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These 6 Guitar Center Financing Options May Be Music to Your Ears

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Guitar Center financing is designed to help you get the instruments you need without paying a large amount of interest. To take full advantage, though, it’s important to read the fine print.

Financing with Guitar Center is offered through its store credit card, the Guitar Center Gear Card. Obtaining a store card typically requires at least fair credit, though Guitar Center also offers an alternative card — known as the Essentials Card — for those who don’t qualify for the Gear Card. The Essentials Card doesn’t offer the special financing options, though it will give you the option to make payments on purchases over time. In addition, Guitar Center offers layaway and lease-to-own programs.

Let’s review these options, as well as some alternatives like personal loans and low-interest credit cards:

6 Guitar Center financing options

Let’s count in, with a list of your choices for buying that new axe:

  1. No interest if paid in full within six months
  2. No interest if paid in full within 12 months
  3. 0% interest for 24 months
  4. 0% interest for 48 months
  5. Lease to own
  6. Layaway

1. No interest if paid in full within six months

Six months is the shortest promotional period out of all the Guitar Center financing options. Available through the end of 2021, this limited-time offer also has the least restrictions and can be used for most purchases; however, the offer only applies to single-receipt qualifying purchases. The offer does exclude Guitar Center lessons and rentals, Stick Club and String Club memberships, special orders and gift cards, which is the case with all of the store’s financing options. However, there aren’t any brand restrictions, which other financing options do have.

Best Guitar Center financing option for smaller purchases or if you know you’ll be able to pay off your purchase in full before the six-month period is over. If you don’t pay off your purchase by the end of the promotional period, you’ll be retroactively hit with interest from the date you made your purchase, at an APR of 29.99%.

2. No interest if paid in full within 12 months

This financing offer applies to qualifying purchases made in a single transaction. You must use your Gear Card to make the purchase and make at least the minimum payment every month. You can use this option for a wide range of brands, including Suzuki, Gibson and Ion products. However, there are some limitations: Fender products, for example, are not included. So if you had your heart set on a Fender guitar, you may want to try an alternative form of financing or one of the offers listed below.

Best Guitar Center financing option for smaller purchases that you’re confident you can pay off in 12 months. If you don’t pay off your balance in full during the promotional period, you’ll be hit with all of the interest you’ve accumulated dating back to when you made the purchase, and the purchase APR is 29.99%.

3. 0% interest for 24 months

The 0% interest for 24 months Guitar Center financing offer applies to specific brands. There’s also a minimum purchase amount required, which varies by brand: For example, you must spend a minimum of $899 on Taylor products, for example.

All of the items being financed need to be purchased in one transaction. The payments are divided up equally over the 24-month term to ensure your purchase is complete before the promotional period ends. This means that payments could be steeper than you might expect with a typical credit card purchase.

Best Guitar Center financing option for purchasing certain brands of certain values and repaying the cost in two years or less. Before using this financing offer, make sure you can handle the monthly payments, as these are required for the duration of the 24-month period.

What bank finances Guitar Center purchases?
Since 2015, Synchrony Financial has partnered with Guitar Center to offer customer financing in the form of retail credit cards. These options, including the Gear and Essentials cards allow you to purchase musical equipment immediately and repay the cost over time. Though you might sign a credit card agreement with Guitar Center, you would make your payments to Synchrony, through its online portal or mobile app.

4. 0% interest for 48 months

This financing offer is similar to the 24-month financing offer, but it has a smaller selection of brands with varying minimum purchase amounts. This offer is available for:

  • Bose: $499
  • JBL: $499
  • QSC: $399
  • Electro-Voice: $499
  • Ernie Ball Music Man: $999
  • LD Systems: $999
  • Ludwig: $499
  • Mackie: $499
  • RCF: $499
  • Roland: $2599

This financing offer also requires equal monthly payments over the 48-month term to ensure that you don’t pay any interest.

Best Guitar Center financing option if you’re interested in making a purchase from one of these brands and can’t pay for it all upfront — but can manage equally-sized monthly dues over four years or less.

