Americans are rapidly embracing Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) services. According to research from Cornerstone Advisors, the percentage of Gen Zers making purchases with BNPL plans grew six-fold between 2019 and 2021. Millennials’ use of BNPL more than doubled over the same period to 41%, Gen Xers’ adoption more than tripled, and even Baby Boomers got into the act.

Overall, consumers made nearly $100 billion in retail purchases using BNPL programs in 2021—four times the 2020 amount of $24 billion.

Is BNPL Eating Credit Cards?

There are reports that it’s eating into credit card volume.

(In a subsequent tweet, @mdharrisnyc said “someone told me this based on a private off-the-record dinner that I did not attend.” A tweet of mine asking Harris about the volume claim was unanswered.)

This isn’t the first time industry observers have proclaimed credit cards to be dead or dying. For more bad forecasts see:

  • “The Painless Death of Credit Cards Continues,” Motley Fool, March 2011
  • “The Slow Death of Credit Cards,” Motley Fool, April 2013
  • “The Death Of The Credit Card Is Near — Here’s How To Profit,” Nasdaq, October 2013