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Buy Now Pay Later borrowing can be like quicksand, warns Citizens Advice

21 October 2021

Citizens Advice responds to the announcement of a consultation on the regulation of Buy Now Pay Later.

Matthew Upton, Director of Policy at Citizens Advice, said:

“Buy Now Pay Later borrowing can be like quicksand - easy to slip into and very difficult to get out of.

“Split payments are offered as a temptation at the checkout, but the consequences can be devastating for those who are least able to deal with them. We’ve helped many who have slipped into trouble, including one sent a debt collection letter over a £10 purchase. Another relies on Buy Now Pay Later to buy things such as their children’s school uniform, but cannot afford the repayments.

“Over half of young people who have used Buy Now Pay Later in the last year struggled to make a repayment. The Buy Now Pay Later sector has grown incredibly quickly and we need consumer protections to keep pace. We welcome the Treasury’s commitment to regulate the sector. Now it must be swiftly translated into action.”

Citizens Advice’s Buy now, pay later: what happens if you can’t pay later? report into the sector found:

  • 1 in 10 BNPL shoppers have been chased by debt collectors in the last year
  • This rose to one in eight young people
  • BNPL shoppers were charged £39 million in late fees in the past year

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  2. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
  3. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
  4. Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
  5. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit
  7. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 or 0808 223 1144 to talk in Welsh.
  8. We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  9. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.