Express delivery, e-commerce online purchase concept. Parcel box on mat near front door.
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These Stores Let You Buy Now and Pay Later

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Express delivery, e-commerce online purchase concept. Parcel box on mat near front door.
Bet_Noire/istockphoto

Spreading Out the Pain

If you’ve done any online shopping lately, chances are you’ve seen something new popping up at checkout: an enticing offer to “buy now, pay later.” This slick payment option aims to eliminate the headaches associated with credit cards and other loans, and it’s skyrocketing in popularity. But as the industry grows, regulators are taking notice — and they want to make sure it's not doing more harm than good. Here’s an overview of the major buy-now, pay-later services, their pros and cons, and which retailers are making it easier than ever to spread out payments, often without pesky interest and fees.


Related: Mistakes to Avoid When Applying For a Personal Loan

Man shopping online
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What Is Buy Now, Pay Later?

Buy now, pay later is exactly what it sounds like: an installment loan (albeit with a catchier name). You’ll pay part of your purchase price upfront — often 25% — and the rest in equal installments over a set period. What makes these services particularly enticing is that many don’t charge interest or late fees, and users often find they have an easier time getting approved to use them compared with traditional credit cards. 


Related: The Weirdest Reasons People Have Gone Into Debt

Online shopping
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What’s the Catch?

Of course, there are potential downsides to using buy now, pay later. The biggest risk: The temptingly low down payments and promises of no interest can encourage overspending, especially considering these services are typically used for discretionary purchases, not necessities. And users lured by a promise of no late fees may become cavalier about on-time payments, which can ultimately lead to run-ins with debt collectors and damage to credit scores. The industry has also attracted unwelcome attention from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which recently opened an investigation into how rapidly users can rack up debt, and how the companies use customers' personal data. 


Related: Things You Can’t Do With a Low Credit Score

Klarna
Klarna

What are the Major Buy-Now, Pay-Later Services?

  • Affirm offers no-interest loans as well as more traditional loans with interest rates up to 30%. There are no late fees. 

  • Afterpay offers no-interest loans only. Users pay a fee if they miss a payment, and those are capped at 25% of the purchase price. 

  • Klarna offers no-interest loans as well as more traditional loans with interest rates up to 30%. It does charge late fees of up to $7 for shorter-term loans, or $35 for longer-term loans.

  • PayPal offers a no-interest “Pay in 4” service for existing users on select transactions. The transaction amount is divided into four equal chunks. There are no late fees. 

  • Sezzle is similar to Afterpay, offering short-term no-interest loans with no upfront fees. Users pay a $10 fee if they miss a payment.

Related: Money Myths You Need to Ignore


Paypal
PayPal

Which Retailers Accept Buy Now, Pay Later?

Short answer: Lots of them. What follows is by no means an exhaustive list — simply a roundup of the most prominent retailers that have partnered with buy now, pay later services. And even if a retailer hasn’t partnered directly with such a service, you may still be able to use one by initiating your purchase through the service’s app or website. Another option is to use PayPal’s Pay in 4 service at the many retailers that accept PayPal.


Related: Secrets for International Online Shopping

Walmart
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Amazon prime boxes and envelopes delivered to a front door of residential building
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Target
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Jonathan Weiss/shutterstock
etsy
etsy

Etsy

Looking for more personal, handmade gifts this season? Most Etsy shops accept Klarna. For orders between $50 and $250, four interest-free installment payments are available; for orders over $250, it’s Klarna financing with a personalized interest rate and payment schedule.


Related: The Best Christmas Ornaments We Could Find on Etsy

Gap store sign in Seattle, Washington
carterdayne / istockphoto

Gap and Old Navy

Buy now, pay later has been an option at Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, and Banana Republic since late 2020, when the sister brands struck a deal with Afterpay. The service is available for purchases between $35 and $1,000, excluding gift cards and back-ordered items. Except for a few Old Navy and Gap Factory stores, it’s not available in stores. 


Related: Where to Find Cheap Plus-Size Clothing Online


Wayfair Bedroom
Wayfair
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Bed, Bath & Beyond
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PetSmart
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Dick's Sporting Goods
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