PayPal Pay in 4 review

Young man sitting at home on his couch, reading a review of PayPal in 4 review on his tabletImage: Young man sitting at home on his couch, reading a review of PayPal in 4 review on his tablet

In a Nutshell

With PayPal’s “Pay in 4,” online shoppers can break up purchases into four equal installments over a six-week period. With no interest or late fees, the point-of-sale loan could be a more appealing alternative to paying upfront with a credit or debit card.
Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our third-party advertisers don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

Pros

  • No interest
  • No hard credit check
  • Quick decision on approval

Cons

  • Not available in all states
  • Limited to merchants that accept PayPal
  • Not available for all purchases

What you need to know about PayPal Pay in 4

PayPal Pay in 4 is a buy-now, pay-later service that allows online shoppers to split their purchases into four payments with the option to pay off early.

The payments are typically made in four equal installments over a six-week period, and are set up as automatic payments. The first payment is due at the time of the transaction and the next three are spaced out in two-week increments.

Here are some of the most important things to know about how this service works.

Approval is instant

With Pay in 4, you don’t have to submit an application and wait a few days to receive the funds to make your purchases. Instead, you’ll apply for a PayPal Pay in 4 loan at checkout, and receive a response in seconds telling you whether or not you’re approved. If you’re approved, you can proceed with making your purchase in installments.

In order to determine approval, PayPal performs a soft credit check, so you don’t have to worry about how applying for the point-of-sale loan might impact your credit scores. But PayPal doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score requirement.

No interest or fees

PayPal Pay in 4 doesn’t charge any interest on your short-term point-of-sale loan. There’s also no late fee if you accidentally miss a payment and no prepayment penalty if you want to pay off the loan early. PayPal doesn’t say on its website whether missed payments may be reported to the consumer credit bureaus, potentially impacting your credit.

You can make your installment payments with a credit card, so you can still earn rewards while breaking down your payments into smaller, interest-free chunks.

That said, no matter what payment method you choose it’s important to make sure the installments will fit with your budget because once you agree to the PayPal Pay in 4 terms the automatic payments cannot be paused, skipped or suspended.

You may run into limitations

The program has a wide reach because it takes advantage of PayPal’s existing partnerships with online retailers. But this buy-now, pay-later program isn’t available in all states — be sure to check availability in your area.

Something else to keep in mind is that PayPal Pay in 4 is only available on purchases of $30 to $1,500.

A closer look at PayPal Pay in 4

If you’re thinking about using PayPal Pay in 4 for an upcoming online purchase, here are some other features to know about.

  • The service is available with retailers that accept PayPal as a payment method.
  • You must be of legal age in your state to qualify.
  • You can view your current balance and pay it off by logging in to your PayPal account.
  • Your payments will be drawn from the bank account, debit card or credit card that you provide when you apply.

Who is a PayPal Pay in 4 loan good for?

The buy-now, pay-later service can be a good option for someone who is shopping online and wants some time to pay off a small or larger purchase. PayPal Pay in 4 is particularly beneficial for people who want to avoid interest charges and fees, which may be charged when using a credit card or personal loan to make your purchase.

But unlike other loan options, you can only use PayPal Pay in 4 loans to make online purchases at the point of sale. So if you’re looking for a way to consolidate debt, renovate your home or just about anything else, you may want to consider a personal loan or a credit card with an introductory 0% APR promotion on purchases or balance transfers.

How to apply with PayPal Pay in 4

If you’re shopping with an online retailer that accepts PayPal, you may see PayPal Pay in 4 as a payment method. Choose it, and you’ll be taken through the application process.

Once you submit your application, you’ll receive a response in seconds, and if you’re approved, you can continue to complete your purchase. If you’re not approved, you’ll receive an email explaining why you were declined.

Even if you’re not approved you may still be able to use PayPal and your chosen funding method to complete your transaction.

Not sure if PayPal Pay in 4 is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

Depending on the retailer you’re shopping with or the state where you live, PayPal Pay in 4 may not be available. In some cases, you may have the option to choose from multiple buy-now, pay-later services. If either is the case, here are some others to consider.

  • Klarna: The service can be used at any partnering retailer in the U.S. that accepts debit or credit cards.
  • Affirm: The lender offers larger loan amounts and longer repayment terms. 

About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Credit Karma, you can find his wo… Read more.