Nov 11, 2021
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 42% of consumers have increased the amount they owe for mortgages, student loans and car loans. The one bright spot is that the average amount of credit card debt has fallen during this time period. However, 54% of consumers with credit cards don’t pay in full each month and 18% owe more than $20,000. And the growing popularity of online “Buy Now, Pay Later" (BNPL) programs offered on many online retail websites such as Amazon and Walmart may end up increasing the mountain of debt many Americans are struggling to escape. According to research from Credit Karma, 40% of American consumers have used on these programs, and it's easy to see their attraction. BNPL allows consumers to make purchases now and receive the items right away, while paying them off in four payments. For people who are good at managing and paying off debts, these programs enable them to spread out the costs of purchases without taking on additional credit card debt. However, missing any of these payments can result in stiff late fees and interest charges. Credit Karma's research reveals that 34% of BNPL users have fallen behind on payments and 55% of younger consumers have missed one or two payments. Those who consistently miss payments for BNPL or credit card purchases may also be reported to credit agencies, which could seriously damage their credit score, making it even more difficult to be approved for future loans or credit cards. That’s why it’s critically important to safeguard your credit reputation. If you can, try to pay for online purchases with a debit card. If you use a credit hard, commit to paying off the balances in full each month. If you have outstanding credit card debt, try to reduce it as fast as possible, even if this means forgoing other purchases. And if you want to use BNPL this holiday season, make sure you make each payment on time.