Most Americans are aware of the warning signs of too much debt. If you’re not able to pay off your whole credit card balance when the company bills you, that might be one sign. Another could be if repo agents are showing up at your house to repossess your car or living room furniture.
There’s another sign that some American consumers are racking up too much debt, though, and we’ll talk about it right now. Several news outlets are reporting that more U.S. residents are becoming delinquent when it comes to paying back the money they owe through BNPL deals they accepted.
What is BNPL?
BNPL stands for buy now, pay later. You have probably seen these deals advertised at many stores, and perhaps you’ve purchased something according to this system at one time or another.
The buy now, pay later option appeals to many individuals and families because you can get the item without having to put down any money for it at the moment of purchase. You might also be called upon to pay a small amount, but you won’t have to pay off the rest of the item for months or even years.
What the Survey Reveals
A survey conducted recently by Lending Tree found that 42% of individuals who bought something using the buy now, pay later structure have made at least one late payment on the item in question. Meanwhile, another survey, this one by Morning Consult, revealed that 15% of BNPL customers used the service for what they considered to be routine purchases.
What do these survey results show us? Well, one thing that they reveal is the proliferation of individuals or families who are willing to use the BNPL pricing structure.
Instead of only paying for an item when they can afford it all at once, they’re financing it instead. Many times, these consumers are failing to consider where the money will come from when they reach the moment when they’re supposed to start paying for what they bought.
The other fact revealed by the survey results is that more than 4 out of 10 consumers who bought using this system were unable to pay the agreed-upon amount during at least one of the designated pay periods.
Why Does This Matter?
The reason this matters is that it points to irresponsibility by some consumers. They’re willing to take possession of an item that they cannot pay for at the moment of purchase, trusting that the situation will work itself out when they need to start making the payments on it.
If you buy an item and agree to pay for it later, and then you don’t have the money to do so, that will hurt your credit score. Your credit score matters since it’s the metric landlords will use when deciding whether or not to rent you an apartment or house. A bank will also look at your score when trying to determine whether or not you make a suitable loan candidate.
Use BNPL Sparingly
Not every person who uses the buy now, pay later purchasing model defaults on the payments. Some consumers choose to do it, and they’re sure they’ll have the money necessary to make the payments when the time comes.
If you fall into this category, there is nothing inherently wrong about buying something using BNPL. Remember that if you’re ever delinquent with your payments on something you purchased, though, that’s going to adversely affect your credit score. That matters for the reasons we mentioned and others as well.
Think carefully before you buy something using BNPL. If it’s a frivolous purchase that you decide to make without thinking about the possible repercussions, that could end up hurting you financially at some point down the line.
Name: Michael Bertini
Job Title: Consultant