Shop securely and save on extra fees when using a credit card to shop online.
Paying on plastic can be a convenient way to make purchases online, but there are some cards that are better to use than others. Depending on how you shop online, you should make sure that the card you’re using protects you against any potential fraudulent transactions, doesn’t charge extra fees for overseas purchases and can help you cut down on interest costs. When looking for a credit card to use online, you can use this guide to discover what to look out for and compare your options side by side.
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How to compare credit cards for online shopping
- No currency conversion fees. You should consider a credit card that doesn’t charge a currency conversion or foreign transaction fee if you frequently make purchase online based overseas. Usually sitting between 3% and 5% of your transaction amount, these fees could quickly add up if you’re using your credit card to shop online. If the currency conversion fee was 3%, this means that a $500 purchases could add an additional $15 to your overall cost.
- Low or 0% interest fees. You might want to consider a card with a low ongoing interest rate or a promotional 0% offer on purchases if you struggle to repay your balance in full each month. Compare credit cards with 0% on purchases, but it’s important to remember that these revert to the much higher standard purchase rate when the offer ends.
- A rewards card with a high earn rate. If you regularly spend online and usually pay your balance in full, a rewards credit card could help you earn points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases. While most reward or frequent flyer credit cards award 1 point per $1 spent, some offer a higher earn rate on overseas purchases, which could come in handy if you’re using your card to shop at online overseas.
- Fraud protection. It’s standard for credit cards to have protection in place to guard you against scammers and fraudsters, but you can do your part too by opting for a card that is linked to Verified by Visa or Mastercard ID Theft Protection. It’s important to note that most insurances, such as purchase protection and extended warranty, don’t apply to items bought online.
The benefits and downsides of using a credit card for online shopping
- Avoid currency conversion fees. If you get a credit card with no or low currency conversion fees, you can make significant savings while making purchases with overseas retailers.
- Earn while you spend. If your credit card comes with a rewards system, you can earn points as you spend. These points can be redeemed for cash back on your account, travel rewards and merchandise and products from the rewards program online store.
- Wide acceptance and protection. If your credit card is linked to one of the larger providers, such as Visa or Mastercard, you can make purchases internationally. These networks often come with additional security, such as Verified by Visa or Mastercard ID Theft Protection, giving you an extra layer of protection when shopping online.
- Accumulating debt. Unlike a debit card or a prepaid card, a credit card is not linked to your own funds. So if you’re an impulsive or frequent spender, using your credit card for online purchases could quickly build up debt on your card. If you struggle to repay your balance in full, make sure to consider a card with low or no interest on purchases.
- Security risks. While credit card security measures are in place to protect your finances against fraud or theft, no online purchase is entirely risk-free. Always research the site’s legitimacy and security before making a purchase.
- Foreign fees. If your card doesn’t offer either a low or no currency conversion fee, your spending can increase significantly when making a purchase in a foreign currency.
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Alternatives to credit cards: Use a prepaid card to shop online
If you don’t want to use a credit card but want a secure way to make purchases online that isn’t tied to your savings account, consider a prepaid debit card. You can load a prepaid card with funds and use them to make purchases.
If you’re trying to curb spending, this is a good way to stay within a budget. You can only spend the amount that’s loaded on the card and will need to reload more funds if your balance runs low.
As these cards are usually Mastercard or Visa products, you can use them both online and in-store at millions of locations around the world.Back to top