Acima Leasing provides a way for those with bad credit or nonexistent credit history to make large purchases with a lease-to-own model. If you need to make a purchase, you can choose from over 15,000 stores to shop, then set up a payment plan to lease products until you own them or opt to purchase them early at a discounted rate.
But, is Acima Leasing worth the cost? While the service is accessible to individuals with less-than-optimal credit, you’ll find yourself hit with high fees that can make your purchase cost over twice as much.
Let’s take a deeper look.
What Is Acima Leasing?
Access to up to $4,000 in ‘shopping power’
Approval for those with bad or no credit
Easy approval and purchases via mobile app
Acima follows a model known as lease-to-own, which allows you to have use of products while paying them off until you own them outright. The company has teamed up with over 15,000 retail stores so that you can purchase anything from furniture to appliances and electronics.
Acima isn’t the only lease-to-own company, with other popular options such as Rent-A-Center being around for nearly 50 years. The model works with you purchasing a product that the leasing company legally owns; you then pay for the product according to an agreed-upon payment schedule.
While you may hear some people refer to Acima Leasing as Acima Credit, Acima is not a credit company as it does not extend a line of credit.
At any time during the lease, you can opt to stop paying for the product and send it back without penalty; however, after a set amount of time, once all lease renewal payments are made, you will automatically own the product. If desired, you may also pay off your lease early, taking ownership earlier and avoiding additional leasing charges.
The Acima leasing model is aimed at those with poor or nonexistent credit as approval decisions are based upon your income and not via information from credit bureaus. To qualify for Acima, you need only the following: a checking account (bank account) with at least $1,000 of monthly income, three months of income history with your current source of income and a government-issued photo ID.
Approval with access to up to $4,000 in ‘shopping power’
High approval odds for those with low or nonexistent credit
Mobile apps make it easy to be approved and complete your purchases online
Astronomically high leasing fees that can have you paying over twice what your purchase was initially worth
Shopping options are limited to Acima’s selected retail partners
How Does Acima Leasing Work?
Leasing a product with Acima is simple and convenient as the company provides a few ways for you to make your purchase. If you shop at a partnered brick-and-mortar retail store, the staff will assist you with purchasing the merchandise, allowing you to complete the lease via a link sent to your mobile device.
If you prefer to shop from your couch, you can use Acima’s mobile app for either Android or iOS for the entire process. If you would rather use a desktop or laptop computer, you can download a free extension for the Google Chrome web browser that will allow you to do the same.
Purchasing With Acima Leasing
We downloaded the Acima app for iOS to test out the approval process and began by giving our personal information. This process includes a soft credit check that won’t affect your credit score. After we were approved for a purchase of up to $2,500, we selected Best Buy to begin shopping because the author of this article would like some new speakers for his living room.
Because the author’s editor has refused to pay for his speaker purchase (it’s a business purchase, isn’t it?), we didn’t complete the purchase. However, once you decide what to buy, Acima will provide you with a leasing quote, along with multiple payment plan options to help align your lease payments with your payday.
You will need to make a small initial payment to begin the leasing process, generally $50. The number of scheduled payments will depend on whether you are paying weekly, biweekly or monthly; these are known as your loan repayment terms. The flexible repayment schedules are a nice feature.
Once you have selected your goods and completed the lease agreement with a signature, you will be able to check out from the online store using a virtually provided card. The products will then be shipped to you as normal.
Just don’t forget about those monthly payments from your checking account or a credit/debit card — they need to be made on time to avoid bad marks on your credit.
The High Cost of Acima Leasing
Once set up, you can make your lease payments via Acima’s website or mobile app. If at any time you wish to buy out the remainder of your lease, you can do so and avoid any additional leasing fees.
But once we start talking about fees, we find the Achilles’ heel of the program — it carries extremely, and we emphasize extremely, high fees.
Acima allows you to plug your purchases into a leasing calculator so that you can get a better idea of the money you will be paying before you can own your product. In all of the situations we tested, it seems like the first 90 days of a lease incur only a $75 fee (known as the Acima Cash Price), but once those three months pass, you will pay astronomically high fees.
