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How to use a credit card to pay for online purchases

Some tips every online shopper should know when paying with plastic.

Credit cards are a convenient, secure and popular payment option when you’re shopping online. They are widely accepted and offer security features such as 24/7 fraud monitoring, zero liability for fraudulent transactions and sometimes even extra verification for your purchases.

Some credit cards also offer points and other perks when you use them. So if you want to pay by credit card but still have some questions, we’ve unpacked the key details in this guide.

Steps to pay by credit card online

  1. Check the website is secure. Before you submit your credit card details, make sure you’re shopping on a safe website. Two security signs to look for: the website URL should start with the letters “HTTPS” and have an image of a small padlock, usually in the top left-hand corner of the address bar.
  2. Select your item/s. Add items to your virtual basket or cart as you shop. Tip: Search online for any discount codes or coupons you could use to save money on your purchases.
  3. Go to the checkout. When you’ve finished shopping, and you’re ready to pay, click on the bag or trolley icon (often in the top right-hand corner of the web page).
  4. Enter your contact details. You need to provide your name, address, contact telephone number and email address. You may be asked to create an account with the business as part of this process. Some sites also allow you to make purchases as a guest. Either way, you need to provide all the details highlighted or marked with an asterisk before you can complete the purchase.
  5. Choose your payment method. You will be asked how you want to pay. As well as credit card and debit card options, you may be able to choose from options such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay.
  6. Provide your credit card details. Enter the name on the front of the card, the 16-digit card number, the expiry, and the CVC or CVV number.
  7. Confirm the purchase. Recheck the purchase amount before clicking the “confirm” option – bearing in mind that shipping costs and other fees may have been added. (Note that any potential credit card fees that your credit card provider charges are only shown on your credit card account.) Remember not to hit the “confirm” button more than once while you’re waiting for the payment confirmation page to load. Otherwise, you may end up being charged twice.
  8. Follow the prompts for any extra security measures. If your card has Visa Secure, Mastercard SecureCode or American Express SafeKey as a security feature, you may be asked to enter a password, answer a security question or type in a one-time code sent to your mobile phone before the payment can be completed.
  9. Keep a copy of the payment confirmation. Most online stores email you a tax invoice. If you prefer, you can also download or print the webpage that shows your payment is confirmed. Either way, these details help you track your order and make sure the correct amount is charged to your card. You also need the proof of your purchase to dispute the transaction if you don’t get what you paid for.

    How much does it cost to pay by credit card?

    Some online stores also apply a card payment fee or surcharge – you see this type of fee when you’re at the virtual checkout. However, fees from your credit card provider are only shown in your account or on your statement. There are two main ones to look for:

    Is it safe to pay with a credit card online?

    While most online shopping goes off without a hitch, fraud and cybercrime does exist and can impact your credit card account, as well as debit cards and other payment methods. Credit cards offer a mix of features to help keep your account safe, which can include the following options:

    • Fraud-monitoring services. Many credit card providers use 24-hour fraud-monitoring services to help detect and report suspicious activity. When something unusual is detected, the credit card provider contacts you to check whether you made the transaction. If a transaction can’t be verified, your account may be temporarily blocked while your card provider looks into it.
    • Added verification steps. American Express SafeKey, Mastercard SecureCode and Visa Secure are services that help protect your card from unauthorised transactions. They do this by adding another verification step to payments when you’re shopping online with a partnered business. Usually, this step is a one-time code sent to your phone, a password or a security question you’ve set up with your credit card provider. Not all online stores enable this extra verification step, but you are asked to enter the verification details before you pay when it applies. This helps stop other people from using your card details as they won’t pass the verification step.
    • Zero liability policies. A zero liability policy is a type of insurance cover that protects you from paying for fraudulent or unauthorised transactions. This means if a criminal uses your credit card, the fraudulent transaction (or transactions) is refunded to your account, usually after an investigation by your credit card provider. Zero liability policies are also available on debit cards. However, the difference is that if fraud happens on a credit card, it doesn’t affect your bank balance. You also won’t have to pay any interest charges associated with fraudulent transactions – if they apply, they are refunded along with the original transaction amount once the situation is resolved. If you’re the victim of credit card fraud, contact your credit card provider immediately to dispute the transaction.

