Gambling on the point spread won't be the only way to blow money and ruin your finances on Super Bowl night this year. You can now take out a loan — with predatory lender-like interest rates of as much as 30% — to see the big game in person.
Stubhub this week began offering users the option to pay for various event tickets in monthly installments, rather than at purchase, over as long as a year. The monthly payment option, essentially a short-term loan, carries interest rates of between 10% and 30% depending on a buyer's credit score and other determinants of creditworthiness. The feature can be used to finance purchases between $99 and $17,500.
The installment option is available for any event, but Stubhub is tying the service launch to Super Bowl LIV. On Wednesday, the company was selling tickets for the February 2 game in Miami Gardens, Florida, between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers that ranged in price from $4,449 to $16,500, including one pair of end zone lower-level tickets that could be bought for a total of $15,760.
With a 12-month installment loan at 30% (and based on a standard loan calculator), those same tickets could be bought for $1,536 a month. But the buyer would end up paying an additional $2,676 for the tickets because of the interest charges.
Stubhub is partnering with lender Affirm to offer the loans. Affirm is one of a number of growing fintech companies that are offering so-called point-of-sale loans. The company also offers loans to make other pricey purchases, including.
Affirm's loans have fixed monthly payments and no late fees, which the firm claims makes them more user friendly than credit cards. In fact, in a joint press release announcing the launch of the Super Bowl borrowing option, Affirm and Stubhub say that credit card debt is at an all-time high and that "many consumers are looking to kick off the new year with better financial habits."
But Ted Rossman of CreditCards.com told CBS MoneyWatch that buying high-priced tickets with Affirm's installment-type loans would be an extremely bad money move.
"It is a huge risk to make any type of discretionary purchase with something that carries a rate of 10% to 30%," Rossman said. "It's risky to buy it now and think you are going to pay it later."
Installment loan risks
Credit cards carry an average interest rate of about 17% for all account holders, and about 24% for those with poor credit, according to CreditCards.com. That means one could actually end up paying more with an Affirm and Stubhub installment loan. What's more, credit cards can been paid off at any time to avoid additional interest. By contrast, installment loans have set monthly payments and no bonus for being paid off early.
On top of that, installment loans tend not to offer reward points or provide the same degree pf protection against fraudulent sales that credit cards do. Installment lenders also typically report their loans to credit bureaus only when borrowers default. That means borrowers get no boost in their credit score from paying off their loan on time, though they do get dinged when they don't.
Affirm said it sends "friendly texts" to remind customers that a payment is due. It reports the loan as delinquent to credit bureaus when a borrower is more than 90 days late on their payments. Affirm told CBS MoneyWatch through a spokesperson: "Generally, we've seen that the trust and flexibility we provide our customers keeps repayment behavior high."
The Center for Responsible Lending expresses concern about the recent growth in installment loans because they generally carry higher interest rates than other methods of borrowing, including credit cards.
"Stubhub is already marking up the tickets," said Gracelia Aponte-Diaz, director of federal campaigns for CRL. "The high interest rates come on top of that."
In the end, installment loans for Super Bowl tickets is probably the one situation where going for the extra point is really not the best financial play.