Following new research from Which? suggests that more than half (62 out of 111) of fashion, child, and homeware retailers offer online shoppers at least one Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) scheme.
James Andrews, the senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk, comments on the broader financial repercussions the industry is causing to those already struggling with debt: ‘Christmas is just around the corner, and many are already worried about how they are going to pay for all that the season brings with it. With such a large number of well-known and respected retailers tempting consumers into using BNPL schemes on their sites concerns, to say the least.’
‘Buy Now Pay Later schemes like Klarna, Clearpay, and Laybuy offer consumers a quick payment option that lets them delay or split the cost into more digestible chunks, a beacon of light for those with gifts, food, decorations, and festive experiences to pay for – but are a potential entry point into a cycle of damaging debt.’
He added: ‘To make matters worse, online retailers are often failing to thoroughly explain to customers – tempted by chance to shop now, stress later how the likes of late fees, background credit checks and interest repayments work.’
‘As with any form of debt, it’s important to fully understand the risks associated before committing yourself to any contract or agreement. A failure to do so could easily leave you starting 2022 in debt, and no Christmas gift or New Years Eve party is worth that.’
Three steps to deal with BNPL debt
Make a budget
If you have different types of debt, you should first make a budget and categorise your most high priority expenses, like rent and food. If you’re not sure how to make a budget, this guide from StepChange could be helpful.
Decide which of your bills to pay first
With so many bills being paid out each month, it can be hard to decide which ones to pay first, even once you have completed your budget. The first step is knowing what your priority and non-priority bills are. An example of a priority debt would be your rent or your mortgage, as the consequences of not paying could mean you lose your home; this type of bill must be paid before any other debts.
For more information on which debts to prioritise, this article on the StepChange website could help: What debts to pay first from your budget.
Dealing with BNPL debts
If you have been using BNPL to make ends meet, there is a helpful guide on the StepChange website on how to deal with BNPL debts, including plenty of advice and links on where you can get help with managing your repayments.
If you are struggling to make repayments, there are a few ways you can get debt help for buy now, pay later payments. Some brands offer payment holidays and revised payment schedules to help users pay back what they owe.
Money worries can be stressful, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. There are many places that you can seek help and get free advice with any financial problems.