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Once you have selected your item or items and setup the shipping terms and tax information, the time has come to pay. In the past, one of your only options for paying for your order was by using a credit card. Today, many retail stores online take multiple forms of payment. Which you use is up to you. Each one offers their own strengths and weaknesses and levels of protection should something go wrong.
- Credit cards provide consumer protection when shopping online. In the United States, if your card is used fraudulently then you are only personal liable for up to $50 of the charges on your card.
- You can challenge charges made to your card and even withhold payment if you are in a dispute with a merchant over a purchase.
- You can choose instead to use PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet for your payments. Using these services you can easily transfer money to your account and you must use a username and password when making payments offering another layer of security to your transaction.
- Some online merchants will accept digital checks. Using this method is a good alternative if you don’t have an electronic payment service or a credit card, but offers less protection compared to the other methods. Still, you can challenge check charges on your account with the bank although you will be liable for more compared to a credit card.
- Never wire money directly to an online merchant even if you are very familiar with them. Once the wire transfer is complete, there will be little you can do if something goes wrong with the transaction.
Today it is easier than it ever has been to pay for goods and services online. While the credit card still reigns supreme in the world of online shopping, merchants are increasingly offering other payment options such as PayPal and even online checks to pay for their merchandise. Which payment type you use really depends on you and how you want to pay for your services. Whichever method you choose, make sure you are very familiar with their payment and dispute policies before you use it to shop online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to have a credit card to shop online?
While it is still the easiest and safest way to shop online, it isn’t the only option available today. However, you will find some merchants only accept credit cards and not the other forms of payment.
Are PayPal and other electronic services safe?
Yes. These services employ many safeguards on their accounts and track all transactions. At the same time they offer dispute resolution to help you resolve problems with merchants should they arise.
What if I have a dispute with a merchant?
If your order isn’t fulfilled properly, you should first contact the merchant’s customer service in an attempt to resolve the issue. If they won’t help you solve your problem, then your next step is to call your electronic payment company or credit card company to start the dispute process.