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How Use A Credit Card To Pay For Online Purchases

Information verified correct on December 4th, 2016

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. The process for making online purchases using your credit card is also the same for most websites. You’ll need your credit card number, expiry date and the three numbers on the back as well as your personal and contact details.

This guide outlines the payment process step-by-step. We also look at security features that help keep your card safe, and other factors to consider when you want to use a credit card for online purchases.

How to pay online with a credit card

  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: 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.
  2. Select your item/s. You can add items to your basket as you shop. When you do this, you may be asked if you want to go to the checkout to pay or if you want to keep shopping.
  3. Go to the “checkout”. When you’re finished shopping and you’re ready to pay, look for the shopping trolley 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Provide your credit card details. Enter the name on the front of the card, the 16-digit card number, the expiry and the three-digit security code found on the back.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Keep a copy of the payment confirmation. Most online stores will email you a tax invoice you can save and print. You can also print the confirmed payment webpage if you prefer. These details will help you track your order and ensure the correct amount is charged to your card. You’ll also need the proof of purchase to dispute the transaction if you don’t get what you paid for.

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. We’ve outlined these in detail below.

Fraud-monitoring services

Many credit card companies provide 24-hour fraud-monitoring services, such as the ANZ Falcon fraud-monitoring service or NAB’s fraud prevention team. These services and teams 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 unauthorised transactions.

One-time passwords

You may have already been pre-enrolled in Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode and American Express Safekey. These anti-fraud services make it virtually impossible for fraudsters to use your credit card. You need to enter a one-time SMS or email code each time you use your credit card to shop online. However, these services don’t cover all of your online purchases. An online merchant must have registered with the program for the service to work. But when they’re applicable, these services add an extra layer of security to the online payment process.

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. You may be asked if you want to save your credit card details for the next time you shop. Internet browsers such as Firefox or Safari may also 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. If your payment is declined due to insufficient credit, a processing error or some other reason, a payment declined or payment error message will appear and the transaction will not be processed. Your items may remain in your “shopping trolley” so you can complete the purchase in the future.
  • Website security. Look for the padlock and “https” letters in the website URL. These show the merchant is encrypting your personal information when it charges your credit card.
  • Currency conversion fees. Most credit cards apply a fee of 2-4% of the transaction when you make a purchase from an overseas merchant. This fee may apply even if the transaction is processed using Australian dollars. 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 unauthorised transactions. So with these facts and tips in mind, you can now make credit card purchases online any time you want. If you have questions about how to shop online, get in touch by using the form at the bottom of the page.

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Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a Senior Writer at finder.com.au with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

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