Layaway is in vogue again. Just in time for the holidays. However, layaway can also work for gifts for occasions a month away. Pay for half of it each pay check. The plan also works for other occasions near the end of the year or beginning of the upcoming year. In some instances, the retailers offer layaway all year long.

Some call layaway old-fashioned. I call it a great tool in our economical tool belt. Also, how great to layaway a new hot seller. You pay for it over time. And, you also avoid the possibility of the item being sold out when the occasion arrives. You’re also likely get the desired item at special holiday pricing.

Google Nexus

A hot seller like the Google Nexus 7 tablet could be a great layaway candidate

Of course, you want to wisely choose the gifts you layaway. Be sure it really is a fit. Although for now many retailers have waived the cancellation fee, you may owe a service and a cancellation fee if you decide you no longer want the item. Some retailers (e.g. Wal-Mart) will give you a gift card in the amount of their service fee if you complete the layaway. The plan then has no cost.

I’ve listed the plans of several retailers that offer layaway. Note there are many similarities, but important differences as well. Like what they allow into layaway. Like the service fee variations: Maryland Walmarts have no service/open fee (SF) and Ohio Walmarts refund SFs even if you cancel the layaway.

Bottom line, read the entire contract to avoid heartburn, and loss of the time and the gift. Know the rules, especially the actions that lead to cancellation and/or accruing more fees. Ask questions.  Questions like:

Can you add items to the initial layaway?

Do you open up a second account? How do you tell which items are available for layaway? Will layaway be available at any other time of the year?

If I remove some items from my layaway items, does this constitute a cancellation?  

Does retailer offer free shipping for on-line layaway?

Do you get the lower price if the item(s) go on sale while in layaway?

Does the down payment calculated with tax or before?


Know the rules. Ask questions. Avoid cancellation, more fees and having your carefully chosen gifts returned to inventory.

If you think layaway might work for you, here are some of the rules.  Make sure to go to the links provided for fuller details.  Or, since some details are rather sketchy, call the retailer.

Kmart is also playing the Not-so-secret Layaway Santa by paying off customer’s layaway accounts.  Read about it here. 



                        Length of Plan           Open Fee                    Down Payment                     Cancellation Fee


Wal-Mart –         90 Days                       $5*               $10 or 10% (the greater)                    $0*  

                           (9/16 -12/15)


  • $15 minimum purchase per item; $50 min total purchase  
  • Make payments at any register.  No due dates or bi-weekly payment – pay as you go to due date
  • *Service Fee (SF) refunded as gift card at final payment.   
  •  SF returns to $15 on Dec 15th. May vary by state  
  • SF not refunded if layaway cancelled or not paid in full by due date.


  • Applies to electronics (excludes contract wireless phones), jewelry, small appliances, select sporting goods & toys
  • Layaway good at Walmart and Walmart Supercenter stores only
  • Layaway jewelry year round.

Walmart’s layaway plan details

Guitar Hero Cuff Links – Walmart


Guitar Cufflinks 1 – Walmart

 A music lover might love either of these guitar cufflinks. $15 lays these away. You pay the $40+tax balance by December 15th . You pick up the gift and a $5 bonus gift card.

Sit-up fitness board – Walmart

The fitness fiend could get a lot of use from the Apex Sit Up Board. 



                        Length of Plan           Open Fee                                                              Down Payment                 Cancellation Fee

 Sears                 All Year                     $5 (for 8-week,                      $20 or 20% (the greater; 8wk)     $15 (8 wk)


                                                                         $10 (12-wk)                          $35 or 20% for 12 wk*                               $25 (12-wk)

                                                                                                                             in-store only)


  • *12 week requires minimum purchase of $400
  • Requires bi-weekly payments, at contract store or on-line
  • Seven (7) day grace period on payment due dates
  • Service and cancellation fees not refundable at cancellation


  • Purchase almost everything all year round in these categories:

Appliances, Bedding, Clothing, Electronics, Home, Jewelry, Lawn & Garden, Outdoor Living, & Toys

  • Available in store and online

Sears layaway plan details

Vino Wine Cooler – Sears

Layaway could afford the chance to get the wine lover on your list the electric wine cooler they covet. With a down payment of ~$50 and 4 payments  of ~$43, you’ll be their hero when you present the Vinotemp Wine Cooler.




Someone on your list gets lost all of the time. The Magellan Navigation System will help them and whoever they’re going to meet! (~$23 up front, then 4 payments of $18 gets them there.


You get the idea. Think about who your recipients are, what they like. Decide which retailer(s) works best for the gift and the layaway plan and get started. And, with Elayaway listed below, you might be able to find retailers for several gifts all in the same place.



                         Length of Plan           Open Fee                                               Down Payment       Cancellation Fee

 ToysRUs/     90 Day                      $0 (Through 10/31)                                         20%                                $10

Babies R Us          


  • No minimum purchase





                        Length of Plan           Open Fee                                              Down Payment       Cancellation Fee

 Kmart          60 Day                      $0* (through 11/17)                        $15 or 10% (8 wk)                $10

                               (9/9 to 11/17)                                                                                          $30 or 10% (12 wk)


  • No minimum purchase
  • Requires bi-weekly payments
  • Service/open fee usually $5 on 8 week contract; $10 on 12-week contract
  • 12 week contract requires purchase of $300 or more
  • All applicable fees non-refundable


  • Applies to online and in store purchases

Kmart layaway plan details


See also Layaway that Pays You Back at Kmart



                        Length of Plan       Open Fee                        Down Payment        Cancellation Fee

 Best Buy     Unclear                     5%                                               25%                          None indicated*


  • Minimum purchase of $250
  • Requires 4 bi-weekly on 8 week plan(this one applies to computers) and 6 bi-weekly on 12 week plan

Keurig Coffee Maker – Best Buy


Only available at select stores, check Best Buy site for closest locations

Applies to online and in store purchases

Use to purchase back to school, business, family & home, holiday, technology items

Some items excluded, like clearance, special order, discontinued, etc.

*Info rather sketchy and site indicates to see a store representative for more details


THE NEW CONTENDER for Frugalista Gift Layaway 

Elayaway is the newest entry in the program. The site, and online payment processor, has a list of 1,000 participating retailers, much like the money-back sites. Elayaway handles the layaway details for online and in-store purchases for listed retailers. Some of the same rules (i.e. cancellation fee of $25 or 10%) and procedures apply at Elayaway.  From the site:

“A flat (non-refundable) transaction fee* as low as 1.9% is charged to the consumer and all payments are held in an account in trust and transferred to the merchant once full payment has been made.”

*See Fee Schedule

 The major difference: you set your own monthly payment schedule. See “How It Works”.


Also check the layaway plans at Marshall’s, Burlington Coat Factory, and TJ Maxx. Don’t forget to check with your local merchants (i.e. jewelers) too. Some offer some version of a flexible payment plan. It’s rumored that some JCPenney stores offer layaway. I located none on-line. Call your local store to ask.  


Happy Frugalista shopping!


© DLewis 2012



  1. Pingback: Considering a Layaway Purchase? « Healthier, Wealthier, and Wiser

  2. Pingback: FRUGALISTA GIFT IDEA: 90-SECOND CUPPA, $10 BACK « frugalistagiftguide

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This entry was posted on September 23, 2012 by in Occasions, tips, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .
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