Is Walmart’s new payment option a good deal?

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Walmart
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Walmart’s in-store and online shoppers will soon have a new payment option available if they can’t afford to pay for a purchase in full when checking out.

RELATED: Aldi vs. Kroger vs. Walmart: Which grocery store has the lowest prices?

Walmart’s new financing option for both online and in-store purchases

The nation’s largest retailer is teaming up with financial technology company Affirm to offer a new financing option to shoppers. Affirm will help shoppers set up a monthly payment schedule on a wide range of purchases following a quick and easy application process.

Highlights of Walmart’s new payment option

Here are some of the highlights of the new offering, which will be rolling out in Walmart Supercenters almost nationwide* in the coming weeks:

  • Real-time credit decisions made while you shop
  • No hard pull on your credit during application
  • Repayment terms of 3, 6 or 12 months available
  • No hidden fees
  • No late fees

* Not available in Iowa, Puerto Rico or West Virginia

Customers can check online to see if they’re eligible to use this new offering when it becomes available.

Note: You will need to enter your Social Security number for identity verification purposes during the application process.

Approvals are automatically applied when shopping Walmart.com, while in-store shoppers go through a different process. If you’re approved while shopping at a physical store, a unique barcode is sent to your phone that can be scanned at the register.

How much can you finance and what can you buy?

Financing is available on eligible purchases between $150 and $2,000. Eligible purchases include entertainment, home goods, apparel, jewelry, automotive, sporting goods, lawn and garden and toys.

The following product categories cannot be financed through Affirm:

  • Alcohol
  • Baby consumables
  • Gasoline
  • Groceries and food
  • Merchandise at the register
  • Miscellaneous supplies
  • Money services
  • Personal care
  • Pet supplies
  • Pharmacy, health, and wellness
  • Temporary specialty items
  • Tobacco
  • Weapons, ammunition, air guns, gun accessories, and hunting supplies
  • Wireless service plans
  • 1-hour photo

Analysis: Is this a good deal for Walmart shoppers or not

Compared to using a credit card

The interest rate on this payment option appears to be in the 18% to 19% range on a purchase of several hundred dollars, according to this example on the Affirm website:

affirm walmart examples and terms

For comparison, the 18.67% interest rate that’s advertised in the example above is more than one full point higher than the average credit card APR of 17.64% noted in the latest weekly rate report from CreditCards.com.

That means that if you carry a credit card with an average or lower-than-average interest rate, this may not be a deal for you at all.

Compared to using layaway

Depending on when you’re shopping, Walmart’s holiday layaway plan may offer a better fit for your life than this new financing offer.

Walmart has been a leader in the layaway space for several years running now. In fact, it’s already teasing its layaway plan for Christmas 2019!

With a layaway plan, you put down just $10 or 10% (whichever is greater) on holiday purchases. There are no fees to get started and you get to pay off your purchases without interest throughout the holiday season.

If you don’t pay off your items in full by sometime in mid-December, they’re returned to the shelves and you get your down-payment and payments back — minus a $10 cancellation fee.

So, this is a potentially cheaper option to consider if you can be strategic with your purchasing timeline.

Final thought

Walmart’s new financing option might appeal to you if there’s a purchase you really need to make but don’t have cash on hand for. Before you make any decisions, however, explore other options like credit cards you may already use that have a lower rate.

Even better, if you can wait until the fall, take advantage of Walmart’s layaway program and avoid paying interest charges altogether.

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