Understanding the New Walmart Buy Now Pay Later Plan Replacing Its Layaway Program

The COVID-19 pandemic affected customer purchasing habits in many ways.

Customers had to adjust to the new normal and make do with limited financial power compared to the pre-pandemic period.

With limited financial ability, customers resorted to alternative ways to complete purchases. One way is by leveraging a Buy Now Pay Later loan in the market.

A recent survey shows that the number of customers using a Buy Now Pay Later plan increased from 37.65% in July 2020 to 55.8% in March 2021. Projections indicate that this industry, which was worth a few million dollars in 2021, is expected to grow by 1200% by 2024.

Buy Now Pay Later solutions give customers a way of paying for purchases in installments without having a credit card.

Walmart, one of the leading retail outlets globally, has a popular Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) plan. This article will break down the nitty-gritty of this plan, explain how it works, and help you determine if it works for you.

What is Walmart Buy Now Pay Later?

Long before the introduction of BNPL loans, various retailers had layaway plans, mostly during the holiday season.

Screenshot of Walmart's BNPL page

(Image source)

They were initially designed during The Great Depression when people didn't have enough money to make full payments for items. Customers could pay for goods in installments spread over a specific period and then collect them when they cleared the balance.

However, the adoption of credit cards in the 1980s and 1990s offered customers a better solution, and layaway plans declined.

Walmart offered customers a layaway program until before the 2021 holiday shopping season. At this point, they scrapped it and referred customers to their new BNPL plan in partnership with Affirm.

Their layaway plan was interest-free. However, customers had to clear the balance before picking up the item they were paying for.

This is what the new Buy Now Pay Later Plan tries to fix. This alternative to layaway allows you to pick up the items and pay the balance in installments. However, interest rates range between 10% and 30% depending on a variety of factors.

While layaway was a great way for customers to reserve holiday items, Walmart’s BNPL plan is the future. It increases a shopper’s options, especially for those who don't have access to credit facilities and cannot complete payments in one instance.

Besides, our recent survey indicates 72.6% of customers added items to their cart or bought something that costs more due to their encounter with a BNPL option. This shows how this solution empowers customers to make larger purchases at retailers like Walmart.

With a clear understanding of how the plan works and what interest rates a customer is charged, anyone can use Walmart’s BNPL to finally make those huge purchases and pay for them over time.

How does the Walmart Buy Now Pay Later Plan work?

Customers can choose between four BNPL plans when shopping at Walmart. However, Affirm is Walmart’s official partner and the primary one available at their retail channels.

List of BNPL options at Walmart

While choosing the primary option is ideal, don't restrict yourself to it as the other plans might offer better terms. Always check out the APR, repayment period, and cost of taking up the loan with all the available options before signing up for one.

Here, we’ll break down how Walmart’s Buy Now Pay Later plan works for the four companies available to customers.

Affirm

Walmart lets customers buy items and pay for them in easy and affordable payments spread between three and 24 months.

The plan is transparent, and customers know the exact terms, if eligible, at the point of purchase. APRs are different for every item, and this is displayed before you confirm the payment. This way, you'll know the total interest and monthly installment to be paid, things that are fixed throughout the payment period.

Affirm doesn't charge any fees to open an account, for prepayment, or for late payments. However, late payments are reported to Experian Credit Bureau and will affect your eligibility for the next loan you apply for with Affirm. As such, it is in your best interest to make sure that all installments are paid in good time.

For online purchases, simply select Affirm as a payment method at checkout on Walmart.com. The page will link to your account on Affirm, and do a quick check to see if you are eligible. It'll show the applicable APR for the items you're buying and the period you'd want to pay it.

Select the number of months you want to spread the payment through and confirm to complete the purchase.

For in-store purchases, apply for the loan at affirm.com/walmart and pick a suitable payment plan. When you get to the POS system, scan the one-time use barcode, and the payment will go through.

Loans for goods worth between $144 and $800 are to be paid in 12 months, while those above $800 going to $2,000 can be paid in up to 24 months.

You can buy some promotional items at Walmart with 0% APR. Here, you pay no interest and simply spread the item’s payment over an extended period.

Zip Pay

Zip Pay is a BNPL service that lets customers shop at Walmart and pay in installments using their platform.

It splits payments into four installments spread across six weeks.

