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How to shop online safely with your credit card

10 ways to protect your finances when using your credit card to shop online

Using your credit card for online shopping is a convenient and (usually) safe way to make purchases online. While the majority of online shopping goes off without a hitch, credit card fraud and cybercrime does exist. Use this guide for 10 tips on how to shop online safely to help protect your finances.

How to shop online safely with your credit card in 10 tips

Shop with peace of mind, understand what to look out for and who to contact if your card is used for a fraudulent transaction with these 10 tips for shopping safely online.

    1. Make sure you’re using a secure server.

      You should only provide your credit card details if the website is using a SSL payment processing system. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a method of encrypting your information that websites use when they’re communicating with your credit card issuer. You can check a website has this by looking at the website’s URL. It should read ‘HTTPS’ rather than ‘HTTP’ and should see a padlock icon in the bottom right-hand corner of your Internet browser.

    2. Input the address of the website rather than searching for it.

      Manually enter the website URL if you know it from experience. This reduces the chance of clicking a fraudulent link and ending up on a dodgy website. Phishing is a common scam where thieves get you to open emails by pretending to represent a trusted institution such as a telecommunications provider.

    3. Ensure the legitimacy of the website before making a purchase.

      There are so many merchants selling all types of goods and services, it’s difficult to tell the good from the bad. Fraudsters use deviant tactics to get your personal and financial details.

      Using a site with an established reputation for online commerce such as Amazon reduces the risk of fraud. If you’re unsure about whether to trust a website with your credit card details, look for the webmaster’s contact information and business details. Website owners can list their information as a trust signal to customers.

    4. Don’t give out your credit card details online or store them on your computer.

      Don’t use public computers at computer cafes or libraries for online shopping. Internet browsers often save your personal and financial information by default, so it’s always best to use a personal device. With this in mind, you still shouldn’t store your credit card details on your personal computer, smartphone or tablet. Thieves and hackers can easily get at your personal information if they access your machine using malicious software, for example. If you can, try to memorise your details rather than writing them down anywhere.

    5. new couple with credit card and tablet

    6. Connect your credit card to PayPal.

      Many online merchants accept PayPal and it’s an alternative to entering your credit card details each time you make an online payment. You can credit your PayPal account with funds by transferring money from your bank account or linking it with an eligible debit or credit card. Thieves can only access the money you’ve credited to your PayPal account, which mitigates any potential losses if you’re the victim of fraud.

      As well as buyer’s protection, which ensures you get what you pay for, PayPal monitors your account to prevent identity theft and unauthorised transactions.

    7. File and keep track of your online payment receipts.

      Create a special email inbox or folder on your device to store confirmation emails for online purchases. You may need to provide proof of purchase for items if you make a claim for an unauthorised transaction, so it’s wise to have these stored in one place to save you time in the future.

    8. Regularly check your credit card statement.

      Review your credit card statement on a regular basis so you can identify any fraudulent charges. You can either review it when you receive your bill each month or you can view your account activity in real time through online banking. If you do this, you’ll have a higher chance of spotting fraudulent transactions or incorrect charges on your account. If you do spot any errors in your account, you should contact your card issuer immediately.

    9. Notify your card issuer immediately if you notice an error.

      Contact your credit card issuer immediately if you discover unauthorised transactions. It can take weeks or months for a credit card issuer to investigate these cases and return the funds to you. So, the sooner you report it, the sooner you’ll receive your refund. If you’re the victim of a scam, notify the proper agency so they know about the illegal activity.

      Credit card issuer Emergency contact details
      American Express Call the number on the back of your card
      ANZ 13 22 73
      Bankwest 1300 765 515
      Bank of Melbourne 1800 772 266
      Bank of Queensland 1300 55 72 72
      BankSA 1800 028 208
      Citi 13 24 84
      Commonwealth Bank 13 22 21
      HSBC 132 152
      NAB 13 22 65
      St.George 1800 028 208
      Suncorp Bank 13 11 75
      Westpac 1300 130 961
      Woolworths 1300 10 1234
    10. Take advantage of your bank’s purchase and online security covers

      Verified by Visa and Mastercard SecureCode are complimentary layers of security that protect your account details when you’re shopping online. Both security services require you to enter an SMS code to complete an online purchase.

