Affirm Unveils Card to Let You Buy Now, Decide How to Pay Later

Woman sitting at restaurant table holding a card and her cellphone.
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andresr

There will soon be another fintech payment card on the block, and this one promises to bring a familiar online purchasing option to the real world.

Affirm, a popular “buy now, pay later” company, announced a first-of-its-kind debit card Thursday that will let consumers choose whether they want to take out a no-interest loan when they pay for larger purchases. While financing options are common in today’s online shopping marketplace, payment cards usually charge for that privilege.

This unusual new product, the Affirm Card, will let cardholders choose how they want to pay for purchases that cost more than $100: directly from a bank account, like a typical debit card transaction, or spread out over four, interest-free payments. 

The debit card is Affirm’s response to two hot U.S. payment trends: buy now, pay later shopping options; and an increasing consumer preference for debit over credit cards, especially during periods of financial uncertainty. Affirm got its start in the buy now, pay later space by giving online shoppers of partner stores a way to finance purchases during checkout. 

You will be able to use the Affirm Card in any store or online outlet that takes debit cards, and you can manage transactions through the Affirm mobile app, which is where you can convert eligible purchases to an installment payment plan rather than paying for it in full. Affirm Card installment payments will be due every two weeks after the original purchase date.

Unlike a credit card, the Affirm Card won’t charge cardholders any interest for choosing to spread out the cost of a purchase over four payments. That no-interest installment approach echoes how the PayPal Pay in 4 and Afterpay pay-over-time programs work. However, the Affirm Card won’t charge cardholders origination or late fees, unlike some competing buy now, pay later companies or the short-term financing options some credit card issuers now offer.

The Affirm Card isn’t available quite yet (the company is aiming for an official launch later this year), but consumers interested can join a waitlist in the meantime.