Best Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps

PayPal Credit offers the most widely accepted app for online shopping

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Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) apps let you get what you want today and spread payments out over time. With a BNPL app, you can meet your current needs, stick to your budget, and avoid costly credit card debt. Many retailers accept these payment solutions, so chances are good your favorite merchant accepts at least one BNPL option.

The best buy-now-pay-later services are widely accepted, simple to use, and let you shop interest-free. They don’t negatively impact your credit score or charge exorbitant or hidden fees. Some even help you build your credit score and provide financial education resources.

Best Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps of 2021

Best Overall : PayPal Credit


PayPal Credit

PayPal Credit

Key Specs
  • Credit Limit: Starting at $250
  • Credit Check: Hard pull
  • No. of Installments: Based on purchase
Why We Chose It 

PayPal Credit is our top pick because it’s accepted by millions of online merchants and offers a generous interest-free financing period.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Easy to use

  • 6 months interest-free financing

  • Send money to family and friends

Cons
  • High non-promotional APR

  • High late and returned payment fees

Overview

PayPal Credit lets you shop online anywhere PayPal is accepted. Your credit line is connected to your PayPal account so that you can make purchases online, over the phone, or by mail. PayPal’s Purchase Protection also covers you, so if there’s an issue with an order, the company can refund your money.

If you’re approved, your minimum credit line will be $250. PayPal uses Synchrony to review your application which means that a hard credit pull will be made on your account which can negatively impact your credit score.

If you spend more than $99 on a single transaction, you’re eligible for six months of interest-free financing. As long as you make the required minimum payments and pay off the balance before the time expires, using the app will be the same as paying in cash.

If you spend less than $99, though, you’re subject to a 23.99% variable interest rate. But, you can avoid getting hit with it if you pay off the credit line in full each month. You can use your credit line for cash advances to send money to family and friends. However, those transactions aren’t eligible for interest-free financing, regardless of the amount.

PayPal Credit’s buy-now-pay-later provider doesn’t charge an annual fee. But, if you pay your bill late, you can expect a charge of up to $40. If one of your payments gets returned, you may get charged up to $29.

PayPal also offers a cash-back Mastercard and a service that lets you split your online order into four equal interest-free payments.

Best for No Credit Check : Splitit


Splitit

Splitit

Key Specs
  • Credit Limit: Based on available credit
  • Credit Check: No
  • No. of Installments: Determined at checkout
Why We Chose It 

Splitit doesn’t run any credit checks and works instead with your existing Visa and Mastercard credit cards so you can get what you need interest-free.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • No impact on credit score

  • Can still take advantage of credit card perks

  • No interest or late fees from the app

Cons
  • Must have credit available

  • You may pay interest on payments made to the app

Overview

With Splitit, if you have the available credit, you’re approved to make a purchase. The app is accepted by merchants like Nectar and Purple Mattress and lets you make purchases using your Visa or Mastercard credit. Just select the service at checkout. There’s no need to apply or register in advance.

At the time of sale, the BNPL app will place a temporary hold on your credit card for the full purchase amount. That means you can’t accidentally double-dip and use the funds for another transaction. If you link a debit card, the hold will get fully lifted after five days. You’ll see your payment amount and schedule during the checkout process. Your card will get charged for the first payment when your purchase ships.

There’s no penalty for pre-paying your loan, and you can check the status of your orders and payments in the Splitit online portal. Although Splitit doesn’t charge interest, your credit card might if you don’t pay it off in full each month.

Best for Bad Credit : Perpay


Perpay

Perpay

Key Specs
  • Credit Limit: Not specified
  • Credit Check: No
  • No. of Installments: Based on purchase
Why We Chose It 

Perpay is our choice as the best for bad credit because the app actually focuses on helping you build your credit.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • No credit check required

  • Accepted by over 1,000 merchants

  • No interest or fees

Cons
  • Can only shop the company’s online marketplace

  • Must complete a $500 order to build credit

Overview

Perpay can help you build your credit if you successfully pay off a $500+ purchase. The service will then report future payments to credit bureaus Experian and Equifax. On-time payments play a significant role in bolstering your credit score.

Here’s how it works:

  • Sign up for the app to get your estimated spending limit
  • Shop for what you want and officially apply at check out
  • Get your actual spending limit (if approved)
  • Make your first payment
  • Receive your item(s)

Instead of linking a credit or debit card to your account to make the installments, Perpay has you connect your paycheck. Your payment schedule will be based on your company’s payroll schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.). Each time you get paid, an installment will automatically get sent from your wages to the BNPL service.

