12% of Brits bought an item using ‘buy now, pay later’ in the last year 

Matt PalframanDirector, Financial Services Research
April 28, 2021, 2:52 PM UTC

Data from YouGov’s debt tracker shows that 12% of Britons bought an item using a “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) plan in the 12-month period before they were polled.  

The data also shows that, of Brits who use these schemes in the past year, two-thirds said they had used them more than once (64%) – with a quarter (25%) saying they had used them more than five times (25%). What’s more, most said they had used BNPL plans in the last three months (67%) – with over a third (34%) claiming to have bought a product using one of these plans in the month before being polled.   

When asked why they use this form of credit, a plurality say that they may as well take advantage of it as it is interest-free (41%), while nearly three in ten say they use these plans to spread payments and budget effectively (28%). A fifth (21%) say they use BNPL because they don’t have the money to pay for products up front.  

Of course, some of the benefits of these plans only apply if repayments are made in a timely fashion. Interest, for example, may be charged after missing a payment deadline. So how many Brits miss their BNPL payments? Overall, 16% of users said they hadn’t paid on time at least once – with 11% saying they had missed one payment and 5% saying they had missed more than one. An overwhelming majority (85%) make their repayments on time.  

BNPL users are also more likely to say that these plans have positively affected their finances than the reverse. Three in ten (29%) agree that this form of credit has had a good influence on their financial situation, while one in nine (11%) say it has had a negative impact.  

As for their preferred providers, two in five use Klarna (42%), a quarter (26%) use PayPal Credit, and 17% use ClearPay. Over a fifth use a retailer’s in-house BNPL service such as the Argos card (22%).  

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