Apps like Klarna: 8 buy-now, pay-later apps that lend money in 2022

Young woman shopping on her laptop, cup of coffee next to herImage: Young woman shopping on her laptop, cup of coffee next to her

In a Nutshell

Apps like Klarna allow you to split payments for the items you buy into installments, paying down the balance over a period of weeks or months. The best services don’t charge interest or fees.
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Klarna allows you to buy things online or in stores and pay for them in four installments — without paying interest. Apps like Klarna that fall into this buy-now, pay-later category essentially offer short-term loans that let you get your items immediately and pay for them over time.

But Klarna is far from your only option to consider. There are a number of apps like Klarna that may allow you to finance a larger purchase quickly, including many that offer low or no interest.

Here’s our take on the best apps like Klarna that can help you split your purchases up into manageable payments.

Best overall: Affirm

Why Affirm stands out: Affirm allows you to finance your purchases without fees of any kind — including late fees. Even some large purchases qualify, all the way up to $17,500. Affirm offers several payment options, including splitting the cost into four payments every two weeks, or financing larger purchases into monthly payments. The “Pay in 4” option doesn’t charge interest, while the monthly payment option generally does.

Read our full review of Affirm to learn more.

Best for no-fee loans: PayPal Pay in 4

Why PayPal Pay in 4 stands out: PayPal Pay in 4 gives you the ability to split online payments into four installments paid every other week, with no interest or late fees — in fact, there are no fees of any kind. This option is available when buying from online retailers that use PayPal at checkout, and the service includes the standard security protections the company offers on all its transactions. You have to make the first installment payment at the time you make your purchase, and your purchase can’t exceed $1,500.

Best for no-interest loans: Afterpay

Why Afterpay stands out: Afterpay doesn’t charge interest on any transactions. When you choose the service for an online or in-store purchase, you make the first of your four payments at checkout, and the remaining three over the next six weeks. You may face a late fee if you fail to make your payments on time, though this fee is capped at 25% of the purchase price.

Read our full review of Afterpay to learn more.

Best for small purchases: Bread

Why Bread stands out: Bread’s SplitPay service allows you to make purchases ranging from $50 to $1,000 and pay it back in four installments — one every two weeks. The first payment is due at checkout. You won’t pay interest, though Bread may report late payments to credit bureaus. Bread also offers financing for larger purchases, with monthly installments and longer terms.

Read our full review of Bread to learn more.

Best for multiple shopping options: Zip

Why Zip stands out: Zip, formerly known as Quadpay, is available at virtually any retailer — everywhere that accepts Visa. With the app, you can enter the amount you’re paying at a store and Zip will generate a virtual Visa credit card to use at the register. When you use the service, you can split payments into four installments paid over six weeks. You’ll pay a $1 convenience fee per installment.

Read our full review of Zip to learn more.

Best for promotional offers: Sezzle

Why Sezzle stands out: Sezzle also gives you the ability to split purchases into four payments over six weeks, with no interest charged. But when you shop with certain retailers, you may be able to earn rewards known as Sezzle Spend. This is essentially a credit that can be applied to the last payment in your installment plan for a future purchase. You’ll get emails and text messages alerting you to places you can earn Sezzle Spend. Sezzle also regularly offers discounts and other promotions with retailers it partners with.

Read our full review of Sezzle to learn more.

Best for credit card users: Splitit

Why Splitit stands out: Splitit allows you to use your credit card to make purchases and earn rewards  — and pay for the items over time without paying the interest you’d typically face by not paying off the balance at the end of the month. When you use the service, Splitit puts a hold on your credit card for the full purchase price — but doesn’t actually charge it. This hold is reduced each month as you make your payments until the purchase is paid off.

You can choose from repayment terms that range from just a few months to more than a year, and Splitit doesn’t charge interest or late fees, either.

Best for travelers: Uplift

Why Uplift stands out: Uplift allows people to finance vacations, paying their balance in monthly installments. The company has partnerships with a variety of airlines, hotel chains, resorts, cruise lines and travel agencies. To use the service, you shop directly on Uplift’s partner websites and choose Uplift at checkout. You may pay interest on some plans.

Another option: American Express Plan It®

Why Plan It stands out: If you already have an American Express credit card, you may be able to take advantage of Plan It, the company’s service that allows you to pay for qualifying purchases of at least $100 over time. When you create a plan, you choose between lengths of time to pay it off (you’ll have up to three options) and receive a payment plan with a fixed amount to pay each month. Instead of paying interest on the balance, you pay a set monthly fee. You can use American Express’s “Pre-Purchase Calculator” to find out what your options may be before spending money.

Learn more about American Express Plan It.

What you should know about apps like Klarna

Apps like Klarna can be a good way to pay for larger purchases — like a laptop, vacation or new couch — as long as you’re confident you’ll be able to make the required payments. Most of the apps on our list offer interest-free and fee-free plans for people who can pay on time, whether that’s every two weeks or once per month.

But buy-now, pay-later services should be used with caution. Seeing the industry’s rapid growth, federal regulators have turned their attention to these companies with questions about their business practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau advises people to be aware of the risks before choosing a buy-now, pay-later app, and consider such issues as …

  • Fees — While some of these apps don’t charge any fees, many charge late fees if payments aren’t made on time. These fees can add up quickly.
  • Return policies — When you buy an item with a buy-now, pay-later app but need to return it, getting your money back may be complicated. You might need to keep paying on your loan until you get things sorted out, and you may not be able to recover interest or fees you already paid. For example, Affirm doesn’t refund interest, and Zip doesn’t refund service fees.
  • Payment protections — You can dispute unauthorized charges on your credit card, and there are processes in place to get your money back. But buy-now, pay-later loans have fewer protections in place than credit cards when it comes to guarding against fraudulent or inadvertent charges.
  • Effect on credit scores — In many cases, a buy-now, pay-later loan won’t affect your credit either way. But if you fail to make your payments, your debt could be turned over to a collection agency — which can severely damage your credit.

How we picked these apps

To determine the top apps like Klarna, we reviewed more than a dozen of the most popular buy-now, pay-later services available in the U.S. market. Apps were rated by their interest rates, fees, ease of use, repayment terms and purchase limits. We also took into account how widely the apps are accepted, where they can be used, and what retailers are in the network of each service.

About the author: Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than a decade of experience as a reporter and editor at North Carolina news organizations, including the Charlotte Observer and the StarNews in Wilmington. In those roles,… Read more.