Best ways to pay for something you can't afford

Best ways to pay for something you can't afford

Say you don’t have the cash on hand for something you want to buy – does that mean you can’t afford it? Let’s look at some of your options.

Things like a debit card linked to your account, contactless payment or online payment are all ways of paying money that you already have. What we’re talking about here is when you don’t already have the money to finance a purchase. These include:

  • Credit cards
  • Gift cards and vouchers
  • Lay-by
  • Afterpay and zipPay
  • PayPal

Credit cards

Credit cards allow you to buy something on the spot, whether or not you have the cash to pay for it. To obtain a credit card you must fill out an application with your bank or financial institution.

Credit cards certainly make purchasing easier. However, you need to remember that you are still spending money when you use your card, and will have to pay the bill when it arrives. If you don’t pay the full amount by the due date, then you will be charged interest – meaning it’s easy to end up owing more than you intended.

Gift cards and vouchers

Gift cards, vouchers and store cards all basically serve the same function. You use them like a pre-paid credit card. Money is pre-loaded on the card and it can be used until all the money is spent. The difference between these sorts of cards and pre-paid credit cards is that they can only be spent at the store they were issued at.


A lay-by agreement is one that allows you to you buy something and pay for it in several instalments before taking it home. You won’t be allowed to take it home until it is completely paid for. You’ll usually pay 10-20 per cent as a deposit (and any deposit you pay is an instalment). You must get a copy of your written lay-by agreement that states all terms and conditions, including any termination fees that may apply.

Lay-by can be a useful way of spreading payment of purchases over a longer period, to help your budget cope. However, there are drawbacks to consider, like:

  • Large department stores often charge service fees (although many smaller retailers might not)
  • Large department stores may also keep your deposit (up to 20 per cent) and the service charge if you cancel your lay-by
  • Your lay-by is always locked in at the original price for the product, so if it later goes on sale, you miss out on the lower price
  • If the store goes into receivership before you’ve finalised the lay-by, you will probably have lost the item and you may become an unsecured creditor, meaning you become the last in line to get your money back

Remember these tips to helps protect your rights:

  • Before you sign the agreement and pay any deposit, make sure you read and agree with the terms and conditions, including payment dates, amounts and any extra charges you’ll have to pay if you decide to cancel
  • Keep copies of the agreement and receipts for the deposit and all instalments, so you’re covered if there is a problem later

Afterpay and zipPay

Afterpay is a system similar to lay-by. It offers online shoppers a simple instalment plan, allowing them to pay for purchases in four equal instalments, which are due every fortnight. When you shop from a store in Afterpay’s online Shop Directory, you then choose Afterpay as your payment method at checkout (like PayPal). First-time customers must provide payment details to set up an account.

After you check out, the goods will be shipped to you by the seller. You can log in to your Afterpay account to see your payment schedule, and/or make a payment before the due date. Otherwise, the instalments will automatically be deducted from your debit or credit card every fortnight.

There is no fee to you when you’re purchasing. The only fees applied are late fees if your scheduled payments are unsuccessfully processed and you fail to make your payment via a different method. 

zipPay is basically identical, except that you can pay weekly, fortnightly or monthly, giving you more flexibility than the fortnightly system used by Afterpay.


PayPal pays the seller on your behalf when you purchase, and then retrieves the money from you. You will be required to link a credit card or bank account to PayPal when you create you first create your account.

If you have enough money in your PayPal or linked bank account to cover a purchase, then it will simply be deducted. If you don’t, PayPal will make two attempts to complete the transaction from your bank account before switching to your backup funding source.

Your bank may charge you fees for each failed attempt, so you should immediately add sufficient funds to your bank account so that the payment is successful on the first attempt.

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Learn more about bank accounts

Can I start a bank account online?

Yes, most lenders that operate in Australia will let you set up a bank account online. The process is usually simple and takes five to 10 minutes. You will probably need to provide a passport or birth certificate, as well as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or another form of secondary identification. Requirements differ from lender to lender, so some institutions might ask for more or different forms of ID.

How do you transfer money from PayPal to a bank account?

Transferring money from PayPal to an Australian bank account is simple. Just follow these three steps:

  • Go to your Wallet
  • Click ‘Transfer Money’
  • Follow the instructions

The money will take three to seven business days to reach your bank account.

Once you’ve made the transfer request, it can’t be withdrawn.

Can you open a bank account at 16?

Yes, you can open a bank account at 16, or even younger. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

Can I find my bank account number online?

Yes, you can find your bank account number by logging into your online banking and clicking on the relevant account.

How can I check my bank account balance online?

Checking your bank account balance online is a simple process. Once you’ve logged in to your online banking, clock on the relevant account and the balance should be visible.

Which bank is best for business accounts?

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to the question of which bank is best for business accounts. That’s because ‘best’ will differ from customer to customer, depending on their unique circumstances. These include not only your company’s financial position, but also its size, its age and the sector in which it operates. Another factor to consider is what features you want in a bank account. Your business may require different features than another business; and your business may require different features tomorrow than it does today.

The best thing to do is to thoroughly research the market before opening a business account. And when you do open an account, you should reassess your options every year or two, because the market moves quickly. A particular bank might offer the best account today, but be surpassed by one or several rivals tomorrow.

Can you get a payday loan without a bank account?

Yes. Some payday lenders are willing to transfer loans to prepaid debit cards instead of bank accounts.

How do you deposit change into your bank account?

One way to deposit change into your bank account is to visit a branch. Many lenders will also allow you to deposit your change through one of their ATMs.

What do I need to open a company bank account?

To open a company bank account, you will probably have to provide 100 points of ID, an ABN and an ACN. You will probably have to provide the details of all signatories as well.

Can I have a PayPal account without a bank account?

You don’t need a bank account to send or receive money through PayPal. However, you do need a bank account if you want to withdraw money from your PayPal account.

Can I link a bank account to Paypal?

Paypal is a safe and convenient way to pay online without the need to share your financial details. You can send and receive money or accept credit and debit cards as a seller using Paypal.

It’s easy to link your bank account to a Paypal account and start making transactions within minutes.

To start, you first need a Paypal account (it’s free to join). When setting up your Paypal account, you will be prompted to link a credit card or bank account (or both if you wish).

PayPal works without a balance; you can use Paypal to shop or send money when your balance is zero.

When your Paypal balance is zero, Paypal will ask you to choose your preferred payment method at the checkout.

This could be either your linked bank account or credit card. Your bank details can be updated if you change banks or credit cards.

How can you cash a cheque without a bank account?

You can cash a cheque without a bank account if you visit the bank that issued the cheque. For example, if somebody sends you a cheque from Bank X (as written on the cheque) and you visit Bank X, it’s likely that Bank X will let you cash the cheque – provided the person who wrote the cheque has enough money in their account. Bank X would probably charge you a fee for the service.

How do you open a bank account under 18?

If you’re under 18 and you want to open an Australian bank account, you will need your passport or birth certificate. (Some lenders might require just a Medicare card or driver’s licence.) You can apply online or at a branch. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

How do I transfer money from Paypal to my bank account?

Transferring cash from Paypal into your bank account is simple…if you have a Paypal account that is.

Once you’re logged into your Paypal account, the account balance will appear on your home page. Below your balance are two options:

  • Add money
  • Withdraw money

Choose option two if you want to transfer money from your Paypal account to your personal bank account.

The next screen will prompt you to either enter new bank account details or choose a bank account that’s connected to Paypal. You can always add more bank accounts to your Paypal profile.

Another way to transfer out of Paypal is by jumping to the wallet tab on the top menu, and clicking ‘transfer money’. Both options will give you the same result.