Man making a payment with Square device
Courtesy of Squareup.com

Imagine you need to buy a custom car part and want to spread the payment over several months. But, you don’t have a credit card.

If you’re shopping at Fly1 Motorsports in Southern California, you now have another option: an installment loan from Square.

Today, the well-known payments company announced Square Installments. The new financing option lets you pay for something in smaller monthly payments, rather than a lump sum, at Square merchants, like Fly1 Motorsports.

The debut of the product by the company marks Square’s latest effort to move beyond payment processing. It also underscores a trend that continues to heat up: point-of-sale lending.

While banks have been offering these kinds of loans indirectly at retailers for decades, point-of-sale lending has been getting more popular in a mobile age where it’s easier and quicker to apply for credit than years past. Nowadays, financial technology companies, like Affirm, also offer installment loans online.

For you, the debut of Square Installments means another credit option for when you’re shopping at Square merchants — a list that includes all kinds of small businesses.

What is Square Installments?

Square, which is most known for its credit card reader that turns mobile devices into ways to accept payments, is offering the loan through sellers in 22 states. Borrowers who are approved can choose to pay three, six or 12 months in fixed amounts for purchases between $250 and $10,000. Borrowers are charged an APR of zero to 24 percent.

The loan application occurs online, and you will get a decision on your application right then and there. This do-it-yourself application approach could save you anxiety of, say, worrying whether you’re holding up a line at a retailer via applying for credit with a sales clerk.

“It spares the embarrassment,” says Brian Riley, director of credit advisory service at Mercator Advisory Group.

And unlike credit cards, installment loans can also help you isolate a purchase, like a fridge.

But, Riley doesn’t see installment loans as knocking out credit cards — they would require you to juggle a bunch of bills.

“Don’t start getting eight of these (loans) because it will be impossible to manage,” Riley says.

Not to mention: In an ideal scenario, you’re saving up for a purchase before buying it, so you don’t need to take out a loan at a time when many of us are living paycheck to paycheck.