How Does Layaway Work?

Layaway plans are a resourceful option for consumers who want to break down payments over time but don't want to incur debt. Layaway does not require a credit check and you do not have to pay interest on your purchases. Although each store establishes its own layaway program rules, the basics are the same.

Choosing Merchandise

Layaway is generally available on most of a store's merchandise, but some stores do place restrictions on the items you can place on layaway. For example, some retailers only allow layaway for pricey, big-ticket items such as electronics and jewelry, while others may require a minimum purchase requirement. Ask an associate about the store's policy to ensure that the items you want are eligible for layaway.

Layaway Process

Merchants that offer layaway plans often have to adhere to different state regulations, as well as their own rules. However, the layaway process has some universal characteristics.

Select A Plan

Once you've chosen your merchandise, an associate at the layaway counter rings it up and provides the total. You must choose the length of the plan, which is often eight to twelve weeks, but usually no more than one year. You must also decide on a payment schedule. This can be weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

Down Payment and Fees

The associate will then tell you how much you have to put down to hold your items. This down payment is usually between 10 and 20 percent of the total. You may also have to pay a flat-rate layaway or service fee to complete the process, usually $5 to $20. The associate will give you a receipt that explains the terms of the layaway plan and allows you to claim your items later.

Completing a Layaway Plan

You can complete a layaway plan by making all of your scheduled payments or paying it off in a lump sum. Once the merchandise has been paid for, you will be able to take your items.


Retailers will cancel a layaway plan if you do not make the scheduled payments. You can also go to the store to cancel your layaway play if you no longer want the items. Retailers generally provide refunds for cancelled layaways. However, service and layaway fees are generally not refundable. Some stores also impose restocking fees.