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Shoppers relying more on buy now, pay later schemes, survey finds

Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent
·2-min read

More than a third (35%) of people are relying on buy now, pay later schemes more often now than before the coronavirus pandemic, a survey has found.

And just over half (54%) of 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed said they have used buy now, pay later schemes more frequently since the crisis started.

More than a quarter (27%) of people who have used such a scheme in the past 12 months said they did so because they could not afford to make the purchase outright at the time.

One in six (15%) people now use the schemes for all purchases where the option is available, the survey for comparethemarket.com found.

This is up from 4% who said this when a similar survey was carried out at the end of 2019.

Buy now, pay later (BNPL) schemes allow people to spread the cost of purchases over a longer period.

But more than one in 10 (13%) people in the latest research felt buy now, pay later schemes made them spend more money than they would have done otherwise.

Young people are the demographic most reliant on BNPL schemes. More than half (54%) of those aged 18-24 say they have used BNPL more since the pandemic began and nearly a fifth (18%) say they have missed at least one repayment in the last 12 months – which is double (9%) the number of those who had in December.

John Crossley, head of money, comparethemarket.com, said: “As a result of the pandemic, more people have turned to online shopping, contributing to a marked uptick in the use of buy now, pay later schemes.”

He said while schemes can help people manage their finances, “as people use this type of credit more frequently and for larger payments, it is probable that some people will spend beyond their means at a time of unprecedented economic uncertainty”.

A potential alternative could be a credit card offering 0% interest on purchases for a limited period, he said.

He added: “It is always worth checking your eligibility for credit by using a soft eligibility checker which won’t damage your credit score.”

More than 2,000 people across the UK were surveyed in October.