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Affirm financing review
An alternative to credit cards for online purchases, but with some limitations.
Need furniture for your new apartment or a flight home for the holidays? Instead of slapping it on plastic, Affirm could offer more affordable repayment options. But it’s not available in all stores, and financing terms depend on your credit history.
How does Affirm work?
Affirm is an online lender for retail products that works by providing up to $17,500 in financing directly through its partner stores. It’s similar to a credit card, allowing you to make an online purchase immediately and pay it back it in fixed installments. Rates typically range from 0% to 30%, though 0% financing isn’t available with every store. You typically have up to one year to pay it back.
You can borrow with Affirm through its website or through one of its partner’s websites. At checkout, simply choose Affirm as your method of payment.
Unlike some other lenders or credit cards, Affirm performs a soft pull on your credit, meaning your credit score won’t be affected. Once you get a loan, you’ll be notified with a text or email before each monthly payment is due. Choose to pay with ACH transfer, debit card or check. If you choose to pay back your loan sooner, you’ll save on interest and won’t be charged a prepayment fee.
Features of shopping with Affirm
- Extra security. Because you don’t provide a credit card number for purchases made through Affirm, you benefit from an extra layer of protection against identity theft or fraud.
- Flexible payback terms. Depending on how much you can afford to pay each month, choose payback terms of 3, 6 or 12 months using online payments, debit cards or checks.
- No prepayment penalties. Save money and improve your credit score by paying back your loan early — with no added fees.
- No late fees. Don’t worry about getting dinged with a late fee if you miss a payment. But you might have trouble getting another Affirm loan if you have a history of late or missed payments, and this could affect your credit.
- Builds credit. Taking out a loan and repaying it on time improves your credit score.
- Take out multiple Affirm loans at once. Each Affirm application is evaluated as a separate, closed-end transaction, so you can have several Affirm loans open at once.
- Soft credit pull. Applying for Affirm financing won’t hurt your credit score, since it uses a soft credit check, which doesn’t show up on your credit statement.
- Get payment reminders. Affirm will send you email and text reminders about upcoming payments.
- Manage your account on the go. Affirm’s easy-to-use mobile app lets you make payments and manage your account from any device, anywhere.
How much does Affirm cost?
The only cost associated with Affirm financing is the interest on what you borrow — you’ll never be charged a late fee, prepayment fee or other added costs.
Affirm makes it clear how much you’ll pay once you apply for your loan. For example, if you borrow $500 and are offered a 20% interest rate, paying back your loan over three months would cost $516.75 — or $16.75 in interest.
Sometimes, Affirm will require a down payment if you’re not approved for the full purchase amount. Make your down payment with a debit or credit card, and Affirm covers the rest.
Is Affirm safe?
Affirm takes data protection seriously. All sensitive information that you provide Affirm is transferred with TLS and stored with AES 128-bit or higher encryption, and encryption keys are stored at an off-site facility.
Keep in mind that late or missed payments with Affirm can negatively affect your credit score, since Affirm does report to major credit bureau Experian. Make sure you’re able to repay the amount that you borrow within the given timeframe.
Should I use Affirm?
Affirm isn’t right for everyone. It can be useful in some situations, but sometimes other options might a better pick.
Consider Affirm if…
- You need to make a purchase now. Basic household items and emergency plane tickets sometimes can’t wait for you to save up. Affirm allows you to make this purchase right away, sometimes even at a lower rate than a credit card.
- You’re not eligible for a credit card. Affirm works with a wide range of credit types, including those who haven’t built a strong credit history yet.
- Your credit limit is too low. With loans up to $17,500, Affirm beats out many borrower’s credit limits.
Look elsewhere if…
- You can can pay it off in a month or two. It’s cheaper and easier to use a credit card you already have and pay it off before it starts accumulating interest.
- You have time to save. Not an urgent purchase? Avoid taking on unnecessary debt by saving up instead.
- You already have a lot of credit card debt. Consider working on paying off your balance first before taking out a loan to avoid getting caught in a cycle of debt.
How to sign up for Affirm
To sign up for an Affirm account, you’ll need to meet the following criteria:
- Have a credit score of 550 or higher.
- Be at least 18 years old (19 in Alabama).
- Be a citizen or permanent resident of the US.
- Have cell phone service and agree to text alerts.
If you’re eligible to apply, simply create an online account with Affirm or choose Affirm as your payment method when checking out on one of its partner merchant sites.
To create an account directly with Affirm:
Once you have an account, you can now apply for a loan through Affirm for purchases at its partner merchants. Each inquiry begins with a soft credit check, and you’ll learn whether you’re approved shortly after. Affirm might ask for additional information about your checking account to verify your identity and ability to pay. If you’re offered a loan, confirm it to finalize your purchase.
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