You can make extra payments with a card or personal bank account if desired. The app never charges interest or fees.

To qualify for Perpay, you must:

  • Maintain full-time employment and have been with the same company for at least three months
  • Be able to set up multiple direct deposit accounts
  • Have an active mobile phone and a minimum annual income of $15,000

While the buy-now-pay-later service relies primarily on your income to make a lending decision and doesn’t run a credit check, the website stipulates that you can’t have any active bankruptcies. Any existing financial accounts must also be in good standing.

Your purchases are also limited to the Perpay online marketplace which has partnerships with popular brands like Nintendo, KitchenAid, and Apple.

You can manage your account through a mobile app or via the company’s website. To help you build your credit and manage your money, Perpay also offers financial tips on their blog.

Best for Repayment Options : Klarna


Klarna

Klarna

Key Specs
  • Credit Limit: Starting at $300 for long-term financing
  • Credit Check: Based on repayment method
  • No. of Installments: Based on repayment method
Why We Chose It 

We like Klarna because the app offers three different repayment options to suit a variety of needs.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Potentially interest-free

  • Can use anywhere that accepts Visa

Cons
  • Potentially high APR

  • May assess late or returned payment fees

Overview

With Klarna, you can get what you need and pay for it in a way that works for you: in four installments, in 30 days, or over up to 36 months.

Pay in 4 Installments

This option feels like many buy-now-pay-later services on the market. If approved, your purchase will get spread out over four equal payments and will be interest-free. Using the service only results in a soft credit check, which won’t hurt your credit. 

You’ll make your first payment (25% of the order’s total) when you check out. The remaining three payments will get charged to your card on file every two weeks. If you’re more than 10 days late, you may get charged a fee of up to $7. 

Pay in 30 Days

This option lets you try before you officially buy with a soft credit check. You only pay for what you keep, and your purchase is interest-free. You must pay Klarna’s invoice within 30 days. If you’re late, the company won’t allow you to use this option again. 

If you let your account go into default, the service provider could use a collection agency to recoup their money. This negative activity may also get reported to the credit bureaus. Klarna charges a returned payment fee of up to $27.

Pay Over up to 36 Months

For larger purchases, you can apply for more traditional financing through Klarna. This option lets you spread out payments over six to 36 months. The company may run a hard credit check to approve you for this repayment method. Klarna doesn’t list the requirements to qualify for the financing on its website, however. If approved, your credit limit will be a minimum of $300.

While you won’t have to pay annual or over-the-limit fees, you’ll have to fork over $35 for late or bounced payments. The APR is 19.99%, which can increase your balance significantly over time. 

Klarna has partnered with many popular retailers, including Sephora, Nike, GameStop, and JBL. To use Klarna, select it when you check out on merchant websites or shop via the mobile app. You can also use the app to manage your transactions and get help if needed.

The app also acts as a virtual personal shopper, showing you deals, curating wish lists, and giving you shopping tips. Plus, you can enroll in Vibe rewards for free to earn special perks like retailer gift cards just for shopping through Klarna.

Best for Students : Sezzle


Sezzle

Sezzle

Key Specs
  • Credit Limit: Starting at $50 to $200
  • Credit Check: Soft (hard for long-term financing)
  • No. of Installments: 4 (more for long-term financing)
Why We Chose It 

Sezzle is the best option for students because the app helps you build your credit and teaches you personal finance basics, which many students often need.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Use at over 34,000 stores

  • Instant approval

  • Doesn’t impact your credit

Cons
  • Low initial spending limit

  • Potential late fee

Overview

Once you pay one Sezzle order off on time or early, you’re eligible to upgrade to Sezzle Up. With Sezzle up, your payments get reported to the credit bureaus, and you may receive credit line increases.

To get started with the buy-now-pay-later service, sign up online or with the mobile app. To qualify, you must be over 18 and have the following:

  • U.S./Canada cell phone number
  • Email address
  • Credit or debit card


When you’re ready to make a purchase, select Sezzle at checkout. The provider will do a soft credit check and give you an instant decision. The company will check your eligibility each time you try to use the service. Making on-time payments increases your chances of future approval.

If you’re approved, you can pay for your purchase over four equal installments over six weeks, with the first 25% due upfront. Payments get made with your linked debit or credit card. You won’t get charged any interest.

Your initial credit limit will likely be between $50 to $200. But, as you manage that responsibly, the app may increase your purchasing power.

If your payment is late, you may get charged a fee (amount depending on where you live). Sezzle lets you change your payment date once per order for free, but additional changes cost $5.

