About Affirm

By Derek Lakin
HighYa Staff Published on: Oct 27, 2017

With over 1,000 retail partners, Affirm has helped more than one million consumers pay off their large online purchases over time across easy, fixed monthly payments, with upfront pricing, no extra costs, and no hidden fees.

In other words, the website emphasizes that the total you see at checkout is always what you’ll actually pay. Just enter a few pieces of information—which always remain secure—and you’ll receive a real-time decision about whether or not you’re approved for a loan.

Then, complete the checkout process like normal. Alternately, customers can generate a single-use virtual card that can be accepted by any MasterCard retailer.

Afterward, you’ll pay for your Affirm loan on the same date each month, and once you’re finished paying, you’re free and clear—and perhaps even eligible to take out another loan.

The website certainly makes this whole process seem simple, straightforward, and crystal clear. But will you pay a lot for the convenience provided by Affirm? Here, we’ll provide the details that can help you make up your mind.

Affirm vs. Credit Cards: How Does It Work?

The website tells us that among Affirm’s 1,000+ merchants, popular examples include Wayfair, Expedia, Casper Mattress, Peloton, and Motorola (to name just a few). Whichever merchant you’re purchasing from, though, they explain the process works over a few simple steps:

  1. Select the Affirm payment option on the checkout page.
  2. Enter your information (we'll talk specifics in the Fees section below), and you'll be notified in real time if you're approved.
  3. Finalize your loan and make payments when they’re due.

Compared to a traditional credit card, Affirm emphasizes that their loans—which are provided by NJ-based Cross River Bank—are not revolving lines of credit. Their FAQ explains: “While customers can take out multiple Affirm loans at once, each Affirm loan application is evaluated separately as a closed-end transaction.”

Also, unlike a credit card, Affirm only performs a ‘soft’ credit check to verify your identity and determine your loan eligibility, which will not affect your credit score. However, for all loans requested on or after August 3, 2016, they do report “information about your loan and payment activity” to Experian, with “plans to report to other credit bureaus in the future.”

All sensitive information submitted to Affirm, including Social Security numbers, is encrypted for security, and is never sold or rented to anyone.

What’s the Difference With Affirm’s App?

Affirm’s iOS and Android apps also help consumers “split any big online purchase into smaller, fixed payments” in just a few steps, but they go about it differently.

Instead of applying for the loan directly through a participating merchant’s site, users simply open the app, enter how much they’re planning to spend, and choose their payment schedule (three, six, or 12 months).

If approved, the app will generate a pre-loaded, single-use virtual card that can be redeemed wherever they're shopping; just “show the card to the salesperson, tell them that you’re paying with MasterCard, and ask them to key in the number just like a credit card.”

Affirm Mobile AppCompared to merchant-direct purchases, Affirm’s iOS and Android app generates a single-use, pre-loaded credit card that can be redeemed anywhere that accepts MasterCard. Image credit: Google

Then, monthly payments are made as scheduled. You can even do this, as well as manage other aspects of your account, while on the go through the app.

Speaking of which, what can you expect to pay for an Affirm loan?

Affirm Fees, Eligibility Criteria, & Return Details

Affirm offers short-term loans (three, six, or 12 months) ranging between $100 and $10,000. All loans are issued through Cross River Bank, with available rates between 10 and 30 percent, based on your credit. Some merchants offer zero percent.

Pro tip: To get an idea of what this means from a real-world perspective, we found Affirm’s cost calculator to be a handy tool.

Outside of this finance charge, Affirm emphasizes that they don’t assess “late fees, service fees, prepayment fees, or any other hidden fees.” “What you see is what you'll pay—never a penny more,” their website reports.

In order to qualify, at minimum, you must be a United States resident 18 years or older (19 years old in Alabama or if you’re a ward of the state in Nebraska), and not a resident of IA or WV.

During the application process, you’ll need to provide your name, email address, mobile phone number (and also agree to receive SMS texts), date of birth, and the last four digits of your Social Security number to verify your identity. Sometimes, they might require borrowers to link their online checking account if more financial verification is required. If approved, it can be unlinked at any time.

Before accepting any Affirm offer, you’ll know exactly what your interest rate is (and how much you’ll pay above your original amount), as well as each of your monthly installment amounts. There are no hidden fees or compounding or deferred interest.

In some instances, Affirm may not be able to approve financing for the full purchase price. Here, they’ll require a fixed (i.e., it cannot be changed) down payment that can be processed via debit card. In other instances, they may not be able to approve any type of financing, at which point the applicant will be immediately notified.

Affirm will make your first payment due one calendar month from the date your loan is processed, at which point they’ll send you an email and SMS text message as reminders. All future payments will be due the same day each month, which can be made via the lender’s website, debit card or ACH transfer, or autopayment.

