What is the Minimum Credit Score for Affirm Approval?

Sometimes you need to make a purchase and it can’t wait until payday. Many retailers will now give you a helping hand, allowing you to pay for purchases in four no-interest installments.

Affirm is a well-known Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) service. When you use Affirm to finance an item, you can take it home immediately and pay it off in installments. But what credit score do you need to be approved for an Affirm payment plan?

READ MORE: What is Buy Now Pay Later?

Our take: The minimum credit score for Affirm approval is technically about 550, though a credit score of 640 or higher will give you the best odds of approval. The key is whether you’re looking for a longer-term loan (where you’ll need the higher credit score) or a four-payment installment plan (where the lower score may be sufficient).

Affirm credit score requirement: 640 or higher for long-term loans

Qualification criteria for BNPL programs are complicated, but you have a good shot with Affirm if your credit score is above 640.

But if your credit score is lower, you may not be out of luck.

Affirm approval odds: You are “more likely to be approved” with a score of 640 or above. However, there have been reports of some borrowers with credit scores around 550 being approved. Approval’s possible if your score exceeds 600, but that will depend on factors like your revolving balances and how many hard inquiries are on your credit report. Factors like payment history and whether you’re near your credit limit will make a difference.

Affirm is unique in the BNPL industry because it offers both longer-term installments and “pay in four” plans. Those longer-term loans mean Affirm’s credit score requirement is slightly higher than most other BNPL companies.

Affirm’s minimum credit score for short-term loans: 550 or higher

Affirm’s short-term four-payment plans have lower minimum credit score requirements. Your best shot for approval for one of those plans is a minimum credit score of about 550. There may be some additional flexibility if you’ve completed Affirm payment plans in the past.

Pro tip: Factors like whether you’ve paid off previous Affirm loans will also be considered. If your score is 550 or higher and you don’t have any significant black marks on your credit reports, apply for a virtual Affirm card. It only requires a soft credit check, so it won’t hurt your credit score, and that way the money is available to you when you need it and you won’t have to risk having your application declined in the store checkout line.

Affirm at a glance

Loan amounts$50 to $17,500
Minimum credit scoreNone stated, but reports show borrowers will need a minimum of about 550 for approval. A score of 640 or higher offers the best odds of approval.
Interest charges0% for pay-in-four plans or up to 36% APR for monthly installment plans
Credit checkYes, a soft one that won’t affect your credit score
Payment structuresPay over four installments over eight weeks or a monthly payment plan
Late feesNone, but you likely won’t be approved for additional Affirm payment plans if you’ve made late payments in the past
Other feesNone
AvailabilityOnline and in brick-and-mortar stores
Payment reschedulingNo, but technically there’s no penalty for missing a payment and rescheduling it
What happens if my Affirm application is denied?You’ll have to pay the full balance for your purchase outright or use a credit card. However, you still may be approved for a different Affirm purchase

Other Affirm approval requirements and considerations

In addition to your credit score, your loan application may also be affected by any or all of the following:

  • Your credit utilization ratio
  • Your previous payment history with Affirm, including overdue payments, deferred payments, and loan delinquency
  • How long you’ve had an Affirm account
  • The number of loans you currently have with Affirm
  • Verification of your income and debt obligations and recent bankruptcies

Do Affirm loans appear on credit reports?

It depends on the type of payment plan you have. Affirm is one BNPL provider that typically will report information to the three major credit bureaus.

  • If you sign up for one of the no-interest payment plans, it likely will not be reported to the credit bureaus at all unless you pay late or skip a payment.
  • If you sign up for an installment loan with monthly payments, it will be reported to Experian and will appear on your credit report.

Pro tip: Each Affirm application is evaluated as a separate, closed-end transaction with different approval criteria, so you can have several Affirm loans open simultaneously. It may also mean that even if you’ve been turned down for one Affirm plan, you may still be approved for the next one. It varies by loan amount and retailer.

Does Affirm approve borrowers with bad credit?

Sometimes they do. It can’t hurt to take a shot. There’s a pretty extensive range that’s considered the “minimum credit score for Affirm,” so as l long as your credit score is higher than 550, it’s worth applying — as long as you don’t have any black marks on your credit reports, like delinquent accounts, charge-offs or bankruptcies. Affirm will also be more flexible about credit scores if you’ve successfully repaid previous Affirm loans.

It’s also possible to be approved for an Affirm “pay in four” plan with bad credit.

Pro tip: Bad credit is usually a score of 580 or below.

Does Affirm check credit?

Yes, Affirm will conduct a soft credit check through Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, but that won’t affect your credit score. One of the major perks of companies like Affirm is the ability to take on new credit without a change to your score. You can create an account and prequalify with no impact.

Pro tip: Soft inquiries don’t show up on your credit report and only require a phone number and address. Hard inquiries require your Social Security number, income, and credit utilization ratio and will appear on your credit report.

Will Affirm boost your credit score?

Affirm will only help your credit score if you sign up for one of the longer-term payment plans. The short-term, no-interest plans won’t help your credit score (and probably won’t even be reported to the credit bureaus at all) but could hurt it if you pay late or don’t make on-time payments.

Affirm’s longer-term loans could help your credit score if you make all of your payments on time. If you miss or make late payments, it will hurt your score.

