Layaway is a simple financing method with a complicated history.
Once more popular than credit cards, layaway programs are quickly disappearing–but some select retailers still offer great layaway programs.
If you’re tight on cash, layaway programs are a great way to make large purchases without saying goodbye to a big lump sum of money all at once. And, you don’t have to worry about the impending doom of credit card debt.
Layaway could be the right option for you, but first, you need to know which stores offer the best layaway programs.
What is Layaway, Anyway?
Layaway is a payment method that stores offer to consumers who want to make big purchases but can’t afford them right now. For cash-strapped consumers, layaway is a gift–that lets them buy gifts, especially for the holidays.
When you use layaway, you pay for an item in installments. While you make your monthly or weekly payments, the retailer “lays it away,” reserving the item for you.
If you’re using in-store layaways, you’ll most likely need to return to the physical store to make each layaway payment. Some select stores also offer online layaway services with autopay.
When you use layaway services, you receive your item after your last payment. In this sense, it’s a bit different than using a credit card, since you won’t get to hold your precious purchase in your arms until after it’s paid in full.
However, unlike a credit card, most layaway programs don’t charge you interest on the money you still owe. They might charge you a few dollars worth of service fees, though. And if you miss a layaway payment, you could incur added fees.
But in the end, you’re not paying that much more for the layaway service.
Why do layaway programs exist?
Layaway programs were created about 90 years ago during the Great Depression to make it easier for people who were tight on money (aka everyone back then) to make large purchases. But once credit cards became popular, a lot of people preferred to use credit instead of layaway.
However, if you can’t pay down your monthly credit card balance, layaway is a cheaper option. Plus, defaulting on a layaway program has zero impact on your credit score.
What should you know before starting layaway?
Before you rush to one of these stores to put something on layaway, there are some fast facts you’ll want to know.
- You’ll usually pay about $5-10 in service fees.
- You’ll have to pay a deposit, which usually costs around 20%.
- If you cancel or miss a payment, you’ll have to pay additional fees, probably $10-20.
- There’s no interest in traditional layaway services, but BNPL programs usually have variable APRs (more on that later).
- You can’t take your purchased item home until after you’ve paid in full (unless it’s a BNPL service)–so be sure to plan ahead for layaway Christmas presents.
So, now that you know what layaway programs are and why we have them, let’s explore which stores offer the best layaway programs!
1. AAFES: Easy, Convenient Layaways
When you shop at the Exchange, you have three layaway options:
- Fine jewelry: 120-day layaway
- Clothing, handbags, and shoes: 30-day layaway
- All other merchandise: 60-day layaway
However, there are some exceptions. You can’t layaway:
- Clearance items
- Electronics that cost more than $299
- Major appliances
- Exercise equipment
- Seasonal and outdoor living items
- Must cost $25+
- Require a 15% deposit
- Incur a $3 service fee and a $5 cancellation fee
The Exchange’s layaway program is fairly generous, however, this program is only available for in-store purchases. If you want to order online, you’re out of luck.
2. Burlington Stores: 30-Day Layaway on Apparel
Previously known as Burlington Coat Factory, Burlington Stores sells way more than coats. They offer apparel and accessories, plus baby items, home decor, beauty products, and more.
When you choose layaway with Burlington, you can expect:
- To have 30 days to pay off your layaway purchase
- To pay a deposit equal to 20% (or $10 if the item is less than $100)
- To pay a non-refundable service fee of $5
- A $10 fee if you decide to cancel
Burlington only offers in-store layaway, and some items cannot be put on layaway at all, including:
- Food items
- Wall art
3. Hallmark Gold Crown: 90-Day Layaway on Holiday Gifts
Hallmark is one of the best retailers (if not the best retailer) for gift cards, presents, decor, and more.
And from July until December, some select Hallmark Gold Crown stores offer layaway, so you can get all the items you need for Christmas without breaking the bank.
Here’s Hallmark’s layaway policy:
- You have 90 days to pay off your layaway
- You’ll need to pay a 20% deposit
- Each store has its own fees and store policies, which you can find on your layaway receipt
To find out if your local Hallmark offers layaway, ask a store associate the next time you visit. Or, you can use Hallmark’s store locator to find your closest Hallmark and give them a call.
4. Sears and Kmart: Don’t Let Cost Stand in the Way
Yes, Sears still exists!
