Buy Now Pay Later Singapore Comparison: Atome vs Hoolah vs Grab & More

buy now pay later

From Atome to Hoolah to Grab, there’s now a whole slew of ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ services on the market. Similar to credit card 0% interest instalment plans, these services let you split big ticket purchases into multiple small payments.

While we always advocate making smart financial decisions and spending within your means, we know that these services are awfully attractive given these dark economic times. Even if you can afford the full amount, you might still want to pay by instalment just to free up your cash flow for urgent use.

We’ll take a look at the Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) providers in Singapore below to find out if there’s a catch.

How do Buy Now Pay Later services work?

The idea of splitting an expensive purchase into multiple instalments isn’t new. Credit cards have been offering this for the longest time via their 0% interest instalment plans.

With credit cards, the catch is that you need to pay a one-time processing fee equivalent to a percentage of your transaction. They also charge an early payment fee if you try to pay up earlier or cancel the credit card with which you paid!

On the other hand, the new breed of Buy Now Pay Later providers like Grab PayLater, Atome, Hoolah and Rely are non-bank startups offering similar services, except (seemingly) without the strings attached. 

For a start, they don’t charge us processing fees and early repayment fees. Instead, they make money by charging their partner merchants transaction fees.

That said, you need to pay each instalment on time. BNPL providers will not hesitate to charge you a late payment fee if you miss a payment on the stipulated date, and will suspend your account until you’ve made payment.

It’s also worth noting that most BNPL plans are in the exclusions list for eligible spend tied to your credit card. Be sure to double check the terms and conditions of your credit card before charging the purchase to your credit card!

Buy Now Pay Later comparison: Atome vs Hoolah vs Grab PayLater & more

Here’s a quick list of common BNPL services you might come across while shopping.

Buy Now Pay Later Provider Tenure Late Payment Fee
Atome 3 months From $20
Grab PayLater 4 months $10
hoolah 3 months From $5
OctiFi 3 months From $15
Pace 3 months From $10
Rely 3 months, or 4 payments every 2 weeks  Up to $40 depending on order value

You may not have the chance to compare and choose your preferred Buy Now Pay Later service if the online store you’re buying from is only be working with one provider.

Still, it’s good to know what you’re signing up for if you’re deliberating between instalment vs paying the full amount. More details on each provider below.

Atome

Buy Now Pay Later Tenure Late Payment Fee Structure Vouchers Merchant List
3 months $20 for the first missed repayment and reactivation of frozen account

If the above mentioned $20 is not paid within 7 days, an additional $10 will be charged, up to a cap of $60

$10 off your first online purchase on Atome

More merchant specific vouchers on the app

View Atome’s partner merchants here.

Atome is one of the more aggressive BNPL providers in Singapore, and has a presence both online and in-store. For in-store purchases, you need to scan and pay via QR code. Do note that the entire process occurs on your phone, which might be quite troublesome to some.

To entice you to shop more, Atome’s app has some online shopping vouchers which may allow you to save a bit on your purchase. 

Make sure you weigh that against the cost of opting to pay by instalment though. For example, if your cashflow is shaky and you end up missing payments, you might be charged up to $60 in late fees!

Grab PayLater

Buy Now Pay Later Tenure Late Payment Fee Structure Sign-up Vouchers Merchant List
4 months $10 for every missed payment and reactivation of suspended PayLater account Bonus Grab points with Grab Postpaid

More merchant specific vouchers on the app

View Grab PayLater partner merchants via the app here.

Grab PayLater has seamless integration with the Grab app, and is only available for online purchases. 

Unfortunately, you can’t earn GrabRewards points if you choose to BNPL via Grab PayLater Instalments. But you can earn points if you opt for Grab PayLater Postpaid, which is a service that lets you consolidate all your purchases within the Grab app into a single bill. 

These 2 options become available after you’ve activated PayLater within the Grab app.

Hoolah

Buy Now Pay Later Tenure Late Payment Fee Structure Vouchers Merchant List
3 months $5 for orders under $99

$15 for orders between $100 to $999.99

$30 for orders over $1,000

More merchant specific vouchers on the app View Hoolah’s partner merchants here. 

Hoolah is probably one of the most well-known Buy Now Pay Later providers in Singapore and it has quite a number of partner merchants.

Its late payment structure is quite confusing, though — Hoolah doesn’t state what the frequency of the late payment charges will be if you miss multiple payments. So make sure you do pay on time and in full to avoid getting slapped with unknown penalties.

