Shopping Online
with Credit Cards

Does shopping online with credit cards scare you? Let me walk you through the simple steps for safely making an online purchase with your credit card.

(By the way, thinking, "since I don't have a credit card it's impossible for me to shop online"? If so, please read shopping without credit cards where you see how many ways you can shop online without a single credit card to your name).

Many people feel that shopping online with credit cards is the safest way to go. This assumes that you are shopping at sites you are sure are safe, and that you check to make sure they have set up a secure system on their site for taking your credit card information. (Yes, there are criminal minds out there that devise ways to copy your card number and steal your identity, and they come up with new ideas almost daily). So take time to read the site's privacy policy, and follow instructions carefully. Next, devise a safe way to keep your usernames and passwords for each website, and if others are using your computer, do NOT let the computer "remember" these details for you. With a few keystrokes someone can follow you into a site you were at weeks ago, and pretend to be you.

Check; your credit card provider may also offer Purchase Security and Extended Warrenty Insurance. That will relieve you tremendously if the products disappoint you, or are damaged in shipping, etc.

If you are aware and know how to take the necessary precautions, we can smile and - we'll go through the more common scenario - shopping online with a credit card.

When you have assured yourself that the online store is safe and has the item(s) you want, and you have clicked on them to add them to your shopping cart, you will find the shopping cart link or icon (usually on one of the top upper corners of each page) - CLICK ON IT.

On the next screen you find listed the item or items you have chosen with the prices, extension for multiples, and any taxes and shipping charges that are applicable. Look it over. Is it correct? Do you want to continue? If not, click on the link to remove items or cancel everything. (Blessed thought: you can still change your mind!)

If you are a Canadian like myself, you'll notice that the prices and fees are usually in USA dollars. Most shopping sites seem to be based in the USA or they use US dollars as a universal currency. Our Canadian dollar is not quite on par, and it fluctuates, so I often skip off to open another browser tab (that is, I leave this shopping cart window open) and I do a quick check on another tab at (there are other sites like it) - to see what the equivelant prices or total will be in Canadian dollars. The purchase will go through in American dollars, but I will find the money deducted from my account will be in the Canadian amount, and not always to the penny what I see on the site. I must allow for that.

I should interject that this currency comparison and conversion works with all other countries and currencies too, but you may run into shops who are afraid to do business outside of their country. Check their Terms of Service page, and other places on their site for clues, or their exact rules.

Do you see now, that this is a good place to pause and give it a second thought? Ask yourself, "Do I really need this, or did I just think it was cute and would be fun to have? Can I afford this?"

I consider this one of the BEST blessings of online shopping. There is no clerk or anyone I know watching me, making me feel like I have to finish buying what I'm looking at. Because it is all digital, I can change my mind without embarrassment!

For the sake of this guide/tutorial let's say that you and I have just made the decision to go ahead. We're buying, and right now we're shopping online with credit cards.

So we fill out the rest of the form. There's the part about who you are - (and on many sites they ask you to register as a shopper first and to login; other sites make that optional), and they want to know where you live, and where you want the purchase shipped. Sometimes they even let you choose the shipping method.

The store will want your email address to send you the receipt and confirmation, plus the tracking information on the shipment. Make sure that is typed correctly. They ask you to key (type) it in again it to help you catch your own typos but you could still make the same mistake twice. So if you don't get yor email receipt, or hear from them, it may be because of a typo in your email address.

Paying by Credit Card

Here comes the paying by credit card part. We click our choice of credit card. That usually means clicking the radio button (dot) beside the brand of card we have, Visa and Mastercard are the most common. Some sites accept a wider variety of brands.

Next, enter the details like the name the card is issued to, and the full number. Do this very VERY carefully, and double-check again. (Think: "how much would I dis-like it if someone accidentally put in MY number for their purchase?")

What will happen - if you don't have the number correct, and the correct name as shown on the card, - is that the purchase will NOT go through. We can go back and fill these blanks in again - and again, so it may become frustrating.

Just key out the numbers slowly and carefully, and compare them again. You'll be fine! Shopping online with credit cards is not hard if you pay attention to details.

The most secure sites also ask for the special 3 or 4 digit 'security number' on the back of your card. That is a good thing. Enter it. Only the person with the card in hand should know that number. If you don't have it, your purchase may not go through. That just mean's this site's shopping cart doesn't accept credit cards without that security code.

When every blank with a red asterick (*) beside it is filled in, go over the whole form again and proof-read for any tiny typo or errors.

All correct? Then click the last Submit button, or "Buy Now" or whatever it may be called. It's that big BUTTON at the end of the form. But remember to click it firmly just once. If the site seems not to do anything for a few moments that does not mean you should click again. If you do, your card will be charged twice! You do NOT want that!

Think of it this way, the shopping cart or e-commerce system on that store site is racing off to other official database sites to check your credit card and see whether such a card really exists in the name you gave, and that it is not on some fraud list. That can take seconds, or several minutes sometimes. So be patient. It's the small fee of 'time' you pay for shopping online with a credit card.

(Note: if nothing happens for 5-10 minutes you can conclude that the shopping cart system has frozen or hung up. The purchase most likely did not go through. But to be on the safe side, I would not try again until a few days later, when you have checked with your credit card company, and that purchase does not show up there. If you wish you can phone the store, but in the confusion and excitement you might end up placing a phone order, and discover afterwards some duplication. Personally, I would back off for 3-4 days, then perhaps try again).

Back to our correct scenario for paying by credit card:
Suddenly - or finally if you are impatient - a thank you page arrives. See! You did it! You've just done your shoppping online with a credit card.

Usually that thank you page has a printable receipt. I recommend you print it out.

If you want to print just the key area - then highlight it, and click "File" at the top-left of your browser, then click on print "selected." Instead of printing the whole webpage it will only print the section you have highlighted. (You could also click to save the page to file and thus put the receipt on your computer, but I've had some computer crashes and that means such files are lost, so printing it out on paper is my strongest choice and recommendation.

File that receipt and enter the purchase in your bookkeeping records. There. You are done!

It was not that hard was it? Usually, the worst that happens, if you made a typing mistake, or forgot to enter something which they marked with an asterick (*), - is that the purchase does NOT go through until all the rules are followed. There is no one with an evil eye on you at the other end. You are dealing with an inanimate shopping cart form and most of the time, if you play by the rules, it will process your shopping online with your credit card without emotion or judgment.

Shopping online with credit cards is almost too easy. It will go faster for you as you do it more often.

If you don't have a credit card yet, you may want to see how I shop for credit cards If you are resolved to do without, I'll show you here how to do your shopping online without credit cards. We can do that with gift cards, or through PayPal. You may be eager to see all of them!

Online Shopping Guide:

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