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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13 Consumer Reviews for Affirm

Average Consumer Rating: 1.7
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 2 4 star: 0 3 star: 0 2 star: 1 1 star:  10
Bottom Line: 15% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 13
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  • Fraud

    • United States of America,
    • May 20, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Somebody obtained my information from my AT&T account (AT&T is assuming someone hacked the information, I believe it was sold internally). This individual(s) did a lot of damage that I have had to deal with personally between myself and AT&T, but they also got the last 4 of my social, my phone number, and my email address from my account.

    They then proceeded to open an account with "Affirm" under my identity, and opened two loans. They did not request any further information to protect me, other than the basic address, phone number, last 4 social and birthdate. The individual had paid off my cell phone plan ($50 shy of owning my cellphone) upgraded it to the new iPhone X, using my phone number. Because they had done this, opening an Affirm account with my phone number was possible. They took out two loans under my identity, costing over $7,000 in airline tickets with Delta and Southwest.

    I contacted Affirm the day it happened, because I saw a welcome email and I had never heard of affirm before. The Affirm customer service representative informed me what the company does, that the fraudster opened an account using my information and took out the loans, but luckily they had not been approved and they had only attempted but were not successful.

    The next morning, I logged onto the account (your sign-on is SO safe, it's just your simple phone number and a verification code...yipee) to see what the website was like. I saw that the loans had went through. Devastated, I called back Affirm customer service, telling them about what happened. They could not do anything to help me, other than tell me the fraud department would contact me within 3-5 days. I asked her if she could shut down the account, as I was afraid this individual would continue to open more loans, and she said she had no authority to do so. I asked if she could shut down the cards they provided so no debt accumulated, or if she could see what the individuals purchased, and she again said she had no authority to do so nor could she see what had been purchased other than that it was from Southwest and Delta. All she could do was request fraud to call me in 3-5 days.

    It has been over a week and I have heard nothing back from Affirm. I will continue to call until I get this resolved. I had never heard of Affirm until this issue, but I could not believe a website like this exists. It offers no protection against fraud and is as simple as having basic information on someone (obtaining last 4 of social is not that difficult if you can hack or are close to an individual). Disgusting company and poor customer service. It was extremely irritating that I had called customer service and was told the loans had been denied, and the next day the loans were approved. If a company is going to be able to provide loans and money, it should be more difficult and offer protection to citizens against possible fraud. The customer service representatives had no power to help me and the fraud department either has no sense of urgency, or is dealing with too much fraud and can't get to me yet. Either way, poor company.

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

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  • 1 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Stay away!

    • West Hollywood, CA,
    • Apr 30, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Do not engage or sign with this credit line! It’s unreliable!

    They will, however, collect your info and sell it off, so be prepared to receive a ton of ad calls and possibly a dent in your credit score.

    Avoid dealing with them!

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

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  • 2 out 4 people found this review helpful

    It's complete crap!

    • Las Vegas, NV,
    • Apr 21, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I used Affirm a long time ago, and it was okay but this time around it is complete crap. They couldn't verify my identity and they didn't know my updated email address when it's clearly stated there. I went to my account, updated the email formation and they told me it took 7 to 10 days to update. I try to get refinanced again for a small amount under a thousand and cannot identify my identity for some reason. And I called customer service and they cannot give me relevant answers. The professionalism sucks. I would not go to them, not unless you absolutely had to. Good luck.

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

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  • 1 out 3 people found this review helpful

    Not user-friendly

    I have tried multiple times to finance phones through Affirm since it's what my phone company recommends. Every single time they give me a terrible runaround. They insist the only way to log on is by using codes that they text you, however, when you're trying to finance a phone because yours is broken, it doesn't make much sense to have to be able to access a cell phone in order to log on. When I called they were extremely rude and didn't even listen to my problem before snapping at me that it would be 7 to 10 business days before they would be able to fix any issues with my account.

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

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  • 7 out 8 people found this review helpful

    Requested information on banking passwords

    • Mecosta, MI,
    • Apr 15, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I applied for a small loan through these people, and while doing the application, they asked for info for a credit check. After supplying this info they came up with an "oh, by the way, we want your banking passwords." I, for one, do not feel confident with their need for my passwords and I don't trust them enough to provide them with info that they have no business having or even asking for. Be very careful with them.

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

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  • 4 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Furnished my apartment

    • San Francisco, CA,
    • Apr 1, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    Recently moved to San Francisco and used Affirm to furnish my apartment. Had three separate loans all round $300 and paid two of them off early. Had an issue where I tried to finance my moving truck with Affirm online when picking up in store, the store would only accept my card. Called customer service and they removed the charge before a payment was made.

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

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  • 3 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Unreliable

    In the past, I have had several loans with Affirm. I have had four loans at the same time, even paid extra on them to pay them off early. I go to apply for something like $100 and was turned down. Four months later I come back and then they give me the item paid off, and I'll try to get the $100 item and was turned down. Credit rating is even better at this time, and I was still turned down. I have found that Affirm is unreliable. You would be better off with a payday loan, or Short Term Loan, or go through your credit union. Don't use them, get yourself a line of credit at your credit union.

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

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  • 2 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Paperless company

    • Houston, TX,
    • Mar 16, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I changed my cell number and reported the new number to Affirm. I have sent my new number and my driver license twice, but could not be verified. I asked for my billing statements to be mailed to me and was told Affirm is a paperless company, and they do not email and/or mail billing statements. But I get an email saying my payment is due! As I pay my payments, I would like to know my balance each month. No statement, no payment! I would not recommend this company.

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

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  • 3 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Don't trust

    Due to internet issues, we tempted to book a flight and using Affirm as a form of payment. In the end, after three tries, three loans were approved, and three of our deposits ($430) were accepted. A big error on their system, if you ask me! I went two days dealing with them, and I'm still waiting to hear back in regards to getting my three down payments returned. Keep in mind, I never booked a flight!

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

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  • 5 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Convenient, fast, reliable

    We have used Affirm twice in the past three months. For a mattress purchase and the other for window blinds. The application was straightforward, with a response in less than a minute. I get a text reminder several days before my payments are due. The payment process takes all of one minute. We are quite pleased. Thank you Affirm!

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

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  • 3 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Cash only from now on

    Please don’t ever think because you cancel a payment you scheduled that it works.

    You will click the link, it will confirm, and they will charge you anyway. They will charge when they feel like it, and you will have no control.

    It takes five days to refund, and that doesn’t help in certain circumstances. I can’t wait to submit my final payment at the end of this month.

    Also, I tried to sell the Celine I financed through them with interest, and it cost $3k. I live in a label driven area with pawns that buy/sell such bags. Nobody will buy it, and I was told by two established shops there is no value to it. I have been told it’s worthless, despite having barely used it because it’s pretty heavy. Do not trust their aunthetnicafion process or accounting system.

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

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