Zip review: Easy four-part financing

Young man shopping on the internet on a digital tablet while lying back on his sofa at home.Image: Young man shopping on the internet on a digital tablet while lying back on his sofa at home.

In a Nutshell

Zip, formerly known as Quadpay, enables shoppers to split purchases into four equal payments over six weeks. But you need to link a card for payment and every purchase needs to be approved.
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Pros Cons

Pay for purchases over several weeks

You might pay interest and fees on the card you use to pay Zip

Use online or in store for flexibility

Potential late fees add to the cost

 

Approval process required before every purchase


What you need to know about a Zip personal loan

Zip, formerly known as Quadpay, is a “buy now, pay later” form of financing that allows you to make a purchase and split your payment into four equal interest-free installments. The service may help you cover important purchases, but it comes with several downsides.

How Zip works

Zip makes it relatively simple to use its service. Here’s a quick breakdown.

  • How to choose Zip — You can choose Zip as a payment method during the checkout process on any one of its registered merchants’ website. You can also use it on other purchases by searching for the retailer you’re interested in via Zip’s app. And you can use the app to make in-store purchases.
  • How Zip covers your purchase — If you’ve selected to pay through the Zip app, you must enter your entire purchase amount (including taxes and fees) for approval. Once you’re approved, Zip creates a virtual credit card within the app that you can then use to complete the transaction.
  • How you pay Zip — The service requires all customers to link a card to their account for payment. Each purchase approval requires an initial 25% payment installment, with the other three payments spread out over six weeks (payments are due every two weeks).

Payment flexibility with no interest through Zip

Zip offers the ability to cover your purchases in store or online with retailers, which brings welcome flexibility to financing. Plus, the app is fairly easy to operate and allows for simple searching to make sure the retailer is available.

The service also promises that there are no hidden fees or interest, “just transparent pricing.” You’ll complete your purchase with a Zip Visa virtual card, so you won’t pay interest to Zip — which might make it a more attractive option than a credit card or other type of loan.

But keep in mind that you could still wind up paying interest on whichever card you link to your Zip account for payment.

Purchase approvals and spending limits might get complicated

One potential drawback to Zip is its approval process, which is required for every new purchase you request. If you aren’t initially approved for the service, it won’t necessarily keep you from completing the purchase with another payment method — but every time you request a purchase through Zip you’re still taking a chance that your purchase might not be approved.

Plus, the approval process is subject to change and might not be consistent from order to order. Your available balance typically goes down as you make purchases and goes up as you make payments. Zip gives each of its customers a total spending limit displayed in the app. But Zip can adjust your available spending balance for a variety of reasons, ranging from your payment history to the broader economic climate.

What to watch out for with Zip

Quadpay comes with several other potential costs and issues worth noting. Here are some things to consider before you choose the service.

  • Late fees could cost you. Zip lays out a simple timeline for payments, but it’ll charge you for missing a payment date. You may incur an initial late fee of $5, $7 or $10, depending on your state. Once you’ve paid your installment, you can request that the fee be waived, but there’s no guarantee Zip will waive it.
  • Your payment card might charge interest and other fees. Zip only charges late fees, but you still have to link a payment card to use the service. In other words, you’ll still have to pay any fees associated with that card. That means you could pay interest, late fees or overdraft fees if you’re not able to cover the payment account on file with Zip.
  • Refunds are a little complicated. Zip has a clear system for handling refunds, but it adds another layer to any purchase. If you want to request a refund, return or exchange for an item covered by a Zip purchase, you’ll have to work with the merchant directly. As soon as the merchant processes the return or refund, Zip will be notified and says it will automatically refund the amount you’ve already paid. Zip then cancels any applicable future payments.

Who is Zip good for?

We generally don’t recommend “buy-now, pay-later” apps like Zip if you can avoid them. While the service offers no-interest payments and minimal fees, it might only delay interest payments or bigger fees if you’re not able to make payments on your linked credit or debit card. It’s worth considering a personal loan or 0% APR credit card as another option, if you’re able to qualify.

Still, Zip might be a useful tool for making important purchases in an emergency. The service is simple to use and offers a spread-out payment schedule, so it’s a decent option when you’re able to make the biweekly payments but unable to pay for the whole purchase all at once.

How to apply with Zip

To use Zip when shopping, the process is pretty straightforward. You can either sign up during the checkout process with one of its registered merchants’ websites and then choose Zip as your payment method, or you can download the Zip app to find the merchant. After entering a purchase, you’ll know if you’re approved to use the service instantly. The approval process won’t affect your credit scores, either.

To sign up, you’ll need to provide some personal information, including your date of birth, mobile number, and either a debit or credit card.

In order to use Zip, you have to meet the following qualifications:

  • Be a U.S. resident
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid and verifiable mobile number
  • Be able to make a purchase with a U.S. credit or debit card

Zip might deny your transaction if one of the following applies to you:

  • You don’t have 25% of your purchase amount available at the time of the transaction.
  • You have multiple orders that aren’t fully paid off.
  • You want to make a transaction that exceeds certain spending limits.

Not sure if Zip is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Affirm: This “buy-now, pay-later” service offers flexible payment schedules.
  • Avant personal loan: This lender may be an option if you have average credit.
  • Upgrade Card: This hybrid card offers the ability to charge purchases like you would with a credit card and make payments like you would with a loan.


About the author: Jacqueline DeMarco is a freelance writer based in southern California who graduated from the University of California Irvine with a degree in literary journalism. She writes about a wide range of topics, including fin… Read more.