Using buy now, pay later when shopping for clothes

Everyone’s been there, staring at a retailer’s website and hovering over that slick coat (or shoes, or necklace, or shirt — you name it), debating whether to add it to their cart and check out. It’s in their budget, but they just don’t want to pay the full price right away. That's where buy now, pay later can come in.

Also known as BNPL, buy now, pay later is a payment option that lets customers check out right away and pay off their purchase in installments over time. This makes it a popular choice when shopping for clothes, shoes, and accessories. Maybe they want to upgrade their wardrobe, get an outfit for a big event, or buy that new sneaker drop — all potential larger purchases that might be easier for someone to manage if spread out over a few payments.

This article explores how buy now, pay later works and potential reasons someone might want to use it to shop for their next clothing purchase.

How buy now, pay later works

Here's an example of the steps someone could expect to take when choosing to shop with buy now, pay later:

  1. Someone browses on a retailer's website and finds a jacket they love. But the jacket is $200, and while it’s within their budget, they may not want to pay the full price all at once.
  2. They go to the checkout page and select a verified BNPL provider.
  3. They fill out a short application using their personal information and input payment information (such as a credit or debit card).
  4. They are approved — sometimes in as quick as just a few minutes.
  5. Then, they choose a payment plan. For example, if they were to use buy now, pay later with PayPal, they could select the Pay in 41 option and spread out the purchase into four equal payments with no interest added. So, they would pay $50 at checkout and $50 every two weeks for the next six weeks. Different buy now, pay later providers may have other repayment options, such as spreading payments over a longer period of time.
  6. They check out. The purchase is on the way, but their bank account isn't drained of $200 all at once — instead making payments over several installments.

Potential reasons to shop for fashion with buy now, pay later

Below are some potential benefits of using buy now, pay later for clothes shopping.

Flexible payments

BNPL can be a flexible payment option for shoppers who don't want to pay a lump sum upfront or use a credit card at checkout.

Say someone was invited to an upscale event and wants to dress to impress with a stylish new suit. While they know they have the means to afford the suit, they want to keep their financial flexibility. BNPL could give them the flexibility to buy that nice suit now and spread out the payments over weeks or months.

Interest free

Many BNPL providers offer interest-free payment plans, so shoppers can enjoy the freedom of paying for that new outfit over time without the penalty of paying interest. This will vary depending on the BNPL provider and there may be other fees, interest, and associated costs.


BNPL could be a convenient option for buying items someone needs now but wants to pay off over time.

For example, maybe someone needs new shoes for a camping trip this weekend after their old soles broke. They could get the shoes with buy now, pay later, spread out the payments, and manage their budget accordingly. Remember that it’s important to only spend within one’s means and to manage finances responsibly.

Considerations for choosing a buy now, pay later provider

Buy now, pay later can help shoppers make purchases and spread payments over time. But everyone’s individual situation is different, so below are some considerations to keep in mind when looking for a BNPL provider.

  • Repayment terms. Different BNPL providers offer different payment plans. Some offer biweekly payment plans, while others may offer monthly payment plans.
  • Interest rates. Many BNPL vendors offer no- or low-interest payments. Interest rates may also vary based on purchase prices and installment plans.
  • Loan amounts. Some BNPL apps set maximum purchase amounts for their payment plans.
  • Eligible retailers. Many large and small retailers accept BNPL at checkout. It helps to verify that your favorite brands are synced with a BNPL provider before signing up.

Buy now, pay later FAQ

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