, pay a small down payment (typically 25% of the overall purchase amount), and pay off the remaining amount via a series of interest-free installments. 


According to an early 2021 survey conducted by The Strawhecker Group, 39% of Americans have tried out BNPL services, and of those, 55% were inclined to spend more than they originally would using other payment methods. BNPL payment methods are becoming increasingly popular, especially when shopping online. Using BNPL financing can be convenient for shoppers, but at what cost? Consider the pros and cons of BNPL:

Pros

  • Convenient, controlled system to pay for purchases over time
  • Usually zero-interest or lower interest than credit cards
  • Good credit score not necessary to qualify
  • Approval within seconds
  • Get items you desire immediately 

Cons

  • It’s yet another payment to keep track of 
  • Missing or late payments can result in late fees, potential to damage credit score
  • No rewards or cash back earned on purchases
  • BNPL payments will continue until returns are fully processed 
  • May give a sense of false security


The idea behind buy now, pay later is that consumers can get the things they want or need immediately while getting a little extra time to pay for them. This is an appealing option when you don’t want the bill all at once. While BNPL may not add to your credit card debt, it can certainly add to your personal debt which can build up and result in added financial stress. 


Even though having a little breathing room around payments can be nice, it’s important to be mindful of the considerations to ensure you’re not piling on more debt. Essentially, BNPL should not be approached like it’s free money. So the next time you have the opportunity to pay using a BNPL service, weigh the pros and cons to determine the best payment option for you.   


Josh Lamb
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