To use it, first, download the Zip Pay App. Since it isn't the official Walmart BNPL partner, you have to go through its app, contrary to the case with Affirm.

Screenshot of Zip Pay App home page

(Image source)

On the Zip App, select Walmart from the list of available retailers and proceed to shop. It'll direct you to Walmart’s catalog and choose the items you want to buy. On completion, proceed to the payment page to check out the details of the six-week repayment plan.

Zip’s loan is powered by VISA and at this stage, it'll generate a single-use virtual card with a credit card number, CVC, and expiry date. Use this to complete the payment at Walmart’s checkout page.

For in-store purchases, use the virtual card to pay at the virtual NFC terminal. Loans are available for up to $1,000. However, the account accrues $6 per month as a facilitation fee.

Klarna

Klarna is similar to Zip Pay since it generates single-use credit cards that you use to check out at Walmart.

It all starts at the Klarna App — where you need to create an account and select Walmart from the list of retailers.

Pick the items, and on checkout, the app will show the repayment plans. With Klarna, you have to pay back the full amount in four installments separated by two weeks each.

If the plan is good for you, generate a virtual credit card that you'll use at checkout. Note that the credit card is offered in partnership with WeBank, and there’s a slight overcharge to facilitate its usage.

Feel free to learn more about Klarna’s BNPL solution here.

PayPal Pay in 4

Pay in 4 is a BNPL plan by PayPal. It's available to users who hold a PayPal account in good standing.

Screenshot of PayPal's Pay in 4 page

(Image source)

It's one of the BNPL options available to Walmart shoppers. To use it, select PayPal as a checkout option at walmart.com. Rather than paying the amount, select Pay Later, and let the platform check your eligibility.

PayPal runs a soft credit check on you, and the decision is returned in seconds. If your loan request is approved, proceed to checkout, and the payment will be complete.

Pay in 4 splits the total amount into four interest-free payments. However, the plan charges late fees if you don't repay an installment on time. The first installment is due at the time of purchase and the following two weeks after.

You can use it for purchases between $30 and $600 at Walmart.

What items can you buy with the plan?

Walmart’s BNPL plan is limited to eligible categories, including —

  • TVs
  • Computers
  • Video games
  • Furniture
  • Toys
  • Smartwatches
  • Tablets
  • Kitchen and dining equipment
  • Floorcare equipment
  • Sports and outdoor equipment
  • Jewelry
  • Baby items
  • Apparel
  • Art and Crafts

Ineligible categories include —

  • Alcohol
  • Gasoline
  • Personal care items
  • Baby consumables
  • Groceries and food
  • Miscellaneous supplies
  • Pest supplies
  • Pharmacy, health, and wellness
  • Tobacco
  • Temporary specialty items
  • Weapons
  • Wireless service plans

Is the Walmart Buy Now Pay Later plan for me?

Walmart’s BNPL plan isn't perfect. It has its good and bad when compared to other types of loans.

The best way to buy any item is to pay for it upfront, but it isn't always easy, especially for purchases that require large sums.

Depending on which provider you choose to go with, Walmart’s BNPL plan can affect your credit score. These providers don't report timely payments but will report late payments. Make sure that you have the money to pay the balance in time.

Consider other options if your income is sporadic and you cannot point to a date where you'll have the money to pay an installment.

Walmart’s BNPL solution is ideal for anyone with a regular income stream, as they are sure of paying back the balance within the stipulated time.

Conclusion

Walmart’s Buy Now Pay Later plan is a great alternative to the layaway program that had been in place for many years. While it works differently, it offers customers a huge benefit — they can take the item and pay for it over time.

Before buying any item at Walmart using their Buy Now Pay Later plan, find out which of the four service providers give you the best terms. Look at the repayment periods, and settle on one that suits you perfectly. The goal here is to avoid any late payments that can incur charges or affect your credit score, so find one that works for you.

If you are looking to pay less for items, check out CouponFollow for coupons that you can redeem at a wide variety of retailers. You can single out Walmart coupons and couple them with a BNPL plan to help you pay less and save some money.

about the author

Marc Mezzacca
Marc Mezzacca is CEO of CouponFollow, a consumer savings engine that surfaces popular coupons. He has been in the coupon and deals industry for over a decade with a deep interest in evolving e-commerce technologies.