The Cost of Acima Leasing Over 12 Months
Cost of Items
Cost of Lease at End of Term
As mentioned, a customer can buy out of their lease at any time, avoiding these fees. However, after the first 90 days of our $1,200 purchase example, the lease service cost jumps from $75 to $977.50. (Your lease terms may be personalized and result in different costs.)
Still, that’s an insane jump, so you better plan on purchasing out your lease within 90 days if you don’t want to be hit with outrageous fees.
Do We Recommend Acima Leasing?
We do not recommend Acima Leasing for anyone. While Acima makes it easy to shop online or in-store for products that you may want, the markup you’ll be paying for the company’s services is outrageous (sometimes you’ll pay double) and is likely to land you in more financial trouble if you couldn’t afford the initial purchase in the first place.
Acima isn’t the only lease-to-own service with these fees, but that doesn’t make the service appear any less predatory. It also doesn’t help that when we contacted Acima support for questions, the second option on its support tree was to contact the Collections Department, leading us to believe it’s a common reason customers reach out to the company.
Some may argue that Acima Leasing is a good last-ditch option for those who can’t obtain lines of credit elsewhere because of their credit history, but we feel that there is too much danger for someone unable to afford high-price products in the first place to fall into a spiral of money they will have trouble paying back.
One possible option would be to lease a product through Acima, but then pay it back before the 90-day period is up. As you are paying only the initial payment and a purchase fee at that time, this is known as the Acima Cash Price. But we wouldn’t even recommend this option due to the danger of not paying before 90 days and having your fees shoot up drastically.
When it comes to the Better Business Bureau, Acima has received an A+ rating; however, customers are not so happy, leaving a score of 2.16/5 from an average of over 560 reviews. Over the last three years, there have been over 1,000 customer complaints.
In fact, we have quite a few services we would recommend instead of Acima.
Alternatives to Acima Leasing
If you have a poor or nonexistent credit history, there are a few other options we would recommend over Acima Leasing. While they may have credit score minimums, they are more likely to accept applications than more typical personal loans.
Acima Leasing Alternatives
Pay in 4, Pay in 30 Days & Monthly Financing
First of 4 payments immediately, then every 2 wks
Affirm Pay in 4 (every 2 wks) or Monthly Financing
0% for Pay in 4 and Pay in 30 Days; 0%-29% Monthly
0% on Affirm Pay in 4; 0%-36% on Monthly
Up to $7 on Pay in 4
$10, followed by $7 if payment isn’t made
No late fees
Credit score effect
Soft credit check for Pay in 4 and Pay in 30
No credit check
Soft credit check. May report payment history.
Where it’s accepted
Everywhere online & select in-store retailers
Everywhere online & select in-store retailers
Everywhere online & in-store w/ wireless pay
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When you first apply for Acima Leasing, the company does perform a soft credit pull, but this does not affect your credit score. Acima determines if you are eligible for a lease by analyzing your checking account and monthly income.
However, Acima does report to your credit company throughout your lease, so if you fail to make payments on time, your credit report may be negatively affected. Be sure to pay on time and keep a positive payment history to keep your score in the green.
Acima is a leasing company, so you can return your purchase to the company at any time without owing any additional money; however, you will be responsible for any unpaid lease charges or fees. Additionally, Acima reports failed payments to the credit bureaus, so your credit score may be negatively affected.
Yes, as part of your leasing agreement, Acima may attempt to take the proper legal action to repossess products that you have not paid properly. Be sure to avoid this situation by contacting the company if you are having issues making payments.
Yes, at any time you can return leased products to Acima. At the time of return, you will no longer need to make additional payments from your checking account. However, you may owe any unpaid back charges or fees.
Technically, Acima does not charge interest. It instead charges leasing fees. While the company attempts to make this sound like a good thing, we found leasing fees equivalent to almost a 140% interest rate.
There is no such thing as Acima Credit. Acima is a company that extends a leasing offer to its customers, not credit. If you see the term Acima Credit used, it is incorrect and the proper term is Acima Leasing.
Michael Archambault is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.