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Ever since the layaway program was launched in the early 1900s, customers have been able to shop for all their daily needs even if they can’t afford to pay for it all at one time.
When Walmart introduced this payment program in its supercenters, it allowed shoppers to make purchases by making a small initial down payment, and then pay off the remaining balance through regular scheduled payments. With this option, customers could still buy everything they want while still sticking to their budget.
In this post, we’re going to talk about how the prevalent Walmart layaway program came to be and whether it’s still being used by the retail corporation to this day. Let’s get started.
The Layaway Program: A Brief History of Financing Purchases
The concept of layaway has been around for quite some time, but it gained popularity in the United States during the Great Depression in the 1930s. As the economy struggled, people didn’t always have the immediate funds to make full payments for desired items.
This led merchants to start offering layaway plans as a way for customers to reserve items by making partial payments over time. As a result, individuals were able to budget more effectively and acquire items without paying the full amount upfront.
Layaway plans continued to be used by various retailers, including Walmart, over the decades, though their popularity has fluctuated. With myriads of technology at your fingertips, businesses for ways to increase their revenue while still being able to offer their customers generous payment options.
This convenient payment plan was designed to provide flexibility for those who may not want, or be able to, pay the full amount upfront. This was particularly useful during the holiday season or when budgeting for larger purchases.
The program enabled customers to secure their chosen items and take them home once the complete payment is made, offering an alternative to immediate full payment at the time of purchase.
The Two Chapters of Walmart Layaway
Here’s the full story behind the Walmart layaway payment program.
The First Chapter
Between the 1930s and 2006 is what’s considered to be the ‘classic layaway period.’ This was when you, a loyal Walmart customer, were allowed to pay a small down payment to reserve your purchase at the store.
Then, you had to make regular payments, either in weekly or monthly installments, over time until the total cost of the item was covered. Once you paid the full amount, you could finally take home your purchases.
Walmart layaway typically involved paying a down payment, choosing a predetermined payment schedule, and finally, releasing the purchased items once the total payment is completed.
The Second Chapter
However, due to consumer habits and credit card use changes, Walmart discontinued its layaway program in 2006.
Then, a couple of years later came the financial crisis, also known as the Great Recession, which caused havoc in the financial sector. This brought back the idea of paying in installments and renewed customer interest in layaway.
So, Walmart decided to bring it back, but in a more limited capacity than it had been in the past. This limited layaway payment program lasted until 2020 when the retail corporation offered its customers full layaway once again. But that only lasted for a short while.
Finally, sometime during that same year, Walmart made the decision to do away with its time-honored layaway program and for good this time.
Walmart Partners Up with Affirm
Despite having let go of layaway, Walmart knew it couldn’t keep its customers in a lurch without providing them with a reliable alternative. So, it began looking for a way to increase sales, especially during the holiday season. It also wanted to continue attracting a wide range of customers, from the low-income to the well-off.
This led the retail corporation to team up with Affirm.
Walmart’s partnership with Affirm actually has two key dates. The first was on February 27, 2019. This is when the initial partnership launched, allowing customers to use Affirm for installment payments at nearly 4,000 Walmart supercenters across the US.
The second was on December 4, 2023. This date marks the expansion of the partnership where Affirm’s “buy now, pay later” option was integrated into self-checkout kiosks at over 4,500 Walmart stores. It was also able to reach beyond the brick-and-mortar supercenters and included online and app purchases as well.
Affirm Financing: Buy Now, Pay Later
Affirm is a financing option offered by Walmart that allows you to buy items and pay for them over time with fixed monthly payments.
Think of it like this: You get the stuff you want now, but at the same time you don’t have to pay the full cost right then and there.
Instead, you get to spread the cost over time, in many instances without even having to pay interest while Affirm handles the financing part of the deal. So, there’s no need for a down payment or credit card!
Basically, it’s like getting a loan for your purchase, which you agree to pay back over a set period. But instead of making the payments directly to Walmart, you now make them to Affirm via the Affirm app on your smart device or through the Affirm website.
The good news is that you get your products right away. However, the trade-off is that there’s a credit check as well as possible finance fees that come with some of Affirm’s payment plans.
It’s worth noting that Affirm provides you with a clear understanding of the total cost and the specific monthly payments before you make the purchase. So, there are no extra hidden fees or compounding interest that catch you off-guard. That said, however, you still need to carefully go over the terms and conditions before agreeing to any loan.
Also, keep in mind that Affirm financing may not be the best option for everyone. Therefore, it’s crucial that you carefully consider your budget and financial situation before using it.
Walmart Affirm Payment Plans
Affirm’s payment plans provide flexibility for customers to manage their budgets by spreading the cost of their purchases over time. The most common payment plan is over 3–6 months. You’ll see the total cost upfront, and if you pay within the agreed timeframe, you won’t be charged any interest.
Take a look at the three most common types of Affirm plans:
- 3-Month Plan: With this plan, you can split your purchase into three equal payments, paid monthly.
- 6-Month Plan: This option allows you to divide the total cost of your purchase into six equal payments, with monthly payments.
- 12-Month Plan: The 12-month plan extends the repayment period, allowing you to make equal payments over a year.
How to Use Walmart Affirm
Here’s how you can get started with Walmart Affirm financing:
- Shop at Walmart online, in the app, or at most self-checkout kiosks.
- Look for items eligible for Affirm financing (most are included, but not all).
- Choose Affirm at checkout and select “Affirm” as your payment method.
- Enter some basic info and get a quick decision on your loan from Affirm.
- Next, go to Affirm.com/walmart and see if you qualify for the amount you expect to spend.
- If you do, then look for a repayment schedule that best fits your budget.
- Finally, you can now start making convenient payments through the Affirm website or app.
Below are some key takeaways to keep in mind before you start using Walmart’s ‘buy now, pay later’ payment program.
- You can use Affirm in-store at any Walmart location or online at Walmart.com.
- Items not eligible for Affirm at Walmart include weapons, firearms, certain knives, ammunition, or any kind of weapon regulated under applicable laws.
- Affirm may not charge interest for most purchases, but if you stretch your payments out over three months or more. they might charge a simple interest of anywhere between 10% to 36% depending on your creditworthiness and the total loan amount.
- Affirm may offer special financing promotional plans, such as 0% Annual Percentage Rate (APR), on select products purchased via the store app or online.
- Another promotional plan is a 0% APR financing for a specific period, like 3 or 6 months, and if you pay off the purchase within that timeframe, you won’t have to pay any interest.
- There are no down payments, service fees, late fees, or cancellation fees.
In conclusion, Walmart layaway was a payment option that allowed customers to set aside their purchases at the store to keep them ‘on hold.’
Yet, due to changes in consumer trends, it was soon replaced by the Walmart Affirm payment program. This new financing option lets customers take home their purchases and pay for them later with fixed monthly payments. It’s similar to a loan you get from the bank but without any of the hassle of down payments or hidden fees.