Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is a financial concept that’s getting some serious buzz. If you do a lot of online shopping, you’ve probably noticed that Buy Now Pay Later apps, or BNPL apps, have become increasingly common at checkout.
There’s nothing new about the idea of paying in installments, but these apps take the old concept of layaway into the modern age of shopping.
And if you think about it, the reason for the shift is obvious. Unlike credit cards, which charge interest if you pay over time, Buy Now Pay Later services provides the option to spread out your repayment without getting crushed by an interest rate.
Keep reading to learn more about what BNPL is and how it works, along with the best BNPL apps to try.
7 Best Buy Now Pay Later Apps
Here are the top 7 best buy now pay later apps you can use today:
Afterpay is one of the biggest names in BNPL, and there’s plenty to like about what it has to offer. The company is based in Australia, where BNPL has more of an established presence than it does so far in the US. The app is making some serious headway stateside.
With more than 100,000 partner merchants, Afterpay is one of the most widespread options for BNPL. To get started, head to the website or download the mobile app and set up your free account. You’ll get an instant approval notification and a spending limit when you enroll, and there’s no hard or soft credit check required.
When you’re ready to make a purchase, select Afterpay as your payment option at checkout. The app breaks your total down into four payments, which are automatically charged to your debit or credit card every two weeks for six weeks after the time of purchase.
There are no fees or interest charges to worry about with Afterpay, assuming you pay on time. If your card declines and you end up with a missed payment, you get a grace period of 10 days (unless otherwise noted) to get caught up.
You can only get hit with one late fee per installment, and the total charge for an online purchase will never exceed 25% of the total cost.
Considering there’s no credit check required to use it, Afterpay is a great option for those with bad credit or just looking to avoid dings to their credit score. Your credit limit might be a bit low when you first start, but you can build it up over time with a positive payment history.
Affirm is another super popular BNPL app. It’s based out of San Francisco and was founded in 2012.
Affirm has far fewer merchant partners than Afterpay but has instead focused its efforts on teaming up with some of the biggest names in retail like Walmart and Amazon.
Affirm is a solid choice if you’re trying to use BNPL for larger purchases, as it tends to offer higher credit limits. It also offers more flexibility on payment plans, with the option to break your purchase into 3, 6, or 12 monthly payments.
The downside is that Affirm does check with credit bureaus, and your total limit and interest rate will depend on your credit score. Affirm offers interest rates between 0% and 30%, so if your credit history is a little shaky, you should look elsewhere.
To get started, visit the website or download the app, and you can set up your account for free.
Klarna is a Swedish fintech company that offers BNPL services to 90 million users in 17 countries.
It’s free to use, and you can shop in the app, in person, or online and select the Klarna app as your payment option when you’re ready to check out.
Klarna does not look at your credit when you sign up, but it will run a soft check when you use it to make a purchase. Fortunately, this means that using Klarna will never affect your credit score.
Klarna also offers three different payment plans. The default option is to make four interest-free payments every two weeks after purchase, but you can also opt for a 30-day delayed payment or a monthly plan.
There’s no interest to worry about with Klarna, but you might pay a late fee if you miss a due date. The standard fee is $7, but the total charges will never be more than 25% of the total purchase amount. If you choose monthly financing, the maximum fee goes up to $35 per late payment.
Zip, formerly known as Quadpay, is another app that offers 4-way splits over a six-week payment period.
The cool thing about Zip is that you can use it with any partner merchant online, but also in-store wherever Visa is accepted. To use it in-store, add Zip to your mobile wallet and use it the same way you would with any digital payment option.
After you make your first payment at checkout, each subsequent payment is automatically drawn from your card every two weeks after. Zip charges a $1 fee per payment, and if you miss a payment, you’ll pay a $5, $7, or $10 fee, depending on what state you live in.
Like most of these apps, the key is to figure out which one partners with merchants that you’re most interested in. Zip’s platform is similar to several others, so it might come down to which app offers the most of your favorite retailers.
Splitit is a somewhat lesser-known BNPL app, but it stands out in a few key ways.
There’s no application or credit check required, so you can sign up for a free account in just a few minutes.
Also, rather than issuing its own lines of credit, Splitit uses your current available credit as your limit. The app accepts Visa or Mastercard, and you’ll be able to split up your purchases based on how much you have available.
Splitit does not charge interest or late fees — ever. If you’re searching for the BNPL app that’ll never charge you a dime, this is the one for you.
That said, the thing to consider here is your credit card balance. If you run up a bunch of Splitit charges that you can’t pay back on time, you might be looking at a hefty bill plus interest.
