Some tips every online shopper should know when paying with plastic.
If you’re shopping online, odds are good you’re using a credit card — unless you’ve figured out how to teleport cash (if so, tell us!). Credit cards provide a convenient, secure payment option and the process for making online purchases are typically the same for most websites.
This guide outlines the payment process step-by-step, security features and other factors that come up when you want to use a credit card for online purchases.
How to pay online with a credit card
- Check the website is secure. Two security signs to look for: check that the website URL starts with the letters “https:” and has an image of a small padlock, usually in the top left-hand corner.
- Select your item(s). Add items to your basket and either go to the checkout to pay or keep shopping.
- Go to the “checkout”. When you’re ready to pay, look for the shopping icon which is often in the top right-hand corner of the web page. This is the checkout page where you’ll provide all your billing details.
- Enter your details. Enter your name, address, contact telephone numbers and email address. Some businesses ask you to create an account when you complete a purchase. In most cases you can do this automatically when you make your first purchase by entering a username and password when prompted. You must enter information in all spaces marked with an asterisk.
- Choose “credit card” as your payment method. You will be prompted to choose how you want to pay. Other options could include debit card, PayPal and bank transfers. You may also be required to select whether you have a Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit card.
- Provide your credit card details. Enter the name on the front of the card, the 16-digit card number, the expiration and the three-digit security code found on the back.
- Confirm the payment. Press the “confirm” button to submit your payment. Remember not to hit the button more than once while you’re waiting for the payment confirmation page to load, otherwise you may end up getting charged twice.
- Extra security measures. Verified by Visa, Mastercard SecureCode and American Express’s Safekey are additional layers of security you can register for when using your credit card. If one of these services is active, you’ll need to enter a one-time code sent to your mobile phone.
- Keep a copy of the payment confirmation. Most online stores will email you a receipt you can save and print. These details will help you track your order and ensure the correct amount is charged to your card.
Credit card security features for online shopping
Credit card companies have a range of security measures to protect your account from fraud when you shop online.
Many credit card companies provide 24-hour fraud-monitoring services that monitor activity on your account and contact you if they see something suspicious.
If a fraud-monitoring service can’t verify a transaction that’s been made on your account, it will be able to temporarily block your account and investigate further to ensure your credit card is protected against unauthorized transactions.
You may have already been pre-enrolled in Verified by Visa, Mastercard SecureCode and American Express Safekey. You need to enter a one-time SMS or email code each time you use your credit card to shop online.
Note that an online merchant must have registered with the program for the service to work.
Zero liability guarantees
American Express, Mastercard and Visa provide zero liability guarantees to cover you for fraudulent credit card use in-store, over the phone and online. Note that these liability guarantees do not cover cash advance fraud.
If you’re the victim of credit card fraud, contact your credit card provider immediately to dispute the transaction.
Other factors to consider
Keep these situations in mind when you shop online so you know how to handle them if they ever arise.
- Saving your card details. Internet browsers such as Chrome, Firefox or Safari may prompt you to save your details. While this can be a convenient option, it also means your card information will be stored by a third-party service and could be compromised if that account is ever hacked.
- Declined payments. For whatever reason, if your payment is declined or a payment error message appears, the transaction will not be processed. Your items may remain in your “shopping cart” so you can complete the purchase in the future.
- Currency conversion fees. Most credit cards apply a fee of 2-4% of the transaction when you make a purchase from an overseas merchant. If you regularly shop with international retailers online, you may want to consider a card with $0 foreign transaction fees to save money on this cost.
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A credit card can get you almost anything you want on the Internet. It also offers security against fraud and unauthorized transactions. So with these facts and tips in mind, you can now make credit card purchases online any time you want.