The Affirm FAQ emphasizes that, “returns are subject to the merchant's return policy. Please contact the merchant if you would like to return your item(s).” If processed by the retailer within 120 days of purchase, Affirm will credit any payments you’ve made on the loan. But if the merchant issues you store credit, you’ll still be responsible for repaying your loan.

Have additional questions? Support can be reached at help@affirm.com.

What Are Affirm’s Customers Saying In Their Reviews?

Although the company has been in business for five-plus years, we didn’t encounter a whole lot of direct online customer feedback for Affirm during our research.

Even recent professional feedback was limited, albeit mostly positive. MoneyUnder30’s Lauren Barrett wrote that Affirm’s ease of use, lack of fees, and transparent business practices make it a solid option if “you’ve got pretty good credit, (because no one should ever sign up for a 30 percent interest rate), and want an alternative to credit cards or bank loans for financing big (but not huge) purchases.”

NerdWallet’s Amrita Jayakumar also liked the fact that an Affirm loan won’t impact your credit score (unless you make late payments or default, of course).

Affirm’s iOS and Android app seemed to have a mostly positive online customer reputation as well, with 3,500+ reviews across iTunes and Google Play, with an average combined rating of about five stars.

Most compliments appeared to reference its simplicity and ease of use, clean interface, and helpful support, while common complaints (what relatively few there were) frequently related to bugginess.

From a company perspective, Affirm was founded in 2012 by serial entrepreneur Max Levchin (previously of PayPal, Slide, Yelp, and Evernote). They held an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, based on 19 customer reviews and 40 closed complaints, as of 10/26/17.

Most of these appeared related to problems resolving difficulties through customer support. A company representative responded with a resolution in each instance.

Are There Other Point-of-Sale Financing Companies Like Affirm?

There are many other point-of-sale financing companies competing for the same customers as Affirm, including popular options like Klarna, PayPal, Vyze, Bread, and Blisplay, to name just a few. With so many options, how does Affirm compare?

The reality is that most of these options share more in common than they do differences. For example, nearly all provide quick application processes, the ability to split purchases into equal installments ranging from months to years, and APRs under 35 percent.

However, perhaps the biggest distinguishing factors regarding Affirm are their immediate decisions, as well as the fact they only perform ‘soft’ inquiries that won’t impact your credit score. From a convenience standpoint, they’re also the only major player that offers single-use virtual cards that can be obtained in advance and then used anywhere MasterCard is accepted.

Our Final Thoughts About Affirm

Based on their overwhelmingly positive online reputation among consumers, it seems the vast majority of their customers have been pleased with Affirm’s services, whether at the point of sale, or through the iOS and Android app.

And based on the fact that they provide real-time decisions that won’t impact your credit score, it seems you might not have much more to lose than a few minutes of your time by applying.

Just keep in mind that—like any form of credit—you’ll want to make sure you can make any scheduled payments on time, so that you’re not financially overextending yourself.

Read next: The Complete Guide to Credit Card Fees and How You Can Avoid Them

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Read 32 Affirm Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 1.7
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 5 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 2 1 star:  25
Bottom Line: 16% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 32
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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Not loyal to their customers who’ve paid off loans on time

    • Atlanta, GA,
    • May 19, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was recently declined for a small loan even after just paying off a large loan a few months ago. I thought by paying on time, never missing payments showed creditability to repaying a future loan. But nope, I was immediately declined. However, I keep receiving emails thanking me for being a valued customer including "offers" of supposed credit.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 0 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Affirm

    • North Carolina,
    • May 3, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I heard it was a good site to get approved for when you needed the money. I tried and I wasn't eligible right off the bat. I wouldn't recommend anyone if they're gonna act like this, and it didn't even say why I wasn't eligible.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • GREAT company!

    • Collinsville, IL,
    • Feb 27, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I've had several loans through Affirm and I have never had a problem. I've had a couple of emergency home purchases that arose and going through this process was very fast and easy. I was able to see what I was approved for before the purchase. Once I "applied" for the card, it took only seconds to get a virtual card to complete the purchase. You know ALL fees and interest upfront before you accept.

    The repayment process was very easy through the app. You can even make more than the "agreed upon" payment or a payoff at any time through the app.

    I've never had the need to call into customer service since the process and payments are so easy through the app.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 10 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Extremely dishonest!

