You’ve probably seen those ads for Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services. Buy Now, Pay Later ads can be found on e-commerce websites as well as in physical shops. It is quickly becoming a popular method because it only takes a few minutes to sign up and they are offering rebates to entice customers. They promise you can buy the things you want and need right now and pay for them later.
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? You’re unsure if you can trust these companies, and you’re worried about what will happen if you can’t repay your loan.
We understand your concerns. That’s why we’ve done the research for you and compiled this list of the best BNPL providers. There are pros and cons of Buy Now, Pay Later.
What Is Buy Now, Pay Later?
Buy Now, Pay Later BNPL is a popular payment option that allows shoppers to purchase items and take up to 3 months to pay for them. That tenure is just for Singapore, though. You can take up to 12 months to repay your purchases in other parts of the world using the existing BNPL platforms.
The Buy Now, Pay Later business model bears some similarities to zero-interest credit cards. The main differences, though, are:
- You don’t need a credit card with BNPL.
- The minimum age requirement for BNPL is 18, whereas you must be 21 years old to open a credit card in Singapore.
- BNPL doesn’t charge you a processing or early repayment fee.
If the total amount isn’t paid off within the agreed timeframe, you incur a late penalty fee or may even get your account suspended.
Each platform practises different charges for late payment:
- Atome Buy Now, Pay Later: $15
- Rely BNPL: Depending on your purchase, but capped at $40
- Hoolah: Starting at $15
The Buy Now, Pay Later business model also resembles the “Instalment Payment Plan” (IPP), thanks to which you can buy expensive furniture or appliances. Conversely, the Buy Now, Pay Later BNPL scheme:
- It isn’t limited to big-ticket expenses. You can use it to buy a new book.
- It doesn’t require a credit card.
- It can be used at more retailers.
Benefits of Buy Now, Pay Later Services
Compared to credit cards and other financial options, is Buy Now, Pay Later a better option? There are a few advantages of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) that you can leverage using this type of financing.
1. Big ticket items
This payment plan is ideal for big-ticket items or situations where you need to spread the cost over a longer period. For this, you can think of buying a fridge or a new washing machine. All these costs at least $1,000.
2. Additional perks and rebates
Some Buy Now, Pay Later schemes offer additional benefits to entice customers. They offer cashback or loyalty points, making this time of credit even more attractive.
3. Helps to improve your credit score
If you make your payments on time and in full, you can use BNPL to demonstrate your financial responsibility to future lenders. As you make consistent and timely repayments, it shows lenders that it is less risky to loan you money.
4. Buy large purchases without paying interest
Many BNPL providers offer promotional periods during which no interest is charged, giving you a window of time to pay off your purchase without accruing any additional costs.
5. BNPL helps to manage your cash flow
BNPL can help you stay on top of your cash flow until you’re in calmer waters. For immediate needs, you don’t have to tap into your savings.
6. 18-year-olds can apply for BNPL
Buy Now, Pay Later is available for individuals 18 and above. By comparison, you need to be at least 21 years old to have access to a credit card.
But the Buy Now, Pay Later business model isn’t devoid of drawbacks.
- BNPL can lead to impulse buying and overspending, as consumers may be more likely to make purchases they can’t afford if they don’t have to worry about paying immediately.
- Missed or late payments can result in hefty fees, further damaging one’s financial health.
- Persisting in these two scenarios above can lead to long-term debt. And that isn’t easy to get out of.
How Does Buy Now, Pay Later Work?
Buy Now, Pay Later. It’s a mantra that’s become all too familiar in recent years. And with good reason – it’s an enticing offer! But how does it work, exactly?
Here’s the gist: you find something you want to buy – let’s say, a new pair of shoes. You head to the checkout and see that the store offers Buy Now, Pay Later as a payment option. You select that option, and voila! The shoes are yours.
Of course, this does not actually mean that the pair of shoes is very expensive. It could simply be just $50.
But that’s not the end of the story.
You’ll have to pay for the shoes eventually, of course. The terms of the deal will differ depending on the BNPL platform, but typically you’ll have somewhere between two and three months to come up with the money. If you can’t pay off the balance by the due date, you’ll be charged penalty fees (which can add up quickly).
In some cases, you may also be required to set up a payment plan. For example, you can disburse your payment in four instalments every two weeks with Rely BNPL.
- Ensure you’re able to repay the total amount within the agreed timeframe.
- This service is best used for items you need but can’t afford upfront. If you’re simply looking to finance a luxury purchase, you might be better off using a standard credit card or getting a loan.
- Compare different Buy Now, Pay Later platforms to get the best deal.
How to Choose a Buy Now, Pay Later Company?
There are three Buy Now, Pay Later platforms in Singapore: Atome, Rely, and Hoolah. Here are the variables to consider when choosing one of them:
- Payment tenure: The three BNPL platforms above have a 3-month limit.
- Payment plan: Only Rely specifically offers a payment plan with instalments every two weeks.
- Late payment penalty: You must know from the get-go the quantum of your penalty fees.
- Vouchers: Discounts are a deciding factor, especially if you plan to make a large purchase. For example, Atome Buy Now, Pay Later only offers $10 off on the first purchase, while Rely goes all in with a 10% discount. However, Hoolah offers partner-specific rewards.
- List of partner merchants: Make sure your BNPL platform works with the right retailers for your needs.
Choosing an Alternative to Buy Now, Pay Later
Buy Now, Pay Later is a great way to finance large purchases without racking up debt. But it’s not for everyone – you need to be disciplined and make sure you can repay the full amount within the agreed timeframe.
There are other alternatives to financing your purchases other than BNPL. One better option would be personal loans.
While the term “loans” sound intimidating, it is actually just a legal contract between you and the lender. The loan contract protects you and the financial institution. Personal loans are usually quickly disbursed within 30 minutes and are flexible. They can be used for any reason, including your bills, the pair of shoes you want to buy, your new renovation, or a new water dispenser.
Find out more about the best personal loans here.