Buy now, pay later (BNPL) is a payment option that allows you to purchase goods or services without having to pay the full amount upfront. Instead, you can split the payment into smaller, more manageable instalments. Offered by a variety of companies, including banks, credit card companies, and online retailers, BNPL can be a useful way to finance a large purchase. However, there’re also some potential negatives to using BNPL, including the risk of overspending, the potential for late fees and penalties, and the fact that BNPL services may not be reported to credit bureaus.
Here are some of the downsides of BNPL to consider:
If you miss a BNPL payment, you will likely be charged late fees, penalties or interest on your unpaid balance. These fees can add up and make it difficult to pay off your debt, so it's important to make sure you can afford to make your payments on time.
It's easy to overspend when you're using BNPL. When you're not paying for the full amount of the purchase upfront, it can feel like you're not really spending much money. However, when you use BNPL, you are essentially borrowing money from the lender, and if you don't pay back the loan on time, you will be charged interest and fees. This can quickly lead to a large amount of debt problems.
If you miss a BNPL payment, it can hurt your credit score. Some BNPL providers report payments to credit reference agencies, as their services are considered a type of loan, so missed payments can damage your credit score.
The BNPL industry remains unregulated. This means that consumers are unprotected and there’s potential for scams and fraud. It's important to do your research before using a BNPL service to make sure you're dealing with a reputable company.
While BNPL can be a convenient way to finance a purchase or make an impulse buy, it's important to be aware of the downsides before you use it. If you're considering using BNPL, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the service and that you can afford to make your payments on time. Otherwise, you could end up in debt trouble.