Affirm Buy Now, Pay Later: 2023 Review
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
Pros & Cons
- Offers zero-interest loans.
- No fees.
- Offers monthly financing.
- Some loans include credit reporting.
- May send past-due borrowers to collections.
- Doesn’t pause account after missed payment.
Compare to Other Lenders
Full Review of Affirm
Affirm offers “buy now, pay later” payment plans to shoppers. Its zero-interest, pay-in-four loan is similar to those offered by other BNPL providers. It also has longer monthly payment plans, which may charge interest.
Affirm partners with popular retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target, so you can opt in to Affirm directly at checkout. You can also download the Affirm mobile app and create a virtual card to shop anywhere Visa is accepted, online or in stores.
Affirm at a glance
Available online and in stores.
Conducts soft credit check
Minimum credit score
No late fee.
No other fees.
Option to reschedule a payment
Pauses account when payment is missed
How does Affirm work?
Affirm offers several repayment terms to choose from, including an interest-free pay-in-four and longer financing options that may charge interest. Affirm doesn’t charge any fees.
With its pay-in-four plan, Affirm divides your total purchase into four equal installments. The first installment is either due at checkout or two weeks after your purchase. The three remaining installments are automatically billed to your selected payment method every two weeks until the loan is paid off.
For example, if you have a cart totaling $100, you’ll pay $25 at checkout (or two weeks after). You’ll then make three remaining payments — each $25 — over the next six weeks.
You can use a debit card, checking account or Affirm Savings account for all Affirm purchases on Affirm.com or in the Affirm mobile app. For some purchases, you can pay by credit card.
Affirm also provides longer payment plans ranging from three to 60 months. These plans charge an annual percentage rate (APR) of 0% to 36%, and payments are due monthly, with the first payment due one month after your purchase is processed. You may have to make an initial payment at checkout if you don’t qualify for the full loan amount.
Affirm will display all available repayment terms when you check out, and terms vary by merchant, purchase amount and your current credit profile. Though a longer term means lower monthly payments, you’ll pay more in interest.
For example, if you took out a $500 loan with a 15% APR, here's how your monthly payment and interest would change, based on Affirm’s most common repayment terms.
Is Affirm a good idea?
Whether you should use Affirm depends on your specific financial situation. Weigh the pros and cons below to decide if it’s the right fit for you.
Where Affirm stands out
Zero-interest loans: Affirm’s pay-in-four plan comes with no interest, which is standard among BNPL providers. But Affirm may also extend 0% financing for its longer loans, which not all BNPL providers do. This means you could potentially break up a sizable purchase for no additional cost.
No fees: Affirm never charges fees, even if you miss a payment. Many BNPL providers charge a fee for late payments, and others may charge a service fee, installment fee or convenience fee.
Wide range of loan amounts and repayment terms: Among BNPL providers, Affirm offers some of the most flexible payment options available. Shoppers can choose from a wide range of loan amounts — up to $25,000 — and terms up to five years. If you can’t qualify for traditional credit, this may be one way to pay for a larger purchase over a longer period of time.
May be able to build credit: Affirm reports payment history to Experian for some larger loans that have multimonth terms, but it isn’t guaranteed. If building credit is a priority for you, it’s best to go with a financing option where payments are always reported, like a personal loan or credit card. (See more on alternatives below.)
Where Affirm falls short
May send borrowers to collections: Unlike some BNPL providers, Affirm may send borrowers to collections if they're more than 120 days delinquent on a payment. Although it’s still unclear how BNPL debt is incorporated into credit reports, collection activity generally hurts your score.
Doesn’t pause account after missed payment: Affirm doesn’t pause your account after you miss a payment, which other providers do. This feature acts as a built-in protection for users, so you don’t overextend yourself. However, Affirm takes any outstanding payments into account when approving you for additional Affirm loans.
What to know about 'buy now, pay later'
You can now use “buy now, pay later” to check out at most retailers. The type of payment plan — and whether it charges interest or fees — depends on the BNPL provider, so it’s important to pay close attention to the loan terms you’re offered at checkout.
For some users, BNPL is a smart way to break up a purchase, especially if you get a zero-interest offer and are positive you can afford the installments. Getting approved may also be easier compared with credit cards or loans because there’s no minimum credit score requirement.
But BNPL is still a form of debt, and there are risks. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a study in September 2022 raising concerns about inconsistent consumer protections, the ease of debt accumulation and overspending, and data harvesting and monetization. Another CFPB study from March 2023 identified BNPL users as more likely to show signs of financial distress.
NerdWallet recommends using BNPL only for necessary expenses. Though BNPL can be a convenient and low-cost payment option, you’re still taking on debt, and it’s rarely a good idea to go into debt for a nonessential purchase.
How to get approved for Affirm
To be eligible for Affirm, you need to be at least 18 years old and a U.S. resident. You also must have a Social Security number and a U.S.-registered phone number that receives texts.
When deciding whether to approve you, Affirm will consider your credit score, as well as any prior payment history with Affirm (including loans you may have outstanding) and how long you’ve had an Affirm account. Affirm also looks at your credit utilization, income, existing debt and any recent bankruptcies.
Each application with Affirm is assessed separately, so you may be approved for a loan at one store but denied at another. If you aren’t approved, you’ll receive an email explaining why.
Does Affirm check credit?
Affirm checks your credit with a soft credit pull, which doesn’t hurt your credit score. Though there’s no minimum requirement, Affirm considers your credit score as part of your application.
How does Affirm compare?
Affirm promises no interest and no fees for its pay-in-four plan, making it similar to BNPL providers like PayPal and Apple. However, PayPal charges interest for monthly financing, which Affirm may not, and Apple doesn’t offer monthly financing at all.
Apple Pay Later
» COMPARE: The best buy now, pay later apps
How to get Affirm
Download the Affirm app or Affirm Chrome extension
You can download the Affirm mobile app to create an account and see what type of loan you may be eligible for by pre-qualifying (also known as checking your purchase power). Pre-qualifying isn’t the same thing as getting approved for a loan, but it gives you an idea of how much you can borrow with Affirm.
Affirm also offers a Chrome extension, which lets you use Affirm when shopping online in your Chrome browser.
Shop with Affirm online and in stores
Some retailers have Affirm directly integrated into their online checkout, which means when you go to pay, you can apply and opt in to an Affirm plan without leaving the retailer’s website.
If you want to shop in person with Affirm, you can apply for a one-time virtual card in the mobile app. Once approved, you can save this card to your mobile wallet and use it to check out at a physical store (or online, too).
Alternatives to Affirm
If you have good or excellent credit (690 credit score or higher), you may consider a 0% APR credit card. These cards offer introductory periods of up to 21 months and charge no interest during that period. You may also receive a sign-up bonus or access to a rewards program.
If you’re looking to fund a large, essential purchase, you could apply for a personal loan. Personal loans have fixed interest rates and longer repayment terms, and there are options for borrowers with fair or bad credit (689 credit score or lower).
You can pre-qualify with NerdWallet below to see your loan options. Pre-qualifying doesn’t affect your credit score.
NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates “buy now, pay later” loan products from the top financial technology providers. We collect over 40 data points from each lender, verify the information with company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar BNPL product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.
Our star ratings award points to BNPL providers that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, zero interest and minimal fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service and built-in borrower protections. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.
This methodology applies to classic BNPL loans, which divide payment into four equal installments, typically due over six weeks. Some providers offer other loan products with longer terms, which is factored into the rating process. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for buy now, pay later and our editorial guidelines.