Short On Cash? How Buy Now, Pay Later Services Are Changing How Consumers Think About Travel

Before the pandemic, Buy Now, Pay Later was quietly testing the waters of travel. Now it’s taking over. Will the industry ever be the same

[Source Images: Getty]


Picture it—you on the perfect beach, soaking up the sun, far from home, and without a care in the world. Maybe you’re staying in a stylish Airbnb just steps away, maybe you even splurged and flew here in business class, and you’ll do the same thing when it’s time to go home. That is if you ever leave, and why would you? After all, you didn’t pay a cent for the trip. Not yet, anyhow.

Frequent online shoppers—which is all of us these days, it seems—will most likely have a passing familiarity with the growing number of ways to pay the tab, or not pay, at least not for the time being; third-party services such as Klarna, Afterpay, Affirm, and Uplift are all battling for the opportunity to float you a small (or sometimes, not so small) personal loan to purchase everything from that back-to-office outfit to the bedroom set of your dreams.

After years of kicking the tires, and fresh on the heels of the largest sustained setback the travel industry has ever faced, Buy Now, Pay Later as it’s commonly known, wants to change the way you book your next trip. Suddenly, it seems as if every major provider, particularly third-party booking engines like Priceline and Expedia, is happy to give travelers the option to pay in sometimes minuscule installments. Some—PayPal Credit, for example, now an option for any Airbnb bookings—give you a generous promotional financing period that could end up allowing you to take your entire trip without opening your wallet even once, all without paying a cent’s worth of interest.

Booking travel has never been easier, or more flexible—no need to even check your balances before planning and executing your trip, no need to worry about cash flow, or spending your last cent before next payday on a taxi to the airport.

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