Best Buy, eLayaway, Kmart and Sears and eLayaway are credit-free shopping options

Before the days of easy credit, Americans had to pay for expensive goods with cash or by establishing a line of credit with a retail store. Some retailers offered shoppers the opportunity to buy goods on layaway.

At one time, buying on layaway literally meant that a store employee physically removed an item from the sales floor and stored it while the customer buying the item made periodic payments. Once the customer paid the full cost of the item, plus fees, a store employee retrieved the item from storage and gave it to the customer.

Kmart and Walmart were large retailers with layaway purchase plans in place for many decades. Some retailers decided to replace these plans with easy-to-get store credit cards. Walmart eventually dropped layaway, but Kmart continues to offer it.

During the recent recession, access to consumer credit tightened, and retailers sought new ways to get cash-strapped customers into their stores. Companies that had never offered layaway plans decided to give credit-challenged customers a way to buy their goods. Here is a list of well-known retailers that offer a way to buy consumer goods without a credit check.

Best Buy
Best Buy is known for selling a wide range of consumer electronics. The retailer has established several programs to encourage shoppers to spend money in its stores, including its layaway program.

Best Buy shoppers who want to buy on layaway must choose an item worth at least $250 and leave a deposit of 25 percent of the value of the merchandise, plus a 5% non-refundable fee. After you have made your initial deposit, you must make fixed payments every two weeks until the item is paid for. You have the option of paying the balance over eight weeks or twelve weeks.

Sears and Kmart
Sears and Kmart merged in 2005 and run similar layaway programs. You initiate your purchase with Kmart or Sears by paying a $5 service fee and a $15 downpayment.

Both Kmart and Sears allow you to make your  purchase online. You have eight weeks to pay off an online layaway purchase, and twelve weeks to pay for an in-store layaway. In either case, payments must be made every two weeks.

Kmart has always been popular with layaway shoppers, although Kmart stores are not available in some regions in the United States. You can find a Sears almost anywhere. Both Sears and Kmart offer a wide range of products, and both stores allow you to buy expensive items such as computers, televisions and jewelry over time.

eLayaway is an online retailer with an extraordinarily broad range of products and offers a very flexible layaway program. eLayaway gives you the chance to create your own payment schedule and monthly payment amount. You can improve your credit score by enrolling in the company's innovative eLayaway Advantage program.

Spend a little time searching the Internet or browsing the website of your favorite retail store. You might be surprised to find out that the store offers a layaway plan so you can buy the things you want.