Acima review: Potentially costly financing for retail purchases

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In a Nutshell

Acima offers lease-to-own financing on a variety of merchandise, including furniture, auto parts, appliances and electronics. And you may be approved even with no credit. But Acima isn’t upfront about the total costs of leasing, and you may pay a good deal more than you originally thought you would if you don’t pay it off within the first 90 days.
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Pros Cons
Flexible repayment schedules Higher cost if you don’t pay off your loan within 90 days
No minimum credit scores required — applicants’ current income and income history are considered Approval process includes review of applicants’ checking account activity
  Total costs are unclear until you apply

What you need to know about Acima lease-to-own financing

Acima offers lease-to-own financing for furniture, appliances, outdoor goods, eyewear, jewelry and more. Since the company considers more than credit scores when you apply for a loan, it might be a good fit if you have bad credit or no credit history. You can apply for Acima financing online, on your mobile device or at a participating store.

Acima offers lease-to-own options ranging from $500 to $4,000.

How Acima lease-to-own financing works

If Acima approves your application, it’s important to keep in mind that you won’t own your items at first. And you’ll have to make an initial payment — usually between $0 and $70, according to Acima — before you’ll receive the merchandise.

The company offers lease terms of 12, 18 and 24 months, with a couple of early purchase options.

  • 90-day early purchase — If you choose this option, Acima says you’ll pay the “Acima cash price” for the merchandise as well as your initial payment and a purchase fee. The purchase fee varies by state, but the company says it’s typically $25.
  • After 90 days — You can still purchase your merchandise before your term is up — usually for about 65% of your remaining total lease amount with a lump sum payment.

The company notes that in cases where you make all lease renewal payments, you could end up paying approximately double the original invoice price of whatever you’re buying.

Unclear total costs

Acima says your “payments are based on the value of the merchandise you select and the cost of lease services.” That means you won’t know exactly how much your financing will cost until after you apply.

No minimum credit scores

While some lenders look primarily at your credit scores when deciding whether to approve you for financing, Acima considers other factors. Your income history, monthly income, checking account and checking account activity will all be evaluated when you apply.

With this approach, Acima may help you get financing you couldn’t get in the past because of low credit scores.

A closer look at Acima financing

Here are a few other things to know about Acima financing.

  • Return policy — If you want to return your merchandise, you’ll have to contact Acima to discuss the issue.
  • Credit reporting — Your payments will be reported to Experian, one of the three major consumer credit bureaus, so you can build your credit — if you’re approved for financing with Acima — if you repay it on time and according to the terms.
  • Lease cancellation — If you no longer need or want your items, Acima does allow you to cancel your lease without penalty. But you’ll have to contact customer service to process your request.

Who is Acima financing good for?

If you have less-than-perfect credit, need to buy something immediately and only need the loan short-term — strictly less than 90 days — Acima could work for you.

But if there’s any doubt you can repay it that quickly, you’ll want to avoid this lease-to-own financing. If your credit is in pretty good shape, consider other financing such as a personal loan or a credit card, which may cost less and come with longer repayment terms than Acima offers.

How to apply for Acima financing

There are three ways to apply with Acima Credit: online, on your mobile device or in a partner store. Acima says it will issue you an immediate credit decision once you complete a brief online or mobile application.

To apply, you’ll need to provide the following:

  • A U.S. government-issued photo ID and Social Security number or individual taxpayer identification number
  • Three months of history with your current employer or current source of income
  • At least $1,000 worth of deposits per month in a checking account that has been open for at least 90 days
  • A view into your checking account so Acima can check for any history of insufficient funds charges, excessive overdrafts or negative balances

Not sure if Acima is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Avant personal loan: If you’d like more time to pay off your merchandise, an Avant personal loan may be a better option since it offers longer loan repayment terms.
  • Affirm personal loan: Since some retailers that partner with Affirm offer no-interest loans, an Affirm personal loan may be a more affordable option.

About the author: Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. You can find her work on sites like The Balance, Freedom Debt Relief, LendingTree and RateGenius. Anna has an MBA in marketing from Roosevelt Un… Read more.