Black Friday and Cyber Monday might officially be over but many sales are carrying on and this year experts reckon we’re set to spend £2.53bn on discounted laptops, TVs and more. So have you got the right plan to pay for your bargain haul?
Shoppers on the hunt for a deal are forecast to spend 3.4% more than last year, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research commissioned by VoucherCodes.co.uk. And while Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be a good time to try and find a cheaper deal on things you want or need (provided you do your research), it’s important not to get carried away and rack up debt in the process.
Here, we explain how to pay for Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases in the savviest way, from ‘buy now pay later’ schemes like Klarna to cashback sites and credit cards, and advise on how to avoid falling into unmanageable debt.
- For the Which? experts’ pick of the best discounts on everything from MacBooks to mattresses, head to our Black Friday 2019 deals hub.
1. Try ‘buy now pay later’ to delay or stagger payments
A new wave of ‘buy now pay later’ firms have started to appear at the checkout over the past couple of years. But each one works slightly differently and using one has implications for your credit score if you don’t pay on time.
These companies can sometimes tempt you to spend more than you normally would on small-ticket items like clothes and beauty products, which could land you in a debt spiral if you can’t keep up with repayments.
You should also bear in mind that you’ll have to pay back this kind of credit sooner than you would if you used a credit card. This can range from 30 days to three months, so you could quickly lose control of your short-term budget.
Here we explain what you need to know about the three biggest firms if you’re considering using them to pay for your Black Friday purchases.
- Find out more: Black Friday ‘deals’ aren’t always all they seem
Swedish firm Klarna has partnerships with more than 3,000 retailers, including Asos, Topshop, H&M and Schuh.
If you’re approved for the purchase, you can delay your payment by 30 days interest-free with the ‘Pay Later’ option. Watch out, though: payment isn’t taken automatically so you will need to remember to pay online before the 30 days are up.
Alternatively, you could go for Klarna’s ‘Slice it in 3’ option, which allows you to spread the cost of more expensive purchases over three months, interest-free. With this option, payments are taken automatically from a nominated account.
Unlike its rivals, Klarna doesn’t charge late payment fees. However, if you default it may charge the outstanding balance on any card it has for you.
Crucially, it will also report any failure to pay to credit reference agencies. They will record this information on your credit report, which could impact your credit score and ability to borrow in the future – for example, if you want to take out a mortgage or credit card.
- Find out more: should you use Klarna to pay for flights and hotels?
Laybuy is a ‘buy now pay later’ service that can be used in-store (for example, you can spread the cost of a haircut and highlights at Toni & Guy) as well as online with participating retailers.
Unlike Klarna and Clearpay, Laybuy will perform a hard credit and affordability check (carried out with Experian), which will be visible on your credit report.
If you’re accepted, you can spread the payment across six instalments interest-free. You’ll need to pay a sixth of an item’s purchase price upfront. The remaining five payments are then charged weekly on the day of your choosing.
With Laybuy, your repayment dates will be locked in from the moment you make the purchase. You won’t be able to stop payments being charged to your debit or credit card, which means you won’t be able to prioritise other payments like your rent or mortgage if things get tight.
If you make a late payment you will be hit with fees, and after 30 days Laybuy will instruct a debt collection agency to collect the debt and will record this on your credit report.
Clearpay is the UK arm of the Australian payment service Afterpay. It launched in the UK earlier this year and is headed up by former PayPal chief Carl-Olav Scheible.
It’s smaller than the likes of Klarna and Laybuy but is available with a handful of popular online fashion retailers including Boohoo and JD Sports. It will soon be available to M&S customers, too.
Clearpay allows users to spread the cost of purchases between £30 and £800 over four instalments interest-free after a soft credit check.
The first instalment is set at 25% of the purchase price and paid at the checkout; the remaining three payments are staggered at two-week intervals across a maximum of six weeks.
So if you had a basket worth £400 you would pay £100 up front and then make three more payments of £100 to pay off the balance.
