For a long time, “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) has referred to the use of credit. However, recently a new BNPL approach has surfaced, and is growing. Today, financial technology (FinTech) companies are using a different method to finance consumer purchases.
BNPL providers include Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna, Zip, and PayPal. The BNPL plan allows consumers to obtain a purchase immediately and then make a series of equal payments, often four payments each due two weeks apart. The first payment is due at the time of purchase.
Most BNPL plans charge interest and late fees. These plans often offer financing to customers with bad credit or no credit. BNPL is used mainly for online shopping although the plan is also available in some stores. Purchases of technology, furniture, clothing, beauty care products, groceries, health care services, and to eat at restaurants are the most common uses of BNPL.
The main benefits of BNPL mentioned by consumers, include to:
- spread cost of expensive items over time.
- buy items that they might not otherwise be able to afford.
- avoid credit card debt.
- try out the BNPL method.
- not have to wait until payday to buy an item.
When selecting a BNPL plan, search for those with low or no interest and low or no late fees. Remember when using BNPL, you are still taking on debt. This easy access to credit often results in overspending. Some people will make purchases through multiple plans resulting in greater financial difficulties.
Be sure you can pay on time to avoid late fees and interest charges. Unlike traditional loans, BNPL providers may not report to credit bureaus, so you are not building a credit record.
For additional information on BNPL, click on these articles:
- Have students ask if any friends or relatives have used a BNPL plan. Obtain information about their experiences.
- Have students create a visual poster, slide presentation, or video with the benefits and drawbacks of BNPL plans.
- What aspects of BNPL might create financial difficulties?
- Describe actions a person might take to evaluate a BNPL plan.