Making online payments with a debit card can be an absolute godsend when you can physically be there to make the payments with hard cash yourself. And, considering it’s a debit card, the only cash you’re spending is the cash you know for sure you have. It isn’t set up like a credit card. But how do you use debit cards to make online payments? It’s rather straightforward

At first that might sound dangerous. Why would something valuable, like your hard earned cash, be simple to use online? Well, for starters, it’s just convenient. The ease of making online payments is all to sweet of an allure to give up on. And, secondly, the process to use the debit card for online payments is centered around actually having the debit card physically on you.

So, yes, it does seem dangerous that it’s simple to use, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less safer. Not to mention, there’s plenty of walls put in place to stop would-be thieves. With that being said, it’s best to go over making good choices with a debit card before you learn how to use it. You wouldn’t want your first experience making an online payment to be disastrous, considering making online payments can save you a considerable amount of time by streamlining certain bills.

Mistakes to Avoid with Online Payments

Your Network Connection or No Payment

This is a pretty straightforward habit to make. When you’re out in public, hotspots can be very alluring. You save on your data plan by switching to a Wi-Fi signal and you get to enjoy a nice cup of coffee while you browse your favorite websites. It can be hard to resist when you’re browsing Amazon, Ebay or your favorite shop, to make an online payment right there on the spot. Stop what you’re doing. Get that thought out of your head.

The last thing you want to do is make an online payment, with your debit card, over a public hotspot. Why? Imagine a public hotspot, or public Wi-Fi, as a sticky trap. You’re the fly. To be fair, big name places like Starbucks are safe places to browse. But only browse. Even safer public Wi-Fi spots are best to steer clear of. If you’re in there one day and you want to browse the web. Go for it. You’ll have no problem, but never use your debit card to make an online payment. Not all of them are going to be safe.

So, where then? Use your own network connection. Your internet provider already has walls in place that can protect you. Of course, it doesn’t necessarily protect bad decisions, but that’s why you’re here. Always, always, always keep your Wi-Fi protected with a password.

The Shops You Buy From

This is a given and should be obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning. The places you buy from should always be researched. Sure, it takes a few minutes out of your day to make sure a website is reputable, but is a minor inconvenience really worth, what could possibly be, your entire savings stolen? No, it isn’t.

Take advantage of the reviews that people leave behind on websites. Google, for example, actually sources reviews when you search for a shop. Yelp has an extensive review platform, too. If you don’t find any reviews, then you need to shop somewhere else because it isn’t worth the risk.

Who could forget the silly way you spelled that one website you visited? Unfortunately, that spelling mistake could cost you your debit card. That’s right–no joke needed. Scammers target big profile websites, make a slight change to the spelling, something people often misspell by accident, and use that to hook people in. An unsuspecting victim thinks they’re on the right site and only walk away with their personal information stolen. The same goes for checking a website’s URL. Use ones with “HTTPS” and a small padlock icon you can see to the left of the URL. If it’s closed, you’ve got yourself an encrypted website. If it isn’t, then you’ve got yourself an unsafe website.

Always Check Your Bank Account

Another obvious habit, but also still worth mentioning. You should be checking your bank account regularly anyway. When you make the jump to using your debit for online payments, you have to watch your bank account like a hawk. Just because your debit card has protections in place doesn’t mean it’s perfect.

When you make an online payment with your debit card, keep an eye on your balance. Metaphorical red flags should be thrown onto the field if money was taken out of your debit card balance that was more than what was agreed on. Be obsessive with your balance. If you run into an issue, immediately contact all the necessary people. More often than not, you have at least 48 hours to make a report before you are completely liable for the damages.

The Magic of Prepaid Debit Cards

If you want a safer option, consider using a prepaid debit card. What is a prepaid debit card? Prepaid debit cards are like gifts cards, almost identical in nature, actually. Gift cards have a specified amount that was placed on them at the time of the purchase, so are prepaid debit cards. However, gift cards can only be used for the location they were bought for; you can’t use a Wal-Mart gift card at Target. On the flipside, a prepaid debit card can be used anywhere. And the best part? They aren’t tied to a bank account.

The worst that can happen with a prepaid debit card is you end up losing the money that was placed on it, if its information is stolen. It’s far better than having your entire bank account drained. They can be the perfect solution if you’re on the fence about making online payments. If you are, prepaid cards could be a middle ground.

Using your Debit Card for Online Payments

So, you’ve studied the words above and you feel confident enough to make an online payment, through the use of your own debit card or a prepaid debit card. What do you do with it now? First off, find a website you want to buy something from. A good place to start is browsing Amazon or Wal-Mart or Target. They’re safe, encrypted and easy to use.

1. Locate and launch your preferred web browser and head over to the homepage of the website you want to make a purchase from. The example used above, and for later screenshots, is from Amazon.

use the search bar

2. Locate the search bar. Most websites place the search bar at the very top of the web browser. It’s hard to miss it.

search for the item

3. In the search bar, type in the item you’re looking to buy and hit the Enter key.

browse the products

4. Browse the products presented based on your keywords. You can narrow down your search by choosing additional options, generally, on the left hand column. Websites like Amazon go above and beyond with their additional details to find the product you’re looking for. When you’ve found the product you were looking for, click its name.

decide whether you want to purchase

5. This is the part where you consider deeply on your decision to purchase the product. You’ll have an extensive overview of the product itself, like specifications, warranties available, and even an opportunity to read reviews from other people on the product. Use that to your advantage.

6. If you’re set on buying the product, click on Buy Now or Purchase or Buy or Checkout or Add to Bag. It varies from site to site, but it all means the same.

sign in

7. Depending on the site, choosing to buy the product may lead you to a login screen. Most websites need you to create an account with them first before you can use your debit card for online payments. If you’re prompted with a login screen, go ahead and create an account.

checkout with your items

8. After you’ve logged in, go ahead and checkout. Generally, you’ll get a list of everything you’re buying. Now’s your chance to make sure you didn’t add anything additional by mistake.

9. Does everything look good? Good. Next, look for a button that says Checkout or Proceed to Checkout. Now you’ll need to provide your debit card information.

delivery address

10. First, you’ll need to provide your delivery address. Make sure your address matches the address on your debit card.

choose your debit a credit card

11. Choose a payment method. At this time, if you haven’t already when you created an account, you’ll need to choose a payment method, specifically, your debit card.

12. Click on Place your Order or Pay or anything pertaining to confirming the purchase.

13. Depending on your bank, you may have to confirm with the bank that’s connected to your debit card that you are, in fact, the one who made the online payment. Banks can be touchy about your online spending habits.

Bottom Line

Using a debit card to make online payments can be a boon for you. In this day and age, many companies go paperless when you pay your bills, considering most people carry a phone and internet is easy to access. However, it isn’t for everyone. And, quite frankly, you don’t have to do this way if you aren’t comfortable. No one would blame you for being cautious. But it’s there if you ever want to streamline many aspects of your life.