6 best book-now, pay-later options

A woman seated at a table smiles as she uses her laptop to book a vacation using a book now pay later service.Image: A woman seated at a table smiles as she uses her laptop to book a vacation using a book now pay later service.

In a Nutshell

Book-now, pay-later services allow you to book your vacation up front and pay the bill in installments over weeks or months. If you’re looking to pay for airplane tickets, hotels or an entire vacation, the options below may work well for you.
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“Buy now, pay later” plans allow online shoppers to make their purchases immediately and then pay their balance over time.

The trend has reached the travel industry, as well: Future vacationers can choose to book their trip — from flights to hotels to theme park tickets — and pay the bill in installments down the line.

We’ve scoured the options available to “book now, pay later” to help you choose the best ones for your next trip.

Best book-now, pay-later options for entire vacations: Uplift

Why Uplift stands out: Uplift has partnerships with multiple airlines, cruise lines, resorts, travel agencies and vacation package providers that make it easy to book a trip no matter what type of vacation you’re planning.

  • Uplift partner page lists all travel companies and destinations that use its service. You can book directly through those companies and then use Uplift to pay.
  • You can choose a monthly payment plan from one or more offers Uplift gives you.
  • No money is due at check-out.
  • You can choose to make payments in monthly installments manually or set up autopay.

Best for air travel: Fly Now Pay Later

Why Fly Now Pay Later stands out: You can choose to book a flight on a variety of airlines directly through the app or choose the service at check-out. Fly Now Pay Later has no-interest options and a range of payment options to spread the cost of your fares over as long as a year.

  • No interest for eligible borrowers, depending on payment option chosen.
  • Payment plans range from two months to 12 months.
  • Down payment may be required.
  • Must pay with debit card.

Best for lodging: Expedia

Why Expedia stands out: Expedia offers a page you can use to search for book-now, pay-later deals on hotels around the country. Payment is not due until you arrive at your hotel room, and Expedia has a partnership with Affirm you can use to spread your payments over multiple months if you choose to do so.

  • Book your stay directly on the Expedia site.
  • Select “Monthly payments” during check-out to set up a payment plan.
  • Affirm offers payment plans of three, six or 12 months.
  • No interest options may be available, depending on your credit — or you may pay between 10% and 30% APR.

Read our full review of Expedia

Best for families: Affirm

Why Affirm stands out: Affirm doesn’t just work with Expedia (see above), it has partnerships with numerous family-friendly travel companies, like Vrbo and Great Wolf Resorts.

You can use Affirm’s “Travel” page to select the hotels, resorts or flights you need, then book through their websites and select Affirm as your payment option.

  • Payment options include three, six or 12 months.
  • No interest options available for qualified shoppers.
  • Interest can be 0%, if you qualify, or range from 10% to 30% APR.
  • Make payments online or through the Affirm app. Email and text reminders notify you of your due date.

Read our full review of Affirm

Best for buying what you need to bring on your vacation: Afterpay

Why Afterpay stands out: If you’re looking to buy clothing, shoes, cosmetics or anything else to bring on your vacation, Afterpay has partnerships with a multitude of retailers that will allow you to finance your purchase.

You can shop using the Afterpay app or online on the retailers’ websites.

  • Payment plans include four payments over six weeks.
  • First payment required at checkout.
  • No interest charged.
  • No fees if payments are made on time. Late payment fees capped at 25% of the purchase.

Read our full review of Afterpay.

Best for rewards: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Why Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card stands out: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card lets you earn points on your day-to-day purchases that you can use to reimburse yourself for travel expenses — from flights and hotel stays to restaurants and take-out.

  • No annual fee.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Sign-up bonus of 25,000 points if you make $1,000 in purchases over the first 90 days after account opening. This equates to $250 of travel expenditures.

Read more about the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card.

What you should know about book-now, pay later options

In most cases, book-now, pay-later options are essentially short-term personal loans. The service pays the travel company or retailer, and you pay back the loan in installments over a period of weeks or months. They might be a better deal than putting the balances on your credit card — but you’ll need to qualify based on your credit scores to be approved.

If you’re not able to pay for your entire vacation upfront, you may consider a book-now, pay-later option if you feel confident you’ll be able to make your payments over the terms of the loan. Consider evaluating a few different options to see what terms you are offered, and look for book-now, pay-later services with low or no interest and a loan term that will allow you to comfortably make your payments.

How we picked these options

We evaluated book-now, pay-later options primarily based on the breadth of partnerships available, interest rates, and fees and flexibility of loan terms.

We also took into account ease of use, whether payments were required upfront, and other features. Book-now, pay-later choices shown here may not be the best option for your individual situation, so evaluate carefully before moving forward.

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.