Although Sears has been progressively closing its doors on nearly all of its brick and mortar stores (only 23 stores still exist in the US and Puerto Rico as of 2022), its online presence is thriving–and so is its online layaway program.
So, whether you need clothing, toys, electronics, furniture, or something else, Sears and Kmart have your back. Even when money is tight, you can stick to your budget and make big purchases.
When shopping online, you should see “Layaway Eligible” next to most items. After adding these items to your cart, you can checkout and begin the layaway process!
With Sears layaway, you’ll need to:
- Make a $10 down payment, plus service fees (listed below)
- Make payments every 2 weeks, either online or at a local store
- Wait for your item to ship or pick it up in-store
Sears offers two layaway options for 8 or 12 weeks with different policies. The 8-week layaway plan is the only one available online, and you can expect:
- $5 service fee
- $10 cancellation fee
Sears’ 12-week layaway plan is only available at Sears locations when you make a purchase of $300 or more, and the fees are twice as much:
- $10 service fee
- $20 cancellation fee
5. Buckle: 60-Day Layaway on Jeans and Clothes
Buckle is a well-known apparel retailer that sells denim jeans, accessories, shoes, and clothing for men, women, and kids.
Whether you’ve got your heart set on a new pair of shoes that isn’t in your budget yet or you’d like to get a new wardrobe for your family over the holidays, Buckle’s 60-day layaway program can help.
When you layaway with Buckle, you’ll have to put down a 20% deposit and make payments once every two weeks. Service fees and cancellation fees vary by location, and Buckle only offers in-store layaway options.
Find a Buckle near you today if you’re interested in their layaway programs.
6. Big Lots: Price Hold
Officially, Big Lots doesn’t have a layaway program, but they do have a program called Price Hold which allows you to hold the price on items when they are either out of stock or you can’t pay for the item in full (which sounds a lot like layaway if you ask me).
The only catch to Big Lots Price Hold is that it’s only available on furniture items.
Big Lots will hold your price until the item is restocked or you’ve paid off your total. When you’re just two weeks away from paying off the total, Big Lots will reach out to you to confirm that the merchandise you wanted will be available.
The exact fees will vary depending on the location, but you can expect to pay:
- A 10% deposit
- A $5 service fee
Interested in redecorating without breaking the bank? Consider getting that new couch at your local Big Lots with their Price Hold program.
7. Walmart: Buy Now, Pay Later
Walmart offers a layaway program through its partner, Affirm. Instead of paying at the layaway or customer service counter, like with other in-store layaway programs, you’ll start the layaway process online.
However, it’s important to note that Walmart’s layaway process isn’t like your standard layaway–Walmart will charge you interest on most purchases, usually between 10-30% APR. That means you’ll likely pay over 10% of the marketing price of your product–which isn’t a deal if you ask me.
If you’re still interested, here’s how Walmart’s “layaway” works.
You’ll apply with your phone to become pre-qualified for a certain dollar amount. Then, shop in-store at Walmart and give the cashier the single-use barcode you received when applying.
Once you have your item in hand (another aspect that makes Walmart’s layaway not really layaway), you can make monthly payments through the Walmart app or on affirm.com.
Although most items will incur a 10-30% interest rate, Walmart does sometimes offer limited-time 0% APR deals.
Other Companies that Offer “Layaway” with Third-Party Buy Now, Pay Later Services
Walmart’s “layaway” isn’t as great as it used to be, but if you like having the option to finance purchases through a third-party service, you might want to check out these other stores that offer financing.
