In general, we don’t like layaway programs very much. A credit card that earns rewards is always a better choice: You still can pay in installments, you pay a few dollars in interest instead of service fees (or god forbid, cancellation fees), you get to take your item home immediately instead of it being held at the store, and you can earn a few points or miles while you’re at it.
If you have a choice, layaway is never the best option. Unfortunately, we recognize that credit cards are not an option for everyone. Layaway came back from the dead during the recession as a way to patch the hole left by stricter credit standards, after all. Its reemergence was the result of a sudden spike in shoppers labeled by creditors as something less than creditworthy.
We’ve rounded up the details for four of the most popular layaway programs available for the 2014 holiday season. Our verdict: Walmart is the clear layaway winner. Toys R Us is a close second, only because Walmart generally beats them on pricing. Sears should only be considered for large purchases like major appliances and otherwise is an expensive, confusing mess. And just do yourself a favor and forget about Kmart right now, it’s really not worth it when Walmart is so much better.
As for Target and Best Buy, sorry to disappoint you- neither retailer offers layaway right now, and it doesn’t look like 2014 will be the year that they start.
- No service charge
- Downpayment of $10 or 10% of order total (whichever is greater)
- $10 cancellation fee
On September 10, 2014 Walmart announced its layaway plans that will run until December 15th. “We continue to find it is a useful tool for our customers,” Walmart’s Vice President of Toys Anne Marie Kehoe said. “They take advantage of it early.”
There is no service charge although you will have to make a down payment of $10 or 10% of your purchase total, whichever is greater, when you set up your order. There is a minimum purchase of $50 to qualify for layaway.