Buy now, pay later (BNPL) apps allow you to make immediate online purchases and pay later. Payments are typically made using scheduled installments over a predetermined period of time. A BNPL app can be a good alternative to a high-interest credit card and, if used responsibly, can be a useful tool to help you stick to your monthly budget.
While both apps are great options, Afterpay is the better choice. It doesn’t require a credit check for approval, which is good news for those that have less-than-stellar credit, and there are no interest payments. Afterpay also boasts a larger number of retailers in its network than Affirm has. However, if you're looking for a BNPL app that will allow you to pay no money down at checkout, then you’ll want to use Affirm instead.
At a Glance
|Credit Limit||$50 to $17,500+||$150 on first use, $1,000 after you demonstrate responsible use|
|Amount Due at Purchase||$0||~25% of the purchase price|
|Repayment Terms||Variable; usually 3,6, or 12 months||Payments due over six weeks. First payment is due at checkout.|
|Interest||0% to 30% APR||0%|
|Credit Impact (reports on-time payments to credit bureaus? Hard pull?||Soft to pre-qualify. Affirm will report some loan payments to Experian||No credit impact|
|Minimum Credit Score||Not available||No min credit score|
|Late Fees||None||Late fees start at $8 and won’t go higher than 25% of purchase price|
|Number of Retailers||11,500+||74,000+|
|Standout Feature||Can be used to help improve your credit score||No interest payments|
Affirm vs. Afterpay: Terms
Affirm offers loans between $50 and $17,500, and the loan terms are typically three, six, or 12 months, although loan terms of 48 months are sometimes available. Similarly, for smaller loans, you may get an option for just one to three months. Term length options can change depending on the store, your purchase, and your credit profile. With Affirm, there is no payment due at the time of purchase.
Afterpay spending limits start small, around $150, and increase gradually. New users will have a lower spending limit than veteran users, but spending limits can increase if you demonstrate that you're a responsible shopper and make all of your payments on time. However, your spending limit can decrease based on factors including late payments, frequency of late payments, how late a payment was made, how often scheduled payments on your account get declined, and how often orders are declined due to insufficient funds in the payment method on file.
Note that the spending limit stated in your account is an estimated amount and is not guaranteed. Afterpay is unclear about when the amount is guaranteed.
With Afterpay, payments are made in four installments, due every two weeks. The first payment is due at the time of purchase, and the minimum purchase amount is $35.
Affirm vs. Afterpay: Credit Requirements
Affirm and Afterpay differ on the credit requirements necessary to qualify for a loan.
Affirm uses a soft credit check to prequalify you for a loan. This means your credit score will not be affected. Affirm may report some loans to the Experian credit bureau, and delinquent payments may have an impact on your credit. According to the Affirm help center, “Affirm will not report a loan to Experian if the loan is 0% and 4% biweekly payments or if you were only offered one option at application of a three-month payment term of 0% payment.”
Afterpay does not perform a credit check, and anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to open an account, although not everyone will get approved. Afterpay has no impact on your credit score or credit rating and doesn’t perform a credit check or report late payments. When determining which orders are approved, Afterpay considers several factors including how long you have shopped with Afterpay and how many orders you have successfully repaid.
Affirm vs. Afterpay: Interest and Fees
Affirm and Afterpay differ in their approach to interest and late fees.
Affirm interest rates typically range from 0% to 30% based on the customer’s credit and are subject to an eligibility check. Eligibility criteria include factors like your credit score, payment history with Affirm, and how long you’ve held an Affirm account. The interest rate will depend on the size of your purchase and where you are shopping. Be aware that interest rates can be high, and some may even be higher than the rate on your credit card. Make sure you compare interest rates before committing to a payment plan.
Affirm does not charge any late fees and there are no hidden fees.
Afterpay does not charge interest or any upfront fees, but it does charge late fees if your scheduled payments are not made. Late fees start at $8 but are capped at 25% of the order value.
Affirm vs. Afterpay: Mobile App
Both Affirm and Afterpay apps can be downloaded for free from the App Store or Google Play.
The Affirm app is free to download and is highly rated by users. It’s easy to use, and you can prequalify for your loan completely on your mobile device. If approved, you will get a virtual card to use at participating online stores or in-store checkout. With Affirm, you can shop directly through the app or you can make a purchase at a partner store or on the Affirm website.
Affirm is currently partnered with over 11,500 merchants in the U.S. including brands like Walmart, Peloton, Oscar de la Renta, Audi, and Expedia.
The Afterpay app is also highly rated, and users praise the convenience and how easy it is to use the app. After downloading the Afterpay app, you will set up your Afterpay Card, which is then added to your Apple Wallet or Google Pay. To use Afterpay, simply go to one of the 74,000+ retailers that accept it and, when you’re ready to pay, activate your Afterpay card in the app and follow the directions to add the card to your Apple Wallet or Google Pay. Then you can pay using Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Affirm vs. Afterpay: Other Products
In addition to its app, Affirm has also partnered with Cross River Bank to provide interest-bearing savings accounts. The savings account is available from the Affirm app and comes with no minimum deposit requirements and no fees. Once you’ve linked your bank account to your Affirm savings, you can transfer money into and withdraw money out of your account. Be aware that you are limited to no more than six withdrawals or transfers from your account during a monthly cycle.
Afterpay does not offer any other financial products.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do Affirm and Afterpay Work?
With the Affirm app, you can shop online at your favorite participating stores. When you are ready to check out, select Affirm, enter some personal information, and you’ll receive a real-time approval decision. Next, select the payment schedule that works for you. Payment plans will vary based on duration, number of installments, and interest rate. Finally, make your monthly payments. Affirm will send you email and text reminders to help ensure that you don’t miss a payment.
Like Affirm, Afterpay is an app that allows eligible shoppers to buy now and pay later. However, unlike Affirm, Afterpay does not charge any interest. After using the app to make a purchase, you can split your payments into four equal installments, although you do have to make an initial payment at the time of purchase. You then have six weeks to pay the remaining balance. You can use Afterpay online at checkout or you can use it in-store. To use Afterpay in a physical store, you will have to create a digital Afterpay card on the app that you can add to your Apple Wallet or Google Pay to make your purchase.
You can also use the app to check your balance and next payment due date. Note that if you miss a payment with Afterpay, you won’t be able to use it to buy anything else until you settle your account.
Do Affirm and Afterpay Require a Credit Check?
Affirm usually does a soft pull of an applicant's credit, which does not affect your credit score. On the other hand, Afterpay does not require a soft or hard credit check.
Can You Build Credit With Affirm or Afterpay?
Affirm will report some loan payments to the Experian credit bureau, but there are exceptions. For instance, Affirm won’t report a loan if the loan is 0% and four biweekly payments or if you were only offered one option at the time you applied for a three-month payment term at 0%. Affirm may report some loans to Experian, and delinquent payments may have an impact on your credit.
Afterpay will not impact your credit score at all, as it does not perform credit checks, report late payments, or report to the credit bureaus.
We compared Affirm and Afterpay on variables including fees, repayment limits, retailer acceptance, and preapproval process. We also considered the interest rate and how the use of the BNPL app can affect your credit score.
After considering all of these features, we found Afterpay to be the better choice due to its large network of retailers and the fact that it has no interest charges. Afterpay is also a good option for those who have bad credit, as no credit check is required for approval. However, for those looking to potentially improve their credit score using a BNPL app, Affirm is a great choice.