Americans take to ‘buy now, pay later’ shopping during pandemic, but can they afford it?

(Reuters) – When Leondra Garrett wanted to stock up on three new pairs of shoes early last year, the North Carolina resident split a $161 online purchase into four installments through a “buy now, pay later” service, in what seemed like a convenient deal.

FILE PHOTO: A shopper wearing a protective mask tries on clothes at a retail store following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, New York, U.S., July 5, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon/File Photo

Now, she admits she should have read the small print about missed payments.

When the buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider tried to withdraw a payment from Garrett’s bank account a few months later, she didn’t have enough funds to cover it. Soon after, the 42-year-old was charged $40 in penalties and her credit score dropped 10 points to 650, a reading generally classified as ‘fair’.

“It’s important for consumers

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