Pro tip: A single late or missed payment will stay on your credit report for up to seven years.

Since these purchases are considered loans, they will also affect your debt-to-income ratio. This could also affect your credit score because lenders use DTIs and other aspects of your financial profile — like your credit history — to evaluate whether to give you a new loan and determine lending limits.

What makes Affirm different?

Affirm is a point-of-sale payment plan. At checkout, in-store or online, you can pay for your purchases in installments. Affirm is one of several companies offering these plans. Others include Afterpay, Sezzle, Klarna and PayPal Pay in 4. These companies are known as Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) or pay-in-four plans. 

These new-ish financing options are similar to old-school layaway plans, but you get to take the item home immediately before it’s been paid in full. It splits the purchase amount up into four or more payments.

With a layaway plan, the consumer gives an installment deposit towards the product’s sale price and makes subsequent installments while the store puts the item on hold. The product is handed over to the consumer when the last payment is made.

Affirm differs from most other BNPL companies because you can split your total into more than four payments. However, you need to use caution because, unlike similar companies, Affirm charges interest on some plans. The interest charges can often be an unpleasant surprise for users who’ve used similar companies. Make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully.

How Affirm works

When you get to the checkout, you’ll be offered the option to split up your payments. Or you can get a virtual Affirm card in the Affirm app. According to the Affirm website, the minimum loan amount required to use Affirm payments is $50, while the maximum is $17,500.

Affirm payment plans are repaid in the app or at Affirm.com with a linked debit card or checking account, or you can mail a physical check. For some purchases, the down payment and all installments can be charged to a credit card.

Does Affirm charge interest?

Yes and no. Affirm doesn’t charge interest if you pay in four installments. However, if you finance your purchase over an extended period, you will pay up to 36% APR.

Affirm also doesn’t charge hidden fees. There are no origination fees or prepayment fees.

How can I contact Affirm customer service?

You can contact them via email at [email protected] or call them at (855) 423-3729. Their customer care agents are available 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Central Time seven days a week.

Popular retailers that use Affirm

Here are a few popular retailers that offer financing through Affirm:

  • Adidas
  • Best Buy
  • Delta Vacations
  • Expedia hotels and vacation packages
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Nike
  • Peloton
  • Pottery Barn
  • Purple
  • Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Wayfair

First-hand Affirm experiences

Many of the complaints about Affirm are similar. Customer comments primarily cite problems with items that were returned, or paying interest borrowers didn’t know about.

The biggest problems appear to be using Affirm for travel expenses like airfare and hotels. If the trip has a complication requiring you to be refunded by an airline or other travel platform, the money isn’t always returned seamlessly. There can be confusion and long waits. And buyers won’t have the same protections offered through credit cards, like chargebacks for faulty or lost items.

The other is interest. Many people see the option to pay with Affirm and assume there are no interest charges because the “pay in four” option is advertised as interest-free. But when they’re offered the option to pay over a longer term at checkout, not everyone realizes that interest kicks in.

For example, one Affirm user set up a payment plan for a subscription that costs $1,000 per year. She thought she was committing to a loan for $1,000 over 12 months with no interest. However, it turned out that the loan was for 18 months at 36% interest. Not only did she end up paying a significant amount in interest, but when it came time to renew her subscription the following year, she still owed six payments toward the original year and had to double up on payments.

Make sure that if you commit to a BNPL plan, you can afford the payments you agree to. And read the terms to make sure you understand exactly how much you’ll be paying (and for how long). Otherwise, you’ll end up paying extra fees and end up hurting your credit score further.

How to apply for Affirm payment plans

Affirm works with hundreds of major retailers. Applying is easy and can be done at checkout, either in person or online. If you want to save time during checkout, you can use the Affirm app to prequalify for a virtual card, which works like a debit card. You can use this card both in-store and online.

Personal information

Affirm asks for a few pieces of personal information: 

  • Name
  • Age (you must be 18 or older in most states, including U.S. territories)
  • Valid mailing address
  • Email address
  • Mobile phone number
  • Date of birth
  • The last four digits of your social security number

Affirm uses this information to verify your identity and make an instant loan decision.

Is Affirm better than a credit card?

It depends on the type of Affirm loan that you have.

If you’re using a no-interest repayment plan, that will be better than paying with a credit card that’s carrying a balance, and it is definitely better than turning to a payday lender. Plus the installments can help space out the expense, and you can even use a credit card to make those four payments.

If you need a longer-term plan that charges interest, you may be better off using a credit card. Affirm’s maximum interest rate of 36% APR, which is higher than most credit card APRs. You can’t use credit cards to make your Affirm loan payments, so you will have to scrape together the money each month for your loan payment.

Pro tip: Before committing to an Affirm loan, always check your credit card interest rates. Depending on the rate you pay, using a credit card could be significantly cheaper, particularly if you have a targeted low-APR offer for new purchases.

The bottom line

If you need to make a large purchase immediately and can’t afford to pay it off over four payments, Affirm can be a good option for people with credit scores of 550 and up. The interest rate it charges is far lower than what you’d pay a payday lender or even an installment loan for bad credit borrowers.

If you need a longer-term loan from Affirm, remember that you will pay interest, but if you have a credit score in the fair to bad range, Affirm’s interest rates will be lower than what you’d pay a payday or title loan lender.

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