ATLANTA, GA – With March officially recognized as National Credit Education Month, Purchasing Power®, a voluntary benefit company offering the leading employee purchase program through the convenience of payroll deduction, suggests consumers consider the pros and cons of credit cards and other ways to meet short-term purchasing needs without compromising long-term finances.
Whether it’s replacing a broken appliance, upgrading technology or surprising a loved one with the perfect gift, most Americans need an easy, responsible way to buy what we need, when we need it. Cash isn’t always readily available. In fact, more than one-third of full-time employees have less than $1,000 saved to deal with unexpected expenses1. Many turn to credit cards, but depending on an individual’s credit score and ability to pay current balances, other options may offer a better alternative. Consider the following:
- Credit Cards. For those who qualify for low-interest cards or have the money to pay off their balance at the end of each month, paying with plastic can be a great way to buy. Prime rate credit cards offer low interest rates, rewards points, cash back and other perks. Lines of credit for subprime borrowers, however, often come with a steep annual percentage rate that accrues each month. When only making the monthly minimum payments, these consumers end up carrying that debt for years before it’s fully paid down.
- "Buy now, pay later" or point-of-sale loan. Many companies are teaming up with merchants to make an installment option available at checkout. "Buy now, pay later" lets shoppers break their purchases into equal installment payments without interest or fees, even using a debit card. The retailer pays the processing fee, but they are paid immediately by the lending company who then assumes the risk for sold merchandise. Consumers are able to defer using cash or credit, typically between a few weeks to six months. However, in addition to a typical mandatory credit check, customers need to make sure they understand the fine print about possible missed payments, which can incur late fees, deferred interest or other penalties, depending on the lender.
- Employee purchase program. Consumer products and services are available via automatic paycheck deductions over a 6- or 12-month period. There’s no credit check, zero interest and no hidden fees, and the automatic deduction ensures employees don’t face the consequences of missed payments. Price points may be higher, but without accruing monthly interest, making even payments over a set time offers more value in the long run plus easier monthly budgeting.
- Payday and Installment loans. Payday loans are easy to get, only requiring identification, a job and a checking account. However, they often come with high percentage rates and fees, as well as extremely short repayment schedules. Rely on these loans only if you are certain you can cover the entire loan and associated fees by the designated due date. Installment loan amounts can range from $150 to several thousand dollars, and the loan is typically secured by personal property such as automobiles, consumer electronics, power tools or jewelry. Principal, interest and other finance charges are repaid in fixed monthly installments—typically over six months to a couple of years. APR ranges from approximately 25 percent to more than 100 percent.
"Financial stress from credit card debt and unexpected expenses has become even more heightened through the hardships of the past year," says Trey Loughran, CEO of Purchasing Power. "As employees look for ways to stretch their paycheck and recover from the pandemic, voluntary benefits like employee purchase programs, bill payment programs, financial counseling, medical deductible financing and student loan repayment benefit programs are getting more attention. Employers recognize that productivity levels go up at work when employees are not distracted by financial worries."
About Purchasing Power, LLC
Purchasing Power, LLC, is an Atlanta-based voluntary benefit company offering a leading employee purchase program for consumer products and services through payroll deduction. Helping employees achieve financial flexibility, Purchasing Power is available to millions of people through large companies including Fortune 500s, associations and government agencies. Purchasing Power is a Flexpoint Ford, LLC company. For more information, visit corp.purchasingpower.com.
1PwC 9th annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey, PwC US, 2020