The Top Buy Now, Pay Later Apps for 2024

These popular buy now, pay later apps will split your purchase into equal installments, usually with no interest.
Jackie Veling
By Jackie Veling 
Updated
Edited by Kim Lowe

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Buy now, pay later” is a type of payment plan that can be used at most retailers to divide the cost of your purchase into a series of smaller, equal installments.

Known as BNPL for short, these plans often come with no interest and minimal fees. You can use them to shop online or in stores, depending on the app.

Here are seven of the top BNPL apps, plus alternatives to consider.

Affirm

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

Affirm offers a wide range of BNPL plans to choose from, including a pay-in-four plan and monthly payment plans. It partners with major retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Expedia. Affirm charges zero fees.

Payment plans

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay monthly, with terms of three to 60 months.

Interest

  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 0%-36% for monthly financing.

Fees

  • No fees.

How to get approved for Affirm

Affirm may perform a soft credit check, which doesn’t hurt your credit. It may also consider prior payment history with Affirm, how long you’ve had an Affirm account, any outstanding Affirm loans, your credit utilization, current debts and income, and any bankruptcies.

Afterpay

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

Afterpay offers a pay-in-four plan and two monthly payment plans. It partners with retailers like Old Navy, Nordstrom and Gap. If you pay on time, there are no fees for using Afterpay. If you miss a payment, it charges an $8 late fee.

Payment plans

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay monthly, with terms of six or 12 months, for online purchases over $400.

Interest

  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 6.99%-35.99% for monthly financing.

Fees

  • Late fee: Up to $8.

How to get approved for Afterpay

Afterpay may perform a soft credit check, which doesn’t hurt your credit score. As part of its approval process, Afterpay may also consider whether there are sufficient funds on your debit or credit card, how long you’ve been using Afterpay, the purchase price and whether you have other outstanding loans with Afterpay.

Apple Pay Later

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

Apple offers a pay-in-four plan that’s available on purchases up to $1,000 at any merchant that accepts Apple Pay online or in-app. Eligible users can apply for Apple Pay Later in the Apple Wallet mobile app. Apple Pay Later comes with no fees.

Payment plan

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

Interest

  • No interest.

Fees

  • No fees.

How to get approved for Apple Pay Later

Apple may conduct a soft credit check as part of its application. There is no minimum credit score requirement, but the company says users with a 610 FICO score or lower may have a harder time getting approved. Approval is based on your credit report, details about your purchase and any previous payment history you have with Apple Pay Later.

Klarna

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

Klarna offers a pay-in-four plan, a pay-in-30 plan and monthly financing. Klarna is available at retailers like Macy’s, Etsy and Sephora. It charges a late fee for missed payments and an undisclosed service fee if you use a one-time virtual card at a store that doesn’t partner with Klarna.

Payment plans

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay in full in 30 days.

  • Pay monthly, with terms up to 24 months.

Interest

  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 0% for pay in full in 30 days.

  • 0%-33.99% for monthly financing.

Fees

  • Late fee: Up to $7.

  • May charge a service fee when you use a one-time card at a nonpartner retailer.

How to get approved for Klarna

Klarna may conduct a soft credit check. According to the company, consider information supplied by the credit bureaus, including if you’ve made on-time payments for other credit products and other debts you may hold.

PayPal

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

PayPal offers a pay-in-four plan and monthly financing that’s available for online purchases. It partners with retailers like Apple, Home Depot and Best Buy. PayPal doesn’t charge fees.

Payment plans

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay monthly, with terms of six, 12 or 24 months, for online purchases of $199 or more.

Interest

  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 9.99%-35.99% for monthly financing.

Fees

  • No fees.

How to get approved for PayPal

PayPal may conduct a soft credit check. Approval is based on a few factors, like your account history with PayPal and information provided by the credit bureaus.

Sezzle

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

Sezzle offers a pay-in-four plan, a pay-in-two plan and monthly financing. You can use Sezzle's mobile app to shop at retailers like Target, Lowe’s and PetSmart. Sezzle charges numerous fees: a late fee if you miss a payment, a convenience fee for paying by debit or credit card (after your first installment), a rescheduling fee if you change a payment date more than once per order and a failed payment fee if Sezzle can’t acquire payment.

Payment plans

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay in two installments, due two weeks apart.

  • Pay monthly, with terms of three to 48 months.

Interest

  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 0% for pay-in-two.

  • 5.99%-34.99% for monthly financing, though 0% offers may be available.

Fees

  • Late fee: Up to $15.

  • Convenience fee: Up to $2.50.

  • Payment rescheduling fee: Up to $7.50.

  • Failed payment fee: $5.

How to get approved for Sezzle

Sezzle may conduct a soft credit check, which will not affect your credit score. It will consider any prior history with Sezzle when determining your spending limit, as well as information from the soft credit check.

Zip

3.5

NerdWallet rating 

Zip’s pay-in-four plan is available anywhere Visa is accepted. It also partners directly with stores like Shein, Best Buy and Fashion Nova. Zip charges an installment fee for using its pay-in-four plan, a late fee if you miss a payment and a rescheduling fee if you reschedule a payment more than once per calendar month.

Payment plan

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

Interest

  • No interest.

Fees

  • Installment fee: Up to $7.50.

  • Late fee: $5, $7 or $10.