    • Maryland,
    • Jan 22, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    On September 23, 2018 I booked a ticket to Tulsa, Oklahoma and then found that the trip should be put on hold. When trying to pay I was directed to Affirm and signed an agreement with them. The next day (September 24th) I called them and the Affirm rep, after a 10-minute call (according to my Sprint bill), said I did not have to pay because they will not pay Priceline. I had NO agreement with Priceline. Affirm later charged me with the account. I asked them for a copy of the call recorded on September 24th. They sent me an edited version of the call that was 4.06 minutes. They are dishonest as heck. If you get caught, collect your evidence and email them, so that you have proof.

    I disputed the debt. Now I cannot access any Affirm documents to even get the order number.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 9 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Watch out!

    • Oklahoma City, OK,
    • Jan 20, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Affirm approved me for a second loan/card. I made the purchase online, went to the store the next day to pick it up, at which point the MERCHANT told me the card was declined. I purchased two scopes, one of which is for an air rifle I bought through PYRAMYD AIR, who sells air guns and scopes...who is partnered with Affirm, who financed it.

    AFTER arguing with the most product illiterate people on the planet, and getting nowhere, I finally gave up and paid cash at the register. I then logged into my account later that day to see the loan still processing. I called to find out why, I was told that until the merchant reverses the charge, they will not close the card/loan. Now keep in mind, Affirm DECLINED THE CHARGE. Now they refuse to close the account unless they get the money back that they never paid from the retailer, on a charge THEY declined, of which I had to pay cash for, BECAUSE they felt MY purchase violates their "moral" policy, of the same item that is sold by one of their other "contracted" merchants, PYRAMYD AIR. Oh yea, Affirm even had the disgusting nerve to ask me where is the loan money then, and how are they supposed to get it back. Are these idiots for REAL?!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 9 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Very disappointed

    I have been a customer for over just a year, I have always paid on time or ahead, and always more than the minimum payment. I have paid off over 7 loans. When I started, I had a credit line of $1800.00, now as I pay as agreed they have reduced my credit line to just $150.00 over my current balance. When you contact them you can't get an answer. I always thought paying as agreed was what a lender wanted and rewarded you with higher credit lines, instead, my good payment record has resulted in reduced credit. And I have paid all my other creditors on time during this time...

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 14 out 17 people found this review helpful

    Misleading interest!

    • Pennsylvania,
    • Dec 27, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Affirm charges you interest on day one! They say you won't get charged if you pay early, but it is a total LIE! This company is doing BUSINESS ILLEGALLY and MISLEADING customers.

    I wrote them an email but never heard from them. Finally, I went to their Facebook account and then I was told to contact their number. I called the number and was told that INTEREST ACCRUES on DAY ONE! I TOLD the staff that this is MISLEADING, otherwise, I would have just used my credit card because credit cards won't charge me daily interest. I was off to pay the full loan on my first due date but now was charged $101. The staff was not helpful at all and just kept saying I agreed to it!

    DON'T waste your time on this company! I don't know how PEOPLE can SLEEP with their LIE stealing from PEOPLE!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Charged for three loans

    • Virginia,
    • Dec 14, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    They charged me for three loans that the vendor never received and after almost 60 days have not solved the problem. The customer service is terrible. I will never use their service and recommend that no one else does.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 9 out 10 people found this review helpful

    Worst website and customer service

    • Vinemont, AL,
    • Dec 10, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    We changed phone numbers before the first payment was due. Every month since, we have to struggle with customer service that does nothing except pretend to be helpful whilst waiting to tell you the laws repeatedly, even though you just need to make a payment. Despite repeatedly updating information, nothing changes. You explain this to them over and over and over and they simply repeat the same things to you but won't accept a payment. May as well outsource to India because these people are about the same minus the accent. Useless people and useless pay online as well as pay on the phone. Find another company or buy elsewhere where they use a different payment group. This is every month since we made the purchase in July 2018, and this is December 2018.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 3 out 9 people found this review helpful

    Convenient service, few downsides

    • Charlotte, NC,
    • Oct 6, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I've had two loans with Affirm and both have been exactly as described! Very easy to make payments - or even set up AutoPay, so it will take care of everything for you! Very low hassle, very quick, and between the app and the website it all is incredibly user-friendly and helps me get last-minute items for work that I would otherwise probably pass up. It's a nice service to have - as long as you can pay it off on time.

    The only real downside is the large interest rate, but it's not unreasonable. On a purchase of over $200, the interest rate (which may as well be called a convenience fee) is well under $10 for most people.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 9 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Scam

    • USA,
    • Oct 2, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I am being held responsible for a debit that I did not authorize and merchandise I did not receive. I reached out to the company when I got the initial email and notified them that I did not request credit with this company every time I received an email. Now I am being told that I am responsible for the debit. How is the consumer supposed to protect themselves from this company?! This is NOT, I repeat, this is NOT my account!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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