What are the safest online payment methods?


Whether you need to buy something or pay for a service online, keeping your hard-earned money safe should be your top priority.


There are many payment methods to choose from these days, but only a few can truly be considered secure. So which payment options are the most secure?


1. Virtual credit cards

Graphic illustration of a credit card viewed against a digital background

Your credit card is protected by a security protocol called 3D Secure (3DS), which is good enough, but does not offer complete protection against fraud and identity theft. Virtual credit cards do this, in many ways, because they actually hide your real information.

Virtual credit cards are basically digital-only cards that are meant to be used once or a few times (usually you generate a new card for each payment or transaction). This card is linked to a funding source, such as a bank account. And when you want to pay for something online, you don’t enter your real credit card number, but rather the number provided by your virtual credit card service. This way, you minimize the risk of your information being stolen.

But even if a website containing your information is hacked or hacked, you are safe because your virtual credit card is of no use to the threat actor responsible for the attack – it has most likely expired and he does not can do nothing about it.

In short, virtual credit cards provide tremendous protection against various types of cybercrime. The only major downside is that you can’t get a refund on an expired card if you need it, but that’s not really a big price to pay considering how often most people end up in a such situation.

2. Digital wallets

View wallet illustration on black background

Digital wallets are applications that store your card or banking information. You’ve probably used one in the past: PayPal, Apple Pay and Google Pay are some of the best digital wallets available today. These applications are simple, practical, very easy to use and act as a kind of barrier between third parties and the sensitive information that belongs to you.

When you pay for something using your digital wallet, online or in person, your payment information is not visible to the merchant. It is encrypted and obfuscated, greatly reducing the chances of it falling into the wrong hands. Additionally, there are a few things you can do to make your digital wallet more secure.

You should never use your digital wallet or any payment app on public Wi-Fi, as these hotspots are sometimes spoofed and often poorly secured. You should also consider installation of security applications on your smartphone, including antivirus suites, network analyzers and authenticators.

There is always the risk of your phone being lost or stolen, so be sure to lock both the phone and the wallet with a complicated password. Better yet, use multi-factor authentication or biometric authentication to secure your device and payment apps.

3. Prepaid cards

Black credit card seen on dark blue background

Prepaid cards are cards that are not tied to bank accounts, but need to be topped up with cash to work. In other words, if you have a prepaid card, you cannot spend more money than you have already loaded. This is what distinguishes prepaid cards from credit and debit cards and makes them much more secure.

Using a prepaid card to pay for goods and services online is a great way to protect your money, because even if a hacker manages to steal your card information somehow they will not be able to access your bank account, only the money that is already on the prepaid card. If your credit or debit card information were somehow compromised, that would be a whole other story with potentially thousands of people being taken from your account.

One of the best things you can do to increase your cybersecurity is to have a dedicated prepaid card for online purchases and other digital transactions. You can simply load your prepaid card with money periodically whenever you need to pay for something over the internet, instead of using your main credit card and putting yourself in danger.

So, are there any downsides to using prepaid cards? Unfortunately yes. The fees tend to be quite high. You often have to pay fees for purchasing and activating the card, as well as for refills, balance inquiries and even cancellation of the card.

4. Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency coins seen on black background

As a form of decentralized currency that relies on blockchain technology, crypto is inherently safer and more private than fiat currency. It only exists in the digital space, which makes it ideal for transferring money between accounts over the internet.

You don’t need to have a credit card, bank account, or have access to the financial system in any way to use crypto. And if you know what you’re doing, the chances of being tracked by a third party are minimal, especially if you’re using privacy-focused currencies like Monero.

It should also be noted that securing your crypto assets is quite easy. If you don’t want to invest in a cold wallet (a physical device that keeps your crypto offline), there are plenty of secure digital crypto wallets—Exodus, Wasabi, Guarda, and Coinbase Wallet, to name a few.

On the other hand, crypto markets are very volatile and the value of a currency can change daily. This is off-putting to many people, as is the fact that crypto isn’t widely accepted as a form of payment; Granted, more and more e-commerce platforms have adopted it in recent years, but it’s not like Amazon accepts cryptocurrency payments. So, in summary, crypto can certainly be used for secure online payments, but it’s not for everyone.

Protect your money online

Digital payment systems have come a long way over the years. There are now more options than ever, and some of them are actually safe.

We can only guess what the future holds, but as online payment methods grow and evolve, so will cyber threats. And no matter how many precautions you take, you’re one step away from having your bank account compromised, so be sure to keep an eye out for signs of a breach.

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