How Does Afterpay Work? | Important Considerations

In this article, we’re answering “How does Afterpay work?” First of all, as the name suggests, Afterpay allows consumers to unlock a “buy now, pay later” service across a wide range of retail outlets.

Please note: This is not an option for foreigners and non-residents seeking remote or online account opening options in the United States. If you are seeking banking options as a non-resident, please use the other resources available on our website.

That said, Afterpay is not available everywhere and there are important variables that consumers should consider before using Afterpay at checkout.

We’ll dig into these variables and share where Afterpay is available below. And, we will also be answering common questions we receive on the topic.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. How Does Afterpay Work?
  2. What Is the Downside of Afterpay?
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Ready to Open Accounts With Banks in the USA?

How Does Afterpay Work?

Afterpay is a payment plan provider that allows consumers to unlock “buy now, pay later” options on e-commerce and retail stores interest-free. In doing so, Afterpay (and similar companies) offer an additional layer of financial flexibility to online shopping. 

Importantly, one of the main distinctions between Afterpay and other short-term credit facilities like credit cards, is that Afterpay does not charge interest. And, instead of paying down debt over time through minimum payments, Afterpay requires regular installments along a payment schedule.

This approach to payments makes Afterpay unique, separating it from other US-based digital wallets like Venmo. Comparatively, Venmo is a digital wallet and payment gateway for sending money to your mobile to complete a purchase.

From a consumer perspective, there is another benefit as well which is that late payments are not reported to credit bureaus. As a result, an individual will not be penalized for missing a payment in the same way that they would be with a credit card.

As for the businesses that enable Afterpay, it directly integrates with the business’s existing checkout process, offering short-term consumer financing directly in the shopping cart.

However, as mentioned above, Afterpay is not available to foreign non-residents – on the other hand, other US-based digital solutions such as Zelle are accessible when foreigners open with the right banks.

Before diving in any further, if this is your first time visiting GlobalBanks, don’t forget to download your FREE US Banking Starter Guide. It’s designed to help non-residents with opening bank accounts at top financial institutions in the US.

What Is the Downside of Afterpay?

There are several important downsides of Afterpay that consumers should consider prior to selecting this option at checkout. Like credit cards, the majority of these disadvantages revolve around the poor financial behaviors that access to Afterpay allows, which include:

  1. Spending beyond your means
  2. Late fees for missed payments
  3. Potential for accumulating debt
  4. Complex terms and conditions
  5. Encourages impulsive behavior
  6. A limited selection of merchants

Here is a closer look at a few of these key disadvantages.

Fees Can Apply

If you miss a payment, Afterpay will charge you a late fee. While late fees do not negatively impact your credit score with Afterpay, they do result in you paying more for the original product than it actually costs.

No Choice On When to Pay

Afterpay sets a payment schedule with payment installments that need to be paid. This is very different from the repayment flexibility of a credit card, which allows you to pay when you are ready as long as you meet the minimum monthly payment requirement.

Other Disadvantages to Afterpay

As mentioned, there is a wide range of other disadvantages to using Afterpay, ranging from encouraging impulse behaviors to a limited selection of merchants being available. So, if you are considering Afterpay for an upcoming purchase, don’t forget to think through these disadvantages first.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are three of the most common questions we receive from people looking into how afterpay works. If you have further questions you would like to ask our team, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

How Does Afterpay Work the First Time?

When starting the checkout process, you can select Afterpay from the checkout menu. Then you will need to create an account, link a payment method, and confirm eligibility. After this process is complete, you can complete the purchase. The first payment will be dedicated immediately and the following three payments will be deducted from your payment method every two weeks.

Is It a Good Idea to Use Afterpay?

Afterpay is a good idea if you need to complete a purchase and do not currently have the funds to make the purchase. However, Afterpay can also be a bad idea because it encourages impulse purchases and can result in late fees which contribute to a higher purchase price than the original item.

Can You Use Afterpay With No Money In Your Account?

No, you cannot use Afterpay with no money in your account because you will need to make the initial purchase at the time of checkout. As a result, you will need to have at least a portion of the total purchase price in your account at the time of checkout. The specific portion that needs to be in your account can vary but it is usually around 25%.

Ready to Open Accounts With Banks in the USA?

If so, you can get access to GlobalBanks USA (our dedicated US banking service) in just a few clicks.

GlobalBanks USA is a 100% personal account opening solution. It provides direct access to our team of US banking experts.

When you join, you receive…

+ Expert suggestions on where to open US bank accounts.

+ Step-by-step support to navigate opening US bank accounts.

+ Direct introductions to helpful and responsive bankers.

+ Plus, detailed guides to maximizing the value you get from your new US bank account.

And “yes!” GlobalBanks USA helps foreigners and non-resident individuals open bank accounts.

In fact, GlobalBanks USA even helps non-resident US LLCs and foreign & offshore entities.

To learn more about GlobalBanks USA, visit the product page to see how our team can help you successfully open US bank accounts!

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GlobalBanks Team
GlobalBanks Team

The GlobalBanks editorial team comprises a group of subject-matter experts from across the banking world, including former bankers, analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs. All have in-depth knowledge and experience in various aspects of international banking. In particular, they have expertise in banking for foreigners, non-residents, and both foreign and offshore companies.

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