Walmart's holiday layaway is back—and it's free

By Jim WillcoxConsumer Reports

Eggnog, office parties—and layaway? You may not think of buy-now, pay-later shopping programs as a holiday tradition, but Walmart is hoping you will. The retailer's holiday layaway program is back, and this time with a benevolent twist: It's free.

Among the key eligible items are electronics and toys, plus small appliances, jewelry, and select sporting goods. New items this year include car audio and infant toys.

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Last year Walmart charged a $5 service fee to shoppers to take part in the layaway program. This year the fee has been waived, but you still need to spend at least $50 (with a $15 minimum price per item), and put down a deposit of either 10 percent of the sale or $10, whichever is larger. And there's a $10 cancellation fee, something Walmart didn't impose last year. (Cancellation fees don't apply in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Ohio, and Rhode Island.) Walmart's Ad Match policy will apply to layaway items, so the retailer will match any local competitor’s print ad for an identical item.

Walmart's layaway plan over the years

Information courtesy of Walmart

The layaway program kicks off Sept. 13 and runs through Dec. 13, but early-bird shoppers can get a two-day head start (Sept. 11 and 12) by becoming a Walmart Facebook fan.

According to Walmart, electronic items from top brands will include:

To take part in the layaway plan, you need to open an account by visiting the services desk in any Walmart Supercenter or Walmart store. Once you've opened a layaway account, payments can be made at any store register for the duration of the program, and you'll get e-mail payment reminders and status updates to keep you apprised of your balances. For larger items too heavy or bulky to carry to a counter, you can just rip off a tear-pad slip near the item and take that to the Service Desk.

In all, Walmart says 35,500 items will be eligible for the layaway program—1,000 more products than were included in the plan last year. Full details of the Walmart layaway program are available at

—James K. Willcox

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