Half of Young Adults Now Use Buy Now, Pay Later Whenever It Is Available

The popularity of buy now, pay later (BNPL) is continuing to grow, particularly amongst young adults in the UK, with half of Generation Z now using this payment option whenever it’s available, according to TransUnion.

The latest research from the global information and insights company – one of the UK’s leading credit reference agencies – examines changing consumer habits and shows that more than six in 10 (64%) people aged 18 to 24 are using buy now, pay later services.

Alongside increased demand for buy now, pay later, the research shows a strong appetite for credit from this generation, with 42% saying they plan to apply for new credit or refinance existing credit in the coming year – well above the 27% average for UK consumers.

Kelli Fielding, TransUnion’s managing director of consumer interactive in the UK, explains: “It’s likely that young adults will turn to credit to help them take the steps in life that have been put on hold over the past couple of years – whether for major purchases, like buying a car, or moving out of the family home – as well as for everyday finance.  

“Alongside this, it’s clear to see the growing demand for buy now, pay later services, with Gen Z citing the main appeal being interest-free payments (70%), as well as spreading the cost over time (62%) and ease of use at checkout (54%) which is markedly more important for this age group than others.”

Buy now, pay later finance reached a transaction value of £6.4 billion in 2021, according to industry reportsi and the growth looks likely to continue.

Kelli Fielding continued: “Starting this summer, buy now, pay later agreements will appear on TransUnion credit reports, helping people to better manage their finances. It’s important to note that this won’t have any immediate effect on your credit score. That said, how you handle your payments will be visible to lenders and could be taken into account if you apply for credit, so it’s really important to keep up with your payments.”

To check your TransUnion credit score and report for free, visit Credit Karma, MoneySuperMarket, or TotallyMoney.  

Buy now, pay later borrowing and your credit report: here’s what you need to know:

Why is buy now, pay later information being added to credit reports?

TransUnion is including buy now, pay later data in credit reports to support people in managing their finances and to ensure payment behaviour on buy now, pay later agreements is visible.

When will this information appear on my credit report?

TransUnion will be incorporating buy now, pay later data into traditional credit reports starting in summer 2022.

How will this affect my credit score?

There will be no immediate effect on TransUnion credit scores. However, as the data becomes more widely used, TransUnion will be updating its credit scoring as appropriate.

Why are things changing?

People need as much choice as possible when it comes to finding finance that’s right for their needs, and on terms they can afford. Including buy now, pay later data in credit reports will support consumers and help lenders make informed credit decisions.

Will buy now, pay later purchases made in the past be visible on credit reports?

Providers will let customers know their data is being shared with TransUnion before it appears on their credit report and can confirm the dates it will apply from.

If I miss a buy now, pay later payment, will it affect my credit score?

Credit scores won’t be impacted initially but missing payments would be visible to lenders and could affect your ability to borrow, so it’s really important to keep up repayments as agreed.

Will hard credit checks now be used when I am taking out buy now, pay later finance?

Buy now, pay later finance checks will be recorded on your TransUnion credit report, and will be visible to other lenders. However, these checks will be shown to lenders in a different way to traditional hard searches, typically used for things like mortgages, credit cards and loans, or soft searches, often used for quotations and eligibility checks before credit is provided. It will be up to individual finance providers to decide how they use these new checks in lending decisions.



Unless otherwise stated research is based on a nationally representative survey carried out amongst 2,000 UK consumers by an independent research agency on behalf of TransUnion in January 2022.

For the purposes of this press release, Gen Z relates to adults aged 18 to 24.

i Bain & Company, 2021