How to buy now, pay later with popular apps

Katie Wedell

Consumers looking to buy everything from travel to a MacBook to the newest, trendy jeans have the option of financing the cost of their purchase over time with buy now, pay later.

BNPL allows consumers to buy items online or in store, and split up the cost over a few weeks or months.

There are many BNPL providers out there including AffirmAfterpayZipPayPal’s ‘Pay in 4’, Klarna, and Sezzle.

New options are being introduced all the time with Apple jumping into the BPNL game in early June and PayPal announcing in mid-June that it is adding options for longer-term installment loans for higher-cost purchases not currently covered by its Pay-in-4 product. 

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Here’s a round-up of popular BNPL options and some of their features.

How to pay in four with Affirm

Affirm offers a variety of loan products for purchases as low as $50 to as high as $17,500, online or in-store, with payment options ranging from six weeks to 60 months.

There are a mix of interest-free and interest-bearing options. The pay-in-four product is always interest-free, whereas longer, monthly plans may be interest-free or interest-bearing based on the merchant and transaction.

Affirm also has a virtual card which can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. So if a vendor doesn’t partner with Affirm, the customer can still break up their payment into installments by applying for the one-time-use virtual card.

Interest rates: 0% to 30%

Loan terms: 1 month to 60 months

Fees: There are no late fees, but making late payments can affect your ability to get a loan in the future and possibly your credit score.

Available merchants: Affirm says it has more than 200,000 merchant partners including major retailers like Walmart, Target and Amazon as well as travel companies such as Expedia, American Airlines and VRBO.

Additional services: Through the Affirm app consumers are also able to BNPL at any retailer, either online or in-store, that aren’t partnered with the company. Consumers will receive a single-use virtual card to pay with. Affirm is also rolling out a debit card called Debit+ that allows shoppers to choose between paying in full via debit, or converting eligible purchases into pay over time in the Debit+ app. The card will be available to all eligible consumers by the end of June 2022.

Loan amounts: Up to $17,500

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How to pay in four with Afterpay

Afterpay is owned by Square (now Block, Inc.) so customers can pay with the Afterpay app at any retailer who uses Square at point-of-sale. Afterpay only offers one loan option which is a zero-interest loan paid in four installments over 6 weeks.

Interest rate: 0%

Loan terms: Four installment payments over 6 weeks starting with a 25% down payment at the time of purchase.

Fees: $8 late payment fee or 25% of the transaction, whichever is less.

Available merchants: Afterpay says they have 144,000 global merchant partners. Consumers can also use the virtual Afterpay Card to pay for purchases in store at select merchants including those that use Square.

Loan amount: Depends on how long a customer has been using Afterpay and paying on time.

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How to pay in four with Zip

Zip, formerly known as Quadpay, only offers one loan option: a zero-interest loan paid in four installments over 6 weeks. The company charges a transaction fee for every payment and does charge late fees. Zip allows customers to use the app or Chrome extension to buy from retailers that are not partnered with Zip via a virtual, one-time-use card, either in-store or online.

Interest rate: 0%

Loan terms: Four interest‑free installment payments over 6 weeks

Fees: Zip charges a $4 transaction fee for every purchase, or $1 per payment. There is also a $7 late fee for each late payment.

Available merchants: Zip says it partners with more than 18,500 merchants including GameStop and Fashion Nova. Consumers are also able to use the Zip app or Chrome extension to make a purchase with retailers that are not integrated with Zip. Customers will receive a virtual, one-time card to fund their purchase either in-store or online.

Loan amounts: Typically between $35 and $1,500.

How to pay in four with PayPal

Any online merchant that takes PayPal can also offer the company’s Pay in 4 option. This service is not available in Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wisconsin, or any U.S. territories according to the company.

Interest rate: 0%

Loan terms: Four installment payments over 6 weeks starting with a 25% down payment at the time of purchase.

Fees: No late payment fees

Available merchants: Pay in 4 is available at millions of merchants but not accessible for merchants that aren’t integrated with PayPal.

Loan amount: Purchase price must be between $30 and $1,500.

Additional services: PayPal just announced a new service called Pay Monthly which will allow consumers to make larger purchases between $199-$10,000 and lets them break the total cost into monthly payments over a six to 24-month period, with the first payment due one month after purchase. Consumers approved for a Pay Monthly loan will be presented with up to three different plans of varying lengths with risk-based APR ranging from 0%-29.99%. 

How to pay in four with Sezzle

Sezzle offers a unique option to reschedule one of your four installment payments, moving it out up to two weeks, for free. By using that extension, six-week loans can be repaid over eight weeks for no additional cost or interest. 

Interest rate: 0%

Length of loan: Sezzle has one short-term loan which is four installments over six weeks. You can extend to eight weeks by taking advantage of their option to reschedule one payment for free. 

Late fees: You’re allowed to reschedule one payment per order for free and after that reschedule fees apply depending on your state. 

Available merchants: Sezzle has 47,000 partner brands such as Target and GameStop.

Loan limit: $2,500

How to pay in four with Klarna

Klarna like many of the other BNPL companies offers a standard pay-in-4 model that is interest-free. In addition to partners who accept Klarna for online purchases, users of the app can create a one-time use virtual card to pay for purchases in-store and split up the payments over six weeks. 

Interest rate: 0%

Length of loan: Four installment payments over 6 weeks starting with a 25% down payment at the time of purchase.

Late fees: A late fee of up to $7 may be charged if any scheduled payment remains unpaid after 10 days.

Available Merchants: Klarna has 400,000 retail partners and can be used in-store via the Klarna app as well as online. Customers use the app to create a one-time virtual card that can be used online and in select physical stores. 

Loan limit: No pre-defined limit. Each user's limit is determined by payment history and past use of Klarna. 

Additional services: Klarna now offers a physical debit card for use in stores that accept Visa. It must be linked to a customer's banking debt card, but allows any purchase made in person to be split into four payments. The card is free to use for one year, then there is a fee of $3.99 per month to keep it active. 

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