Editorial Review

Affirm Personal Loans: 2019 Review

Affirm is a point-of-sale payment option for those new to credit and for large, one-time purchases.

Steve NicastroAugust 15, 2019

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Our Take

The Bottom Line: Affirm provides no-fee loans for one-time purchases if you can't use a credit card or pay with cash.

Affirm

Affirm

Min. Credit Score

None

Loan Amount

$0-$17,500

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • No fees.

  • Soft credit check.

  • Fast funding.

Cons
  • High rates.

  • Available at select retailers.

Full Review

Affirm is part of a wave of companies that offer “point-of-sale” financing, which means you will run across it when you are ready to buy something from a retailer. Affirm offers financing for Walmart, furniture store Wayfair, mattress store Casper, travel site Expedia, and more than 2,000 other retailers.

How to qualify: The company says it has no minimum credit score or credit history requirements.

Soft credit check: Affirm runs a real-time, soft inquiry of your credit and decides whether or not to approve you for a loan amount that matches the price of the item you're buying.

“We also consider things like payment history, how much credit [the borrower] has used, and how long they've had credit. If our underwriting model assesses that a customer is overextended, we will not lend them money," says Taylor Law, communications associate at Affirm.

In some cases, the company may ask to scan your bank transactions to check your financial behavior or ask for a deposit, similar to a down payment, before giving you a loan.

Impact to your credit: Creating an Affirm account, pre-qualifying and applying for a loan will not affect your credit score. However, proceeding with an Affirm loan may impact your score, since the company reports most of its loans and payments to the credit bureau Experian. Each Affirm loan you get shows up as a separate loan on your credit report.

Costs: Affirm's annual percentage rates range from 0% to 30%, and it does not charge origination or other fees.

Loan example: Affirm says the average customer takes a $750 loan and pays it back in nine months at 18% APR. That translates into a monthly payment of $90 and a total payment of $807. You can see different payment scenarios using Affirm’s APR calculator.

Customer service: Affirm has an in-house customer service team, says it tracks customer service response times and tries to ensure it resolves customer requests the first time they contact the company.

Is Affirm right for you?

Loans from Affirm are convenient when you need to make a big purchase, as long as you have room in your budget to pay it off. It’s not a good idea for an impulse buy or something you know you can save up for.

Affirm may be a good option if you: 

Must make an immediate purchase but don’t have money saved or a credit card. Affirm gives borrowers short-term personal loans for one-time purchases such as a mattress, furniture or plane tickets.

Have a credit card but your credit limit is lower than the cost of the purchase. Taking an Affirm loan is better than maxing out your credit card, which could lower your credit score.

Are new to credit and can't qualify for a credit card. If you’re new to credit or don’t have a high credit score, you may still qualify for an Affirm loan, but your rate could be at the higher end.

Affirm is not a good idea if you: 

Can save up. Paying upfront with money you have is cheaper than taking a loan with interest.

Can use a credit card that you pay off in full. If you can pay your balance in full by the next due date, then charging the purchase doesn’t cost any interest. Credit cards offer other perks, such as travel and cash-back rewards or purchase protection for the items you buy.

Pay only the minimum on your credit cards. A loan with Affirm also carries interest, and if you don’t have enough money to pay off your credit card balance, it’s not a good idea to take on more debt.

How Affirm compares

Affirm loans are often compared with credit cards, but it’s better to compare them with other personal loans, which also have fixed rates and terms.

Klarna is another point-of-sale financing company that offers a line of credit. Uplift gives travel loans through various airline websites.

Affirm loan

Used for

Loans through retailers

Line of credit with online merchants

Any purpose (debt consolidation, large purchases, medical expenses)

Loan amounts

Up to $17,500

Minimum of $300 for "slice it" option

Between $1,000 and $50,000

APR range

0% - 30%

19.99%

6% - 36%

Loan duration

3, 6, 12, 24 or 36 months (longer terms available at some retailers)

Minimum of six months

2 to 5 years

Time to funding

Immediate

Immediate

Up to a week

Fees

None

Late fee

Origination fee, late fee

Credit check

Soft check

Soft check

Soft check, followed by hard check

How to apply for an Affirm loan

There are two ways to get an Affirm loan:

  1. Select Affirm at checkout at a partnering retailer, either online or using the app at a store’s checkout terminal, and sign up by providing information such as your phone number, name, Social Security number and email address. Affirm will perform a credit check, and if you are approved, show you loan offers. Select the one you want, set up automatic payments from your bank and complete the purchase. The whole process takes a few minutes.

  2. Apply for an Affirm loan by downloading the Affirm app or signing up through its website. If you’re approved, you’ll receive a one-time-use credit card that you can use to pay at a retailer, either in store or online. You will still have to pay interest on the loan.

Check rates from online lenders

NerdWallet recommends comparing loans to find the best rate for you. Click the button below to pre-qualify and receive a personalized rate from multiple lenders that partner with NerdWallet.

Personal Loans Rating Methodology

NerdWallet's ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus, and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.