According to research by Norton Finance, ‘buy now pay later’ schemes are hugely popular now. However, while such schemes can be convenient, overusing this payment option could affect your credit score. Here’s what you should know.
What is ‘buy now pay later’?
Buy now pay later is what it sounds like – you buy something immediately, and you pay for it later. Depending on the payment provider, you can either pay the cost over a few weeks or a few months.
Why is buy now pay later so popular? Well, although you’re spreading the cost of a purchase, you don’t normally pay interest or fees (unless you miss repayments). So, for some shoppers, these schemes are more attractive than, say, using a credit card.
To be clear, though, you’re not getting the product any cheaper. You just have longer to pay the bill.
How can buy now pay later options affect my credit score?
When you use buy now pay later, it’s easy to lose track of your spending. This could mean that you struggle to pay your instalments on time, which means you might incur charges such as late payment fees. Missed payments can go on your credit file, which can then lower your credit score.
How can a low credit score affect you? Well, with a low credit score, you’ll find it harder to get credit, such as a mortgage or new credit card. Even if you can still get credit, you might pay higher interest rates, which makes borrowing more expensive.
So, although buy now pay later seems convenient, you must ensure you don’t spend more than you can afford. Otherwise, you’re putting your credit score at risk. If you want to know your credit score before you shop, you can check it for free using companies like Experian, Equifax or Trans Union.
How can I keep my credit score on track?
If you want to use a buy now pay later scheme, according to Norton Finance, one of the best ways to stay on track is to make payments on time. Here’s how else you can maintain your credit score:
- Try to avoid having too many credit accounts open at once. Having too many active accounts tells lenders that you might struggle to keep up with repayments.
- Manage your budget carefully. Make sure you know exactly how much you need to repay and set it aside each month.
- Check your credit score regularly. If you spot any errors, or you don’t recognise a debt, contact your lender.
If you’re worried about money or you’re struggling to make your repayments, help is available from organisations like Citizens Advice.
Buy now pay later schemes can help you spread the cost of purchases over time. However, you risk losing track of your spending if you rely on these schemes too much.
Rather than using flexible payment schemes, it might be best to start budgeting, open a savings account and make regular deposits. That way, you can buy the things you need without relying on credit or buy now pay later.
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