Clothing Retailers with Buy Now, Pay Later Programs
Whether you want to keep up with the latest fashion trends or buy a pricey gift for an upcoming birthday, you can finance your purchase with these clothing retailers:
- Adidas (with Affirm, Afterpay, and Klarna)
- Anthropologie (with Afterpay)
- Calvin Klein (with Klarna)
- Famous Footwear (with Zip)
- Forever 21 (with Afterpay and Klarna)
- GUESS Factory (with Klarna)
- H&M (with Klarna)
- Journeys (with Klarna)
- Lululemon (with Klarna and Afterpay)
- Nike (with Klarna)
- Nike (with Zip)
- Nordstrom (with Afterpay and Affirm)
- Poshmark (with Affirm)
- Reebok (with Klarna)
- The RealReal (with Affirm)
- ThredUP (with Affirm)
- Tommy Hilfiger (with Klarna)
- Urban Outfitters (with Afterpay)
Travel Retailers with Buy Now, Pay Later Programs
Can’t afford vacation just yet? Enjoy your getaway early through:
Electronics and Tech Stores with Buy Now, Pay Later Programs
Need new equipment for your gaming setup or studio? Buy now and pay later at:
Big-Box Merchandise Retailers with Buy Now, Pay Later Programs
For a one-stop-shop experience, use payment plans at these big-box retailers:
Home Goods Stores with Buy Now, Pay Later Programs
Decoring your home can get expensive, especially if you need new furniture. Spruce things up without breaking the bank at these home goods stores:
Beauty Shops with Buy Now, Pay Later Programs
Did you know most makeup should be replaced every 3-6 months? Ditch your expired beauty products and indulge in the latest products with these beauty stores that offer BNPL:
- MAC Cosmetics (with Afterpay)
- Melt Cosmetics (with Sezzle)
- Sephora (with Klarna)
- Ulta Beauty (with Afterpay and Zip)
Other Companies with Buy Now, Pay Later Programs
Whether you need groceries, a new mattress, or anything else, these other online stores have you covered:
- Amazon (with Zip)
- Instacart (with Zip)
- Nectar Sleep (with Affirm, Afterpay, and Splitit)
- Purple (with Affirm)
This is not an exhaustive list of retailers who offer buy now, pay later programs in lieu of layaway services. If you know of a great BNPL program, feel free to share it in the comments below this article!
FAQs About Layaway Services and Stores with the Best Layaway
Layaway services are slowly becoming obsolete, thanks to credit cards and BNPL financing options, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on them!
Layaway offers are a great way to stay within your budget while making big purchases–and there’s no risk of increased interest rates, massive credit card debt, or unexpected charges and fees.
Here are more answers to the questions you might have about layaway.
What stores have layaway?
There are seven stores that still offer traditional layaway programs with 0% interest:
However, most retailers offer BNPL programs through third-party businesses. Buy Now Pay Later is the new “online layaway,” but it has a few key differences.
What’s the difference between online and in-store layaway?
In-store layaway usually refers to the traditional method of layaway, where you pay an initial deposit and small service fee, plus regular payments every few weeks. For most in-store layaways, you have to physically go into the store to make your layaway payment.
On the other hand, online layaway can be paid entirely online, and the items can be shipped to you. When we talk about online layaway, we’re usually referring to Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) programs. These programs usually have an interest rate between 10-30%, but select retailers may offer 0% interest on some items.
The biggest consequence of not paying in-store layaway is that you may not receive any money back that you already paid. If you fail to pay BNPL online layaway programs, you’ll likely incur debt and damage your credit score.
What happens if I default on my layaway?
If you default on your in-store layaway, the consequences depend on the retailer. You may:
– Not receive any money back that you paid towards your purchase
– Have to pay cancellation or restocking fees
– Not receive your item
– Not be allowed to use that layaway program again
However, if you default on online layaway through a BNPL program, the consequences are worse. You may:
– Likely owe interest on your layaway
– Harm your credit score
– Not receive your item
– Incur added fees
What stores have the best layaway?
Hallmark, Sears, and K-mart offer the best layaway programs thanks to their standard 90-day layaway. You’ll also find great layaway programs at The Army & Air Force Exchange and Buckle, which offer standard 60-day layaway programs. The Exchange also offers a 120-day layaway on fine jewelry.
To learn more about the stores with the best layaway, check out our complete guide on the best layaway programs!
Final Thoughts on The Best Layaway Programs
Layaway is quickly becoming extinct in favor of Buy Now Pay Later programs, but any consumer can see that a small service fee is much cheaper than a BNPL deal with 10-30% interest.
If you need to finance large purchases or don’t have enough money for the holidays, layaway programs are an amazing money-saving resource – but you’ll have to shop at select retailers to cash in on this deal.
However, if you can get a 0% APR on an online BNPL layaway program, it could still be a good financing option – just be sure to read the fine print!
Have you had any experiences with these layaway programs or a Buy Now Pay Later service? What did you think of them? Share your thoughts in the comments below! We’d be happy to hear them.