Loan services have grown alongside Australian e-commerce and finance technology. Today many of Australia’s credit and loan services are in heavy demand online – two main ones being Interest-free finance providers and Digital Lay-by providers.

Both have the same services: It is instant purchasing power with a deferred payment plan for instalments. While there are also varying fees from both companies, they differ in lending and repayment terms. They also offer different conveniences. Keep reading to know more about their differences and which may be your better choice.

Zero-interest financing: How does it work?

Interest-free finance providers loan out funds upon checkout at online and in-store purchases (from $1,000 and up). The first month is interest-free. Some may offer longer than that with zero interest repayments. You get the convenience of time and cash to buy or get needed or wanted products and services partnered up with these loan companies. These partnerships also have promos and offers added for the borrower.

Australia’s popular interest-free providers are HSBC, MasterCard (GO), Visa (Gem), and a few smaller online and app-based lenders. Some credit and debit cards already include this service, so if getting a new card or when you already have one, you can check for this service and activate it.

The borrower can maximise this loan by paying off the total of the purchase during the repayment duration given, where there is no interest rate. The borrower doesn’t get extra charges since he or she is done before interest is applied to the loan.

Take note however of fees and service charges. The longer the loan takes, the more fees add to the total. Calculate the total and if the budget will fit the whole duration of your instalments plus fees.

Digital Lay-by services: How does it work?

Digital Lay-by lets you buy products and services with a delayed payment arrangement. Popular services include Afterpay, Zip Pay, Openpay, and a few others. It is like an extension of a credit card except for the flexible instalment schedules (weekly, fortnightly, monthly), smaller instalment repayments, and with no interest as well. The credit limit can be up to $1500 but this can be changed depending on how long you have been a member, the merchant’s credit limit, and your ability to pay based on your financial info.

There’s extra convenience with its no credit check approach. You instantly use the service after a quick credit-worthy assessment. Most of the fees involved are only late payment fees on top of non-payment fees if you don’t complete the loan in the given time and schedule.

You may know some of them as Buy now pay later services, and shopping loan/credit services, which work with apps for online and in-store purchases. They also use debit and credit cards for payments; These services also use more flexible repayment terms compared to these cards.

Today’s Lay-by loan and credit companies let you have the item or service instantly upon setting up a payment arrangement loan; Whether there’s an initial payment involved or all by later instalments. You can maximise your use of Lay-by services by following the given payment plan with discipline. It also doesn’t have interest rates but will impose late fees and a monthly or periodic fee if you don’t complete the payment plan.

The borrower’s situation and cash convenience

Each customer may better fit in either of these loan companies. The factors include not only saving the most money from a “purchase situation” but also on the conveniences it gives depending on the borrower. No interest loans and credit and loan apps are best for beyond budget emergency or unexpected expenses that are also important and essential.

Also more important: It will fit your budget for the whole duration and you are willing to maximise it by following its terms and best practices. If this is done for any of these two services, you can make it work and avoid debt traps and extra, extra expenses; Minimise, to maximise.

Interest-free finance providers do not impose interest so you can get enough time to repay. Pay up within the allotted zero-interest schedule, and pay no other extras (aside from service fees). They are also most preferred in shopping for items and services that are partnered up with them. There are offers and discounts at times you can get exclusively from the company. The offered loan may be bigger and will be backed by the company for approval.

Digital Lay-by lets you buy and repay later with zero interest while keeping repayment instalments affordable and flexible. Compared to cards, the payment is scheduled with convenience with zero interest and no other fees (except late fees). The amount range is smaller to average, as it fits certain online and in-store credit shopping activities.

Other interest-free loan options

  • Card and account options:As mentioned, a few no interest credit services may already be included in your existing account, whether it’s a debit card, credit card, ATM payroll card/bank account, or other services. You can check for overdraft, emergency cash, advances, and any available similar services. Often there are none or few additional fees as they are already included in the card or account.
    However, take note that your card’s existing terms, fees, penalties, and rules will be in effect here. Some rates and fees will be different from smaller loan companies. In general, there will be a credit limit and minimal fees that may be lower than other banks.
  • No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS):You can safely borrow a no-interest loan from the government for up to $1,500 in total. This is dedicated to emergency and essential items and services. This has flexible repayments with no interest for the whole duration of the loan.
  • Centrelink cash advance/Centrelink payments:A Centrelink cash advance of up to $1515 is available with no fees and interests for all Centrelink members. This is payable with the next payments and easily paid on schedule.

    In addition to this are different Centrelink payments you can claim depending on condition and circumstance. Among these include being a single parent, a carer for disabled or seniors, unemployment, business-related loans, and other government-funded benefits. A new addition is the Covid19 related response Household Relief Loan for up to $3,000. It has no interest or fees with a 24-month repayment duration.