Layaway is back sooner and cheaper than ever to aid your holiday shopping

White gift box with red ribbon

Attention Kmart shoppers … And Walmart shoppers … And Sears shoppers … And Toys 'R' Us shoppers.

Not only is layaway back this holiday season, it's here sooner and cheaper than ever.

If you have bad credit and have never used one of these installment programs, this is the year to consider it.

Layaway lets you pick the gifts you want now, leave a down payment, then make a payment every two weeks. When the balance is paid, you take the items home.

There are no interest charges, and it’s a great alternative to using credit cards.

Many stores scaled back or even eliminated their programs when cheap and easy credit put a credit card in almost everyone's hands.

But retailers have been reemphasizing these installment plans since the financial crisis and recession left customers with fewer credit cards and lower credit limits.

Toys 'R' Us, Kmart and Sears are waiving their fees this year. Walmart has lowered its fee from $15 to $5 (and customers get a $5 gift card when they complete their payments).

Toys 'R' Us and Walmart have also started their holiday layaway programs this month rather than in October. (Layaways are available year-round at Kmart and Sears.)

Toys 'R' Us also dropped its minimum price requirement.

So if you have used layaway or are considering it this year, there's never been a better time.

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