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How To Use A 'Credit' Card Online Safely.
by Colin Visser
Please use caution when you use a 'credit' card on the internet. There are 'criminal elements' every-where, and online is no exception. I will actually go as far as to say that you should NEVER use a 'credit' card online AT ALL. He
Please use caution when you use a 'credit' card on the internet. There are 'criminal elements' every-where, and online is no exception. I will actually go as far as to say that you should NEVER use a 'credit' card online AT ALL. Hear me out! I have a PayPal account and it can be quite useful for ebay or other places that accept it. To get a PayPal account you need some sort of credit card, right? WRONG! There are two main types of 'plastic card', the first is a 'CREDIT' card ( potentially very dangerous when used online ). The second card is a 'DEBIT' card - very SAFE to use online, if you go about it the right way.

You do not need a credit card to establish a PayPal account. ( or for lots of other online services..) A 'debit' card is much, much safer and I will explain why. Firstly, if you use a credit card online and you are unlucky enough to have your card details stolen or intercepted, then ALL the money that is available to that card can be lost - permanently. Can you afford that?? Even if you can afford to lose that money ( lucky you!! ) do you really want to hand it over to a criminal? My guess would be no. So don't risk it happening! I don't have a credit card at all, and that is largely irrelevant, but I can purchase things online.

What I use is a VISA enabled DEBIT card instead, and this is how it works. I have two bank accounts, one with all my money in it, the other is nearly always completely EMPTY. The empty account has the VISA debit card attached to it. How does that work if it is empty most of the time? Very easily. The first account has an online banking facility and I simply transfer money into the VISA account whenever I need to use it. I only transfer about ten dollars more than I think I will need to make a purchase, so that if my VISA card details are intercepted or used by any criminal organization, they can't get at ALL my money.

Yes, online banking has potential risks as well, but with the added layers of security that a bank provides, the risk is much reduced. Also you can directly visit your bank to sort out any problems should they occur, but it is much ( very much ) harder to do that if you are dealing with an online organization that may be based a different country altogether. So, I hope you aren't using a credit card online. (!?#!!)

Note 1 : The reason I transfer about 10 dollars more than I think I will need for any given transaction is to cover currency conversion variations and un-noticed packaging, postage, or insurance costs. I also like to leave a balance of about 20 dollars to feed my online insurance policy. ( see the paragraph below note 2. )

Note 2 : Most online banking facilities allow an unlimited number of transactions, with no transaction fees. So you can use it as much as you want to and it costs you nothing. Now that's how much I like to pay!! Don't forget that in some cases you can do direct bank deposits to make a purchase online. That means even less risk to you because the vendor doesn't even have the chance to get at your card at all. They only get the money, and that's just fine by them. If you need to set up recurring payments for a membership or subscription service, the best way is by direct bank deposit. You set it up, you control it, and 'they' can't change what they charge you or add extra charges without you knowing about them :-)

There is a cost involved with having a second bank account and that cost is usually thought of as dead money, but if you look at that monthly ( or annual ) cost as a form of 'pay as you go' insurance, then it is a lot more acceptable. What I mean by pay as you go insurance is the charges ( account keeping fees ) for the usually empty second account are your insurance policy against losing the contents of your main account to an online criminal. When you look at it that way, it is really rather cheap. You also get insurance against financial loss from VISA if your card is lost or stolen in the 'real world'- not that there would be a substantial amount available to that card if you operate it the way I have outlined above. You can use either type of plastic card on the internet, and the vendor of whatever you purchase will never know what type you are using, but I know what type of card I will always use. The debit card.

Footnote : No, I don't have a 'credit' card at all, so without the services of a debit card I wouldn't be able to purchase much online. But I wouldn't have a credit card even if I could 'afford' one. I personally think that credit cards are just too big a temptation for the average person. If you have thousands of dollars available to be spent as credit, that is just what most people do, they spend it. Why is that a problem? Well if you don't have the money to buy whatever you have bought using your credit card, where are you going to find the money to pay that credit back?? Oh, and what about the rude amount of interest that a lot of people end up paying on their credit cards? Sometimes for years.. I may be old fashioned in this regard, but saving your money by having a budget, and buying something when you can afford to do so, really does save you a lot of money in the long run.

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