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If you’re hoping to make a purchase and don’t have the cash on hand, a “buy-now, pay-later” app like Afterpay can help you make a purchase now and pay it off over time.
Here’s our take on the best apps like Afterpay that let you pay over a period time.
- Best for shopping anywhere: Klarna
- Best for no late fees: Affirm
- Best for no interest: Bread
- Best for shopping in-store: Quadpay
- What to watch out for with apps like Afterpay
- How we picked these apps like Afterpay
Best for shopping anywhere: Klarna
Why Klarna stands out: Klarna is easier to use than some of the other pay-over-time services on this list: You can use it when shopping at any online U.S. retailer that accepts credit or debit cards. You can also check Klarna’s list of participating stores to use Klarna directly on a store’s website.
Klarna offers several financing options on its website, which can make it confusing. You can pay in 30 days or with special financing, which can give you up to three years to pay off your purchase. But for the purposes of this review, we’re talking about transactions made with “Pay in 4” — Klarna’s buy-now, pay-later model, where you’ll make four installment payments over six weeks.
When shopping on a retailer’s website, you might see the option to pay with Klarna. But you can use the Klarna app for purchases at any U.S. retailer that accepts major credit cards, even if it isn’t listed on Klarna’s store directory.
Here’s what else you need to know about Klarna’s Pay in 4.
- Klarna doesn’t require a hard credit inquiry — Before approving your purchase, Klarna will run a soft credit check to determine if you qualify. Soft inquiries don’t affect your credit scores.
- It won’t buy you that much time — You’ll be required to pay off your entire purchase within six weeks. Your first payment is due at the time of purchase. Then, you’ll make additional payments every two weeks until you’ve paid in full. That’s not much longer than a credit card would give you to pay before charging interest.
- There’s no interest — Klarna considers this a “0% APR loan.”
- You could be hit with a late fee — If you miss a due date because there’s not enough money in your account to cover your automatically scheduled payment, you could be charged a late fee.
- There are no prepayment penalties.
- You could earn rewards — Klarna gives you one “vibe” for every $1 you spend. Your vibes can be used to purchase gift cards to stores like Amazon, Starbucks, Uber, Whole Foods, Nike and Best Buy. You’ll also earn a $5 Amazon gift card after making your first purchase. This rewards program adds a nice touch, as long as you can afford to make your regularly scheduled payments on time and don’t spend more than you normally would just to earn rewards.
Read our full review of Klarna to learn more about Pay in 4 and Klarna’s other financing options.
Best for no late fees: Affirm
Why Affirm stands out: Unlike some of the lenders on this list, Affirm has no fees. That means you won’t be charged any account opening fees, annual fees, prepayment fees, late fees, account closing fees or other hidden fees.
When you’re at the online checkout and ready to pay, you might see Affirm as a payment option on the retailer’s website. But even if the store doesn’t partner with Affirm, you can still download the Affirm app and request a virtual card that you can use one time to make the payment. If your purchase is approved, you’ll choose your payment schedule and start paying monthly installments.
- The late-fee waiver provides a nice security blanket — Of course, if you can, it’s best to pay on time. If you’re concerned you won’t be able to, you might want to reconsider making the purchase in the first place.
- But you could be charged some interest — Depending on your credit, Affirm’s APR could be up to 30% of the purchase price. With Affirm, the amount of interest you agree to when making the purchase won’t change over time — unlike paying with a credit card where you may get charged extra interest and other fees.
- It could affect your credit scores — If Affirm offers you a loan that charges interest, the loan could be reported to the credit bureaus. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Making on-time payments could help you build credit.
- You might be required to pay a down payment.
- Affirm offers a savings account insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. — In an ideal world, this might encourage you to save up for big purchases instead of financing them.
Read our full review of Affirm to learn more.
Best for no interest: Bread
Why Bread stands out: With Bread’s SplitPay, you’ll pay no interest. So as long as you can afford the payments, this could be a good way to spread out the cost of a big purchase.
Bread gives you six weeks to make four interest-free payments.
- It’s not available everywhere you shop — Bread only works with participating online retailers. So if the store you’re shopping at doesn’t accept Bread, you may need to pick another service on this list that lets you shop anywhere.
- If you miss a payment, there’s cause for concern — Bread will report your delinquency to the credit bureaus.
- You can make only one purchase at a time — Bread’s SplitPay won’t let you make another purchase until you pay off your existing purchase. The company will accept early payments via mailed check only. You can mail your check — with SplitPay as the payee — to PO Box 783186, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19178-3186. Include the account number in your correspondence.
- There are purchase limits — Purchases with Bread’s SplitPay range from $50 to $1,000.
Read our full review of Bread to learn more.
Best for shopping in-store: Quadpay
Why Quadpay stands out: You can use Quadpay to split purchases into four payments over six weeks not only at your favorite online retailers, but also in stores. This makes Quadpay more versatile than some other buy-now, pay-later lenders.
When you’re ready to pay, you can get your Quadpay Visa card number from the app and use it to pay online or in-store.
- You need to link a card — To make purchases through QuadPay, you’ll have to connect a credit or debit card to your account. Note that Capital One credit cards currently can’t be used for Quadpay purchases.
- All purchases need to be approved — Every time you want to make a purchase using Quadpay, you’ll have to get it approved. And since the approval process is subject to change, your approval might not be consistent from order to order.
- There’s no APR — Quadpay doesn’t charge interest, but you could end up paying interest through the credit card that you have linked to your Quadpay account.
- You might qualify for late fee forgiveness — While there is a late fee, Quadpay will consider requests to waive the late fee after you make the payment. This could help people who tend to be forgetful.
- Feel free to pay early — There are no prepayment penalties.
- It won’t affect your credit — Quadpay doesn’t run a hard inquiry on your credit when you request to make a purchase.
Read our full review of Quadpay to learn more.
What to watch out for with apps like Afterpay
If you’re interested in apps like Afterpay, you might be wondering how to pay for a big purchase. Should you use your credit card or opt for a platform that lets you extend your time to pay? Let’s take a closer look at a few of the key differences.
- Apps like Afterpay are more likely to charge no interest. Just keep in mind, the six weeks they typically give you to pay off your purchase isn’t much longer than the grace period many credit cards offer. So you’re not buying yourself a whole lot of time.
- Apps like Afterpay tend to have smaller late fees. It’s always best to pay on time, but if you miss a payment, it might hurt more with a credit card.
- Credit cards give you more flexibility. When you swipe your credit card, you can buy anything you want up to your credit limit. But with a “Pay in 4” app, you might need to go through an approval process before each purchase — and some lenders won’t approve a new purchase until you pay off the last one. For some apps, it can also be more difficult to find participating merchants that accept your method of payment.
Whether you opt to pay with a buy-now, pay-later service or swipe your credit card, it’s important to remember this is borrowed money. Having access to financing like this may encourage you to buy things you otherwise wouldn’t and that can be a one-way ticket to too much debt.
So if you decide to make a purchase and pay for it later, make sure to come up with a plan to make on-time payments.
How we picked these apps like Afterpay
To find the best apps like Afterpay, we looked for lenders that help you finance short-term purchases. Then we looked for the differences among these buy-now, pay-later apps: Where can you use them? How much time will you have to repay the loan? Do they charge interest or late fees? Can you pay early? Do they require a down payment? Do they offer rewards? Do they report your payment history to the credit bureaus?