OctiFi

Buy Now Pay Later Tenure Late Payment Fee Structure Sign-up Vouchers Merchant List
3 months $15 for every late payment and reactivation of suspended account NIL View OctiFi’s partner merchants here.

Much like the rest of the BNPL service providers, OctiFi provides consumers the option to pay for their purchases in monthly instalments for 3 months.

However, unlike the others, OctFi doesn’t offer sign-up bonuses or merchant-specific discounts. They also have the one of the least diverse range of partner merchants.

Pace

Buy Now Pay Later Tenure Late Payment Fee Structure Sign-up Vouchers Merchant List
3 months $10 initial late payment, increased by $1 per day after the due date

For orders under $40, only one $10 payment is levied for every late payment

For orders above $40, late fees will be 25% of the original order value or $60, whichever is less

$10 off for your first purchase on Pace

View the card specific promotions on the Pace app here

View Pace’s partner merchants here.

Pace’s design is clearly meant to attract millennials — probably the most broke generation to have ever existed in the history of corporate capitalism.

Pace’s late payment fee structure is both confusing and scary. Not only will you be charged a late payment fee, the fee increases along with the size of the purchase as well as the tardiness of your payment. So yeah. Make sure you pay on time!

Rely

Buy Now Pay Later Tenure Late Payment Fee Structure Sign-up Vouchers Merchant List
3 months or 4 fortnights (every 2 weeks) $1 to 40 depending on order value 10% cashback on your first transaction with Rely

More merchant specific vouchers on the app

View Rely’s partner merchants here.

Rely‘s late payment fee structure is incredibly vague. They just tell you not to miss payments without telling you what the charges are. Scary, huh?

It’s worth double checking with their customer service about the late payment fees before you click Buy Now — if you still want to pay by instalment, that is.

Buy Now Pay Later vs 0% credit card instalment plans

For comparison’s sake, let’s also check out the more popular credit cards’ 0% interest instalment plans:

0% Interest Instalment Plan Instalment Tenure Processing Fee Early Repayment Fee
DBS Payment Plan 3, 6, 12, 18 or 24 months 3 or 6 months: 0%
12 months: 5%
18 and 24 months: 6%
$150
OCBC PayLite 3, 6 or 12 months 3 or 6 months: 3%
12 months: 5%
$150
Standard Chartered EasyPay 3, 6 or 12 months 5% $50
UOB SmartPay 3, 6 or 12 months 3 or 6 months: 3%
12 months: 5%
$100

We think it’s a bad idea to opt for the credit card’s 0% interest instalment plan because not only do they tack on processing fees, they also penalise you for paying early. Instalment payments are usually excluded from eligible credit card spending anyway.

If you really, really need to split your purchase into instalments, we’d say that the Buy Now Pay Later services are the lesser evil compared to credit cards. At least the tenures are reasonably short, and you can repay your mini-loan early and not get charged for it.

The only time you might need to consider a 0% credit card instalment plan is if you’re hit with a big medical bill, as some credit cards offer this service with medical providers.

Should you Buy Now, Pay Later?

The reasons for opting for Buy Now Pay Later services or 0% instalment plans may vary between people, but it’s widely agreed that increased cash flow is one of them.

For example, let’s say you need a PC monitor or decent office chair for your WFH setup but don’t have that much cash right now. You could probably save up for it in 3 months, but what would be the point? We might all need to be back at work by then.

In this case, a BNPL plan might make sense. You could benefit from an improved WFH setup right away, while breaking up the payments into more manageable instalments. And you’d still have money left over for food this month.

You should only Buy Now Pay Later if you’re confident about your income in the immediate future and have good discipline. Otherwise, you face the risk of late payment fees, which can snowball into debt.

But be careful about buying things on instalment…

While Buy Now Pay Later services may be a godsend during these lean times, we should still save up for our purchases the good old fashioned way wherever possible.

Remember that opting to “pay later” is essentially borrowing from yourself in the future. Should you run up some emergency expenses next month, you might end up regretting your BNPL purchase.

Buy Now Pay Later services may also create a false sense of affordability around consumer goods by splitting up the cost of an item into smaller packets. And since there’s no credit check process, it’s almost too easy to rack up debt with multiple purchases on instalment — a huge problem in countries like Australia and the UK.

Note that Buy Now Pay Later services are on MAS’s radar, but they aren’t regulated at the moment.

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