If you are a frequent online shopper, having your favorite retailers store your credit card information seems like it might make sense. Having your information at the ready helps you avoid having to input your data every time you start the checkout process, but is it trustworthy? Putting your credit card information in someone else’s hands opens you up to a greater risk for identity theft, which begs the question of whether it’s safe to store your information anywhere other than in your pocket.
Safety before convenience
Despite the security measures a website takes and its reassurances that your information will be safe, NerdWallet’s Lindsay Konsko notes that any information put on the internet is not safe from the intentions of others. Even with extensive security measures, online retailers are increasingly susceptible to data breaches that can put your credit card information out in the wind.
Though saving your information on a website for easier checkout might seem like it benefits you first and foremost, Konsko notes that it’s actually of greater benefit to the retailer because it incentivizes multiple visits and purchases. Not storing your credit information on a retailer’s website might mean that you need to take a little extra time before pulling the trigger on a purchase, which might actually help you ward off impulse purchases.
How to safeguard your info
Not storing your credit card information is a crucial safeguard you can implement when shopping online, but it’s not the only thing you can do to help protect yourself from hackers. According to The Balance’s Latoya Irby, you should patronize only trustworthy sites and shun clickbait. This should include not clicking on links in emails — especially unsolicited emails from retailers you don’t recognize or for whose mailing lists you don’t recall signing up. If an email offer seems appealing, you should instead type the URL directly into your browser.
When selecting which card to use to pay for your purchases, it’s better to use a credit card than a debit card, according to Matt Schulz, U.S. News & World Report contributor and senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. This is because credit cards do not provide a direct line to your actual money, unlike debit cards, making it less likely that you would be unable to pay a necessary bill if your identity should be stolen.
According to Irby, it’s best to refrain from making online purchases from a network that supports public computers due to the visibility of your data. You should always avoid inputting vital data over an unsecured Wi-Fi network, and you should also refrain from making purchases using public Wi-Fi like that you’d find in a coffee shop.
If you’re shopping somewhere you haven’t before, Irby recommends researching the site by checking Consumer Reports or the Better Business Bureau for stats on the retailer. It’s also imperative that you keep your computer protected with anti-spyware and anti-virus software programs. When shopping, always ensure that the website you are using is secure. This is typically indicated by a green lock icon found in the URL bar.
Saving your credit card information online might seem like a convenient, time-saving option, but it’s more likely to lead to the bigger headache of having your information stolen. Be smart with your credit card and personal data and always be cautious when shopping online.