Which Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps Are Worth Your Time?

March 18, 2021 • Devin Partida


Life’s circumstances often mean people need to buy things but can’t or don’t want to pay for them immediately. Buy-now-pay-later apps cater to such situations, and the market for them is rapidly growing. Apps like Afterpay, Klarna and more let you buy something for a fraction of the cost, paying the rest off later.

In the past few years, websites like Afterpay have exploded in popularity. While this gives you plenty of options, it can also make it hard to choose between them. With such a crowded market, it can take some searching to find a payment plan app that fits your specific needs.

Here’s a look at some top buy-now-pay-later sites that are worth checking out and considering as options to get more financial flexibility. 

1. Afterpay

This company operates in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and it offers Android and iOS apps. The concept behind its service is that you can purchase goods immediately and pay for them in four monthly installments. 

You simply choose Afterpay as an option at an e-commerce store’s checkout, then get an instant decision without a credit check. There are no additional fees as long as you pay on time. Plus, users can reschedule their payments up to three times every year — giving them more freedom to pay their debts on the most convenient timeframes. 

2. Sezzle

Another popular app like Afterpay is Sezzle. More than 17,600 online retailers let shoppers make purchases today and pay for them later through this app. This choice also stands out from other buy-now-pay-later apps due to achieving a 4.8 out of 5 Trustpilot rating from more than 3,800 reviews. 

Sezzle spreads four interest-free payments out over six weeks. The app also offers an instant approval decision, and using it does not impact your credit score if you pay on time. 

3. Affirm 

Some people likely prefer if their buy-now-pay-later apps show them which stores accept that form of payment instead of waiting to get through the checkout process to find out or trying to discover the answer in advance. Affirm offers that by providing an in-app directory of participating retailers. 

Like the other companies like Sezzle, it gives you instant approval during checkout. Affirm checks your credit, but that doesn’t affect your score. However, Affirm functions differently by giving you a choice of payment schedules. You’ll then get email and text reminders to help you stay on track with paying on time.

4. Klarna

Klarna is a bank headquartered in Sweden, but its service to pay later operates elsewhere, including in the United States and some European countries. It offers a rewards program, giving it an advantage over some other buy-now-pay-later apps. Bear in mind that you must have an Android or iOS app to benefit from it.

The company’s website confirms that the service has more than 85 million users worldwide. It’s actually one of the top platforms popularity-wise. Besides letting you pay in four interest-free installments, Klarna offers a wish list feature. Add items that you want to buy at some point, then get alerts if the prices drop. 

5. Splitit

Unlike apps like Affirm, Splitit only works as a web-based application for now. It’s crucial to be aware of that since there are several smartphone apps with similar names that could steer your search in the wrong direction. The way Splitit works is different from the other buy-now-pay-later apps because it lets you buy things in segments using an existing credit card. 

It does not require a credit check, and there are no interest charges or additional fees. Once you’re checking out at an e-commerce site offering Splitit, you get a choice of installments and then enter the details associated with your Visa or Mastercard. Some merchants only let you use Splitit when paying with a credit card, while others accept debit cards from those providers too. 

6. Quadpay

As the name suggests, Quadpay is a payment plan app that lets you break payments into four parts. Every time you buy something with Quadpay, it performs a soft credit check and then splits the price into equal quarters. You’ll pay the first part at the time of checkout, and the others every two weeks.

Unlike other Klarna alternatives, Quadpay does affect your credit score. If you miss a payment deadline, it could harm your score, so make sure you can make payments on time. Thankfully, the payments are interest-free, which makes it easier to afford them.

7. ViaBill

ViaBill is another Klarna alternative in that it breaks payments into four parts and has a discount-finding feature. Payments are spread out over four months, but you can pay them earlier if you want. ViaBill doesn’t run any credit checks, but it does require some personal information like your email address, phone number and credit card number for approval.

ViaBill doesn’t work on every site, but more than 5,000 different stores support it. Some reviews say that it can be complicated for merchants to use, which is why not everyone supports it. For shoppers, though, it’s a hassle-free, easy way to take more control over your finances.

8. PayPal Pay in 4

Many of these other payment plan apps aim to be alternatives to sites like PayPal Credit, which carries high interest rates. You can still use PayPal to split payments without interest, though, thanks to a new service called Pay in 4. Like Quadpay, PayPal Pay in 4 divides your purchases into four equal payments due every two weeks.

Also like Quadpay, Pay in 4 is interest-free, but unlike Quadpay, it doesn’t affect your credit score. The first time you use the app, it will take you through a quick qualification process. Unfortunately, not all websites support Pay in 4 and it only applies to purchases between $30 and $1,500, making it fairly limited.

9. Zebit

While most top buy-now-pay-later apps work by breaking payments into even parts, Zebit works differently. This app simply gives you a loan of up to $2,500. What your down payment and payment schedule look like will vary, but you can make payments of various sizes over time. Like other apps on this list, Zebit’s loans are interest-free.

Zebit won’t check your credit score, but it does have a quick approval process based on your employment, income and related factors. Using it won’t affect your credit score either, but it can freeze your credit if you miss a payment. These stipulations, along with its smaller user and supported store base, may turn some people away.

Tips for Using Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps

Many people love the convenience of buy-now-pay-later apps, especially when buying costlier items like workout equipment or pieces of furniture. However, if you plan to use them, it’s wise to take a closer look at your budget and figure out how much you can comfortably pay back and how often. 

Some of these apps also keep a tally of how much you owe as you shop with multiple supported merchants. Consider giving yourself a limit for the amount of outstanding debt. 

The ability to pay $25 across four payments sounds a lot more manageable than parting with $100 at once. The situation becomes more complicated if you have several amounts owed to merchants around the same time and discover that your budget won’t sustain all those financial obligations, however. 

Finally, take some time to see which buy-now-pay-later apps work with where you shop most often. Most have search features via their websites, so you can review the store assortment before downloading.

It’s also worth checking the stores listed by category. Doing that might make you come across places to shop that hadn’t crossed your mind. 

Buy-Now-Pay-Later Apps Provide Modern Flexibility

Even people who take the utmost care with budgeting occasionally find that they need to buy something urgently and don’t have the money to cover it. Buy-now-pay-later apps cater to that situation while giving people other options besides going without a necessary item or charging to a credit card in one large amount. Use this overview when getting acquainted with what these apps offer and deciding if they fit your needs.