Buy now, pay later payment services allow you to delay payment or pay by instalments (often fortnightly) over a period of time.
Here we explain how these payment services work, what fees you’ll pay and how to avoid getting into financial trouble if you’re using these services.
Buy now, pay later services such as Afterpay, Certegy and zipPay are offered by approved retailers and allow you to order or purchase a product immediately and delay payment. You then pay off the product in instalments over several weeks – or, with some service providers, over a longer period of time.
Buy now, pay later services are available when you shop online or in store through approved retailers and is simply another payment option at the time of checkout.
You will need to provide your banking or credit card details the first time you use these services so your payments can be deducted. You may also be required to pay either a deposit or the first instalment up-front.
Depending on the provider, you may need to generate a barcode or unique 6-digit number using the provider’s mobile application or website. The retailer can then scan the barcode or type the number into their system to set up your payment.
Buy now, pay later services are often advertised as ‘interest-free’ or ‘0% interest’, but the cost will add up if you can’t make the repayments on time.
Always check the terms and conditions before you sign up, as they can be different for each buy now, pay later service.
Here are some things to look out for before using these services.
- Late fees – There’s usually a late fee every time you miss a payment or pay late. These fees can add up over time and are charged each time you don’t make a payment.
- Monthly account-keeping fees – Some of these services charge you a fixed amount for every month you continue to use their service.
- Payment processing fees – You may be required to pay a fee for each payment, on top of your set repayment.
Case study: Mai struggles to make ends meet after using buy now, pay later services
Mai loves her online shopping. In the lead-up to Christmas, she decided to take advantage of some markdowns by buying a couple of items online.
She found a new pair of designer sneakers worth $150. As Mai was a bit tight on money, she signed up to a buy now, pay later service to split her repayments. She then found a hair straightener at a reduced price of $300 at another online store. Mai used a different buy now, pay later service to buy the hair straightener and stretch out her repayments.
A fortnight later, Mai discovered that her bank account was overdrawn. She then realised she had not checked before buying the items if she would have enough money in her account to make both repayments.
Mai was not only charged default fees by both buy now, pay later providers, but her bank also charged her an overdrawn fee.
Is your credit history or ability to repay checked?
Most buy now, pay later providers do not check your ability to make repayments or your credit history. This means you could end up taking on more credit than you can afford and could have trouble making your repayments.
Most buy now, pay later providers have dedicated complaints and hardship services. You should contact your provider to discuss your complaint.
Some providers do not belong to an approved external dispute resolution scheme, so if something goes wrong you may not be able to have your complaint heard by an independent party.