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When it comes to layaway plans, read the fine print

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Layaway plans for purchases have been back for a while, but this holiday season more and more retailers offer it. Like any good deal, you need to read the fine print to make sure you know what you're getting.  

Layaway means you can have an item held at a store until you can pay it off, usually in installments. Once you've paid the bill, you can take it home. When the economy tanked, layaway re-surfaced.  

Many of these layaway plans are similar, but they do have their differences.  

Walmart

According to the company's web site, its layaway plan is for in-store purchases only. You can't do it online. To get started, Walmart has a $5 layaway fee that is refundable with your final payment.  And you have to put down $10 or 10 percent, whichever is greater. It has to be picked up by Dec. 14h.

Sears

Over at Sears, the pick-up date is early - December 3rd. Sears has a four-installment payment plan.  You will also have to have a down payment of $20 or 20 percent. Their web page shows that some of their online products are available for layaway, but not all.

Best Buy

Not all Best Buy stores participate in layaway, but the ones that do have a high minimum purchase of $250. There is also a 5 percent layaway fee on top of the purchase price. And you'll need 25 percent for a down payment.

Make sure you read the fine print. Know that if you if you cancel your order, you can get your money back although the retailer will likely keep the initial fee.

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