    As well as your credit card’s security measures, online payments are processed through secure, encrypted pages that help keep your data safe from cybercriminals. You can also get extra protection by checking your web browser’s security settings, downloading antivirus software or using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

    secured online

    5 tips to help you stay safe when shopping online

    Credit cards, websites and devices all offer different levels of protection when you’re shopping online. You can use these tips everywhere to get even more security.

      1. Check that the web address starts with HTTPS. This shows the page you’re visiting is secure. You should also see a locked padlock. If it’s not there, contact the store or read the privacy and security policy to determine what protection is in place.
      2. Look for contact details and refund/returns policies. Legitimate business websites include details you can use in case there are any issues. Before you buy anything, check for a street address, phone number and details on getting a refund or returning an item. If you can’t find this information, don’t make a purchase until you’re sure the site is safe.
      3. Use a private, secure Internet connection. While many places now offer free, public Wi-Fi, it is less secure than a personal, private connection such as the one you have at home. Some criminals may even set up public Wi-Fi connections as a way to steal peoples’ bank or card details, as well as other personal information.
      4. Keep track of where you save your card details. Some stores and apps ask if you want to save your credit card details for the next time you shop. Others only work if you save a card (such as Uber Eats or Shopify’s Shop Pay). Internet browsers including Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari may also prompt you to save your details. While this can be a convenient option, it also means your card information is stored by a third-party service and could be compromised if that account is ever hacked. So take note of where you save your card details and check those accounts regularly.
      5. Go through your transaction history. This helps you spot suspicious activity. You can check your transactions by logging in to your account or going over your monthly credit card statement.

    What about other ways to pay online?

    If you want to pay online without a credit card, below are some of the other payment options you can use:

    Payment optionsDescription
    Debit cardYou can use your debit card to make online purchases at any store that accepts Visa or Mastercard payments. You need to enter the same card details as you would when using a credit card. Note that card payment fees (surcharges), currency conversion fees or other charges sometimes apply for debit cards as well as credit cards, so it’s worth checking what costs the shop and your bank applies before you pay.
    PayPalPayPal lets you store your payment details so you can make secure, fast payments without needing to enter your card information at the online checkout. It’s free to create an account and shop with PayPal and your details are protected by unique data encryption. PayPal also offers buyer protection options, including refunds if you successfully lodge a dispute against the online retailer. Plus, you can still earn credit card reward points on some cards when you pay through PayPal.
    Digital walletsIf you have Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay or another digital wallet, look for the logo, and you can use it for your online shopping.
    Buy now pay laterMany stores now offer buy now pay later services such as Afterpay, Zip, Openpay and Humm. If you already have a buy now pay later account, selecting that option at the checkout prompts you to log in and complete the purchase. If you don’t have an account but want one, you may be able to sign up as part of the purchase process.
    Prepaid cardsIf you don’t want to use your personal debit card or a credit card, you could consider buying a prepaid charge card that allows you to preload funds on it. These cards are helpful for controlling expenditure, and they may also help reduce impulse purchases.
    Travel money cardsSimilar to a prepaid card, a travel money card lets you preload money onto the card – except, in this case, you can load and spend funds in multiple currencies. This can help you avoid foreign transaction fees that your credit or debit card may charge when you’re shopping online or travelling overseas.
    Gift cardsGift cards can be a useful alternative for online shopping with specific retailers, such as iTunes or JB Hi-Fi. Sometimes you can also take advantage of discounts on gift card purchases. You can purchase most gift cards in-store or online, but it’s worth checking the fine print to make sure you can use them to buy what you want.

    Compare credit cards

    Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Minimum Income Product Description
    American Express Platinum Card
    N/A
    $1,250 p.a.
    $100,000
    A charge card with premium travel benefits and up to 80,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you spend $1,500 on your Card within the first 3 months.
    The American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
    2.99% for 6 months, reverts to 19.95% APR
    $149 p.a.
    $50,000
    Enjoy a low rate on purchases and earn 20,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points if you apply, are approved and spend $750 in the first 3 months of Card membership.
    The American Express Airpoints Platinum Card
    19.95% APR
    $195 p.a.
    $65,000
    Receive 300 bonus Airpoints Dollars when you apply by 16 July 2019 and spend a minimum of $1,500 in the first 3 months, plus earn 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $59 you spend on your card.
    The American Express Airpoints Card
    0% for 6 months, reverts to 19.95% APR
    $0 p.a.
    $35,000
    Receive 50 bonus Airpoints Dollars when you spend $750 in the first 3 months of membership. Plus, earn 1 Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollar for every $100 you spend on your Card.
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