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H&M has a new ‘buy now, pay later’ option, and we’re not sure how we feel about it

H&M has a new ‘buy now, pay later’ option, and we’re not sure how we feel about it
[Photo: Flickr user Will Buckner]

Forget about wave-and-pay. The future is here, and it’s no pay. Today H&M announced a “new unique payment solution in the U.S., enabling a frictionless and flexible checkout.” And oh how frictionless it is: it’s called Pay Later. Yes, you walk out of the store with clothes and pay some other time. Or you can just bring them back within 30 days. Or skip the store altogether and have the clothes shipped to you gratis.

The service is offered through millennial fav Klarna, a Sweden-based company that pays for products on behalf of customers, and offers options to pay off the balance in a few weeks. Typical options are four biweekly payments, or paying 30 days later with no interest. Only H&M loyalty program members can participate.

Is this a good idea? Questionable! A U.K. survey shows that a third of 25-34 year olds have used buy-now-pay-later in the past year, and 39% said their credit scores had gone down. The survey was not specific to Klarna, which released a statement saying that only 0.5% of its users have had negative impacts on their credit scores. The take-home message: Read the fine print.

Expect to see Klarna across America this year. The company is popular in Europe, alongside companies like Payl8er and Clearpay, where it is available in over 10,000 stores, and has worked with brands including Samsung, Ikea, Expedia Group, and AliExpress. It was valued at over $5.5 billion last year, indicating that “pay later” customers are very profitable, and you might think twice before becoming one.

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