      Visa and Mastercard also operate no liability fraud guarantees. So, if you’re the victim of credit card fraud, the card scheme will give you a full refund provided you didn’t contribute to the loss.

    11. Dispute any fraudulent transactions.

      If you have found unauthorised transactions using your credit card, you’ll need to contact your credit card issuer to dispute the transaction. Before you make the dispute, double check the product disclosure statement to confirm that you have been incorrectly charged and collect any relevant receipts or documents that could help your case.

    Online shopping is only growing in popularity, so luckily this means that security procedures designed to protect online purchases are also advancing. However, there are still some steps you should take each time you make an online purchase. While victims of fraud or incorrect charges are entitled to a refund, taking the time to make sure the site you’re using is secure beforehand will save you a lot of time and stress in the long run.

    Compare credit cards with fraud protection guarantee

    Rates last updated August 18th, 2018
    Name Product Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
    Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
    20.74% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 18 months
    $64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
    Take advantage of 0% p.a. on balance transfers for up to 18 months. $64 in the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter), plus, bonus Velocity Points.
    American Express Velocity Escape Card
    20.74% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
    $0 p.a.
    Earn uncapped Velocity Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
    St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
    12.74% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 25 months
    $99 p.a.
    Get platinum perks and save with 0% p.a. interest for up to 25 months on balance transfers with no BT fee.
    American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card
    20.74% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
    $195 p.a.
    Receive a yearly $200 Travel Credit and complimentary domestic and international travel insurance, plus 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers.
    American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle
    20.24% p.a.
    $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
    $0 first year annual fee & up to 75,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet T&C with this Visa (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
    Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
    11.99% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 14 months
    $49 p.a.
    Offers a $49 annual fee, 10% cashback on purchases made in the first 3 months (capped at $100) and 0% p.a. for 14 months on balance transfers.
    Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
    20.99% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 15 months with 1% balance transfer fee
    $49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
    Earn 100,000 reward Points, enjoy a long-term balance transfer offer, a discounted first year annual fee and complimentary travel insurance.
    Westpac 55 Day Platinum Credit Card
    19.84% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 20 months with 2% balance transfer fee
    $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($90 p.a. thereafter)
    Receive a 20 month balance transfer offer, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases, a platinum concierge service and a $0 first year annual fee.
    Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
    20.74% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 18 months
    $64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
    Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
    ANZ Low Rate
    12.49% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 15 months
    $58 p.a.
    Save with a 0% p.a. introductory rate on balance transfers for 15 months with no BT fee. Plus a low 12.49% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
    St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas - Online Offer
    19.49% p.a.
    $179 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
    Offers 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days, two yearly Qantas Club lounge passes and a reduced first year annual fee.
    Westpac Altitude Black - Qantas
    20.24% p.a.
    $250 p.a.
    Earn 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases. Plus, 2 yearly Qantas Club lounge invitations.
    Westpac Low Rate Card
    13.49% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
    $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter)
    Offers a 0% for 24 month balance transfer option, first year annual fee waiver and a competitive purchase rate.
    Citi Clear Platinum - Exclusive Offer
    14.99% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
    $49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
    finder Exclusive: Receive 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers and a discounted annual fee in the first year. Plus, access to Citi World Privileges.

    Compare up to 4 providers

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Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is an editor at finder.com.au who is a credit cards, frequent flyer and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Citi Clear Platinum - Exclusive Offer

Interest rate

14.99

Annual fee

49*

*$99 p.a. after first year

Westpac Low Rate Card

Interest rate

13.49

Annual fee

0*

*$59 p.a. after first year

Westpac Altitude Platinum Card - Qantas

Interest rate

20.24

Annual fee

50*

*$200 p.a. after first year

ANZ Low Rate

Interest rate

12.49

Annual fee

58

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