Chris Bridges, Founder and CEO, VITAL Card Inc.
Regarding online marketplaces, few e-commerce companies can compete with Amazon and its sheer number of retailers and offerings.
From everyday household products to big-ticket items costing thousands of dollars, such as furniture and luxury goods, Amazon seemingly has it all. Fortunately, consumers in the market for the latter can take advantage of Amazon’s monthly payments plan, also referred to as Amazon Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL).
Teaming up with Affirm, Amazon BNPL allows consumers to make monthly installments on qualifying products. The payment plan reportedly does not carry hidden fees or interest charges, contrary to how credit cards operate.
Instead of financing the purchase through a credit card, consumers can use the BNPL payment option through Amazon and Affirm’s partnership. There are a variety of pros and cons associated with both Amazon BNPL and using a credit card to finance a service or product.
What Is Amazon Buy Now, Pay Later, and How Does It Work?
Similar to layaway, Amazon Buy Now, Pay Later lets consumers pay for qualifying items throughout five monthly installments. Unlike layaway, BNPL allows consumers to enjoy the product upfront before they have finished paying off the entire purchase. A product qualifies for BNPL if the “Monthly Payments” at checkout appears as a payment option on the item’s detail page.
When a consumer chooses the BNPL payment option, they first have to pay an initial (down) payment, which includes taxes, any surcharges, and the cost of shipping. The payment amount is the total cost of the product divided by five. Then the interest-free monthly payment is due every 30 days after the shipping date up until the 120th day.
At any time, consumers can prepay monthly payments in advance or pay off the product’s entire remaining balance. Every monthly installment gets charged to the payment method on file for an Amazon customer, defaulting to other cards on record if the primary method fails to process the payment. If none of the payment methods work, Amazon may suspend a user’s account and terminate their access to the marketplace and its services.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements to Use Amazon BNPL?
At this time, international Amazon customers cannot participate in the Buy Now, Pay Later option operated by Affirm. General eligibility to take part in Amazon BNPL involves customers to:
- Be a resident of the United States
- Own an Amazon account with activity within the past year
- Possess an unproblematic payment history
- Link to a valid credit card as the account’s default payment method
Even if one Amazon customer can take advantage of BNPL on a qualifying product, this does not mean all consumers are eligible to use the monthly payment plan for that particular item. An Amazon user’s information on the platform and their purchase history influence the BNPL offers that show up for them.
Does Amazon Accept Afterpay or Klarna?
Amazon has officially partnered with Affirm as its provider for the Buy Now, Pay Later installment plan in the United States. Despite this, it is still possible for consumers to use other BNPL services like Afterpay and Klarna to make monthly payments on Amazon products.
When shopping with Amazon using Afterpay, consumers are encouraged not to designate Afterpay’s single-use payment as the default method to pay. With single-use payments, Afterpay users can make interest-free payments over six weeks after the down payment. On the contrary, Klarna offers four payment installments for Amazon purchases.
How Does Financing on a Credit Card Work?
On the other hand, using credit to pay off goods or services is a payment option many consumers used before the advent of Amazon Buy Now, Pay Later. Often, credit card interest accumulates on purchases that are not completely paid off by the statement due date.
There are, however, exceptions when a credit card sign-up offer includes an introductory period with zero annual percentage rate (APR). This means purchases made on the credit card will not incur any interest charges for a set amount of time, usually six months up to 24 months. Only consumers with a healthy credit score tend to qualify for credit cards with zero APR.
Certain credit card providers feature monthly payment plans similar to the BNPL model. The card issuer may allow the cardholder to pay installments for a big purchase over the coming months. Interest and a monthly fee may apply to these installments, depending on the card lenders and the terms of the payment plan.
How Does Amazon BNPL and Credit Card Financing Compare?
While a consumer has to undergo a credit check when signing up for a credit card to finance a purchase, the same does not apply to the Amazon Buy Now, Pay Later option. Since lines of credit are not extended by Amazon with the BNPL installment payment plan, the company does not need to check the Amazon customer’s credit score.
Failing to pay credit card statements may result in a damaged credit score, but defaulting on BNPL does not lead to the same outcome. Instead, the latter proceeds with the termination of the user’s Amazon account and access to related services. Amazon will not report a customer’s payment activity to any credit bureaus.
Installments with Amazon BNPL include interest-free payments with no late fees. Likewise, Amazon customers cannot build their credit by using BNPL. With credit cards, interest and fees can apply unless a card offers an introductory zero APR.
You Can Pay Off Credit Anytime You Like
Regarding the payment plan schedule, Amazon lets consumers pay for their purchase for 120 days from when the product is shipped. Monthly payments are due every 30 days from the initial down payment with the BNPL model. This is where credit card financing has an advantage over BNPL, as cardholders can pay off their purchases over a longer time, though interest may accrue.
When Does It Make Sense to Finance on a Credit Card?
If you can benefit from a credit card with zero APR, it could be reasonable to finance a big-ticket item or other large purchase using your credit card. This way, the cardholder can also build up their credit score simultaneously, assuming they at least make the minimum payments each month.
In addition, when a consumer needs more than 120 days to pay off their purchase, it may make sense to use a credit card instead of using Amazon Buy Now, Pay Later. Some Amazon customers might not be able to adhere to BNPL’s strict payment schedule or obtain the necessary funds to afford the entire purchase in four months.
What Credit Card Should I Apply For?
The VITAL Card empowers cardholders to take charge of their financial health with VITAL’s personalized digital experience. The custom feature makes it easy to set credit alerts, monitor spending analytics, and schedule payments so you never miss a due date.
Perhaps you fail to meet the eligibility requirements to take advantage of Amazon Buy Now, Pay Later option due to your Amazon account being idle for the past year. Or, maybe you do not have a credit card to link as a default payment method. In the latter case, you might want your first credit card.
Choose A Card That Suits Your Lifestyle
To determine which credit card to apply for, consider your spending habits and the reason for getting the card. Do you tend to travel a lot for business purposes? Similarly, do you get reimbursed by your employer for business trips? A travel rewards card that racks up hotel points or flight miles could fit the bill.
Conversely, are you planning to finance an expensive item? Then a zero APR credit card may be your best bet. However, if your credit score is too low to qualify for this type of card, you should first apply for a different card to build up your credit history.
A credit card with ample cash back rewards, the VITAL Card allows cardholders to accumulate 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. Plus, your rewards rate could increase up to 3 percent when you refer friends and family members to sign up for the credit card.
Discover the perks of VITAL Cash Rewards and apply for your VITAL Card today.
“Rent-To-Own, Lease-To-Own, Layaway, and Buying Over Time,” Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Advice
“Pay in 4 small payments,” Amazon
“Using Credit,” Consumer.gov
“What Is a Personal Line of Credit?” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau