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What you need to know about in-store finance

In-store finance can give you a way to buy now and pay later. Here we look at how different options work and the potential fees involved.

In-store finance is traditionally offered directly through a store or company, particularly for big-ticket items such as furniture, electronics and jewellery. This type of finance usually gives you an interest-free period so that you can get what you want straight away and then pay it off over time or at a later date.

As well as offers you see in a particular store, there are some credit cards that provide you with specific in-store finance options. Many stores also offer interest-free payment options through Rely, Hoolah or other similar services.

Use this guide to help you decide if an in-store finance offer is worth it for you.

How does in-store finance work?

Imagine your laptop has just broken and you don’t have enough money to buy a new one. In this scenario, you shop around and find the laptop you want for S$1,200 at a departmental store that has an interest-free payment plan available. You decide to weigh up two options: get a 30-month interest-free plan directly through the store, or purchase the laptop on a credit card that offers 0% p.a. on purchases for 12 months.

  • In-store finance plan. In this scenario, the departmental store’s interest-free financing offer gives you 30 months interest-free. During the first 20 months, you would have to pay a minimum of 3% of the outstanding balance per month. The minimum payment then changes to S$20 per month for the remaining 10 months. After that, interest begins to accrue at 25.99% p.a.
  • If you only made the minimum payment, it would take 5 years and 2 months to pay off the laptop. This is a total of 62 months, meaning you’d be charged interest for more than half the time you were paying off the laptop.
  • 0% purchase rate credit card. Say you get a card that offers 0% interest for the first 12 months and has a minimum payment of $30 per month. After the introductory period, interest would accrue at 20.74% p.a.
  • If you continued to make only the minimum payment, it would take 4 years and 3 months to pay off the laptop. This is a total of 51 months, which means you’d be charged interest for over 75% of the time you were paying off the laptop.

Who is in-store finance designed for?

In-store finance is offered to people who may not have enough cash to pay for something outright, or who want the flexibility to pay off purchases over time. For example, if you needed a new fridge but couldn’t afford the one that you wanted, you could consider one of these interest-free payment plans as a solution.

These types of plans typically give you a set period of time when you can pay off your purchase without any interest charges, as long as you meet the repayment requirements. This could mean making minimum monthly payments towards the purchase or providing the full amount at the end of a fixed period of time.

If you don’t meet the offer’s requirements, you’ll usually face additional fees and/or interest charges until the balance is cleared. As in-store finance offers vary a lot, it is important that you carefully read through the offer details before you apply.

Types of in-store finance options

Depending on your purchase, you’ll usually be able to get either of the following flexible payment options:

  • Instalment plans. With these offers, you can get the item you want straight away and are then required to pay it off in instalments. Some of these plans divide the payments into equal instalments (eg S$200 per month) while others have a minimum payment amount you must meet. You may also have the option of paying more if you want to settle the balance sooner.
  • Buy now, pay later. Also known as a deferred payment option, this type of plan requires payment in full at the end of the interest-free period. While these plans don’t usually require a deposit, you may have to pay a credit establishment fee or an annual fee once the plan is set up.

Regardless of the type of offer, you will usually need to meet a minimum spend requirement before you’re eligible for an in-store finance offer. A deposit or processing fee may also apply if you are approved.

In-store finance and your credit history

It’s important to note that many of these plans are set up as credit accounts, meaning you will need to fill in an application that is subject to lending criteria and approval.

Your credit history and credit score can have an impact on your application, so if you’re not sure what details are currently listed, you can check your credit score by purchasing a copy of your credit report from Credit Bureau Singapore (CBS) at any time. Another key point to remember: after you submit an application, the details will be added to your credit history and could also affect your credit score.

Credit cards that offer in-store finance options

There is a small selection of credit cards that regularly give you access to in-store finance offers. The plans available vary depending on the card and participating retailers, but they typically offer you longer interest-free periods than you would get for regular purchases made on the card.

If you own one of such credit cards and want to take advantage of an in-store finance offer, let the store’s staff know before you pay for your purchases. They can then explain the requirements and set up the payment plan. Alternatively, you could call your credit card company and ask about the requirements before you go shopping.

Interest-free payment plans that are linked to a credit card

Some retailers offer interest-free payment plans that come with a credit card or give you the option of getting a credit card when you apply for finance.

There are also many stores that offer interest-free finance through the various banks, allowing you to apply for the card and finance offer on-the-spot before you make your purchase. Often these cards have high standard interest rates that apply when the promotional period ends, so it’s important to check the rates, fees and other offer details before you apply.

Compare credit cards and providers that offer in-store and interest-free finance plans

1 - 20 of 52
Name Product Interest Rate Reward Annual Fee Min Income - Singaporean and PR
DBS Altitude Card
26.8%
Earn up to 5 miles per S$1 spend on travel spend with no expiry
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Receive $150 cashback when you apply online for your first DBS/POSB Credit Card. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 June 2022.
Get fee waiver for the first year and up to S$192.60 thereafter, with 10,000 bonus miles.
Citi Lazada Card
0%
Earn 10x rewards on eligible Lazada purchases and 5x rewards on qualifying dining, entertainment and commute purchases
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
New customers can get up to $250 Lazada & RedMart vouchers upon minimum spend of $250. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
UOB One Credit Card
26.9%
Receive a gift worth up to $250 Grab vouchers when you apply and spend a minimum of $1,500 within 30 days from card approval date.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Receive $150 cash credit when you apply and spend a minimum of $1,500 within 30 days from card approval date. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
UOB Delight Credit Card
26.9%
N/A
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $85.60 thereafter
$30,000
UOB PRVI Miles World Mastercard
26.9%
Earn 1.4 miles per $1 spent locally and 2.4 miles per $1 spent overseas, including online shopping.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $256.80 thereafter
$30,000
Receive up to 21,000 welcome miles when you apply and spend at least $1,500 minimum spend within 30 days from card approval date. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
DBS Live Fresh Card
26.8%
Up to 5% cashback on online and contactless spend (including SimplyGo rides)
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Receive $150 cashback when you apply online for your first DBS/POSB Credit Card. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 June 2022.
UOB EVOL Credit Card
26.9%
Enjoy a wide variety of discounts and cashback rebates on dining, entertainment, online shopping and travel.
$192.60 annual fee
$30,000
Apply and spend at least $1,500 and receive $150 cash credit. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 July 2022.
Citi Cash Back+ Credit Card
26.9%
Get up to 14% fuel discounts at Esso and Shell and 1.6% cash back on eligible retail purchases.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Receive 6% cash back (up to $240 cash back) on up to $4,000 spend in the first 2 months. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 July 2022.
DBS Live Fresh Student Card
26.8%
Get 5% cashback from your favourite brands and your favourite music, movies and TV streaming services.
$0 annual fee for the first 5 years and $192.60 thereafter
N/A
Get 5% cashback from your favourite brands and your favourite music, movies and TV streaming services.
UOB PRVI Miles Visa Card
26.9%
6 air miles for every $1 spent through Expedia, Agoda and UOB Travel
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $256.80 thereafter
$30,000
Receive up to 21,000 welcome miles when you apply and spend at least $1,500 minimum spend within 30 days from card approval date. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
POSB Everyday Card
26.8%
Enjoy up to 10% cash rebates on dining and online shopping at selected e-Marketplaces.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Get up to $150 cashback with promo code ‘150CASH' when you apply online via digibank or Myinfo with Singpass and charge a minimum of $800 within 60 days from card approval date. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 June 2022.
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card
26.9%
Earn 3 KrisFlyer miles per $1 when you spend with Singapore Airlines, Scoot and KrisShop and 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per $1 on all other spend.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Apply and spend at least $1,500 within 30 days and receive up to 12,000 KrisFlyer miles. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 July 2022.
UOB Lady's Card
26.9%
Earn 10X UNI$ (or 20 miles) per $5 spent on a chosen spending category with no min. spend required, and 1X UNI$ (or 2 miles) on other purchases.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Apply and spend at least $1,500 and receive $150 cash credit. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 July 2022.
OCBC Cashflo Credit Card
26.88%
N/A
$0 annual fee for the first 2 years and $160.50 thereafter
$30,000
Receive $200 Panasonic vouchers when you apply and charge at least $500 within 30 days. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 August 2022.
UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card
26.9%
Get 2 air miles per $1 spent overseas and 1.4 air miles per $1 spent locally
$642 annual fee
$150,000
Receive up to 25,000 miles (UNI$12,500) when you’ve paid the annual fee. T&Cs apply.
DBS Woman's Card
26.8%
Up to 10X DBS Points (or 20 miles) per S$5 spent on online and overseas purchases
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $160.50 thereafter
$30,000
Up to 10X DBS Points (or 20 miles) per S$5 spent on online and overseas purchases
UOB PRVI Miles American Express Card
26.9%
Earn 1.4 miles for every $1 spent locally and 2.4 miles for every $1 spent overseas.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $256.80 thereafter
$30,000
Receive up to 21,000 welcome miles when you apply and spend at least $1,500 minimum spend within 30 days from card approval date. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 July 2022.
Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Credit Card
26.9%
Shopping, travel and lifestyle offers at over 3,000 outlets in Asia
$0 annual fee for the first 2 years and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Receive up to $255 cashback and 3-month Disney+ subscription when you spend and apply for at least 1 EasyPay on our cashback credit card.. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 June 2022.
Standard Chartered Rewards+ Credit Card
26.9%
Up to 10X rewards points for every S$1 spent in foreign currency on
overseas retail, dining and travel
$0 annual fee for the first 2 years and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Receive up to $220 cashback and 6-month Disney+ subscription when you spend $200. T&Cs apply. Ends 30 June 2022.
Standard Chartered Spree Credit Card
26.9%
Up to 16% petrol savings at Caltex stations.
$0 annual fee for the first 2 years and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Enjoy up to 3% cashback on all online spend in foreign currency and all vPost spend. Plus, up to 25% off on postal services and lots more.
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Compare up to 4 providers

What other options do I have to shop interest-free?

Credit cards that offer 0% interest instalment payment plans

You could consider a card that offers instalment plans with a reduced or 0% p.a. interest rate. For example, the Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Card offers interest-free instalment plans for up to 36 months, while OCBC Cashflo Card offers cardholders 0% instalment payment plans with rewards earn on eligible new purchases over S$1,000.

Interest-free platforms and providers

Platforms such as Rely and Hoolah have changed the way many people shop by offering a “modern lay-by”. For example, Hoolah allows retailers to offer their customers to buy now and pay later in 4 equal instalments that are paid fortnightly with zero interest.

What to ask before getting in-store finance

man and woman discussing in front of laptop

If you’re thinking about applying for an interest-free payment plan, make sure you ask the following questions:

  • What upfront costs are involved? Check for minimum spend requirements, processing fees, annual account costs and any charges that may apply if you want to settle the balance before the end of the agreement.
  • What charges apply at the end of the interest-free period? Most in-store finance options charge high interest rates if you’re still paying off your purchase when the interest-free period ends. Others may apply ongoing account fees at the end of your term instead. Either way, these costs can quickly add up.
  • What type of account is being opened? Some in-store finance options are linked to a credit card, others offer an ongoing credit facility and some are closed as soon as your balance is settled. Make sure you think about the type of account you want and avoid getting any account that would be hard for you to manage.
  • Will the account be listed on my credit history? Any account details or enquiries that are added to your credit file have the potential to impact on your credit rating (and your ability to get other loans or products). Not all in-store and interest-free finance options are automatically listed, but it is worth checking when you’re comparing options so you can be aware of the potential impact.
  • Do I need to make this purchase right now? If you urgently need something, an interest-free finance plan could give you the breathing space to pay it off over time. But if you want something that’s not urgent, you may want to consider other options, such as saving up for it or splitting the payment between a couple of your existing accounts. Another option is to get a lay-by plan, where you pay for an item in instalments but don’t get it until you make the final payment.

Bottom line

Whether you’re shopping for furniture, booking a holiday or need a new laptop, in-store finance gives you another way to make your purchase and pay it off over time. But watch out for rates and fees that can apply at the start and end of these offers, and make sure you look at other options so that you can make a decision that’s affordable for you.

Picture: Shutterstock

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