Buy now pay later has popped up at most retailers today, but who is using it and how? When it first came out BNPL was used mostly on big-ticket items - think furniture, electronics, etc. Today, though people of all ages are using it for everyday purchases.
As the economy continues to make it tougher to stay afloat, consumers are looking for alternative ways to afford what they need, and buy now, pay later is a great option for them.
How Buy Now Pay Later Changed Recently
First, it helps to look at the incredible surge in using BNPL overall. In a PYMTS study, they found that BNPL usage grew 85% in a 15-month period from 2020 to 2021. The surge was mostly due to COVID-19, the lockdown, and the money issues millions of people suffered.
Who is Using Buy Now Pay Later (2021-2022)?
To further dive into who is using BNPL and how we looked at the age as a demographic breakdown of its use to see how people are using it.
Who’s NOT Using BNPL
First, let’s start with who’s NOT using it. This probably won’t come as a surprise, but the age group with the largest percentage of people not interested in BNPL is 55 years or older. Baby Boomers are set in their ways and more financially protected than younger generations. They have pensions, retirement accounts, and 401Ks to carry them through and most don’t believe in racking up debt.
In fact, 15% of those 55 years and older don’t even know what buy now, pay later is, or how it works.
Surprisingly, though, about half of 35 - 54-year-olds aren’t interested either and about 37% of 18–34-year-olds haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet either.
Who Uses it Regularly - Demographics by age group?
Now let’s look at the opposite. Who uses BNPL regularly to get what they need? Again, not surprising, that 18 - 34-year-olds use it the most, but only 16% of them. Just about 9% of 35 - 54-year-olds use it regularly and 5% of those 55 years and older.
On the contrary, among those that have used BNPL but just not regularly is just about the same as those that use it regularly at 15%, 10%, and 8% for 18 - 34-year-olds, 35 - 54-year-olds, and those over 55-years old respectively.
What’s the Interest Level?
Of those that haven’t used buy now, pay later yet, 10% of 18 - 34-year-olds are very interested in it but 14% are only somewhat interested. Only 4% of 35 - 54-year-olds are somewhat interested and a meager 5% of 55+ year-olds are interested.
Buy Now, Pay Later Use by Education and Income Level
It might surprise you to learn that the people that use BNPL most are educated and have a high income. Consumers with lower income (less than $50,000) are not like to use it at all, as are those without a college education.
It makes sense, though because if you live paycheck-to-paycheck, BNPL probably isn’t the best idea. You sign an agreement and set up automatic payments for every 2 weeks following your purchase. If you already live paycheck-to-paycheck, it’s hard to add another bill to your budget and pay everything on time.
High-income earners have a much easier time spreading out their payments and making them on time without causing a struggle in other areas. College-educated consumers also understand how BNPL works, and that they don’t pay interest or fees as long as they make the payments on time.
Comparing BNPL to Credit Cards
How does BNPL usage compare to credit cards? The difference is quite shocking.
Since BNPL is so new though, it hasn’t been as adapted as credit cards which have been around for decades.
For example, 78% of 55 - 64-year-olds have and use credit cards and 68% of those 65+ years old do too. This is likely because they are used to credit cards, know how they work, and trust them versus the new BNPL model.
55% of 18 - 29-year-olds have a credit card too, so credit cards aren’t going away with the onslaught of buy now, pay later options.
Will it catch on faster and more people use buy now, pay later? Only time will tell. As more retailers offer it and it becomes more common, people may catch on to the hype and understand that they aren’t paying interest or fees for most buy now, pay later plans as long as they choose the Pay-in-4 model.
It can be a great way to get the items you need without breaking the bank. Consumers just need to make sure they can truly afford the purchase before agreeing to buy now, pay later as it’s a stricter payment structure than credit cards that requires payments every 2 weeks, paying the total purchase off in 8 weeks versus making a minimum payment and carrying a balance as long as you want like credit cards.