United Airlines has partnered with the point-of-sale financing company Uplift to allow customers to pay for their flights over time. In lieu of paying for the full trip cost at the time of booking, United customers can now use Uplift's Pay Monthly service to pay for their flights over 11 months.

The service, which is available on United.com, has been integrated into the website's existing payment processes. United customers who wish to use the service can use United.com to apply for the loan and will receive an instant decision, Uplift said. The link to the service is now live on the United homepage.

Uplift said that United is the first of Big Three U.S. airlines to offer flex payment options. Uplift, which bills itself as the only point-of-sale financing company exclusively focused on travel, already offers flight financing on Allegiant and Spirit. It also partners with tour operators, including Funjet, Southwest Vacations and American Airlines Vacations. United Airlines Vacations has been an Uplift partner since 2017.

"Expanding Uplift's flexible-purchase option to flight tickets now allows even more customers to travel the world and create memories that will last a lifetime," United vice president of digital products and analytic Praveen Sharma said in a prepared statement.

Uplift loans can be as large as $15,000, with annual percentage rates ranging from 7% to 36%, Uplift chief commercial officer Tom Botts said in an interview. The average, he added, is in the mid to high teens.

By comparison, according to the Federal Reserve, commercial credit card interest rates averaged 15.1% in August, the most recent month for which data has been published.

Uplift doesn't charge compounding interest and has no fees for early repayment or for late payments, Botts said.

"What we hear from customers is another key reason they use Uplift is they think of travel as something different than the regular everyday stuff they use credit cards for," he explained.

During a presentation at the ARC conference in Leesburg, Va., last month, Uplift CEO Brian Barth said that the company's analytics are showing that customers spend 10% to 15% more on travel when they finance through Uplift as opposed to paying for everything upfront. The company already works with some large travel agencies.

"Travel advisors can easily offer Pay Monthly," he said.


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