Like Laybuy, payments are taken automatically from a nominated account, so you must ensure you have enough money to cover each instalment to avoid running into trouble with other priority payments like your rent or mortgage.
If you’re late with a payment you will be hit with a fee. For each order of £30 or above, fees are capped at 25% of the original order value or £36, whichever is less. Late fees will also be recorded on your credit report, which could impact your future borrowing ability.
- Find out more: M&S to offer ‘buy now pay later’ service with Clearpay
2. Use a credit card for extra safety and rewards
A credit card can be a savvy way to pay for big-ticket Black Friday purchases.
That’s because purchases costing between £100 and £30,000 are covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which means if anything goes wrong with your order your credit card provider is jointly liable to reimburse you.
But if you’re planning to put your purchases on a credit card, be smart about which one you choose.
0% purchase credit cards
A 0% purchase credit card can help you spread the cost of a big purchase, and means you won’t pay interest for a set period of between 3 and 26 months.
If you were to spend £1,000 on Black Friday deals and put them on a card with a 12-month interest-free period, you could break this up into monthly instalments of £83.33.
Just make sure you have a plan on how to pay back what you borrow to avoid being hit with interest when your 0% period runs out, and always make the minimum monthly payment.
If you reach the end of the interest-free period and haven’t fully cleared the balance, you may be able to shift your balance onto a 0% balance transfer credit card to keep your debt interest free. However, these cards tend to charge a one-off fee and there’s no guarantee you’ll be offered a high enough credit limit to cover your remaining debt.
- Find out more: how 0% purchase credit cards work
Cashback credit cards
With a cashback credit card you get a small percentage of what you spend back, usually as a credit on the card.
So a card with a 0.5% cashback rate could earn you £5 on a £1,000 purchase, while a card with a 5% rate could earn you £50.
The key to making the most out of these deals is to pay off your balance in full each month, otherwise the rewards will be quickly dwarfed by the interest you are charged.
- Find out more: check out cashback credit cards using Which? Money Compare
Reward credit cards
Some retailers, including John Lewis, M&S, Tesco and Waitrose, offer reward credit cards. These reward spending with points that can then be exchanged for vouchers.
With these cards, you’ll usually be given extra points when shopping with the associated brand, so this is worth bearing in mind if you plan to hit these retailers in the Black Friday sales.
However, once again, it’s essential that you pay off your balance in full every month to avoid hefty interest charges.
- Find out more: explore reward credit cards with Which? Money Compare
3. Use forgotten loyalty points and gift vouchers
Our tendency to forget the money we have on gift cards and vouchers is particularly concerning as they often have a short shelf-life and typically expire after a year.
To avoid losing out, round up your loyalty cards and vouchers, check how much you have on them and then work out how best to take advantage of them during the Black Friday sales.
Nectar points, for example, can be spent at Argos, Halfords and eBay as well as Sainsbury’s.
- Find out more: best and worst supermarket loyalty cards
4. Check for voucher codes
Retailers might be slashing prices but you could potentially save even more by using a voucher code at the checkout.
Some retailers offer a discount code when you sign up to their newsletter and you may even have old receipts with a code that hasn’t been used.
5. Pay via a cashback website to save
To save even more on your purchase it’s worth shopping through a cashback website.
These sites pay you a percentage of what you spend or a lump sum bonus based on what you buy when shopping through tracked links.
Below you can see how the cashback rates and bonuses compare across some popular retailers that are likely to have Black Friday sales.
|Quidco||TopCashback||My Money Pocket|
|Currys||Up to £80.50||15%||12%|
Rates correct as of 27 November 2019
Video: three things you need to know about cashback sites
When you click on a retailer link on our site, we may earn affiliate commission. This supports our not-for-profit mission to empower consumers and in no way affects our recommendations. Find out more.
Please note that the information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Please refer to the particular terms and conditions of the account or credit card provider before committing to any financial products.