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‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Is the New Normal for Online Shoppers

In a survey of e-commerce shoppers, 80% of respondents say they’ve tried pay-later options in the last year, and almost half do it weekly — or more. Instant gratification lives on.

By Eric Griffith

There’s a great bit in the Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon where a kid tells the long-missing dragon Sisudatu that she doesn’t have to pay for things now-because of credit! So, disguised as a human, the dragon blunders off to a village bazaar and pilfers everything she wants, chanting to all: “Don’t worry…credit!”

The opposite is happening en masse in real life, as vendors such as Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and many others are offering buyers instant “credit” in the form of BNPL: buy now, pay later. Retailers want people to buy with this new form of layaway-where you get the product right away and pay it off in multiple installments-because of fees that make them money.

Amazon instituted the option(Opens in a new window) to buy anything that’s over $50 using BNPL via third-party finance company Affirm last year. Amazon has offered financing even longer for PCs and PC parts.

BNPL has grown thanks to the pandemic and because of people with extensive loans (former students) trying not to take on more long-term debt. Still, using BNPL could impact your credit, but that’s not stopping people from trying it.

In a new survey of 1,000 online shoppers, 700 of whom had used BNPL services, ConsumerAffairs.com found that 60% of people are feeling pretty great about BNPL options, especially the older crowd. Baby boomers (ages 57 to 75) have been using BNPL since before it was cool—well over a year.

PayPal is the most common BNPL app, despite it coming late to the BNPL party. It’s ahead of Amazon, followed by the services including Afterpay, Klarna, and Affirm.

Using BNPL isn’t about a buyer’s economic status. The survey shows that it isn’t those with the lowest income using it the most. Those folks tend to buy-now-pay-later every few months, but higher-income buyers are using it more often. Across all economic demos, 44% say they’re using it weekly or more.

Why? Inflation, according to 63% of respondents. They don’t seem to mind the fees that come with it, and 84% admit they have accumulated some extra BNPL costs. People in the Gen Z category seem to really be building up the debt load, reporting an average of $483 from the use of BNPL services.

The average BNPL item costs $422. Of recent purchases, those surveyed had used the option to buy electronics, health and personal care items, and home/garden equipment. For those 300 respondents who had never used BNPL services, 34% said they say they’d probably do it to get a major appliance.

BNPL is not going away. You can see below the items people want to have more BNPL options for in the future, such as health care, plane tickets, and groceries.

Consumers are looking at the option as a major upside, with the convenience and relatively low-interest rates. And almost anyone can do it, regardless of bad credit. Just keep an eye on those fees. Check out more tidbits in the full report at ConsumerAffairs.

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

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