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If you want to make a big purchase and then pay it off with multiple smaller installments, then an app where you can buy now before paying later might just be what you need. You can find lots of them available on the market, but there are six, in particular, you should consider as the most suitable options.

Each one of the six reviewed here stands out against its competitors for distinct reasons.

Advantages These Apps

These apps have gotten really popular since they help consumers take their time paying off purchases. Depending on which one you choose, you might find several advantages:

  • Use them online or in brick-and-mortar stores
  • Possibility of interest-free payments
  • Simple to use
  • Low fees
  • Makes large purchases possible for anyone tight on cash

6 Apps to Consider

For all their benefits, these apps aren't all identical to one another. Here are six good options that each work well for different groups of consumers:

1. PayPal Pay in 4

Ideal for anyone who is: A current PayPal user

PayPal is certainly a well-known name in the money world online, and they've been around for a long time. Even if you've used PayPal for a long time, it's possible you don't know they've developed their own option for buying now and paying later.

They offer their feature to any account user in good standing who is 18 or older. This service doesn't work with every merchant, but it will function with most retailers who accept PayPal.

As the name implies, you can use this feature to split up a purchase into four different payments. You make the first one when you buy your item or service, and the following payments happen in two-week periods after that until the whole purchase has been paid for. Pay in 4 eligibility is shown to you when you make a PayPal checkout.

PayPal will only do soft credit checks, so your credit score isn't impacted by their verification system. They also don't charge interest for Pay in 4 purchases, although your spending limit is a minimum of $30 up to a maximum of $1500. At the time of writing, late fees were a possibility but they were supposed to be eliminated soon.

PayPal Pay in 4 Pros

  • World-famous brand
  • You might already have an account
  • Late fees being eliminated soon
  • Payments are interest-free

PayPal Pay in 4 Cons

  • Not currently available in every state
  • Not all PayPal purchases are eligible

2. Afterpay

Ideal for anyone interested in: Not paying any interest

Afterpay started in Sydney, Australia in 2015. Since then, it's seen global growth into markets such as Canada, the United States, the UK, and New Zealand.

Users of this app get to finance their purchases over a six-week period of four payments. There is no interest on these payments, and you can use this with participating merchants online or off. The first monthly payment happens when you check out, with the remaining payments in two-week intervals after.

Soft credit inquiry doesn't influence your personal credit score, and your initial spending limit is $500. This goes up as you use the app responsibly. Late payments do exist.

Afterpay Pros

  • Spending limit goes up with responsible use
  • No interest regardless of transaction size
  • Soft credit check

Afterpay Cons

  • Only six weeks of repayment is shorter than other options
  • Late fees
  • Transactions approved individually
  • Some transactions declined

3. Affirm

Ideal for anyone interested in: Big purchases

Created in 2012, Affirm is among the original apps for buying now and paying later. Affirm lets is users finance purchases as high as $17 500 and then split it up over several payments, choosing between several different repayment plans. You can pay your purchase off over intervals of three or six months or a full year.

No hard credit check is necessary for prequalification, but they will run one if you buy using them. They'll also report payments you make to the primary trio of credit bureaus.

Interest can happen, but you'll know in advance. There are no other fees, including annual, prepayment, or late.

Affirm Pros

  • Most major retailers are eligible
  • Pick from more than one repayment plan
  • No fees of any kind
  • Finance purchases as large as $17,500

Affirm Cons

  • Hard credit report inquiry
  • Certain transactions involve interest

4. Splitit

Ideal for anyone interested in: Longer repayment time

Also started in 2012, Splitit comes from New York City. This app's mission is to let consumers use credit but doing so without interest.

If you check out with Splitit, you actually use your own credit card. Splitit uses that to make your big purchase smaller ones over your chosen plan.

Generous repayment terms make Splitit unique. You do as many as 24 payments without interest. Since your own credit card is required, Splitit doesn't do any credit checks, and users face no late fees for late payments.

Splitit Pros

  • No credit check required
  • Payments can be from 3 up to 24
  • No interest

Splitit Cons

  • Doesn't work with Discover or AmEx
  • You need a credit card

5. Klarna

Ideal for anyone interested in: Flexibility in repayment

Klarna is one of the older options on the market, tracing back to 2005 in the Swedish city of Stockholm. It came to America a decade after, and it offers users in any country very flexible repayment plans.

An interest-free biweekly payment plan exists, but you also have the option to pay in full within 30 days without interest. There are also options ranging from six months up to three years.

Soft credit checks are the norm, and there are late fees.

Klarna Pros

  • Use it anywhere Visa is accepted
  • Interest-free plans on shorter repayment periods
  • Very flexible repayment options

Klarna Cons

  • Longer financing carries higher interest rates
  • Late payment fees

6. Perpay

Ideal for anyone who has: Poor credit

Looking to build your credit? This might be the one for you. No hard credit checks happen when you register or make a purchase, but you do get credit bureau reporting as you make payments to help your history and score.

First payments don't happen at the time of transaction. They aren't due until you hit your next payday. This can mean items you buy don't ship until then, however.

Reliable employment is required, and you have to send in pay stubs documenting your income. No interest or fees ever happen.

Perpay Pros

  • No fees or interest
  • Credit bureau reporting to build history and score
  • Flexible repayments linked to your paychecks
  • No hard credit check

Perpay Cons

  • Direct deposit required
  • Spending limited to their own online marketplace
  • Items do not ship until first payment made

Are These the Best Apps?

These six apps were hand-selected because they usually offer things that competitors don't. They stand out for how unique they are. Each one caters well to a different group of buyers.

There are other notable similar apps that are worth considering on top of the six listed here. They include:

  • Amazon
  • Four
  • Sezzle
  • Zip Pay

Personal Factors to Consider

When choosing an app, you should consider several different factors:

  • Credit History: If your credit isn't so good, pick one that doesn't do credit checks. Better yet, choose one that reports payment history to the primary bureaus.
  • Spending Amount: Some apps have higher spending limits than others, so how much you can spend will vary.
  • What You're Shopping: Not every app can be used everywhere. In fact, one restricts its use to its own marketplace.
  • Repayment Schedules: Repayment terms can range from six weeks up to three years based on which app you choose and which plan you pick in that app.

How Do These Apps Work?

They work kind of like credit cards, but there isn't always interest involved. Also, there are usually no hard credit checks involved. You can use these apps to finance big purchases over long stretches of time. Instead of paying it all at once, you make a payment at checkout and then pay the rest in intervals later.

While many of these apps lack interest, they also lack the perks many credit cards might offer, including travel points, rewards, and cashback.

Which One Is Right for Me?

There's no single app that stands out as the greatest in the group for all users. That's why a cross-section of the most unique options for specific groups was reviewed. Pick based on your own personal circumstances.