Have you ever used layaway?
The practice of putting aside items and paying on them in installments was first introduced in the Depression-era. By the time I came of age in the early 80’s, credit cards were king and layaway had fallen by the wayside.
The shopping pendulum moved back in the other direction around 2008 when stores began re-introducing layaway plans and many consumers embraced them.
“Layaway if fantastic. I am so happy stores are bringing it back. I have been an advocate of that for a while as opposed to interest bearing credit cards,” says Josh Elledge, of SavingsAngel.com. Elledge also notes that the popularity of layaway plans and the current couponing craze is being fueled by the upper middle class.
While some stores have opted not to bring back this relic of the past — Target for example, does not offer layaway — many others did and this year, most of them made it fee-free or almost free. Here’s a look at some of them (see websites for more detailed policies):
Most items in-store are eligible.
Service fees: Free layaway has been extended to Dec. 16
Deposit: 20 percent of total order plus all applicable taxes.
Cancellation fee: $10
Good to know: Final payments due on Dec. 16
The Southeastern discount store launched a holiday layaway program for any items in-store except consumables.
Service fees: $0
Cancellation fee: $0
Good to know: Minimum order to qualify for layaway is $20. Order must be picked up by Dec. 15. Customers with a layaway purchase totaling $50 or more will get a $5 gift card.
Available for most items in-store and online.
Service fees: No fees until Nov. 17, then $5 for 8-week contract or $10 for 12-week contract.
Deposit: The greater of 10 percent or $15 for 8-week contract and the greater of 10 percent or $30 for 12-week contract.
Cancellation fee: $10 for 8-week contract, $20 for 12-week contract
Good to know: Must make bi-weekly payments on balance after down payment. Only in-store purchases of $300 or more are eligible for 12-week plan. Kmart also offers home delivery of paid items.
Available for most items in-store or online
Service fees: No fees until Dec. 3, then$5 for 8-week or $10 for 12-week
Deposit: The greater of $20 or 20 percent for 8-week and the greater of $35 or 20 percent for 12-weeks.
Cancellation fee: $15 for 8 -week and $25 for 12-week
Toys, electronics, small appliances, jewelry and some sporting goods are eligible.
Service fees: $5, refunded on a gift card when account is paid
Deposit: The greater of $10 or 10 percent of total.
Cancellation fee: $0 (but $5 service fee is not refunded)
Good to know: Individual items must cost minimum of $15, total layaway purchase must be more than $50.
What has been your experience with layaway? Why did you chose to use it and what items did you use it for?
– Nedra Rhone, for the Atlanta Bargain Hunter blog