Using BNPL schemes to pay for new apparel may seem like a good option, but any missed re-payments can stay on credit records for six years. The overuse of such credit schemes can also be seen as problematic to lenders.
Norton Finance have offered advice for keeping a good credit score whilst being able to use the scheme.
Their top tips are as follows:
• Always make re-payments on time as late payments are damaging to credit scores.
• Avoid opening too many credit accounts at one time – too many active credit accounts are a red flag for lenders.
• Only borrow what you can afford to pay back and borrow infrequently – this helps show lenders that you are a responsible borrower.
The UK spent upwards of £53billion on clothes in 2020, and with the option to BNPL, it is not surprising that 22 percent of BNPL users have had their credit scores negatively affected by their online shopping habits.
Having a good credit score is vital for making big financial decisions such as applying for loans, mortgages or credit cards.
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Credit scores are what most lenders use to determine eligibility for lending and many factors can damage them, including using BNPL schemes.
Keeping on top of one’s finances and maintaining a good credit score means people are more likely to be accepted for credit if it is needed.
Via BNPL schemes, instead of buying items upfront, consumers are able to make payments over time without incurring interest.
During the past year the BNPL market is booming largely due to the flexibility it provides.
Figures show that over five million people have used BNPL services since the start of the pandemic.
With uncertainty around employment and finances during the pandemic, people would rather have the option to spread the costs and pay in instalments when making purchases online.
Richard Lane from StepChange discussed the problems with Buy Now, Pay Later on Supershoppers last year.
He said: “It’s not a bad thing for people to want nice things. What people need to understand is that they can’t always predict what is going to happen in the future.
“So, you might use it out one month and that’s great because you think you’re going to pay it back by the next month but then actually your car breaks down or your washing machine breaks.
“It’s very quick and very easy for things to spiral out of control and for fees and charges to rack up.”
BNPL providers are popular with online retailers because they make it less likely a person will abandon their shopping basket.
However, campaigners and debt charities have argued that the BNPL market traps customers into spending money they don’t have.
They say that companies are using social media influencers to advertise their products, which glamorises debt.
Even though total debts may not be huge, over time there are risks of unaffordable borrowing.
A review published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) concluded the watchdog should regulate the BNPL industry “as a matter of urgency” as there was “significant potential for consumer harm”.
Despite the FCA review calling for urgent action, there is no date set for regulation.
But once the rules do come in, it will be interesting to see the impact it will have on the booming BNPL industry.