Consumer Reports conducted a nationally representative survey of buy now, pay later users to learn more about consumer experiences with and opinions about the payment services. The survey was administered by SSRS via its Opinion Panel of U.S. adults from August 3 to 14, 2022. A sample of 2,013 U.S. adults completed the survey.
CR’s survey found, among other things, that:
- The percentage of Americans reporting that they have ever used a BNPL service has surged in the seven months since we last asked about it in January 2022, rising ten percentage points from 18% in January to 28% in August. And the percentage of Americans who said they had never heard of BNPL shrank from 32% in January to 17% in August.
- Black BNPL users are more likely than Hispanic or white BNPL users to have used BNPL at least six times: 40% of Black BNPL users have used it at least six times, compared with 29% of Hispanic BNPL users and 27% of white BNPL users. Also, Black BNPL users are more likely to say that they will definitely use BNPL again: 59% of Black BNPL users say they will definitely use it again, compared with 49% of Hispanic BNPL users and 37% of white BNPL users.
- Sizeable numbers of BNPL users use it in risky ways: making their BNPL payments with a credit card (24%), making manual payments instead of automatic (29%), and having 4 or more concurrent BNPL purchases (10%).
- People with four or more concurrent purchases are twice as likely to have missed a payment than people with fewer concurrent purchases (18% of those with four or more concurrent purchases missed a payment, compared with 9% of those with fewer concurrent purchases).
- Missing a single payment is among the issues most commonly encountered by BNPL users, experienced by 7% of them, followed by unexpected fees or interest (6%), and having difficulty getting a refund for an item that was returned or never received (5%). Fully 50% of those who had missed at least one payment said it was because they expected to have the money but fell short.
- People with household incomes of $75,000 or more are more likely to say they’ve had no problems with a BNPL service by 13.5 percentage points, 82% compared to 69%, among those with household incomes under $75,000.
- Of those who missed one or more payments, 21% said their debt was sent to a collections agency, and 15% said that the debt appeared on their credit report.