by Odysseas Papadimitriou. CardHub CEO
Unlike purchases made in person, you obviously can’t use cash to buy things online. This presents something of a problem for folks who do not have credit card accounts. And while that could be one reason to open one, there are other options available to those of us who either can’t get approved for a credit card or are concerned about overspending and fraud while using one.
Let’s therefore take a closer look at the various ways that you can buy online without a credit card.
- Debit Card. If you have a checking account with a corresponding debit card, you can simply enter the card number, expiration date, and three digit verification code on the back of the card on the checkout page as you would with a credit card. You’ll obviously need to have enough money in your account to cover the purchase or the transaction will not be approved.
- Prepaid Card. A prepaid card is essentially an alternative to the traditional checking account/debit card combo. You can use the money that you load onto a prepaid card to make purchases at the point of sale with a swipe of the card or to make purchases over the phone and online using your name and account number.
- Gift Card. Online merchants typically include a gift card redemption field on their checkout pages. You can use a gift card tied to a particular retailer on that company’s website or a Visa/MasterCard gift card to make purchases anywhere.
- PayPal. PayPal is one of the most common forms of payment for online commerce, allowing consumers to securely send payments to merchants using funds originating from bank accounts (or
credit cards) linked to their accounts.
- Bill Me Later. Bill Me Later is a service offered by PayPal that allows you to finance purchases (i.e. buy now and pay later). Online merchants that accept Bill Me Later payments will list that option on their checkout pages, and you can apply for it during checkout by answering a couple of basic questions. Once approved, you can decide how much of your purchase you want to pay for now and how much you want to finance.While Bill Me Later sometimes offers special financing deals that enable you to avoid interest for a few months, it’s important to note that unlike the other methods for shopping online without a credit card mentioned in this article, Bill Me Later does come with the inherent risk that your purchases will become more and more expensive over time as finance charges are assessed. That is why it is especially important to check your e-mail for Bill Me Later statements and to make a strategic payoff plan that enables you to avoid wasting money on interest.
- Mobile Wallets. Many people consider mobile wallet technology to be the wave of the future, and while mobile wallets have yet to gain mainstream adoption they are a viable option for buying things online without a credit card. Some of the most notable mobile wallets are the Google Wallet, V.me from Visa, and Isis, and you can link a checking account, prepaid card, or gift card to them to make purchases online.
As is the case with any purchase that you make, it’s important to confirm that you can comfortably afford whatever you are buying online before clicking the confirm button, especially if you are financing your buy.
Image: Joe Belanger/Shutterstock