Can Debit Cards Be Used Online?

Are you wondering if you can use your debit card online? Find out how best to use your debit card here with Savvy. 

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, updated on September 13th, 2023       

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Most people are familiar with using their credit card to pay for online shopping, but you may not be sure whether you can use your debit card in the same way? Find out all the answers you’re searching for about using your debit card online here with Savvy. You can compare cards and card providers with us to help you find one which lets you shop with maximum convenience online.  

Can I use my debit card online?

Yes – the good news is that debit cards can be used for online shopping in the same way as credit cards. The three major payment networks in Australia (Visa, Mastercard and American Express) accept payments from all cards issued, whether they’re debit, credit or prepaid cards (such as a prepaid Visa card). 

How to use your debit card online 

Using your card online is fairly straightforward. These are the steps to take to use your debit card at an online store checkout:  

  • Select your card type: there are usually selections to choose from, whether you’re using a Visa, Mastercard or American Express and a debit or credit card. Select the debit card option and your card type.  
  • Enter your card number: this is the 16-digit number printed on the front of your card 
  • Enter your expiry date and CVV: the expiry date of your card is printed under your card number and the CVV is the small three-digit number found on the back of your card 
  • Check details and confirm: once you’ve checked that all the details you’ve entered are correct, confirm the payment for your goods. You’ll usually receive a message that it’s been successful in just a few seconds 

How do I compare debit cards to use online?

When choosing a new debit card to use for your online shopping, some of the features you should compare are:  

  • Fees – although most debit cards are no-fee cards, there may still be some fees applied if you use your debit card in an online store which is based overseas. Check the small print of the terms and conditions of the bank account linked to your card, and watch out for overseas transaction fees which could be charged if you use your card in a foreign country. Such fees can range from 0.5% to over 1% of the transaction value. There can also be overdrawn fees charged if you accidentally put your card into a negative balance, which could reach up to $50.  
  • Virtual wallet compatibility – make sure the card you choose is compatible with the virtual wallet on your phone or wearable. Not all cards work with all digital wallets, so check the compatibility of the new card you choose before making your final decision. 
  • Fraud and purchase protection – some debit cards offer fraud protection to reimburse you in case your card is stolen and used illegally. If scammers do get hold of your card numbers, and illegally withdraw funds from your account, the card issuer (usually your bank or financial institution) will often reimburse you the loss you’ve suffered. If a card comes with additional purchase protection, you may find the warranty on your purchased item is extended by a year or two, or the card will cover you in case the purchased item is damaged or stolen in transit to you. 
  • Security features – always review the security measures in place if you ever need to lock or replace your card. For instance, many financial institutions will allow you to do this via online banking if your details are compromised.

Is it safe to use a debit card online?

Yes – billions of dollars are spent every year through online shopping, with many of these successful transactions carried out using a debit card. However, there are sensible precautions you should take to ensure that you don’t fall victim to scammers or identity thieves trying to get their hands on your personal financial information. These are some of the further precautions you can take to safeguard the funds in your bank account

Never give out your card details on social media 

Make sure that you never give out your card details on social media, in online chat forums, text messages, online games or in any other circumstances where financial information is not encrypted. 

Check the website is legitimate 

Look at the address bar of the website you’re using. There should be a padlock symbol at the front of the website address, known as the URL. This demonstrates the site's owner is utilising safe encryption techniques to defend itself against hackers. The address should also start with https://, so make sure there’s an ‘s’ after the http, which also indicates the site is secure. It can also pay to type the name of the website into a separate page and review the results for that site. This may reveal if it’s been reported to a scamming prevention authority. 

If in doubt, use a temporary debit card for added security  

A temporary debit card is digitally created for a single transaction use so that you don’t have to reveal your real debit card number when shopping online. It’s linked to the funds in your bank account just like your standard debit card is. Such cards offer an added layer of security to your online purchase, as the merchant never gets to see your real debit card numbers.  

Temporary debit cards can be created by some digital wallets, mobile apps and online security sites to act as a buffer between you and the website you’re dealing with. The added benefit of a temporary debit card is that you can often set a limit on the card so that you’re not overcharged, and only pay the amount you’ve agreed to when you accept the payment. 

More of your questions about using a debit card online

Can I get a secondary debit card for my partner to use online?

Yes – most banks will issue a second or even third debit card to allow multiple users to access the funds in one bank account. This enables both you and your partner to use debit cards linked to the same account online at the same time.

Can I earn rewards for using my debit card online?

Yes – many debit cards now come with cashback offers and rewards for using the card for your everyday shopping and payments. These can be redeemed for a variety of purposes, such as flights, accommodation, entertainment purchases and more. Previously rewards programs were only offered with credit cards, but they are now offered with debit cards as well.  

Is it better to use a debit card or credit card online?

This will depend on the size of your payment and the funds you have available, as there are advantages and disadvantages of debit cards to consider. The main benefit is that you can only use the funds available in your linked bank account, so you won’t accrue a debt you’ll have to pay off later (potentially at a high rate of interest). However, this can also be a drawback, as you may wish to make a larger purchase but don’t have the funds to do so upfront.  

Can I have a debit card for my business to use online?

Yes – most banks and financial institutions offer debit cards for businesses to buy goods and shop online. However, check the conditions that come with your business bank account, as not all business transaction accounts are fee-free and may come with restrictive usage limits. 

Compare debit cards today

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