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The credit card alternatives aimed at cash-strapped Millennials

Many Millennials shun credit cards but still crave the ability to spread out payments.

Online lenders such as Affirm, started by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, and Australian company Afterpay, are offering alternatives.

Both partner with retailers to provide consumers with the option to pay for goods over a period of time — even secondhand clothes. The startups say they review a host of variables in calculating a customer’s approval, according to Bloomberg.

“Their artificial intelligence and machine-learning algorithms is the secret sauce, allowing them to approve instantly a wider spectrum of borrowers not traditionally pursued by the legacy credit-card issuers,” Richard Crone of Crone Consulting LLC told Bloomberg.

For younger shoppers, the services are “more like a budgeting mechanism,” Nick Molnar, co-founder, and CEO of Afterpay told the The Associated Press. “It means it’s more manageable to them.”

Affirm’s website says it typically offers payment plans over three, six or 12 months, with interest rates ranging from 0 percent to 30 percent. There are no late or other fees for customers, although retailers pay a fee. Customers who default on loans may be banned from future purchases.

PaymentsSource reports Affirm, which works with more than 1,200 merchants, is expected to do more than $2 billion in loans this year. Its partners include apparel retailers TheRealReal, La Garçonne and Cole Haan; travel sites Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity; fitness brands Peloton and Giant; home furnishings sites Wayfair, Joybird and Hayneedle; and Casper mattresses.

Caitlin Mullen, Bizwomen contributor