- Many people value experiences over things. Instagram-able vacations are one such experience, but not everyone can afford it, especially not cash-strapped millennials.
- With student debt, high living costs, and record levels of credit-card debt, many Americans are looking for ways to pay for their travel splurges.
- Uplift is a startup that partners with travel websites like Kayak and airlines like Southwest and Spirit to offer monthly payment plans for travel loans.
- Affirm, founded by PayPal cofounder Max Levchin, offers a no-fee point-of-sale (PoS) financing. The startup partners with many retailers, and for buy now, pay later travel. Affirm has partnered with Delta Air Lines and travel websites like Expedia and Priceline.
- Online lenders like BestEgg, Earnest, LendingClub, and Goldman’s Marcus all offer a category of unsecured personal loans to finance vacations.
- From vacation financing startups to point-of-sale lenders to traditional personal loan providers, we found 10 ways you can travel now, pay later.
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For many, experiences are more valuable than things.
Instagrammable travel has become just as much of a status symbol as a designer watch or fancy car. And a healthy dose of social media-induced FOMO may inspire people to book trips of their own.
But that doesn’t mean everyone can afford aspirational travel — and the likes and followers that come with it.
Millennials, for one, are facing an affordability crisis. With looming student debt and rising costs of living, millennials often can’t afford to splurge on a trip to photogenic destinations like Iceland or Japan.
And its not just millennials that struggling. In the US, credit-card debt has reached a record high of $930 billion, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. It’s a double-edged sword. More spending means a strong economy, but if people can’t pay off those debts, there may be trouble.
Startups, travel sites, and lenders are all offering options for you to pay off Instagram-worthy trips.
Here’s a look at 10 different ways you can buy now and pay later for a vacation.
Uplift is a startup that partners with travel websites like Kayak and airlines like Southwest and Spirit to offer monthly payment plans for travel loans.
The loans have fixed rates ranging from 7% and 36% depending on a users’ credit profile. There are no prepayment fees, and the minimum loan is $300.
Uplift has raised over $470 million in both debt and equity financing. Its investors include LaunchCapital (Revel, Snapchat, Spotify), Ridge Ventures (Bolt, Indiegogo, ThirdLove), and DNX Ventures (Joymode, Nauto, Zum).
Affirm, founded by PayPal cofounder Max Levchin, offers a no-fee point-of-sale (PoS) financing. The startup partners with many retailers, and for buy now, pay later travel. Affirm has partnered with Delta Air Lines and travel websites like Expedia and Priceline.
Affirm’s loans are typically offered with three, six, or 12-month terms at an annual percentage rate between 0% and 30%, depending on a user’s credit. The startup doesn’t charge deferred interest or late fees, but it does report to credit bureaus, so late payments could ding users’ credit scores.
With a $2.9 billion valuation, Affirm has raised $800 million to date from investors including Andreessen Horowitz (Airbnb, Instacart, Lyft), Lightspeed Venture Partners (Carta, Grubhub, Snap), and Spark Capital (Glossier, Postmates, Warby Parker).
American Airlines Fly Now
In addition to its co-branded credit cards, American Airlines offers a Fly Now plan on its own AA credit card. Users can charge a flight purchase of $150 with no interest if paid in full within six months. Otherwise, users will pay a variable APR, currently around 27%, according to American’s website.
Unlike a co-branded credit card like American’s Citi credit card or Delta’s Amex cards, this American Airline credit card can only be used for purchases made in the US with the airline.
Klarna, the Swedish buy-now-pay-later startup, offers 30-day interest-free installment plans.
Last year, Klarna partnered with the Expedia Group — which addition to Expedia.com, includes Hotels.com, Travelocity, and Trivago — to offer “travel now, pay later” options for travel expenses like flights, hotels, and rental cars. The startup earns revenue by charging a fee to the companies it partners with.
Klarna’s latest fundraise brought its valuation up to $5.5 billion, with over $1 billion raised to date from investors including Dragoneer Investment Group (Chime, Compass, Snowflake), Snoop Dogg, and Visa.
PayDelay on Bookit.com
Bookit.com offers a vacation layaway plan called PayDelay, where users can book vacation packages and pay in installments prior to the check-in date.
There’s no credit check, so users are instantly approved for the plans.
Typically, there’s an initial down payment, which varies per package, then six equal payments paid over a maximum of 120 days. The minimum purchase for the plan is $200, and there are $9 transaction fees applied to each payment. There are $35 fees applied to any declined payment, and if the plan isn’t paid in full, the money is forfeited and the vacation gets canceled.
PayPal Credit, formerly known as Bill Me Later, is available to PayPal customers at any PayPal-partnered merchant. For travel, PayPal Credit is available on travel marketplaces like Expedia and Hotels.com and airlines like KLM, Southwest, and US Airways.
For purchases of $99 or more, there is no interest charged if the balance is paid in full within 6 months. If not, interest will be charged on the total value of the loan from the initial purchase date. The interest rate varies depending on a user’s credit, and is determined when the user applies.
Personal loans from BestEgg, Earnest, LendingClub, and Marcus
Online lenders like BestEgg, Earnest, LendingClub, and Goldman’s Marcus all offer a category of unsecured personal loans to finance vacations. Sizes, terms, and rates will all vary based on a user’s credit, but typically these personal loans have minimum amounts above just a flight.
BestEgg’s personal loans range from $2,000 to $35,000 with rates between 5.99% and 29.99%. BestEgg charges an origination fee when the loan is first issued, and there are $15 late fees applied to payments not made within a 3 day grace period.
Earnest, known for its student loan refinancing, offers vacation loans starting at 5.99% APR, and there are no prepayment fees. Earnest’s personal loans range from $5,000 to $75,000.
Marcus doesn’t charge late fees nor prepayments fees on its loans, which range from $3,500 to $20,000 with terms from 3 to 6 years. Rates can be anywhere from 6.99% to 28.99%, depending on a user’s credit information.
And LendingClub, a marketplace lender that connects borrowers with investors, offers loans up to $40,000. LendingClub offers a 15-day late payment grace period, but interest still accrues on the balance during that time. Rates range from 6.95% to 35.89%.
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