What Are the Best Buy Now Pay Later Apps of 2023?

Businessmen holding a smartphone with icons of  BNPL with online shopping icons technology.
Khaosai Wongnatthakan / Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you shop online, you may have noticed an increase in the number of new payment options available. Recent economic conditions, including inflation and the bear market, have consumers looking for more ways to save money on the things they need and want. People are rethinking how they manage their finances in the current economy.

Read: How To Get Cash Back on Your Everyday Purchases

6 Best Buy Now, Pay Later Apps

Buy Now, Pay Later is not an in-store only option anymore, as it has entered the online shopping scene. As financial uncertainty continues to burden consumers, retailers are offering buy now, pay later apps, or BNPL, more often. Whether you’re making small, medium or large purchases, buy now, pay later apps make it easier for you to get what you need now and pay for it in the future. 

Here’s a look at six popular buy now, pay later services available to shoppers:

  1. Affirm: Best for longer repayment options
  2. Afterpay: Best for flexibility 
  3. Klarna: Best for earning rewards 
  4. PayPal Pay in 4: Best for larger purchases 
  5. Splitit: Best for using existing credit 
  6. Zip: Best store availability 

1. Affirm

  • Fees: No fees
  • Interest rates: None
  • Payment terms: 4 payments with no interest, every two weeks
  • Where to learn more: Affirm website
  • Where to download the app: Google Play or the App Store

To create an account with Affirm, you must provide your mobile number and additional personal information, including your name, email address and birthdate. Affirm carries the advantage of reducing your risk of missed payments by sending you text and email reminders before your payments are due.

Make Your Money Work for You

If you choose financing on the three-month payment schedule, you pay no interest. Choosing the six-month or 12-month schedule, you will pay an annual percentage rate of up to 36%. Affirm’s interest rates will never change from your initial agreement. When you prequalify for an Affirm account, you know your exact purchase ceiling, although you do not have to use the full amount.

2. Afterpay

  • Fees: 4 installment plan is interest-free
    • Capped at 25% of purchase price for orders $40 or less
    • On orders $40 and up, there is a $10 partial late fee and partial late fee of $7 if the payment is unpaid after seven days
    • This method of charges for late payments will continue until the 25% cap is reached.
    • The maximum total late fees are $68.
  • Interest rates: No interest rates
  • Payment terms: Pay in four installments due every two weeks, interest-free; or choose 6 or 12 months
  • Where to learn more: Afterpay website
  • Where to download the app: Google Play or the App Store

When you use Afterpay, you must make your first payment at the time of purchase, and you pay the rest in four installements every two weeks, over the course of six weeks. Your spending limit gradually increases over time, as long as you stay within your allowed budget and make your payments as scheduled.

You also have the option of changing your payment date on the Afterpay website or mobile app by taking the following simple steps:

  1. Choose the order for which you want to change your payment date.
  2. Select a new date.
  3. Confirm your new date selection.

Afterpay has a hardship policy for customers who have trouble making repayments. If your circumstances change, you can choose to continue with your current payment history or work with Afterpay to revise your plan to fit your current financial needs to not impact your credit score or harm your credit history.

Make Your Money Work for You

3. Klarna

  • Fees: Varies, depending on payment plan
  • Interest rates: No interest with “Pay in 4” paid in four installments every two weeks or in 30 days; if financing, between 7.99% to 33.99% APR between 6 to 36 months
  • Payment terms: Pay in four installments due every two weeks; 30-day and six- to 36-month terms also available
  • Where to learn more: Klarna website
  • Where to download the app: Google Play or the App Store

The Klarna app tailors your shopping experience to your preferences, whether online or in stores. You can join Klarna’s rewards club to unlock special deals. Membership is free, and you can earn one point for every dollar you spend. Points can be redeemed for rewards from participating retailers.

Klarna has several flexible payment options:

  • Split your payments into four installments every two weeks.
  • Pay in full within 30 days.
  • For larger purchases, get six-month to 36-month financing through Klarna’s bank partner, WebBank.

