FinTech innovators are making air travel more affordable
Companies like CheapAir and Airfordable are making the high cost of travel more feasible for customers to handle.
CheapAir has partnered with financial services company Affirm to allow fliers to take out three, six and 12-month purchase plans to cover their airfare. Customers can choose a monthly payment option upon checkout on CheapAir.com. They have to submit to a credit check by Affirm, which reportedly will not affect a customer’s credit score.
The new payment method targets travelers without a credit card or who can’t afford their trip. The interest rate on the loans are based on credit worthiness and range from 10-30 percent APR.
“When you want to take a vacation, it’s a lot of money to put up out front and you might not be able to manage it all at once,” CheapAir CEO Jeff Klee told CNN. “Spreading it out .. .makes it become more easy to manage.”
Embracing payment alternatives to credit cards, the website also allows customers to pay with Bitcoin and cash through Western Union.
“Anything that competes with credit cards I think is a good thing,” he said. “This is one more option, and the more options, the better.”
Airfordable is another new company allowing travelers to book flights and pay over time before takeoff. Travelers find their preferred flight using any travel site they want, and upload a screenshot with their flight details to Airfordable.com. Upon approval, the startup creates a payment plan over up to three months that starts with an upfront deposit and ends sometime before takeoff. After final payment, Airfordable emails a confirmed e-ticket for the trip.
For this convenience travelers are charged a fee — anywhere from 10-20 percent, depending on demand, the date of travel, and ticket price —which, assuming a three-month repayment period, could translate to an APR as high as 80 percent. However, travelers will not likely think in terms of interest rate, as a service that could mean the difference between being able to take a trip or not is perceived by many as priceless.
Ama Marfo, co-founder of Airfordable, echoed this sentiment when she explained to TechCrunch that “the fee is high for people that don’t understand the value.” Also, the company doesn’t check your credit score, so even customers with poor or no credit could potentially be approved for a layaway plan.
Unlike a credit card or loan service like Affirm, a traveler doesn’t have to be stuck paying for a trip months after completing it. Repayment rates have been high because if a traveler doesn’t pay before their trip, their flight is canceled. All payments made after the initial deposit are credited toward a future trip.