Affirm Will Launch a New ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Debit Card
Fintech company Affirm has announced that it will launch a debit card with buy now, pay later (BNPL) functionality. The Affirm Card is billed a the first U.S. debit card to have direct access to pay-over-time functionality. That basically makes it a credit card, but slightly different.
Since 2012, Affirm has offered point-of-sale or installment loans for retailers like Walmart and thousands of others. These financing options let customers pay off their purchases in monthly installments, sometimes even at a 0% interest rate.
The Affirm Card will allow consumers to pay upfront, from their bank account, or pay later, by using a post-purchase feature. In just a couple of taps, consumers will be able to instantly convert any eligible transaction into one that is pay-over-time.
“We know consumers are looking for financial control and flexibility. In the last year, we’ve seen two key trends: huge growth of buy-now-pay-later transactions, and consumer preference shift to debit cards over credit cards. The Affirm Card combines the two, allowing Affirm to meet consumers where they are and empowering them to pay on their own terms,” Max Levchin, CEO and founder of Affirm, said in a blog post announcing the card.
While the Affirm card will make it possible to pay over time with no interest, it can get really expensive depending on the terms of the offer. You will likely get hit with interest if you miss a payment, or if your repayment period is longer than what’s required for that 0% interest rate.
Affirm has not revealed much about how the card will exactly work. It does say that “you’ll be able to use the Affirm Card app to split eligible purchases into 4 interest-free payments”. It also says the card will have no fees. That includes late fees, no prepayment fees, no annual fees, and no fees to open or close your account.
Affirm expects to make the Affirm Card broadly available later this year and invites all consumers interested in early access to sign up for the Affirm Card waitlist today at https://www.affirm.com/card.
Affirm says the card will have no fees, but interest is the thing you need to watch out for. I don’t see how this can be superior to a credit card that will also earn you rewards for your purchases. But, it could be useful for people that can’t get a credit card or don’t want one.