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 supports at least one BNPL option.

The best BNPL 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 2022

Best Overall : PayPal Credit


PayPal Credit

PayPal Credit

  • Credit line: Starts at $250
  • Interest rate: 0% for 6 months, 23.99% (variable) after that
  • Repayment term: Depends on purchase amount
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. 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, negatively impacting 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 BNPL 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.

Read our full PayPayl Credit review.

Best for No Credit Check : Splitit


Splitit

Splitit

  • Credit line: Varies based on your credit profile
  • Interest rate: 0%
  • Repayment term: Determined at checkout
Why We Chose It 

Splitit doesn’t run any credit checks and works instead with your existing Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and Union Pay 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

  • Your credit card may charge interest on payments

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, Mastercard, Discover, or Union Pay credit card. 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.

Read our full Splitit review.

Best for Bad Credit : Perpay


Perpay

Perpay

  • Credit line: Not specified
  • Interest rate: 0%
  • Repayment term: Not specified
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 $200 order to build credit


Overview

Perpay can help you build your credit if you successfully pay off a $200+ 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, biweekly, monthly, etc.). Each time you get paid, an installment will automatically get sent from your wages to the BNPL service.

If desired, you can make extra payments with a card or personal bank account. 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 a mobile phone
  • Have an active mobile phone and a minimum annual income of $15,000

While the BNPL 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

  • Credit line: Not specified
  • Interest rate: Up to 19.99%
  • Repayment term: Up to 36 months
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 up to 36 months.

The pay in four installments option feels like many BNPL 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.

The pay in 30 days 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.

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 soft 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, 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.

Read our full Klarna review.

Best for Students : Sezzle


Sezzle

Sezzle

  • Credit line: Not specified
  • Interest rate: 0%
  • Repayment term: Determined at checkout
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 44,000 stores

  • Instant approval

  • Doesn’t impact your credit

Cons
  • No spending limits disclosed

  • 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 BNPL 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.

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 a blog that teaches you about personal finance through posts and videos.

Read our full Sezzle review.

Best for Large Purchases : Affirm


Affirm

Affirm

  • Credit line: $50 to 17,500
  • Interest rate: 0% to 30%
  • Repayment term: 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 may be up 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.

Final Verdict

The BNPL 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 0% for 6 months, 23.99% (variable) after that
Splitit
Best For No Credit Check
No Determined at checkout Based on available credit 0%
Perpay
Best For Bad Credit
No Based on purchase Not specified 0%
Klarna
Best For Repayment Options
Depends on repayment option  Based on repayment method Based on available credit decision data in real-time 0%–19.99%
Sezzle
Best For Students
Soft 4 Based on available credit decision data in real-time 0%
Affirm
Best For Large Purchases
Soft to pre-qualify Based on purchase $50-$17,500 0%–30%

How to Choose the Best Buy Now, Pay Later App

When you’re evaluating BNPL 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 BNPL 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?

BNPL apps help you get what you need today while deferring payments. Typically, you’ll make a down payment 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.

Do Buy Now, Pay Later Apps Charge Interest?

Some BNPL apps may charge interest, while others may offer a 0% rate. Whether a BNPL app charges interest depends on the company you choose. For instance, you might pay interest with Klarna but not with Sezzle. Compare options to find an app that's suitable for your situation.

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.

If you're interested in using a BNPL app to help build credit, Perpay+ might be worth considering. It reports to the major credit bureaus after you make four on-time payments.

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

BNPL credit score requirements vary from app to app. Generally, the companies don’t publicly disclose the score needed. Some apps will run a soft credit check, which has no impact on your credit score. Others will run a hard credit check or verify your income before approving your purchase; hard credit checks can cause your credit score to dip slightly.

How We Chose the Best Buy Now, Pay Later Apps

To come up with our list of the best BNPL apps, we carefully reviewed 10 BNPL services. We considered several factors, including 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. After evaluating these criteria, we narrowed down our list to the top six companies.