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Imagine this situation: you can’t wait to experience an expensive new restaurant, but you know you don’t have enough money to cover the cost of your meal up front. You can wait to receive your next paycheck or you can use a âbuy now, pay laterâ loan to pay for your dinner tonight.
BNPL, also known as a point-of-sale loan, allows consumers to split the cost of their purchases into installments (usually) due every two weeks, sometimes without interest. While most consumers use BNPL when shopping online at retailers like Target, Walmart, and Amazon, many BNPL vendors also offer a virtual card that allows consumers to use the service while shopping in person.
Popular providers like Klarna, Sezzle, To affirm, After payment and Zipper (formerly known as Quadpay) all have their own virtual cards that allow consumers to divide their in-person purchases into installment payments – and in some cases, you can use the loans anywhere, including restaurants. With a virtual BNPL card, you can split the cost of a $ 100 dinner into four installments of $ 25 due every two weeks over a six-week period.
Sounds easy, right? Before you rush to finance every aspect of your life with a BNPL loan, Select explains how BNPL virtual cards work, how consumers can use them, and the pros and cons of paying for everything with one.
Use of BNPL virtual cards
Many BNPL providers allow you to create a virtual card that you can add to your Apple Wallet or Google Pay. For most cards, you will need to download an app that you use to request a virtual card.
For example, with Postal payment, you enter the amount you are going to spend in the store in the app. Zip then performs a smooth credit check and will either approve or deny you the loan. Then it will generate a virtual card that you can use at checkout just like you would with Apple Pay.
While Zip has partnerships with thousands of brands, it also allows its users to use a loan just about anywhere. This means that you can use the virtual Zip card to finance everything from paying your dentist’s bill to purchasing a concert ticket, even if the service is not integrated as a payment method at the retailer at. which you are shopping for.
Zip (formerly known as Quadpay)
4 interest-free payments over 6 weeks
Zip charges a transaction fee of $ 4 for each purchase, or $ 1 per payment.
Zip will charge a late fee of $ 7 for each late payment (this amount may vary by law and state). If a customer is one day late in their payment, or if a customer has an overdue paycheck, Zip may be willing to move payment due dates.
Customers must go through the merchant to be reimbursed. After the merchant processes the refund, a refund is processed by Zip and the customer will be refunded.
Zip is connected to more than 51,000 merchants around the world, including Target, North Face and Wrangler. Consumers can also use a Chrome app or extension to make a purchase from retailers that are not integrated with Zip. Customers will receive a single-use virtual card to finance their purchase in-store or online.
Typical purchase amounts vary between $ 35 and $ 1,500, but maximum amounts vary by retailer.
- Does not perform a credit check
- Does not report to credit bureaus, so using the service will not help or damage your credit score
- 0% interest
- There is a $ 4 fee for each loan you take out ($ 1 for each payment)
- There is a $ 7 fee for each late payment
- You can only go for a 6 week BNPL option so it is not a good choice if you need a longer repayment period
Loans taken out through Zip Pay have a repayment period of six weeks; there is also a long term finance option known as Zip Money for purchases over $ 1,000. Affirm virtual cards allow people to choose longer repayment periods of six weeks, or three, six or twelve months.
Affirm’s virtual card works the same as Zip’s and can be used to make purchases online or in-store at merchants that are not partners of the supplier. Affirm is also working on a new debit card, Affirm Debit +, which connects to consumers’ existing bank accounts. With Affirm Debit +, consumers will be able to use the card either to pay for their entire purchase as they typically would with a debit card, or to finance them with a BNPL loan. The product is currently in beta testing.
There are no late fees, but late payments can affect your ability to get a loan in the future and possibly your credit score.
Customers are only repaid the principal, so if you don’t have a 0% loan, you won’t be refunded the interest you paid before making the return.
Affirm has 12,000 merchants, including Amazon, Peloton, adidas and Target. Through affirm.com or the Affirm app, consumers can also use the BNPL option at any retailer, online or in store, that is not integrated with the business. Consumers will receive a single-use virtual card to pay for their purchases.
Up to $ 17,500 on one purchase.
- Does not charge any late fees
- There are a lot of merchants who offer 0% APR
- You can use Affirm at any online or in-person retailer you choose with their app or through their website.
- 0% loans at 4 biweekly payments are not reported to credit bureaus
- Loans that are reported to the credit bureaus could end up hurting your credit score, whether you pay them off on time and in full.
- You could end up paying a high interest rate if you can’t get a 0% loan
Other BNPL providers, like Afterpay, have virtual cards, but you can only use the card when shopping in person at participating stores.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a BNPL loan everywhere?
Consumers should be careful when using these virtual cards to finance their purchases in person. BNPL providers can sometimes bear significant late fees. In addition, you should consider the interest rates and the impact this could have on your credit rating.
While Zip Pay offers 0% interest rates on its BNPL loans, each purchase incurs a transaction fee of $ 4 ($ 1 per payment) and a monthly fee of $ 7.95 if you do not pay the full amount. your statement closing balance on the due date. So your $ 100 meal will really cost $ 104, and potentially more if you don’t pay on time.
Affirm has no late fees, but the interest rate can be as high as 30%. Additionally, Affirm reports some loans to Experian, so if you go for a longer term BNPL loan (or even a six week loan) with the virtual card, you could end up hurting your credit score because BNPL loans may reduce your average account age and the length of your FICO credit history. (Note: Affirm does not report loans at 0% and four biweekly payments or loans that have a 0% three-month repayment option.)
At the end of the line
BNPL virtual cards give people the option to split the cost of an unforeseen dinner or medical bill, sometimes without interest charges, making them a good deal for anyone looking to extend their payment period.
But as convenient and simple as it may sound to use a BNPL virtual card, consumers should be wary of using it regularly to pay for their next purchase in person or online. It is possible that a BNPL will have a negative impact on its credit rating and that there may be interest charges and late fees. You will also not have the opportunity to win rewards or cash back just like you do with a credit card.
It’s also important to be mindful of your spending – using BNPL might cause you to spend too much money on your purchases, as you might be spending money that you don’t yet have.
If you regularly use BNPL to pay for things, be sure to track your spending so that you can keep a close eye on the different invoices you have from different BNPL providers. And ask yourself if you really want to pay for this meal six weeks after enjoying it for the first time.
Editorial note: Any opinions, analysis, criticism or recommendations expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the editorial staff of Select and have not been reviewed, endorsed or otherwise approved by any third party.