Depending where someone shops online, orders can arrive on a doorstep in a matter of hours. Getting a purchase immediately can be tempting, but sometimes seeing the full price at checkout can stop someone in their tracks. Paying for a big-ticket item all at once can be daunting, even when it fits in someone’s budget.
That may explain why more than one out of every three online shoppers uses a payment plan like buy now, pay later (BNPL).1 By 2026, experts predict that more than 100 million online shoppers — or almost 40% of all U.S. consumers — will choose BNPL as a payment option, up from 88.2 million in 2023.1
So, what is a payment plan, and why are an increasing number of shoppers using them to complete transactions?
Read on to learn what to know before making a purchase online with a payment plan.
When it comes to payment plan shopping, there are different types available to choose from depending on the store and payment plan provider. The process, individual eligibility, payment schedule, fees, and other associated costs may vary.
Here are some common online shopping payment plans:
Below are some popular versions of buy now, pay later plans, though some retailers or stores that offer these kinds of payment plans may not necessarily refer to them as “buy now, pay later” plans.
A payment plan can be used to complete a variety of purchases, as long as the retailer being shopped with offers it as a payment method.
From costly items like electronics, furniture, or even a new AC unit to vacations, fitness equipment, and clothing, payment plan shopping can apply to many different things.
Here are some example purchases that can be made with a payment plan:
Many ecommerce and brick-and-mortar retailers offer payment plans at checkout as a payment method.
That said, there are dedicated payment plan providers that partner with online retailers to offer BNPL options.
Shopping online with a payment plan can be a helpful way to break up a larger purchase into several smaller payment installments. Payment plan shopping may also help shoppers budget for expenses by spreading out the payments.
There are many payment providers to choose from. Here are some best practices when considering a payment plan: