mattress financing - image of money under bed

To the list of questions you'll need to ask on the way to finding the right mattress, add one more: Should you finance the purchase? With high-quality mattresses starting in the $1,000 range, it's not an unreasonable question. Financing gives you the ability to pay for your mattress over time instead of shelling out a large amount all at once or waiting until you've saved enough to pay in full.

These days most mattress companies offer a financing option. Before you sign up for one of these plans, though, it's a good idea to understand how financing works and the pros and cons of using this method to pay for a mattress purchase.

Why you might want to finance a mattress

A big reason to consider financing is speed: While it can take many months to bulk up your bank account, you can usually obtain financing on the spot. Some mattress companies, for example, offer the option at checkout to pay with a line of credit for 0% interest for six months. For some people, the discipline of budgeting for monthly payments may be easier than saving, and if you pay the balance in full within the promotional period, you won't be charged interest.

You can accomplish the same thing with a credit card that offers 0% interest for a period of time, often six months or a year, after the account is opened. (A few 0% cards also offer rewards, such as cash back, which means you might come out ahead as long as you pay the debt in full within the zero-interest period.) Here again, though, you need to factor in the time it takes to research and apply for the credit card, and you typically must have a strong credit history to qualify. As with many financing plans, to get the benefit you need to pay the full balance on the card within the promotional period, otherwise, you will eventually be charged fees and/or interest.

Speaking of credit history—credit-wise, mattress financing doesn't have much effect. In general, small loans are practically immaterial to your credit score, says credit expert John Ulzheimer. Assuming you make timely payments, it can even help bolster your credit in the long run. The caveat: In the very short term, you might see your score drop due to what's known as "credit utilization," the percentage of your available credit that you're using. So don't finance a mattress just before you're planning to apply for a car loan or a mortgage, Ulzheimer advises.

When it comes to returns, financing is a non-issue. Should you decide to return your mattress during the trial period, your refund will repay the loan or be deducted from the balance on your card.

Related: Here's what you need to know about buying a mattress online

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The disadvantages of mattress financing

When you pay for an item in cash, you know exactly how much you can afford to spend. When you're financing, the picture can get murkier.

That's because a $3,000 mattress might not “feel" like a major purchase if you're only shelling out $200 a month. But in the end, you're still spending the same amount—and possibly significantly more.

The potential of paying more is, of course, the biggest downside of any type of financing, mattresses included. While your installment or credit card payments might be manageable today, there's always the chance that could change in the future—and if you can't pay off the balance within the promotional period, you may be charged what's known as "deferred interest." In that case, once the promotional period expires, interest is charged from the date of the original transaction, regardless of the amount of the balance remaining.

Should you default on the loan, you'll also pay credit-wise. “The actual impact of a default on someone's credit varies between consumers," says Ulzheimer, “but one thing is for certain—it won't help."

So if you opt for mattress financing, make sure you clearly understand the payment terms, dates, and caveats—and if you think there's a real risk that you won't be able to keep up with the payments, it's best not to take it on in the first place. After all, however you pay for your mattress, your goal should be peaceful, worry-free sleep.

Check out Saatva's financing options to see if mattress financing is right for you. 

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