Skip to content
Opinion
Alexis Leondis

Buy Now, Pay Later? You Might Regret It.

A growing number of payment apps have no guardrails for consumers, who will be tempted more than ever to use them as interest rates rise on credit cards.

Impulse buying isn’t the worst thing you need to worry about when paying later.

Impulse buying isn’t the worst thing you need to worry about when paying later.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The all-too-easy buy-now-pay-later options appearing everywhere you spend your money online are likely to get a boost from rising interest rates this year. Zero-percent interest on smaller payments will look even more tempting for shoppers already wary of the 16% average interest rate assessed on credit-card balances.

But buyers better beware. Buy now and pay later can wind up being a worse deal for consumers. Unlike credit cards, where the terms are expressed in a standardized way among issuers, these new payment plans are all over the map and require more vigilance to be sure you know what you're getting into. Let your guard slip and you might find yourself paying even more than that credit card would have charged you.