Achieve survey reveals why consumers get hooked on buy now, pay later financing

Consumers say interest-free payments and speedy approvals make buy now, pay later more convenient than credit cards and traditional retailer financing, but many also acknowledge that it’s easy to get overextended financially.

April 02, 2024

SAN MATEO, Calif., April 2, 2024 — Consumers who use buy now, pay later say it’s a convenient payment method that helps them make ends meet, but most users also acknowledge the installment loans make it easy to get over-extended financially, according to the results of a new survey by Achieve, the leader in digital personal finance. Over three-in-four respondents (78%) agree with the statement that it’s easy to get over-extended using buy now, pay later (BNPL), while 56% agree that keeping track of multiple BNPL transactions is difficult.

Achieve’s think tank, the Achieve Center for Consumer Insights, surveyed consumers who used BNPL financing at least once in 2023 to understand the role this increasingly popular payment method plays in their finances. For 34% of respondents, paying for a purchase over time without incurring interest was the primary motivation for using BNPL, while a similar share of respondents said using BNPL was more convenient (22%) or the qualification process was easy (12%).

But the survey also found that BNPL is frequently the credit product of last resort for consumers who have poor credit histories, are near the limit of their credit cards, or who are otherwise already over-extended financially. This signals that BNPL is a credit product that can cause harm to consumers if not managed responsibly.


BNPL’s positive impact keeps customers coming back

Achieve’s research suggests once consumers try BNPL, they frequently become repeat customers, as 78% of survey respondents report using BNPL more than once in 2023, including 11% of respondents who completed 11 or more transactions during the year. The survey also found just 17% of respondents had never used BNPL prior to 2023. BNPL’s popularity is driven in large part by consumers who believe the product contributes positively to their financial lives.

For example:

  • 85% believe BNPL makes it easier to make ends meet

  • 76% said BNPL helps them improve their overall financial situation

  • 76% believe BNPL is more financially responsible than credit cards

  • 70% said BNPL is good for their credit score

“Buy now, pay later isn’t an inherently flawed financial product. But like any form of credit, consumers must use it responsibly and only borrow what they can repay. Lenders must also be responsible and intentional about their borrowers and the potential for harm inherent in the BNPL product,” said Achieve Co-Founder and Co-CEO Brad Stroh. “Our research suggests that many consumers prefer the one-and-done approach to obtaining credit that BNPL offers. For consumers worried about the prospect of interest payments hanging over their heads, individual BNPL transactions can make spending more predictable.”

BNPL is securing its place in consumers’ wallets

The survey found most BNPL customers use a variety of financial products and services. For example, 74% of respondents have a major credit card and 88% have a checking account and debit card. This is not surprising, as many BNPL transactions require users to enroll in autopay linked to a bank account or credit card. Autopay was the most frequently cited repayment method in Achieve’s survey, with 44% enrolling with a checking account and 19% enrolling a credit card.

Meanwhile, over 80% believe BNPL companies do a good job disclosing interest charges and fees. However, these charges are rare, with 16% of respondents saying they’ve incurred a late fee for missing a BNPL payment and 20% saying they’ve been charged interest on a BNPL transaction.


BNPL’s impact on debt-stressed consumers

The challenges of using BNPL become magnified when consumers are already struggling with high levels of unsecured debt. Among consumers who have enrolled in Achieve’s debt resolution program, called Achieve Resolution, members with BNPL loans on their credit reports show more signs of debt stress than members without BNPL accounts. Since January 2022, the average Achieve Resolution member who uses BNPL has a higher credit card utilization rate, lower credit score and is younger.


Tips from Achieve:

Treat BNPL like any other form of credit. Only spend what you can repay. Have a repayment plan before taking on this form of debt.

Use autopay to avoid incurring late fees for missed payments. Whenever possible, pay from a checking account rather than a credit card to avoid incurring interest charges for these purchases later on, just make sure you always have enough money in your account to cover the monthly payment to avoid overdrafting.

Keep a running list of all outstanding BNPL transactions. For each transaction, write down the name of the BNPL provider, the number of payments remaining, the payment amount and how payments are made. This can be as simple as a note saved on your smartphone or more closely tracked with a comprehensive spreadsheet.


The data and findings presented are based on an Achieve survey conducted in January 2024 consisting of 554 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older who completed at least one buy now, pay later transaction in 2023. Respondents were identified from a sample of 1,000 consumers representative of Census Bureau benchmarks of the U.S. population for age, gender, race and ethnicity.

About the Achieve Center for Consumer Insights

The Achieve Center for Consumer Insights is a think tank that leverages Achieve’s team of digital personal finance experts to provide a view into the state of consumer finances. In addition to sharing insights gleaned from Achieve’s proprietary data and analytics, the Achieve Center for Consumer Insights publishes in-depth research, bespoke data and thoughtful commentary in support of Achieve’s mission of helping everyday people get on the path to a better financial future.

About Achieve

Achieve, THE digital personal finance company, helps everyday people get on, and stay on, the path to a better financial future. Achieve pairs proprietary data and analytics with personalized support to offer personal loans, home equity loans and debt resolution, along with financial tips and education and a free mobile app, Achieve MoLO (Money Left Over). Achieve has 2,500 dedicated teammates across the country with hubs in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. Achieve is frequently recognized as a Best Place to Work.

Achieve refers to the global organization and may denote one or more affiliates of Achieve Company, including (NMLS ID #138464); Achieve Home Loans, Equal Housing Lender (NMLS ID #1810501); Achieve Personal Loans (NMLS ID #227977); Achieve Resolution (NMLS ID # 1248929) and Freedom Financial Asset Management (CRD #170229).


Erica Bigley

Vice President

Corporate Communications

[email protected]



Austin Kilgore


Corporate Communications

[email protected]


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