5 Simple Steps for Paying Online With a Credit Card

Overhead view male shop owner swiping digital tablet credit card payment in plant shop
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These days, almost any transaction that you'd make in person, you can make online without ever having to leave your home. While making online purchases is much more convenient, it does often require you to have a major credit card, debit card, prepaid card, or gift card. Checks are seldom accepted, and cash is definitely not an option. If you don’t make online purchases often, completing the transaction can be confusing the first few times. Here are some instructions for paying online with a credit card.

Before You Make the Purchase

Fill your shopping cart by clicking “Add to Cart” or “Add to Bag” on each item you want to purchase. When you’re done, click the “Checkout” button (it’s usually in the upper right part of the screen). You may have to click on the shopping cart first and then select the option to check out. Review your cart to be sure you've added the correct amount, sizes, and colors of the items you want to purchase. Then, you can begin the purchase process.


As with all credit card purchases, make sure you have enough available credit on your account before completing the transaction. Otherwise, your transaction could be declined and you'll have to find another payment method. And, if you haven’t used the credit card in a while, you also need to be sure it’s active.

5 Steps To Pay Online With a Credit Card

Once you’re on the checkout page, you’ll have to enter several pieces of information to complete the transaction.

1. Enter Your Shipping Address

The shipping address allows the merchant to calculate your shipping price and update your purchase total. Make sure you enter the address to where you want the order shipped, even if it’s different from the billing address where you receive your credit card statements. You will also usually be given options and pricing for various shipping types.

2. Choose 'Credit Card' as Your Payment Method

There will sometimes be an option to choose the type of credit card you’re using, e.g. Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, or a store credit card. If your credit card processor isn’t listed in the box, the merchant doesn’t accept that type of credit card. You’ll have to use another type of credit. You’ll encounter this more often with American Express and Discover than Visa or Mastercard.

3. Enter Your Info as It Appears on Your Credit Card

Look at the credit card to verify that you’ve entered your name correctly. Then, enter your credit card information: the credit card number, expiration date, and security code. For Visa, Mastercard, and Discover, the three-digit security code will be printed on the back of the card after the credit card number. The four-digit security code for American Express credit cards is printed on the front-right of the card, directly above the credit card number. If you’re using a store credit card that’s not co-branded with a major credit card company, you will not be asked for a security code.

4. Enter the Billing Address for Your Credit Card

This is the address at which you receive your credit card statements. Note that this address may be different from the shipping address, for example, if your statements go to the post office but you’d like your order shipped to your home or to someone as a gift. The billing address must be entered correctly for your credit card transaction to go through. Check your credit card statement if you're not sure of the exact billing address.

5. Verify Your Information

Once you have entered everything and clicked the button to proceed, you will usually be taken to a verification screen where you can review everything you have entered. Once you've ensured that everything is accurate, click the button to complete your order.


It's a good idea to keep track of your online credit card purchases. Record each purchase along with the amount charged, and don't forget to note when your credit card bill payment is due. Pay before the due date to avoid late fees and finance charges.

How To Resolve Payment Issues

If your credit card is declined, verify that you’ve entered each piece of information accurately: your name, billing address, and credit card details. Even one transposed number can cause an error with the transaction.

You may have to use another credit card if the card continues to be declined even after you've verified all the information is correct.

Should You Save Your Credit Card Information?

Many online merchants allow you to create a profile with a username and password and store your credit card, shipping, and billing information. It allows you to make future “one-click” purchases with the credit card details you’ve saved. You can save time on future purchases since you won’t have to re-enter your payment information (unless it changes).

On the downside, it makes it easy for you to make impulse purchases or for someone with your login details to make purchases without having your credit card information. If you save your credit card information online, it may also be susceptible to a hack or data breach. To protect against fraud, however, many online checkout systems will also ask you to enter the card's security code, which is not stored.

Other Payment Options

Instead of entering your credit card information directly, you can use services such as PayPal, Apple Pay, or Venmo for payment processing. Before you can use these for checkout, you’ll have to create an account and register your credit or debit card. Then, when you're ready to make a purchase, select one of these other options for payment. You'll enter only your username and password for that particular service, and the third party will process the transaction with the payment information you have on file. Note that not all online stores accept these other payment options.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is paying online with my credit card safe?

Paying online with a credit card is generally considered safe and, because of added security features, can be safer than using a debit card online. If someone steals your credit card information, you will only be responsible for $50 of any fraudulent charges—as long as you notify your bank within two business days.

Can I use a credit card for online recurring payments?

Yes, you can use your credit card to set up automatic payments to pay bills, for subscription services, or anywhere else that asks for automated or scheduled payments.

What is a virtual credit card number for online payment?

Many credit card issuers today offer cardholders a virtual payment card, which is a temporary credit/debit card number that is created online or via an app that stands in for your permanent credit card number. This number can be used one-time to make online purchases from your account. If that card number is stolen or compromised, it cannot be used again.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Experian. "Where Can I Use My Discover Credit Card?"

  3. Tennessee State Government. "Card Verification Number."

  4. CVV Number. "What Is My CVV Number and How Do I Find It?"

  5. Amazon. "About 1-Click Ordering."

  6. Center for Internet Security. "Shopping Safely Online."

  7. Federal Trade Commission. "Lost or Stolen Credit, ATM, and Debit Cards."

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