4. PayPal Pay in 4

  • Fees: Varies depending on state
  • Interest rates: No interest for Pay in 4; up to 29.99% APY on six- to 24-month financing
  • Payment terms: Down payment at the time of purchase; three remaining installments every two weeks
  • Where to learn more: PayPal website
  • Where to download the app: Google Play or the App Store

PayPal is already a trusted name in online shopping, and its Pay in 4 feature allows you to pay for purchases in four total installments. Just like with Afterpay, you make a down payment at the time of purchase, and the remaining purchase price is split into three payments that are due every two weeks. Your purchases must be between $30 and $1,500, and you can pay directly through your PayPal wallet.

Make Your Money Work for You

Pay in 4 is currently not available in all states. The late fees assessed also vary by state, so you should check the terms such as interest charges or due dates in your agreement closely when you choose this option at checkout.

5. Splitit

  • Fees: No fees
  • Interest rates: No interest rates
  • Payment terms: Pay in three, four, six or up to 24 installments
  • Where to learn more: Splitit website
  • Where to download the app: N/A

With Splitit, you use your existing credit card to pay in smaller installments. You don’t even have to apply to use this BNPL service, and there are no fees or interest.

Since you use your existing credit, you continue to earn any points and rewards associated with your credit card. Even using your credit card, your credit score is never affected with Splitit.

6. Zip

  • Fees: Between $4 to $6–there is a finance charge for each installement; $7 late fee
  • Interest rates: No interest rates
  • Payment terms: Pay in four installments due every two weeks
  • Where to learn more: Zip website
  • Where to download the app :Google Play or the App Store

Formerly QuadPay, Zip allows you to pay most purchases in four installments over six weeks. Many buy now, pay later apps are limited to participating retailers. What makes Zip a standout is its flexibility. You can use it to pay bills, shop in-store or online wherever Visa is accepted.

Zip charges a $4 to $6 installment fee — $1.50 must be paid with the initial installment and the remaining $4.50 is divided between future payments. There’s a minimum purchase of $35 required.

Make Your Money Work for You

How Buy Now, Pay Later Apps and Services Work

Buy now, pay later appsare similar to the old layaway system of shopping. The difference is that with layaway, shoppers had to make installment payments before taking possession of the items and operate with little less customer service assistance. With BNPL, you can own the items upfront and then make flexible installment payments over time.

Most BNPL services typically work the same way:

  1. Shop online or in-store at participating retailers or directly in the BNPL app.
  2. Click an available BNPL link to apply for flexible payments and provide the requested personal information.
  3. If you are eligible and approved, select the BNPL payment option at checkout.
  4. Choose and agree to your payment schedule and interest rate, if applicable.
  5. Confirm your purchase.
  6. Make your payments directly to the BNPL company according to your agreed-upon payment schedule until the purchase is completely paid for.

Who Should and Shouldn’t Use BNPL Apps

Millennial and Gen X shoppers are the two largest demographics using BNPL apps. Already strapped with student loan debt, murky reports from the credit bureaus and longer-term savings issues, many consumers have found BNPL apps to be the perfect tool to increase their spending power without going further into debt. Here are some key takeaways:

  • BNPL can make it too easy to overspend, pass your credit limit and end up paying interest and fees. 
  • You should only use a buy now, pay later service if you absolutely must, and be careful to make your payments on time.
  • Don’t use BNPL if you don’t have enough money in your account to pay off the loan.
  • Avoid BNPL if you don’t have guaranteed income.
Make Your Money Work for You

Alternatives to Buy Now, Pay Later 

Although BNPL apps could come in handy if you’re in a cash crunch, the small fees could add up. There are alternatives to buy now, pay later apps you could consider:

  • Layaway: As mentioned already, some stores offer layaway on purchases. However, you won’t be able to take the goods until you pay for the items in full.
  • Credit cards: A credit card is similar to a BNPL app. Pay for items and decide how many installments you’d like to make. Before you decide which to apply for, evaluate the fees and finance charges to find the least expensive option.

Final Take To GO

Buy now, pay later apps are a great way to stretch out the repayment of your purchases. In most cases, you can pay for the items in four to six installments for a small fee. The six BNPL apps reviewed here are among the most popular; compare them to decide which one is best for you.

Kathy Evans contributed to the reporting for this article.


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