5. Lease to own

If you don’t have a lengthy credit history or good credit score — or just want to end your cycle of debt — lease-to-own could be worth considering. Look at it as renting your musical equipment and then applying your rental costs toward their purchase.

Under Guitar Center’s lease-to-own program, which is run by Progressive, your employment status and banking history are among factors that determine your eligibility and lease amount. The minimum lease amount is $150.

The cost of your lease depends on the price of the equipment and how long you take to buy it outright. Because of this, you could end up paying twice as much for an instrument than it costs brand-new, making lease-to-own a last-resort sort of option.

Best Guitar Center financing option non-creditworthy buyers who are willing to pay considerably more for equipment than it’s worth, in exchange for receiving it immediately and eventually owning it.

6. Layaway

Layaway may seem a bit old-fashioned, but it’s a way to delay a purchase until you have additional funds in hand. Guitar Center offers a 30-day layaway if you put 25% of the purchase price down, and the deposit is fully refundable. This means that you need to pay the full balance of your purchase within 30 days, or Guitar Center will refund your deposit and release your item.

Best Guitar Center financing option if you don’t qualify for the Gear Card and you anticipate having the money within 30 days. Layaway is a good way to ensure the guitar of your dreams doesn’t get snapped up by someone else.

How Guitar Center financing compares with alternative options

The methods above aren’t your only choices — here are some alternatives and how they stack up:

Personal loan

An unsecured personal loan can be a good way to fund large, one-time purchases. These can be more challenging to get, though, if you don’t have a good to excellent credit score. Because there’s no collateral backing the loan, lenders tend to heavily weigh borrowers’ credit scores and financial history for approval, as well as loan amount and interest rate.

Companies that do offer personal loans to those with lower credit scores typically charge higher interest rates for those loans. For example, the average APR for a personal loan for borrowers with credit scores between 580-619 was 65.93% during the first quarter of 2021, compared to an average APR of 10.73% for someone with a credit score over 720.

How it compares: The Guitar Center Gear Card’s 0% interest financing offers are better than a personal loan, if you can qualify. If you have a high credit score, you can get a lower interest rate on a personal loan, but it won’t be 0%. However, if you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off your balance within one of Guitar Center’s promotional period timelines, you may pay a lower APR with a personal loan with good credit.

Low-interest credit card

A low-interest credit card is another option for financing large purchases. However, 0% APR offers are typically reserved for those with good to excellent credit. You’ll want to make sure you can pay off your balance during the promotional period, which typically lasts for 12 to 18 months — otherwise, you could end up paying a lot in interest. Additionally, if you are late on payments, your issuer may prematurely end your promotional period.

How it compares: A 0% or low-interest credit card may be a better bet financially than Guitar Center’s financing offers, especially for purchases that don’t meet the criteria for the 24-month and 48-month financing offers. If your purchase will take longer than six or 12 months to pay off, you would do better with a low-interest or 0% credit card, since some cards offer a 0% intro APR for as long as 18 months.

Renting equipment

Many music stores offer instrument rentals, especially for student musicians who are beginning band or orchestra. The policies of each store vary, but in general you can rent a previously used instrument, and many stores include an option to buy.

Rental programs are usually the lowest cost option, but the downside is that you never own the instrument. Renting may be best for younger musicians who might change their minds about playing the trombone, for example.

How it compares: If you or a budding musician in your household isn’t quite ready to commit to an instrument, renting allows you to try out an instrument. Guitar Center’s financing options are exclusively for purchases, so they’re best if you know exactly what you want.

Buying used to save on your instrument

High-quality instruments can last decades, or even longer. If you’re looking for a bargain or want to experiment with a new instrument, buying used can be an excellent value. Guitar Center sells used guitars, but you can also find instruments through online classified ads and online and brick-and-mortar retailers.

You can expect to save about 15% or more by buying used versus new, though it’s important to keep in mind the condition of the instrument. A well-maintained instrument should still play well for years to come, but one that’s seen a few bumps and bruises may need some repairs. Wear and tear shouldn’t impact the sound quality, but it’s best to buy used instruments in person so you can test them out yourself.

 

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