Best buy now pay later apps

Buy now pay later apps

by Laura Healy |
Published on

Having children can be expensive, there is always something else they need. Whether you are preparing for the arrival of your little one, chasing around after a toddler, or navigating school life with an older child, all your little one's stages can be costly, and that is on top of all the house hold expenses as well. With prices rising, it is not easy to always buy everything we need or want, and keep with in the family budget, which is why buy now pay later apps are rising in popularity. These apps let consumers buy what they need immediately and then pay later, avoiding one large lump payment.

While this sounds very convenient and it's tempting to fill our online shopping baskets with everything we want, it is worthwhile doing some research before committing to a payment plan. Citizens Advice say that 28% of UK adults will use a buy now pay later app during the festive period to help with spending. While the apps do let you buy the item you want straight away, it's not always free credit. Normally if you stick to your agreed instalments a lot of providers don't charge interest or late fees, however, if you miss a payment, fees could begin to mount and it might not seem like such a good idea.

Before agreeing to any payment plan, it is worthwhile considering if what you are purchasing is a necessity, especially if it is stretching your finances and you can't afford it straight away. On the other hand, a buy now pay later app might help you budget during a tight period or while receiving maternity pay. However, be aware, there are some worrying statistics with Citizens Advice saying a third of people who use buy now pay later apps are then borrowing more money to pay the instalment and avoid a late payment fee, and 21% of users have already missed a payment. It is worthwhile bearing in mind the financial pressure these apps might cause in the future . Ask yourself if the item is something you really want, or need, or if you can budget for Christmas or a special occasion without using credit.

If you decide using a buy now pay later app will give you some financial respite and you can afford the repayments, that is great and the apps should work for you. Ultimately, it is a decision for you and your family, just ensure you can afford the agreed instalments.

Best at a glance:

Best for paying in three instalments: PayPal in 3

Best for two-weekly payments: Clearpay

Best for finding deals: Klarna

With family finances more stretched than ever, an app that can help just a little bit and make the cost of essentials easier to bear, is tempting. It is important to do your research first, but don't worry we can help, below we have rounded up the best buy now pay later apps.

Best for finding products

Klarna is perhaps the most well known of the buy now pay later apps and it has partnered with lots of retailers and is often an option at checkout. It offers monthly, interest free instalments and doesn't require extensive checks to get approval. Klarna offers 'pay in 3' or 'pay in 30 days' payment plans. In the Klarna app you can compare prices, read reviews and check the price history of items you want to buy. Users can also use Klarna Lens which uses AI to allow Klarna app users to take a picture of things around them and instantly find out where to buy them and where to get the best deal.

Klarna user, Sue, said: "Another smooth and easy transaction with Klarna, gentle reminder my payment was due, decided to pay off a little earlier, all went through easily, love using Klarna, never had any problems while using them, 5 stars given yet again."


  • Interest free payments
  • Partnered with lots of retailers
  • Compatible with Klarna Lens
  • Cashback rewards


  • Late fees apply
  • Small loan amounts

Best for paying in three instalments

PayPal Pay in 3 gives users an interest free option to buy the item they want and split the payment across three instalments. You make the first payment at the time of the purchase and then two more payments on the same date each month. Purchases can be split between amounts of £30 and £2000.

One reviewer said: "I use PayPal to purchase practically everything that I buy. If the seller doesn't have the PayPal option to pay, then 9 times out of 10 I will forgo the item. PayPal allows me to feel safe and protected when buying."


  • No sign up or late fees
  • Interest free
  • Simple sign up process
  • Buyer protection


  • Soft credit check

Best for two-weekly payments

Clearpay lends you a fixed amount of credit so you can pay for your purchase over 4 instalments, due every 2 weeks. It offers interest free payments, however, there are fees for late payments.

One customer commented: "This is literally one of the best things to ever come out. So you can split the price of something into 4, at no extra cost! What a genius idea! Since downloading this app I use it all the time. Within reason, I always keep a check on what I've ordered so I don't have too many debits going out. But if you use this a few times a month, then it couldn't be better."


  • Lots of great retailers
  • Interest free


  • Late fees apply

Best for paying over six weeks

Zilch has thousands of online stores, and you can make purchases and spread the payments over 6 weeks. Using the app there are no late fees and you can get up to 5% back in Zilch Rewards when you shop online by searching their app for your chosen store and enabling your card before checkout.

One reviewer said: "After getting over the initial shock that I'd been accepted, I have found this really easy to use, and to keep up with, and it's thanks to Zilch that I was then able to buy my Grandson a first birthday present."


  • Spread cost over six payments
  • Rewards available
  • Option to snooze instalments for 4 days on app


  • There is a fee of up to £3 to use

Best for in-store shopping

Laybuy lets you receive your purchase straight away and spread the total cost over 6 weekly automatic payments. You can add Laybuy to your digital wallet and use it to pay in-store as well as online. You can use the app with a single login to pay at thousands of retailers worldwide.

A reviewer said: "I've used Laybuy for over a year now and had no problems at all! Customer service is brilliant too. Interest free 6 weekly payments make the payments smaller compared to other companies that do payments every month or 2 weeks."


