CheapAir.com, an online travel provider based in Southern California, late last week unveiled a service that will enable customers to pay for flights in monthly installments. The company has partnered with Affirm, a financial services technology startup led by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin that enables e-commerce merchants to extend instant-decision financing to online customers. In addition to other more traditional online payment methods, CheapAir.com will let consumers choose to pay in 3- 6- or 12-month installments by clicking a “Monthly Payments” option during checkout. Affirm will make the lending decision in real time, settle with CheapAir.com, then take 100 percent responsibility for collecting payment and any fraud that takes place. CheapAir.com said it is aiming the service at a growing sector of the population—mainly millennials—that distrust banks and don’t have credit cards.
“Credit card issuers, in many respects, have not kept up with the times and there are an increasing number of alternatives now available,” said Jeff Klee, CEO of CheapAir.com. “We want to give everyone the freedom to travel, regardless of whether or not they choose to use credit cards.”
Consumers in some countries have shown a willingness to pay for travel in installments, according to a recent report, although interest in more developed e-commerce markets like the U.S. and Germany is not as strong. E-commerce processor and acquirer Worldpay found in Why Do They Pay That Way for Fights? that only 47 percent of U.S. consumers and 30 percent of Germans would use installment payments to pay for travel. In other countries, however, including Brazil, China and India, the appetite for installments is much greater.