How to book a flight via ‘Buy now, pay later’


We are in the middle of the holiday season and if you are planning to travel and haven’t booked it yet, now is the time to finalize your plans. While airlines traditionally accept payment in the form of debit or credit cards, this year a new payment method is available at some cash registers: Buy now, pay later.

BNPL offers a convenient and flexible approach – buy flights now and pay back over time – and it has grown in popularity during the pandemic. While each service works a little differently, this payment method allows you to defer payments in the form of interest or no-interest installment plans, depending on the service and your credit score. Popular BNPL providers include Affirm, AfterPay, Klarna, and Zip (formerly QuadPay), as well as many new players.

Using BNPL can make sense for you if you’re on a tight budget but want to get out before the new year or see friends and family. “According to a recent Affirm survey, 74% of Americans say they will spend more on travel this holiday season than ever before, while 60% fear they can’t afford to travel the way they would like,” said Affirm Chief Commercial officer Silvija Martincevic.

How do you book a flight with a BNPL service?

Many airlines use BNPL services as a payment method at checkout. But there are also other ways to take advantage of BNPL services when booking flights. We’ll show you the four best strategies below.

1. Buy flights direct from airlines with BNPL options

Several airlines have direct partnerships with BNPL services. We recommend that you thoroughly review the terms of each service before selecting one as your payment method. Some BNPL services have late payment fees, high interest rates, or require your first payment at the time of purchase. Many services offer several installment options, such as four payments every two weeks at 0% interest; a pay-in-30-days strategy (where the full balance is due 30 days after making the purchase); or longer financing terms of three, six, 12 or even 36 months at a higher interest rate. It is important to carefully review any repayment plan to avoid high interest rates whenever possible and ensure you can make payments on time.

Airlines with BNPL partnerships (Uplift, Affirm and MarcusPay) currently include:

  • Aeromexico – Uplift
  • Air Canada – Uplift
  • Alaska Airlines – Uplift
  • Allegiant Air – Uplift
  • American Airlines – Confirm
  • Frontier Airlines – Uplift
  • JetBlue – MarcusPay
  • Lufthansa – Uplift
  • Southwest Airlines – Uplift
  • Spirit Airlines – Uplift
  • TAP Air Portugal – Uplift
  • United Airlines – Uplift

To purchase tickets with a BNPL service, go to the airline’s website, select your tickets and click on the BNPL option at checkout. You will then be redirected to the BNPL website or app where you either enter your login or create an account. From there, the BNPL service can provide several options for splitting your payments, explain the interest rate you qualify for (if applicable), and may require your first payment at the time of purchase.

2. Use PayPal Pay in 4

PayPal, an online payment service, can be used as a method of payment for most airline tickets. And now you can select PayPal’s Pay in 4 service, which allows you to divide your payment into four biweekly (automatic) installments at 0% interest. Although the first installment is due at the time of purchase, you have approximately 45 days to pay off the remaining balance.

3. Book through an external travel site

Some third-party flight booking services, including Kayak, Priceline, Expedia, and Travelocity, offer BNPL options for any airline. If the airline you prefer to fly with doesn’t offer a direct BNPL payment option, you can search for tickets on one of these third-party sites instead.

4. Get a virtual BNPL card

Do you already have a BNPL service that you would like to use? Many buy now, pay later companies offer virtual cards, which allow you to purchase items online from websites that do not offer BNPL payment options.

Affirm, Afterpay, Klarna, QuadPay and most other major BNPL services offer this option. To get started, you need to know the final cost of your purchase, including VAT. Log into your BNPL account and request a virtual card, entering the full purchase amount when prompted. It’s helpful to round up to ensure the card is issued at an amount that fully covers your purchase. Once approved, you will be provided with a virtual card number, expiration date, and CVV (Card Verification Value), which you can use as a payment method when ordering airline tickets online.

The amount you spend on the virtual card is then deposited into your BNPL account to be repaid in installments.

5. Consider a 0% APR credit card instead

If the BNPL methods you qualify for have high interest rates or you need more time to repay your purchase, there is another option: a 0% APR credit card. This type of credit card offers no interest for an introductory period, usually between 15 and 20 months. Just make sure you can repay the total balance within the introductory period, otherwise interest will start to pile up and pile up on your debt.

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