As always, you can avoid this by never spending what you don’t have a plan to pay back on time.
Sezzle is yet another option that sticks to the four installment, 6-week payment period mold. It’s quick and easy to sign up, and you’ll get an instant approval decision. Once you’re in, you have more than 44,000 online retailers to shop with.
Sezzle does not charge any fees if you pay on time, and there’s never an interest rate included. It also avoids credit checks entirely.
Sezzle does charge a fee if you miss a payment but also offers a minimum 48-hour grace period to avoid it. If you know ahead of time that you can’t make a payment, you can also opt to reschedule one installment per order for free.
Overall, current Sezzle customers seem pretty happy with what it has to offer, and the app holds an impressive 4.8-star (out of 5) rating on more than 6,000 Trustpilot reviews.
7. PayPal Pay in 4
PayPal, the massive fintech company that you’re likely already familiar with, has also become one of the bigger players in the world of BNPL.
With PayPal Pay in 4, you can pay off your purchases over time using your existing PayPal account. No need to sign up for a new membership or wait for approval — just choose PayPal at checkout, and you’re good to go.
Of course, the main benefit here is that PayPal already has a huge online presence. You’ve likely already noticed it on most checkout screens, and that same variety of options applies to Pay in 4.
Plus, you can feel good about the well-regarded security and purchase protection that comes with any PayPal transaction.
Otherwise, Pay in 4 works in a similar way to many other BNPL apps. You can opt to split your purchase into four payments at checkout, and you won’t be charged any interest. There’s no impact on your credit score, and you’ll get an instant approval decision on each transaction.
What is Buy Now Pay Later?
Buy Now Pay Later is a short-term financing option that allows consumers to pay off purchases in (usually) interest-free installment payments.
Rather than paying for a large purchase upfront, BNPL apps allow you to break the total cost into smaller, equal payments and pay it over time. Each app partners with specific merchants, and you can choose to use them at checkout.
Depending on which app you use, you may have a specific credit limit, for which you may or may not need a hard credit check to qualify.
As I covered above, I’ve taken a close look at all of the best BNPL apps available right now. I walk you through how each one works and weigh the pros and cons. From there, you should have a solid idea of which BNPL app is right for you.
Buy Now Pay Later Apps FAQs
Which is the best pay later app?
Like most types of apps, it depends on you and how you plan to use them. Some of the more popular options, like Afterpay and Affirm, have a lot of features to like, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for you.
My advice when it comes to choosing is to take a look at your personal finances. If money is a little tight, you’ll want to avoid any BNPL apps that charge big fees for missed payments. On the other hand, if you’re feeling a bit more secure, you might opt for an app that comes with higher purchase limits.
No matter which app you use, make sure it’s one that’ll make your financial life a little easier, not harder.
What apps offer buy now pay later?
There are a lot of them, and new ones are popping up all the time as the concepts grows in popularity.
Aside from the options that I outlined here, there are several other BNPL options, including some retailers that offer the service in-house.
As you sift through different apps, focus on the ones that don’t come with fees or interest. At its best, BNPL should offer some flexibility and should never be something that costs an arm and a leg to use.
What’s another app like Afterpay?
A lot of apps have followed Afterpay’s market strategy of breaking purchases into four payments over 6 weeks. Klarna, Zip, and Sezzle have all followed suit, and even PayPal’s Pay in 4 feature is a similar service.
If you’re unsure about which app you like best, there’s no harm in checking out a few different ones to see what sticks. Just be careful to avoid running up a big balance on multiple apps, which can pretty easily get out of hand.
Does Amazon have a buy now pay later?
Yes. In true Amazon fashion, the online retailer has partnered with Affirm, one of the biggest names in the space, for BNPL services.
To use Affirm on Amazon, sign up for an account and select it at checkout on qualifying purchases.
Which is the Best BNPL App for You?
Overall, BNPL is an ideal option for those who tend to put a lot on a credit card. Interest rates can easily get out of hand, and BNPL provides an interest and fee-free avenue to spread out purchase totals when you need to.
It’s also a solid solution If you have a job that pays somewhat irregularly.
Like any payment option, the main thing to consider here is minimizing the total cost of any purchase. At their best, BNPL apps add nothing to your total cost and create a level of flexibility.
That said, there are two things that you must avoid doing: running up your credit card balance and missing payments. Late fees defeat the purpose entirely, and even though these apps mostly avoid interest of their own, they don’t make you immune to the charges from your credit card issuer.
Now that you know where to look to get started, you should be well on your way to adding another useful financial app to your arsenal. Once you pick the perfect one(s), you’ll be staying yet another step ahead of the game.