What are the most reliable ways to pay for your online purchases?

Online shopping is becoming more and more widespread. The advantages are obvious: it’s fast, you avoid fighting for the product you want in a crowded shopping mall, and you don’t have to carry your bags back home.

In addition, there are payment methods tailored to each customer.

However, not all of them are equally secure, neither for the buyer nor for the seller.

1. Sending cash

It is undoubtedly the least recommended way to pay for a product found on the Internet.

The risk is obvious: that the money never arrives at its destination. Or that it has not even been sent.

2. Money order

This system consists of sending an amount of money specifying the place and the identity of the person to whom it is paid.

The cash is delivered to the company offering the service, usually a postal operator.

The postal operator charges a fee for the service, calculated on the basis of the amount transferred.

Details of the amount and who is to receive it are received at the company’s payment office.

However, several Internet trading sites do not accept this type of transfer, which is also offered by companies such as Western Union or MoneyGram.

In addition, with wire transfers it is very difficult to recover the money in case of fraud.

3. Checks

There are several types of checks; personal checks, bank checks, or certified checks.

And they are usually accepted in transactions with private sellers, when they do not have the necessary infrastructure to collect the amount with an electronic method.

But, at the same time, it is a system that is not recommended for them, since the risk of fraud is always present.

That is, the seller could have sent the product by the time he received the check. And when he goes to the bank to cash it, he could find that it has no funds or that it is false.

4. Cash on delivery

This is one of the most traditional systems when the transaction is made in person.

First the seller and the potential buyer contact each other via the Internet, when the latter shows interest in a product offered by the former.

And then they make an appointment to complete the transaction in person.

The most common in these cases is usually to deliver the money in hand, in exchange for the object offered online.

5. Bank transfer

It is usually used in cases where a current account is indicated in which to enter the amount of the purchase before managing the order.

For the seller it is a safe option, since the banking entities certify that the buyer has made the payment, after delivering it in cash in a bank office or by means of a transfer from his own account.

However, for the buyer it may not be the best option.

And, in case of any incident with the shipment, it could be difficult to prove. And, in addition, the seller would have already been paid.

6. Credit or debit cards

It is the most common method and one of the safest.

Most buying and selling websites usually accept both credit cards (Visa, MasterCard or American Express, among others) and debit cards (Visa Electron or Maestro).

This system is usually doubly protected: by the company that issued the card and by the banks through which the payment is made.

There was a time when it was not so secure. It was before the chip became widespread. Fraud by duplication of the magnetic stripe began to be frequent.

7. Online payment without card

The best known of these types of payment is PayPal, an American company founded by Peter Thiel and Elon Musk, among others.

It acts as an intermediary between buyer and seller.

To use the system, one must register and link a credit card, debit card or checking account to the PayPal account.

The seller deposits the money in the seller’s PayPal account.

And the seller will only know the transaction reference number provided by the company, not the buyer’s bank details or card number.

In addition, contrary to what happens with other payment systems, if the buyer does not receive the merchandise or it does not conform to the description on the website, PayPal can withhold the amount of the purchase until the dispute is resolved.

And if the transaction does not go through, it allows the buyer to recover the money.

PayPal may be the most popular tool of this type, although there is also Google Wallet, created by Google in 2011 and which since 2013, after integration with Gmail, allows users to send money through Gmail attachments.

And Amazon Payments, launched in 2007 but which can only be used for transactions made on the U.S. company’s website.

If the purchase is made on eBay, both buyer and seller will have to abide by its rules of the game.

The main one is that commercial transactions initiated on the website must end there.

That is, if the seller offers to complete it privately outside eBay’s scope, the buyer would be exposed to fraud and would not be able to claim anything from the company.

But above and beyond this, there are the basic rules dictated by common sense: make sure what you buy, from whom and exactly how much you should charge for it.