What you need to know about buy now, pay later plans

Consumer Reports shares what they’ve learned about the plans

If you’ve shopped online, you might have noticed a new option when you get to the checkout page: buy now, pay later.

The offer sounds enticing, but there are a few things you need to know before you choose to proceed with the plan.

Javier Chairez bought some golf gear last year and paid for it using a buy now, pay later plan with a company called Affirm.

There was just one problem.

“The retailer claimed that I received it. I didn’t. So I started making phone calls,” Chairez said.

After contacting Affirm and explaining the problem, Javier was surprised to learn that he was still on the hook for the weekly payments.

“I said, you know, I’m not going to pay for this. I don’t have the merchandise. And I called Affirm, and I said, ‘look, I don’t think it’s fair. Everybody has a recourse, except the consumer. I’m hung out to dry,” Chairez said.

In a statement, Affirm told Consumer Reports, “We do our best to support all Affirm consumers throughout their purchasing journey, including assisting with return and refund issues as they arise.”

But Javier isn’t alone.

According to a CR survey, 28 percent of people who used a buy now, pay later service reported having at least one problem, including being overcharged and having difficulties returning products or getting refunds.

While no-interest loans can be enticing, CR said a low or no-interest credit card might be a better option.

“Credit cards give you better protections on purchases that are damaged on delivery or never received at all,” Lisa Gill with Consumer Reports said.

For buy now, pay later users – don’t overextend yourself. CR said to try not to have more than one or two loans open at a time.

“It’s also a good idea to stick with just one provider, so you’re not forced to juggle multiple loans with multiple vendors,” Gill said.

If you can’t pay on time, notify the company ahead of time because you may be able to reschedule a payment.

About the Authors

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.

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