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Best Credit Cards* for Shopping Online

Shop securely and save on extra fees when using a credit card to shop online.

Paying by 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 and doesn’t charge extra fees for overseas purchases. Some cards even offer you extra insurance protection. If you’re looking for a credit card to use online, you can use this guide to discover what to look out for and compare your options.

How to compare credit cards for online shopping

  • No currency transaction fees. If you often make purchases from online merchants that are based overseas, you should consider a credit card that doesn’t charge a currency conversion or foreign transaction fee. Usually sitting at around 2% 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 2%, this means that a USD$500 purchases could add an additional HK$80 to your overall cost. So a card with 0% foreign transaction fees could help cut these costs.
  • A rewards card with a high earn rate. If you’re regularly spending online and usually pay your balance in full, a rewards credit card or cashback credit card could help you earn points or cashback from every dollar you spend on eligible purchases. The return rate you can earn varies hugely, ranging from 0.4% to 5% for cashback, while many providers offer higher reward rates for shopping in certain sectors or with certain retailers. Some cards offer a higher earn rate on overseas purchases, which could come in handy if you’re using your card to shop at foreign merchants online.
  • Fraud protection. Today, it’s standard for credit cards to have protection in place to guard you against scammers and fraudsters, but you have to do your bit by reporting any unauthorised transactions as soon as possible and no later than 60 days from the statement date. Some credit cards will still require you to pay the first HK$500 of any fraudulent transactions.
  • Additional benefits. Some credit cards offer additional benefits, such as a refund guarantee if you are unhappy with your purchase, extended warranties and insurance against theft or damage for the first 30 to 45 days after you make the purchase. These features are not standard, so it pays to compare cards carefully if you want to benefit from them.

The benefits and downsides of using a credit card for online shopping

Pros

  • Avoid foreign transaction fees. If you get a credit card with no or low foreign transaction 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 cashback on your account, travel rewards and merchandise and products from the rewards programme.
  • 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 Protection, giving you an extra layer of protection when shopping online.

Cons

  • Accumulating debt. Unlike an EPS card, a credit card is not linked to your own funds. So, if you’re an impulsive or frequenter spender, using your credit card for online purchases could quickly build up debt on your card.
  • 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 legitimacy and security of the site before making a purchase.
  • Foreign transaction fees. If your card doesn’t offer either a low or no foreign transaction fee, your spending can increase significantly when making a purchase in a foreign currency.

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 card. You can load these cards with funds and use them to make purchases in several foreign currencies. Not only will this save you from currency conversion fees if you’re making a purchase in a supported and loaded currency, it’s also a good way to spend according to 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

Frequently asked questions about using a credit card to shop online

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