Most of us would love to travel now, like, right now. But, having to pay for it right now always seems to get in the way. United Airlines wants to make every impetuous travelers’ dreams a reality with a new “fly now, pay later” option.
This month, the airline became the latest U.S. carrier to add Uplift’s deferred payment plan to its online checkout process. The plan works like most other “buy now, pay later” services that open an additional line of credit specifically for a single transaction. Qualified United customers can now book their airfare immediately, but pay off the expense in anywhere between three and 11 months.
In 2017, United began offering the Uplift Pay Monthly service to customers booking United Vacations. For years, customers of Norwegian Cruise Lines, American Airlines Vacations, and Southwest Vacations have been given the option as well. Other travel metasearches like Expedia offer a similar deferred payment option through Affirm. So, the idea isn’t new in the travel industry. With this recent announcement, however, United joins Allegiant and Spirit Airlines by offering the option to travelers booking just flights as well.
The deferred payment option now appears at checkout for travelers booking directly through United.com. Customers must agree to a credit inquiry, then open a line of credit if they qualify. In most cases, the decision is instant, but both could impact credit scores. The bad news? Interest rates range from 9% to a whopping 35.99&. An Uplift executive claims most travelers fall in the mid- to high-teens range. Still, at those rates, some customers may be better off taking out a vacation loan from the local mafia.
In most cases, it makes better financial sense for travelers — assuming they can afford it — to pay for the airfare on a lower interest credit card. Assuming the expense is paid off in a reasonable amount of time, they’re likely to save a boatload in interest payments. Plus, a decent travel credit card will almost always reward travelers with miles or reward points.
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