Shopping Online
Without Credit Cards

Did you notice that I go shopping online without credit cards myself? I've stayed out of debt over 30 years now, so the credit risk companies think I'm a 'poor risk'. (When I fill out an application for a credit card it is rejected because there is no recent record of me paying off debts). But I don't mind! I love the freedom and peace of mind that comes with NOT being in debt. I did that enough years to know the tension is no fun.

I can assure you from personal experience that there are several ways of shopping online without a credit card at all. And I may not even have found all the ways for shopping online without credit cards.

Your bank or credit union may allow you to apply for a debit card. They have provided me with a Global Payment card, and I use it online like a Mastercard credit card, but think of it as a checkbook. I cannot "charge" anything to the card, but I can pay with it if the money is already in my account. It serves me wonderfully well, and has no fees. As I'm doing more research, I discover that not everyone is so blessed; or they just don't know that it's there for the asking.

A similar option might be a "preloaded" debit card. That is, you go to a money mart or financial institution and ask for a card for which you deposit cash. Say, perhaps $100 or $300, or whatever amount. Then you use that for your online shopping until the money is used up. At that time you get some cash loaded on it again. WalMart offers such a re-loadable card, which is great for shopping online without credit cards. Sometimes these are called traveller's cards. This is a good idea, because you won't lose everything in your bank account if one of them is lost or stolen. You have the advantages of a credit card, or check (cheque), but you are still shopping online without credit cards.

Furthermore, such preloaded cards allow you to stick within a budget. You might buy one with one month's budget, and when it runs out, you know you have to wait until next month to re-load it. A spend-thrift could - theoretically - teach herself to live within a budget by this method.

Again, this is good for those who fear that their credit card might fall in to the wrong hands, or might be stolen online. If you have only loaded enough on such a preloaded debit card to cover the purchases you want to make, anyone who might manage to steal it, will not have access to other money you may have in your bank account.

It is important to recognize however, that if you lose this debit card, and if the finder figures out your pin number, it is like cold cash to any finder. You want to guard it carefully. There are also usually fees because the financial institutions want to make money on this convenience. Some provinces and states are now passing laws to to hold down these exhorbant fees, so they do not apply everywhere. Shop around for the best rates and features. Soon you'll be discovering ways to go shopping online without credit cards.

You can also purchase a gift card. It has some similarities to a debit card. But get informed first. Many stores sell gift cards, but generally a brand-name gift card only works in that store or chain of stores. Not all gift cards allow you to shop online. The credit card companies, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express sell gift cards too, and those usually do allow shopping online. Ask first. Buy them with cash and then use them where it seems only credit cards are the payment option. (There is more pros and cons to learn about gift cards by the way).

PayPal and Other Payment Methods

There are quite a number of other payment methods that allow you to go shopping online without credit cards, but PayPal has the biggest corner on that market. There are pros and cons for all of them, so you would be wise to check them out in the search engines and read everything you can about them. PayPal might have all the features that work well for you.

For one, if you are in the USA, you can open a PayPal account for free, and then ask them to send their debit card to you, which you can then use for online shopping. It is attached to the bank account you entered when you opened your PayPal account, and it is a branded MasterCard. It will be accepted anywhere a regular MasterCard is accepted. - See? You CAN shop online without a credit card!

However, PayPal also allows you to do your shopping directly from your bank account, with no card involved at all. You do need a bank account to apply for your PayPal account. Whenever you shop at eBay or other smaller business sites where you find the PayPal BUY NOW buttons, you can click and either PayPal will pay it for you out of what funds you have uploaded into your account, or simply draw it from you bank account like a digital transfer. The seller never sees your bank account number because PayPal acts as your agent.

I go into more detail about shopping online with PayPal here.

It seems each time I do some online research I find there are more new payment options. Of course, until we have seen them grow to have a good reputation, there is always a bit of risk in trying out a new one. If you can afford it you might try out some small experiments with a new option, if not, stick with the safer ones, and watch for positive testimonials and reviews.

Some stores and shopping portals are beginning to provide their own 'house brand' of debit card. Like credit cards, it may pay to shop carefully to get the best quality deal, but some of them are likely to accept you even if you have no borrowing record, or you are a poor risk because of past failures. I've just noticed that this is happening. It seems to be similar to the one at PayPal. Payza is offering one too!

Plainly, there are a number of options for shopping online without credit cards.

Just to Review - Summarize:

Use a debit card like a checkbook
Buy gift cards, making sure it is the kind you can use online
Other payment options which you may run into online, but should check out and weigh your decisions carefully are;
PayPal - the most popular shopping online without credit cards (used to be Moneybookers, and I'm not sure how well this works).

I've seen names for some others online, but need to research them first.

If you are ready for a charge card, you may want to see how I shop for credit cards.

Online Shopping Guide:

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