How to use a debit card online

Pay for your purchases without stepping foot in a store.

As long as you’ve got the plastic handy and are comfortable making virtual transactions, it’s a very straightforward process to use a debit card online – but paying with a credit card may be safer.

How to use a debit card online

You’ll need to reference your physical debit card when using it to make a purchase online. After entering the digital shopping cart on the seller’s website:

  1. Select your payment method. If “debit card” isn’t listed as a payment method, you can typically select “credit card” instead.
  2. Indicate the type of card you’ll be using, be it Visa, Mastercard or other providers.
  3. In some cases, you may be asked to enter your name as listed on the card. You’ll also need to include the billing address associated with your debit card.
  4. Enter the 16-digit number on the front of your card.
  5. Enter the expiration date listed below the 16-digit number.
  6. Flip your card over to find the CVV , which is a three-digit number listed near your authorised signature.
  7. Confirm your payment.
Debit card schema
1Debit card provider
216-digit card number
3Expiration date
4CVV

Do I have to use my full name when paying with a debit card online?

The name you enter should match your name as it appears on the debit card. Merchants use this to cross-check your information with the credit card provider’s records.

Is it safe to use a debit card online?

Using a debit card to pay online is generally safe as long as you have a secure connection. In May 2020, online sales accounted for a third of total retail sales in the US. Consequently, the safety infrastructure in place is growing stronger and stronger.

Here’s what you can do to verify security:

  • Check for the lock. There should be a lock icon in the upper-left corner of the search bar, next to the web address. This indicates that the site holds an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate and that the information you submit will be private.
  • Monitor your account. Review your account regularly to keep an eye on any suspicious activity, especially after making a debit card purchase online. If you see a transaction you don’t immediately recognise, report it to your bank or card issuer.
  • Ensure a secure Internet connection. Best practice is to only make online payments when you’re on a secure and private Internet connection, such as a home network. Public Wi-Fi at airports or coffee shops aren’t as safe.

Keep in mind that there are always risks associated with making debit card payments, and it’s likely easier for thieves to intercept your information online than in person. If hackers do get access to your debit card information, they could steal funds from your current account.

What if someone steals my debit card information online?

Although banks take precautions to protect your information, there is always the possibility of a hack. If you notice any suspicious or unauthorised withdrawals from your account, let your bank know immediately. Some banks give customers the ability to “freeze” their card immediately from within their banking app, thus preventing any further transactions.

Paying via credit card vs. debit card online

In general, it’s less risky to use a credit card for everyday purchases because credit cards aren’t linked directly to your current account. This means you can cancel a transaction before the money is withdrawn from your personal account.

Credit card companies tend to be more lenient with fraudulent transactions, and some credit card providers also offer extended warranties on purchases. You’ll also have the law on your side if you shop online with your credit card and the items you order are faulty or don’t arrive at all. Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 makes your credit card company assume the same risk as the retailer. In short, this means that if there is a problem with your purchase and it isn’t your fault, you can usually claim a refund from your credit card provider.

If using a debit card is your only option to make a payment online, make sure you’re comfortable with the risks associated.

Bottom line

Using a debit card is convenient and generally safe, although it’s not risk-free. If you’d rather use a credit card, find a provider that offers special perks like cashback and rewards.

Frequently asked questions on how to use a debit card online

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