Buy Now Pay Later Comparison Guide: Atome, Hoolah and Rely

Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Last updated 23 February, 2022

Buy Now Pay Later platforms have become viable and increasingly prevalent payment options in Singapore. We compare three of the biggest: Relay, Atome, and Hoolah. 

In Singapore, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is a form of credit that allows consumers to purchase goods or services in advance and pay for them in instalments. This type of financing has been available in the country since 2017, when Hoolah first introduced it.

It gained popularity quickly because it provided more flexibility for people with limited access to cash. According to a survey of Singaporeans aged 16 years and older, 4 out of 10, or nearly 1.1 million persons, have used the BNPL service. Some reported gaining benefits from using the service, while others incurred significant financial losses.

Quick overview of how Buy Now Pay Later services work

The concept of dividing an expensive purchase into several payments isn't new. This idea has been available through credit cards' 0% interest instalment plans for quite a long time.

The disadvantage of credit cards is that you must pay a one-time processing fee equal to a percentage of your purchase. They also charge an early payment penalty if you attempt to settle the payment up sooner or cancel the credit card on which you made the transaction!

On the other hand, non-bank Buy Now Pay Later Singapore companies like Grab PayLater, Atome, Hoolah, and Rely provide comparable services to credit cards but with one exception: they don’t have the extra charges. 

Users don't have to pay a processing fee or an early repayment cost, which is fantastic. Instead, they make money by applying a transaction fee on transactions made with their partner businesses. This fee is charged to their partners and not the customers.

You must, however, make each payment on time. BNPL providers will not hesitate to charge you a late payment penalty or suspend your account until the debt is paid in full if you miss a payment date.

It's also essential to consider that most BNPL service providers are not eligible for linking to your credit cards for recurring billing. Before charging the purchase to your credit card, make sure you double-check the terms and conditions of your credit card so as to ensure that you are not breaking any rules.

Common mistakes made by Buy Now Pay Later users

Users should be aware that BNPL services have the potential to bring them both benefits and harm.  

They can help save money if used correctly. However, abuse of these BNPL services can lead to great financial losses. Some of the most common mistakes that users make include: 

  • Incur late payment penalties
  • Overstretch their budget and struggle to pay for their other needs
  • Buy expensive items that they would not be able to afford
  • Make impulsive purchases
  • Allow their bank account to become overdrawn

Though users need to manage their spending in order to make the best out of these services, BNPL services do provide a host of benefits.

Comparison of Rely vs Atom vs Hoolah 

If you're purchasing from an online store that only provides one Buy Now Pay Later option, you may not be able to compare and choose your desired platform. 

However, if you're unsure about whether to take the plunge and sign up for an instalment plan or pay the full amount all at once, it's useful to know what you're getting into. 

For additional information on each provider, see below.

BNPL service providerTenureLate payment penalty
RelyThree months tenure or four payments every two weeksDepends on the order value; penalty is not more than S$40
AtomeThree monthsS$15
HoolahThree monthsFrom S$15

Rely

The late payment fee structure of Rely is extremely vague. It simply advises you not to miss payments without explaining the charges for late payment.

If you wish to pay by instalments through Rely, double-check with its customer service about late payment penalties beforehand.

Here is a summary of what you should expect from Rely: 

Payment tenureLate payment penaltyVouchersList of partner merchants
Three-month payment plan of four payments in two weeksIt depends on the order value, but the range is S$1 to S$ 4010% off your first purchase after signing upOther available vouchers are merchant-specificFull list of partner merchants

Atome

Atome is one of Singapore's most aggressive BNPL providers, with an online and in-store presence. You must scan and pay using a QR code for purchases at the store, necessitating the use of your handphone.

In order to pique your interest in buying more, the Atome app provides discounts on your purchases.

Make sure you consider the cost of paying in full and compare it with their discounts and penalties. For example, if you are having trouble with your cash flow that leads you to missing your payments, you might end up being charged up to $30 in late penalties!

Here are more details on Rely for you to take into consideration: 

Payment tenureLate payment penalty structureVouchersPartner merchants
Three monthsAtome will charge you S$15 for the first missed payment.If your remaining balance isn't paid during the current month, an extra S$15 will be charged, up to a maximum of S$30.Atome gives you S$10 off your first online purchase.1Gravity, 3Arts Pottery, A Cup of Dee, DrGL, A>LAB, A.T The Bar x Salon, AC RYan, ALDO, amika, anothesole, AXTRO, Absolute Bedding, Active Zone, Addin, Agape School of Education and Age Gracefully.

Hoolah

Hoolah is a well-known Buy Now, Pay Later provider in Singapore, with many partner merchants.

Hoolah's late payment procedure is somewhat perplexing. This is because it does not specify what the frequency of late payment fees will be if you miss multiple payments. So, to avoid being hit with hidden costs, make sure you pay on time and in full.

Here is a summary of what you can expect:

Hoolah payment tenureLate payment penalty structureAvailable vouchersList of partner merchants
Three monthsS$5 for purchases under S$99For purchases between S$100 and S$999.99, the late payment fee is S$15.For purchases of S$1,000 or more, you will be charged a late payment fee of up to S$30.Vouchers depend on the merchantFull list of partner merchants

Atome vs Hoolah

Atome and Hoolah are two of the most popular Buy Now, Pay Later providers in Singapore. They both offer three-month payment plans, but their late payments procedures differ.

Atome will charge you S$15 for the first missed payment, and if your remaining balance isn't paid during the current month, an extra S$15 will be charged up to a maximum of S$30. Hoolah’s late payment procedure is somewhat perplexing because it does not specify what the frequency of late payment fees will be if you miss multiple payments.

So, make sure you pay on time if committing to them! For example, if you are having trouble with your cash flow and end up missing your payments, you may be charged up to S$30 in late penalties!

Hoolah also offers unique vouchers which are merchant-specific, so be sure to check its website before making a purchase. In the end, it is important that you compare all of the available options and make a decision that works best for you.

Rely vs Hoolah

Rely offers three-month payment plans with no interest rates for purchases under S$99.

On the other hand, Hoolah is a well-known Buy Now, Pay Later option in Singapore, with many partner merchants. However, as mentioned, Hoolah's late payment procedure is somewhat unclear.

Pros and cons of Buy Now Pay Later services

Pros

1. Credit card rewards: If you have a good credit score, using a credit card for BNPL can be lucrative because you can earn rewards points on your purchase.

2. Convenience: With the advent of technology, it's easier than ever to shop with Buy Now Pay Later services. You can make purchases without having to carry any cash or worry about going over your budget.

3. Extra time to pay: If you're having trouble with cash flow, BNPL can be a way to give yourself more time to pay the full amount for the purchase.  

Cons

1. Risk of interest fees/penalties: You must read all fine print before signing up for these services because some companies charge high interest rates for late payments.

It is important to consider all of these benefits and risks when deciding whether or not BNPL services are right for you.

2. Gives a false sense of affordability: Sometimes, people get into trouble because they think that BNPL is a way to buy things without having to pay more for them later. But this isn't always the case, and you could end up paying more than you originally bargained for.

Also, when you're buying something that costs more than you can afford, it's easy to justify by saying, "I'll just pay for it later." However, doing this can quickly lead to debt.

Make sure you are only using BNPL as a last resort, and always try to budget for the things you want.

In conclusion, if you're looking for a quick and easy way to get the things that you need without having to pay for them upfront, BNPL services can be an excellent option – just make sure that you fulfil the instalment payments.  

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Looking for the best loan options to make your next big purchase? Check out the comparisons on our website to ensure that you maximise your savings. 

Read these next:
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