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How to Shop Online Without a Credit Card

Shopping online is a growing portion of all shopping done in the U.S. But not everyone has access to a credit card, or perhaps they aren’t using credit cards because of past struggles with overspending and consumer debt. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean they’re cut off from the discounts found online; there are other payment options out there!

If you have the option of using a credit card, there is an advantage to this payment method: fraud protection is offered. It’s easy to dispute a claim, and you’re not out the money a scammer might charge to your card. However, if you’re using another payment method online and your payment information is stolen, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the money back.

Debit card

Look at your debit card. It probably has a Visa, American Express, Discover, or MasterCard logo on it. This means your debit card has access to the credit card brand’s large payment network and enables you to use the card to make purchases online. It also means the card can be used as a credit card or a debit card.

You’ll enter your debit card information, just like you would with a credit card, on the retailer’s payment page. The money for the purchase is then deducted from your checking account.

Prepaid card

Prepaid cards have funds loaded onto an associated account (but not your checking account). When you use up all the funds in the account/on the card, you’ll be notified to load more. This card will also have a major credit card network logo on it indicating access to the company’s payment network. You can purchase prepaid cards online (a little ironic) or at retailers like CVS, Walgreens, and big-box stores.

Gift card

Gift cards—again, connected to a major credit card network—can be used at online stores and websites that accept payments from that network. You can also use a retail-specific gift card to shop online at the associated company’s website. You can purchase gift cards at many big-box and specialty stores.

Amazon Cash

Amazon Cash allows you to add cash (at participating locations) to your online Amazon Balance. You would scan a unique barcode or use your mobile phone number to identify your account and then add anywhere from $5 to $500 to your account. Amazon doesn’t charge a fee for this service. Of course, you can only use the money in your Amazon Balance to buy things on Amazon’s website.

Your checking account

A few online retailers will let you use your checking account and routing information to make purchases. Be sure it’s a reputable and secure website before doing this, however. If a cybercriminal receives this information and zeros out your account, the money could be gone for good.


Some large retailers now offer a cash option on their online checkout pages. When selected, you’ll be directed to visit a brick and mortar store within 48 hours (usually) to pay for the item(s) in cash at a register. Once payment is received, the items are shipped. Of course, this really only works if a brick and mortar store is close by and it isn’t one where you could simply buy the item in person.

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