  • Interest free
  • Can use online or in-store


  • Late fees apply

Best for flexible instalment options

Using DivideBuy to pay in interest free instalments is straightforward and transparent. This buy now pay later service lets you spread the cost of your purchase over 12 months. Plus there are no hidden costs or interest.

One reviewer, Ross, said: "Really slick and easy to use, having the option to spread over a low monthly affordable payment is always a nice option when buying a larger item so I was really happy to take this option up. Literally seconds and it was all in place."


  • Helps build your credit score
  • No interest or late fees


  • Longer application process

Best for iPhone users

Apple Pay Later gives users the option of splitting purchases into four payments, spread over six weeks, with no interest or fees. You can easily track, manage, and make repayments in the Apple Wallet. Apple Pay Later can be used online or for in-app purchases from $50 to $1000.

Nerd Wallet reviewed Apple Pay Later: "For Apple users, Apple Pay Later may be an especially convenient way to delay full payment on a purchase without incurring interest or fees."


  • No interest or fees
  • Good for small purchases
  • Convenient for Apple users


  • Currently only available in the US

What can you buy with buy now pay later apps?

You can often choose a buy now pay later option at the checkout as a payment option, and many retailers are now onboard with these apps. You can also search participating retailers through the buy now pay later app you have chosen to download.

In terms of items, it is extremely varied including clothes, home decor and furniture, toys, tablets and laptops, and even groceries. The Guardian reports that one buy now pay later app has "advertised on Facebook that consumers can “pay back over six weeks” for Domino’s Pizza and Uber Eats. It also advertised that consumers can pay in four interest-free instalments for their coffees." While this is useful, especially if your household food budget is tight, Christopher Woodard, the FCA's former interim chief executive, believes, "buy now, pay later could be a useful tool, but a shopper could quickly amass £1,000 of credit using multiple lenders and it could cause consumer harm." Citizens Advice found 11% of respondents used buy now pay later apps to pay for groceries, and that rose to 35% for regular users of the apps.

Buy now pay later apps let you buy a wide range of items, even groceries, but consumers should assess how urgent or neccessary those purchases are to avoid accumulating debt.

When should you use buy now pay later apps?

Buy now pay later apps are really handy if you have a big birthday coming up, or Christmas is approaching and you need some help to spread the cost. It is also useful for slightly larger purchases like furniture or home decor, however, they should be used with caution. Citizens Advice say they have seen a 67% increase in people seeking their help due to debt from buy now pay later apps.

Before using buy now pay later apps it is important to ensure you can make the repayments. While many offer interest free payments, and no late fees, there could be hidden fees or costs in the small print, and there is a risk they encourage accumulating debt. That said, used with care, they really do help families buy expensive items such as pushchairs or nursery furniture they might not have been able to afford in one single payment and we all know how the cost of baby items can mount up, there is always something new your little one needs.

Do you need a credit check to use a buy now pay later app?

Most buy now pay later apps will perform a soft credit check when you select them as a payment option. This means they will assess your credit record to help them make a decision on your application but it doesn't show on your credit record. If you have a low credit rating, or a history of debt problems, because buy now pay later apps only perform a soft credit check, it means there is more chance you will be accepted because they don't look at your credit history in depth. Do be aware that some buy now pay later apps perform more in depth checks and therefore it could affect your credit rating.

Will buy now pay later apps affect your credit score?

There are potential benefits and negatives to buy now pay later apps and your credit score. Because they are not fully regulatedand often only perform soft credit checks, if you fulfil all your payments on time, it won't necessarily improve your credit rating, however, it could negatively impact your credit score if you fail to make payments on time, or fall into debt. Money Supermarket explains: "If you buy more than you can afford through BNPL and start missing payments, the provider may pass on this information to the credit reference agencies and it will be recorded on your credit file – and could harm your credit score. Whereas if you have a low credit score or haven’t borrowed in the past – perhaps because you have just turned 18 – then showing you can handle credit responsibly through buy now pay later could boost your credit score." This is only true though if you choose a provider who will record and report your information to a credit rating agency.

How to choose the best buy now pay later app for you?

If you decide you need to buy something using a buy now pay later app, or need to make an emergency purchase, it is best to do your research. Forbes suggest the following tips to help you decide:

Check fees: Are there late fees, or interest if you miss a payment, or go beyond the agreed repayment schedule?

Read user reviews: See what other users say about each app to help you make an informed decision.

Consider your needs: Make sure you choose the app which works best for your needs, considering number of repayments you can schedule, time limit, fees, and amount you can borrow.

Compare payment plans: There is quite a lot of variety in the buy now pay later apps when it comes to payment plans. Instalments can range in amount, and the time period can be 6 weeks or 12 months or somewhere in between. Check the small print too, some providers let you pause or reschedule your payment plan, while others do not offer as much flexibility.

Family life is expensive and buy now pay later apps might ease the burden a little, which is great, as along as you know you can manage the repayments and don't borrow more than you can afford.

Laura Healy is a Commercial Content Writer for Mother&Baby. She is a mum-of-two girls and loves writing about all things parenting, she is particularly interested in the toddler years and eco-friendly baby products, as well as children’s literature. She has a PhD in Creative Writing and has published short stories in the UK and Ireland, as well as previously writing freelance for her local paper.

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