Sezzle has also partnered with Ally to provide longer-term financing solutions. You can get pre-qualified and see your options for terms, APR, and monthly payment amounts at checkout. To finalize the loan, the provider will have to run a hard credit check.

The company also features Sezzle U, which teaches you about personal finance through blog posts and videos.

Read our full Sezzle review.

Best for Large Purchases : Affirm


Affirm

Affirm

Key Specs
  • Credit Limit: Up to $17,500
  • Credit Check: Soft to pre-qualify
  • No. of Installments: Based on purchase
Why We Chose It 

We chose Affirm as the best for large purchases because the provider lets you borrow amounts up to $17,500.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Accepted nearly everywhere

  • Variety of repayment options

  • Uses simple instead of compounding interest

Cons
  • Potentially high APR

  • Making a purchase could impact credit score

Overview

With its high credit line, Affirm helps you buy almost anything from any merchant that accepts Visa. When you’re ready to make a purchase, select the provider at checkout.

If pre-qualified, you’ll be able to see your available payment options in terms of interest rate, the number of payments, and payment amount. Your options will be based on the merchant, what you’re buying, and your credit. Once you select the best choice, you’ll get a real-time lending decision based on your credit score and payment history with Affirm. 

Pre-qualifying for a loan won’t impact your credit. However, a purchase, your payment history, the amount of credit used, and the length of time you’ve had the credit could.

Affirm typically offers terms of three, six, or 12 months. However, small loans may result in one or two-month terms, and large loans could result in up to a 48-month term. 

You may qualify for 0% interest for a set number of months. Otherwise, the APR is 10% to 30%. Fortunately, the BNPL service charges simple interest instead of compound interest, which will save you money over time.

The company doesn’t charge any fees, even if you’re late making a payment. However, late payments can still negatively impact your credit score.

You can make Affirm payments with a debit card, linked checking account, or paper check. In some cases, you may be able to pay with a credit card. You can set up autopay for the date of your choice at the time of purchase, but you may change the date later if necessary.

Read our full Affirm Review.

Final Verdict

The buy-now-pay-later market has grown exponentially, so many choices are competing for your business. However, one BNPL app stands out above the rest: PayPal Credit. PayPal Credit is accepted by millions of companies online, is easy to use, and offers six months of interest-free financing for any purchase over $99. The provider also makes online shopping fast and budget-friendly.

Compare the Best Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps

Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps Credit Check Installments Credit Limit  APR
PayPal Credit Best Overall Hard Based on purchase At least $250 23.99% variable
Splitit Best For No Credit Check No Based on purchase Based on available credit 0%
Perpay Best For Bad Credit No Based on purchase Depends on income 0%
Klarna Best For Repayment Options Depends on repayment option  Based on purchase Minimum of $300 with long-term financing option 0%–19.99%
Sezzle Best For Students Soft 4 $50-$200 initially 0%
Affirm Best For Large Purchases Soft to pre-qualify Based on purchase Up to $17,500 0%–30%

How to Choose the Best Buy-Now-Pay-Later App

When you’re evaluating buy-now-pay-later apps, keep the following criteria in mind:

  • Ease of use
  • Where it’s accepted
  • How it impacts your credit
  • The repayment options and terms
  • The interest rate

Buy-Now-Pay-Later Services vs. Credit Card

Although BNPL services and credit cards both allow you to borrow money to pay for what you want, there are some differences to consider. Credit cards typically have a high interest rate (unless you catch a promotion), but BNPL apps often offer interest-free financing. 

BNPL apps also may require you to pay off the balance in a matter of weeks, but a credit card will generally give you more time. Credit cards sometimes come with perks like cash back, but BNPL apps typically don’t.

The bottom line: A buy-now-pay-later service may be the right choice if you need to make a purchase that’s just outside of your budget but can pay it off relatively quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps Work? 

Buy-now-pay-later apps help you get what you need today while deferring payments. Typically, you’ll make a downpayment and then pay the rest over a set period. Each app’s payment terms are different, so be sure to compare your options before making a purchase.

Can Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps Help You Build Credit? 

Some BNPL apps can help you build credit, but most don’t. You’ll have to check whether the app reports your payment history to the credit bureaus, which helps improve your credit profile and score.

What Credit Score Do You Need for Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps? 

Buy-now-pay-later credit score requirements vary from app to app. Generally, the companies don’t publicly disclose the score needed. Some apps will run a credit check or verify your income before approving your purchase.

Methodology

We carefully reviewed 10 buy-now-pay-later services before naming our top picks. We considered ease of use, availability, interest rate, loan terms, and fees. We also factored in special features like personal finance education resources and whether using the app helps build your credit.