How to safely use a credit card for online purchases | finder.com
How to safely use a credit card to pay for online purchases

How to safely use a credit card to pay for online purchases

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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

secured onlineCredit card companies have a range of security measures to protect your account from fraud when you shop online.

  • Fraud-monitoring services

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.

  • One-time passwords

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.

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.

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Compare credit cards

Updated February 20th, 2019
Name Product Filter values Annual Fee APR for Purchases (Purchase Rate) Intro APR for Balance Transfer
$0
17.24% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
$0
15.24% to 26.24% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
17.24% to 25.99% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
18.24% to 25.24% variable

N/A

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
$95
15.24% to 26.24% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
15.24% to 26.24% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$450
19.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
$550
None (Charge Card)

N/A

Get 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Rates & Fees
$0
14.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 14.24% variable)
A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable
0% for the first 12 billing cycles (then 18.24%, 22.24% or 25.24% variable)
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

30,000 bonus miles after you use your new card to make $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
$0
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 10,000 bonus miles after spending $500 in purchases on your new card in your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$95
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$0
17.99% to 26.99% variable

N/A

Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & Fees
$0
12.99% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 12.99% to 17.99% variable)
Earn 25,000 bonus points when you spend $2,500 in the first 90 days from account opening.
$0
11.99% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
2% cash back for all PenFed Honors Advantage members and 1.5% cash back on all purchases made with your card.
$0
11.99% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
Earn 5x points on gas at the pump and 3x points on groceries. Earn 1x points on all other purchases.
$0
15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24%, 19.24% or 25.24% variable)
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
$0
13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable
0% for the first 18 months (then 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable)
An 18 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
$0
16.24% to 22.24% variable
1.99% for the first 6 monthly billing cycles (then 16.24% to 22.24% variable)
1% cash back to the nonprofits, K-12 schools, colleges and religious organizations of your choice.
$495
17.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 17.24% variable)
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
$195
17.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 17.24% variable)
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
$995
17.24% variable
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 17.24% variable)
Earn 1x points when redeemed for airfare through the Luxury rewards program.
$0
15.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Build your credit with no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score over 620.
See terms
See terms

N/A

The First Access Card is a true Visa® credit card that does not require perfect credit for approval.
$0
9.24% to 17.99% variable
0% for the first 12 months (then 9.24% to 17.99% variable)
Low APR on all purchases including cash advances.
$0
11.99% to 17.99% variable
4.99% for the first 12 months (then 11.99% to 17.99% variable)
Earn a $100 bonus after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 90 days from account opening.
$0 to $99
20.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases.
$0 to $99
20.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV.
$0 to $99
20.24% to 26.24% variable

N/A

Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases and double cash back rewards at the NASCAR.com Superstore.
$0 to $99
23.9% fixed

N/A

The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card is specifically designed for those with less than perfect credit.
$48
9.99% fixed

N/A

This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
$35
19.64% variable

N/A

A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
$39
14.74% variable

N/A

No minimum credit score and no credit history required.
$49
10.74% variable

N/A

Build or rebuild your credit with this secured card.

Compare up to 4 providers

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Kyle Morgan

Kyle Morgan is a producer for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

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