If you need to buy some electronics but don’t want to pay for your purchase all at once, a buy-now, pay-later (or BNPL) app could help you break up the cost into payments.
Typically, buy-now, pay-later plans let you pay in installments, and you may find no-interest and no-credit-check options.
Here’s our take on the best buy-now, pay-later options for electronics.
- Best for wide acceptance and ease of use: Pay in 4 (PayPal)
- Best for Amazon shoppers: Klarna
- Best for larger purchases: Affirm
- Best for no fees: Zebit
- Best for online and in-store payments: Afterpay
Best for wide acceptance and ease of use: PayPal Pay in 4
Why Pay in 4 stands out: In 2020, PayPal announced the launch of Pay in 4 — a buy-now, pay-later option that lets you pay for online purchases in four installments at participating stores including Best Buy, Bose and more.
- Payments are interest-free — PayPal charges no interest for Pay in 4 plans, and there are also no late fees.
- Easy sign-up process — After selecting PayPal as your payment method, the option to Pay in 4 may be available depending on the purchase. If approved for a plan, the first payment is due at the time of purchase and the three remaining payments are due every two weeks after that.
- Soft credit check — If there is a credit check, it will be a soft credit inquiry that doesn’t affect your scores, and shoppers may get instant approvals.
- Limited purchasing amounts and availability — Only purchases between $30 to $1,500 are currently eligible, and there are location limitations. At the moment, Pay in 4 isn’t available in all states.
Best for Amazon shoppers: Klarna
Why Klarna stands out: Klarna is a buy-now, pay-later app you can use to pay in installments when shopping at major electronics retailers, including Amazon, Bose and Harmon/Kardon. Klarna offers several different payment plans, but the type of plans offered for each purchase may vary.
- Multiple ways to pay — You may be able to pay in four biweekly installments, pay in full within 30 days or pay over six to 36 months.
- Interest-free and financing options — There’s no interest if you pay within 30 days or over four biweekly installments. However, interest does apply if you choose a payment plan that’s six weeks or longer (up to 36 months), and the rate is well into double digits.
- Soft credit check — Klarna may check your credit if you request a payment plan, but for its Pay in 4, 30-day and monthly plans, Klarna will run a soft credit inquiry, which shouldn’t affect your scores.
- Shop anywhere online — You can use Klarna payment plans when shopping in the app or anywhere Klarna is accepted. If a store isn’t in the Klarna app, you can download the Klarna Google Chrome Extension and use it to shop on a laptop. Another option: Tell Klarna how much you want to spend at a U.S.-based online store in the app, and if the purchase is approved, you’ll get a single-use card that you can use at checkout.
Best for large purchases: Affirm
Why Affirm stands out: Affirm could be an option to consider if you need to borrow a larger sum for an electronics purchase. Affirm loans go up to $17,500, with loan terms for small loans ranging from 1 to 3 months, and terms for large loans extending up to 48 months.
- No credit impact — Affirm says applying shouldn’t affect your scores.
- Interest may be charged — Longer-term plans can go up to 30% APR. But if you choose to pay in four installments, there’s no interest.
- Loan terms vary — Affirm negotiates different loan terms and rates with individual stores, so terms offered by Affirm at checkout may differ from one store to the next.
- Shop anywhere online — Certain stores like Walmart offer Affirm as a payment option at checkout, but you can use Affirm elsewhere online too. If Affirm isn’t a checkout option, you can first sign up for the Affirm app. If approved for credit, you’ll get a one-time virtual card to use to make the purchase.
Best for no fees: Zebit
Why Zebit stands out: Zebit is an e-commerce brand that offers credit to customers buying merchandise in its marketplace. Zebit charges no interest, late fees, application fees or membership fees.
The Zebit marketplace has major brands and products such as Apple Watches, AirPods, Xbox systems, Samsung smartphones and more. If you visit the site, you’ll see a “preview” of Zebit marketplace merchandise, but to make a purchase you must create an account and log in.
- Credit lines up to $2,500 — The credit you may get approved for can vary and you can pay back purchases over six months.
- Limited credit may be accepted — Being new to credit or not having a FICO score isn’t an automatic dealbreaker. Zebit may look at other credit-reporting data and information to determine if you’re eligible.
- Large selection of products for sale — You can find a range of electronics for sale on the Zebit site, including TVs, phones, headphones, video game consoles and smartwatches, for example.
Best for online and in-store shopping: Afterpay
Why Afterpay stands out: Afterpay offers shopping flexibility, with both online and in-person options. You may be offered Afterpay as a payment option when checking out at participating online stores, but you can also use it at physical stores by signing up for an account, and then adding the Afterpay Card to your digital wallet. You can then use the app in-store to pay via Apple Pay or Google Pay with a contactless payment at checkout time.
- No interest — Afterpay charges no upfront fees or interest. However, you may be charged late fees if you don’t pay on time or if your payment is returned.
- No credit check — There’s no hard credit check when you apply.
- Payments spread over six weeks — Your first payment is due right away, and the next three payments are due within six weeks.
- View and manage your spending limit — Afterpay shows you an estimate of the credit limit you can use, and the limit can grow as you make on-time payments.
What you should know before using buy-now, pay-later apps for electronics
If you want to buy a new laptop, camera, video gaming system or gaming accessories, buy-now, pay-later apps may help you avoid paying for the entire purchase at once.
But buy-now, pay-later apps do have some drawbacks. Applying is so easy that you might be tempted to sign up for multiple buy-now, pay later plans — leaving you juggling multiple buy-now, pay-later payments. This could become difficult to manage.
If you can’t make your payments on these plans, you may be charged late fees. And if the company reports late payments to the credit bureaus, they can show up on your credit reports and potentially hurt your credit.
To make the most of buy-now, pay-later apps, make sure you can manage the payments.
How we picked these apps
We looked at 10 popular buy-now, pay-later options and considered their features, costs and ease of use. Then we categorized the top ones by what they’re best for.