Many shopping categories can be surprisingly expensive. Home goods, beauty products, and clothing can add up quickly. On average, households spend $707 a year on personal care and an additional $1,803 annually on clothing and related services. While those costs can be spread out through the course of a year, much of the time, families have to handle at least a portion as large lump sums. In some cases, this isn’t affordable. But the Afterpay app is trying to make such purchases more comfortable to manage.
What is the Afterpay App?
The Afterpay app is a companion to Afterpay’s online services. With Afterpay, shoppers can cover the cost of a purchase at partner retailers in installments instead of all at once.
For some, being able to spread out the total price can make larger shopping trips more affordable. With Afterpay, the purchase is split into four payments. The first is due immediately. Then, the shopper can spread the remaining cost out between several paychecks, with each additional payment coming due every two weeks.
Using Afterpay online through a browser is reasonably simple. Often, the ability to pay using Afterpay is displayed during the checkout process. All shoppers have to do is click or tap the “Afterpay” button, and they can sign up or use the service to pay. Once processed, the items ship as they usually would.
While online purchases can also be facilitated through the Afterpay app, the primary benefit of the app is the ability to use Afterpay while shopping in stores. This means you can set up an Afterpay installment plan while still getting your purchases immediately.
How Does the Afterpay App Work?
The Afterpay app is very user-friendly. You can set up an account, browse stores that have Afterpay as a payment option, and access your account details to use Afterpay in select retailers. Plus, you can monitor your installment payments, assign new payment accounts, and otherwise keep track of what you owe.
For purchases, the online and app processes are very similar. After adding items to a digital shopping cart at the retailer, Afterpay will be an option at checkout. Once selected, you either confirm your existing Afterpay account or create a new one. Then, if the purchase is approved, you complete your purchase and the item ships.
The process is only slightly different in stores. You still use your account (which is best set up in advance of the shopping trip), but you complete the process at the register.
In the Afterpay account management area, you can handle a variety of standard tasks. For example, you can:
- View balances
- Make payments
- Update your payment account
- And more
Once a person has an Afterpay account, it’s important to note that they can use it potentially use it for additional purchases. Not unlike a credit card, as long as the total amount owed on your account remains below the limit set by Afterpay, you can keep shopping and paying with Afterpay until the limit is hit.
Afterpay isn’t an option at every retailer. Only select partners support Applypay as a payment method, though the list of those that do is substantial. It also includes a variety of popular stores, including many high-end retailers.
Here’s a look at stores that allow customers to shop using Afterpay at checkout:
- Cost Plus World Market
- L.F. Cosmetics
- Finish Line
- Forever 21
- Jimmy Choo
- Steve Madden
- Ulta Beauty
- Urban Outfitters
Along with clothing retailers, there are also beauty-oriented stores and home goods sellers. However, it is important to note that many of the stores are considered higher-end retailers. Often, this is part of Afterpay’s appeal, as shopping at these stores can be expensive, and the service makes it appear more affordable. But Afterpay users have less than two months to pay off the entire purchase amount, so it’s essential to keep that in mind.
Not everyone is eligible to use Afterpay. First, a shopping trip only qualifies if you are spending a minimum of $35 at one qualifying retailer. If that digital shopping cart doesn’t hit the $35 mark, Afterpay isn’t an option you can use.
Additionally, there is an application process for Afterpay. While it doesn’t involve a credit check – so your score won’t be impacted by your account – Afterpay does strive to confirm you can reasonably pay back what you’ll owe. Once you complete a short form, you’ll get an immediate answer about whether you can use the service.
Precisely how Afterpay decides who is or isn’t approved isn’t completely clear. However, completing Afterpay payment plans successfully, the existence of open Afterpay orders, and the value of each order play roles.
What is known is that every purchase through Afterpay has to be approved. Even if you have an existing account, the service checks to make sure you can reasonably handle the new purchase every time you attempt one.
Interest Rates and Fees
By and large, Afterpay is free. It doesn’t charge any interest for using the service, and there aren’t any setup or other upfront fees.
Practically the only situation where it costs to use Afterpay is if you are late making an installment payment. In that scenario, a late fee is assessed. The exact amount depends on the original value of that specific order. While the total can add up fast, late fees are capped at 25 percent of the initial order value, so they can’t increase indefinitely.
However, Afterpay does try to help shoppers avoid the late fee. If your payment method for your installment payments doesn’t work through Afterpay’s autopay system, the company reaches out. You get a chance to update your payment account to avoid the fee, but only if you act quickly enough.
But, if you manage to make every payment on time, you pay nothing extra for using Afterpay. All you’ll be handling is the cost of the item and any applicable taxes and shipping costs, just as you would if you used a debit card.
Is Afterpay a Loan?
Afterpay stresses that it isn’t a lender, but a service. In many ways, Afterpay is more like a layaway than a lender, as you don’t pay fees or interest, and there’s no impact to your credit score. However, you do get your items right away, providing the instant gratification associated with certain forms of credit, like using credit cards or loans.
There is also a spending limit when you use Afterpay, and that’s more like a credit card than layaway. You can also use your account to make several purchases, at least until you reach the limit.
Typically, new users have a limit of around $500. Over time, it may go up to about $2,000.
Should You Use the Afterpay App?
Afterpay can make it possible to complete a purchase and spread out the cost. Since there are no interest charges or fees, this makes it similar to a short-term layaway. It may be easier to buy high-end products with Afterpay, which some will find appealing.
However, you have less than two months to completely pay off a purchase. For many, that isn’t much time. It may only include two to four paychecks, depending on your paycheck schedule. As a result, using Afterpay could still be a budget-buster.
If you genuinely can’t afford what you want to buy, Afterpay won’t change that. Additionally, Afterpay may incidentally make it seem like you can spend more than you really should, mainly because the payments seem small. Before you make any purchase, check it against your budget.
If you aren’t sure whether it’s affordable, try to save up the full amount in cash, setting aside what you would have given Afterpay every two weeks. If you can do it, you then have the money for your purchase. But, if not, you won’t have gotten in trouble by missing an installment payment.
Have you tried the Afterpay App? Do you think you might give it a shot? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald has worked as a Financial Advisor for the military for past 13 years. She has taught Personal Financial classes on every subject from credit, to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs. McDonald is an AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselor and has helped her clients to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.