  • Payment rescheduling fee: $2.

How to get approved for Zip

Zip may perform a soft credit check. Beyond that, the company doesn't publicly share how it approves customers, though it says it uses machine learning, which takes into account numerous factors.

Compare buy now, pay later apps

Interest

Terms

Fees

Affirm
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  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 0%-36% for monthly financing.

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay monthly, with terms of three to 60 months.

  • No fees.

Afterpay
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  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 6.99%-35.99% for monthly financing.

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay monthly, with terms of six or 12 months, for online purchases over $400.

  • Late fee: Up to $8.

Apple Pay Later
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  • 0%.

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • No fees.

Klarna
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  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 0% for pay in full in 30 days.

  • 0%-33.99% for monthly financing.

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay in full in 30 days.

  • Pay monthly, with terms up to 24 months.

  • Late fee: Up to $7.

  • May charge a service fee when you use a one-time card at a nonpartner retailer.

PayPal
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  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 9.99%-35.99% for monthly financing.

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay monthly, with terms of six, 12 or 24 months, for online purchases of $199 or more.

  • No fees.

Sezzle
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  • 0% for pay-in-four.

  • 0% for pay-in-two.

  • 5.99%-34.99% for monthly financing.

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Pay in two installments, due two weeks apart.

  • Pay monthly, with terms of three to 48 months.

  • Late fee: Up to $15.

  • Convenience fee: Up to $2.50.

  • Payment rescheduling fee: Up to $7.50.

  • Failed payment fee: $5.

Zip
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  • 0%.

  • Pay in four installments, due every two weeks.

  • Installment fee: Up to $7.50.

  • Late fee: $5, $7 or $10.

  • Payment rescheduling fee: $2.

Should you use a buy now, pay later app?

NerdWallet recommends paying for nonessential purchases with cash whenever possible. Though BNPL may seem like a convenient payment option, it’s still a form of debt.

Consider these pros and cons when deciding whether to apply for a pay-later offer.

Pros

No interest financing: Most BNPL apps charge zero interest for their pay-in-four loans. That means if you make all payments on time, you use the service for free. It’s rare to be able to finance a purchase, especially a bigger ticket item like a computer, at zero interest.

No hard credit check: Unlike applying for a credit card or loan, BNPL apps won’t usually conduct a hard credit pull, which can temporarily lower your score. Also, if you’re worried about a low credit score, you may have an easier time getting approved by a BNPL app than a traditional lender.

Simple, convenient and fast financing option: BNPL apps pride themselves on the simplicity and ease of their payment plans. Often integrated directly into the checkout process, applications are short and approval decisions are instantaneous, so you can opt into a BNPL payment plan within minutes.

Cons

Could encourage overspending: BNPL plans can make it feel like you’re spending less than you are. For example, if your budget for a purchase is $100 and you opt into a pay-in-four plan, you’ll only pay $25 upfront. For some shoppers, it may be tempting to go back and fill up their cart with more items.

Likely won’t be able to build credit: Most BNPL companies don't regularly report on-time payments to the three main credit bureaus, so you won’t be able to build credit by using these plans. However, they may send past-due accounts to collections, which can hurt your credit score.

Fees: Though some BNPL apps won’t charge any fees, many do — especially if you miss a payment. Fees can range from $1 to $15, represent a significant percentage of the total and increase the cost of your purchase.

Customer service issues: Some BNPL users may have trouble settling disputes. For example, if you buy an item you need to return, you must deal directly with the store, even though your loan is through the BNPL lender. This can delay your refund.


Did you know?

On May 22, 2024, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued an interpretive rule stating that BNPL lenders are considered credit card providers

. This gives shoppers additional protections, including the right to receive a refund after making a return and the right to dispute charges. The ruling is expected to go into effect two months after it was issued.


How to get a BNPL app

If you want to shop with BNPL, there are two main ways to access these payment plans.

Download the provider’s mobile app

You can download a BNPL mobile app to your phone from either Apple or Google Play app stores. Once you have the app, you’ll create an account, and you may receive an initial spending limit, often known as “purchasing power” or “spending power.” You can shop online directly from the app, or if you want to shop in-store, you can create a one-time virtual card which you can save to your phone’s mobile wallet and scan at the register.

Shop online at a partner store

Some stores offer BNPL payment plans during online checkout. When you go to pay, you’ll see an option to divide your purchase into smaller installments with a BNPL provider like Affirm or Afterpay. You’ll need to log into your account or create an account by filling out a short application. You’ll receive an instant approval decision.

Alternatives to buy now, pay later

Though buy now, pay later can provide a simple and convenient way to cover a purchase, it doesn’t offer the same perks as other financing methods. You may want to consider these alternatives.

0% interest credit card: If you have good or excellent credit (a credit score of 690 or above), you could qualify for a 0% APR credit card, which charges zero interest during the card’s introductory period — usually 15 to 21 months. Credit card companies will report payments to the bureaus, which may help build your credit. You may also receive a sign-up bonus or access to a rewards program.

Small personal loan: If you want a longer repayment period, a small personal loan could be a smart choice. Loans are available for borrowers across the credit spectrum, and like credit cards, you can show a history of on-time payments to the bureaus. You’ll pay interest on a personal loan, but with longer terms, the monthly payment may fit more comfortably in your budget.

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