Apple is trying to make it easier for customers in China to pay for its products.
The company has posted to its Chinese Web site a new installment plan, allowing customers who pay 300 yuan (about $48) or more for an Apple product to pay in installments. From now until January 23, Apple is offering interest-free payments for up to 12 months. If customers choose 18- or 24-month installments, interest will be assessed at 6.5 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively.
When customers check out on Apple's online store, they'll be given the option to pay in full at that time or choose an installment plan. Upon doing so, they'll be entered into installment plans through the Merchants Bank credit card.
The move appears to be an attempt on Apple's part to appeal to shoppers in China who might not be able to afford its expensive products. For example, the iPhone 5 starts at 5,288 yuan -- about $850. The company's iPad starts at 3,688 yuan.
As Bloomberg, which first reported on the installment plan, pointed out in its report, the iPhone 5's starting price is equal to about six weeks' pay for the typical Chinese employee working in a city.
Still, Apple isn't offering the installment plan only to customers in China. In the U.S., for example, Apple will allow customers to finance its products for up to 18 months. Customer purchases that reach $1,999 or more have no interest for a period of 18 months. The no-interest option is available on smaller purchases for a shorter period of time.
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