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How to Buy Things Online Without a Credit Card

Last updated 03/15/2024 by

Erin Gobler

Edited by

Fact checked by

If you don’t have a credit card, you can use PayPal, Coinstar, cryptocurrency, or prepaid cards to shop online. Though not every online store will accept every payment method, there are several options available for you to use.
These days, it seems that many people use credit cards for most of their spending. Some places don’t even accept cash anymore. During the last quarter of 2021, online purchases accounted for over 14% of all purchases in the United States, and that number continues to grow. Since so much shopping happens online, a credit card has become the most convenient way to spend.
But what if you need to buy something online and don’t have a credit card? It’s true that to shop online you’ll need a payment method that’s accepted over the internet. However, it doesn’t have to be a credit card. You can also use a debit card, gift card, prepaid card, or an online payment method like PayPal.

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7 ways to buy things online without a credit card

Whatever your reasons for not having a credit card, you may occasionally find that it’s more difficult to make purchases online. In many cases, a credit card is the default payment method online.
The good news is there are some commonly-accepted methods other than credit cards. And even in situations where a retailer only accepts cards, there are some workarounds.

Debit card

The vast majority of U.S. adults have at least one credit card, but you might be surprised just how many people opt to use only a debit card.
When it comes to using your debit card for online purchases, the process is identical to using a credit card. You’ll usually have to enter your card number, the card’s expiration date and security code, and the billing address attached to your account.
The biggest difference between using a debit and a credit card comes down to how you’re charged. When you use a credit card, the card issuer pays for the purchase upfront, and you repay it later by paying your credit card bill. But with a debit card, the money comes directly out of the checking account attached to your debit card.

Pro Tip

One reason people often opt for credit cards for online purchases is they tend to be more secure than debit cards. Make sure to learn your debit card provider’s policy for dealing with fraudulent purchases.

Electronic funds transfer (ETF)

An electronic funds transfer (ETF) is a transfer directly from one bank account to another. When it comes to online spending, an ETF allows a retailer to pull the funds for a purchase from your checking account.
Many online retailers don’t accept ETFs as a form of payment. However, many service providers, including utility companies, accept this type of payment. Amazon also allows you to enter your checking account information for purchases, though this feature isn’t available on all items. In some cases, you can even order food with your checking account.

Prepaid card

One of the easiest ways to get around the lack of a credit card when making an online payment is to purchase a prepaid card. This type of card operates like a debit card, but rather than pulling the funds from your checking account, you load the card with funds upfront.
If you don’t have a credit or debit card, you can purchase prepaid cards with cash to make online purchases. You may also choose to use prepaid cards online if you only have a debit card and want an added layer of security. If someone steals your card number, the most they can steal is the amount that’s been loaded onto the card rather than all of the money in your checking account.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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Merchant account

An online merchant account is one of the easiest ways to make online purchases. In fact, many people opt for this payment method even if they do have a debit or credit card.
The most popular merchant account provider is PayPal. When you sign up, you can connect PayPal with your checking account, debit card, or credit card. Then, when you buy stuff online, you can use PayPal as your payment method, and the funds will be pulled directly from your connected accounts.
You can also choose to store funds directly in your PayPal account. That way, retailers are simply pulling funds from your PayPal account rather than your bank account, debit, or credit card. In that case, you can set your preferred payment method as your account funds. This way you’ll only be charged if you don’t have sufficient funds in your PayPal account.
When you’re shopping online, you’ll find that PayPal is almost as easy to use as a credit card. Most retailers now have PayPal listed as one of the default payment methods. So if you don’t have a debit or credit card, you can simply use PayPal for all (or most) of your online transactions.

Gift card

If you know you’ll be shopping with a particular retailer, you can buy gift cards that allow you to shop online. Many retailers like Target and Walmart sell a variety of gift cards online for everything from Amazon to chain restaurants. And if you don’t have a debit or credit card, you can purchase these gift cards in cash and then use them online.
You can also add the gift card to your online account. That way, when you go to make a purchase, the funds are already in your retailer account and you won’t need the gift card on hand to make the purchase. For example, you can load your Amazon gift cards directly into your Amazon account. When you make an Amazon purchase, it will first use any gift card funds in your account.

Pro Tip

If you don’t want to be stuck shopping at a specific retailer, you can even buy Visa or MasterCard gift cards that are preloaded with a certain amount of money and can be used anywhere, similar to prepaid debit cards. As long as you have sufficient funds on the card, you can use these cards for online shopping.


If you tend to have a lot of change on hand, then you’ve probably used a Coinstar machine. These machines collect your coins and convert them into rewards, like store credit for your favorite online business. Once you’ve received your gift card, simply redeem it on the retailer’s website.
These machines now offer even more options. Rather than receiving cash in exchange for your coins, you can opt to receive an eGift Card, which allows you to shop online or in person with a specific retailer.


Cryptocurrency isn’t technically a legal tender, but plenty of retailers now offer it as an option for online purchases. To use this method, you’ll first have to own cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum and have them accessible in a digital wallet.
From there, you can select cryptocurrency as your payment method on the retailer’s website. You don’t need a debit or credit card to purchase cryptocurrency, making this a viable option for most people.

Pro Tip

For tax purposes, cryptocurrency is treated as an asset like stocks and bonds rather than like actual currency. As a result, you may be on the hook for when you dispose of your cryptocurrency in any way, including when you use it to pay for goods and services.


Can I pay online without a debit card?

Yes, there are plenty of ways to pay online without a debit card. As we discussed, some of the popular options available are prepaid cards, gift cards, electronic funds transfers, merchant accounts, and more.

How can I pay without a credit card?

A debit card is the most common way to make online purchases without a credit card. However, any of the options on our list make a viable alternative, though they may not all be accepted by all retailers.

Can I use Google Pay without a card?

You can set up your Google Pay account with one of several payment methods. If you don’t have a debit or credit card available to use, you can set up your account with your bank account instead. Most brick-and-mortar and online stores now accept Google Pay as a payment option, so this likely won’t be a problem for most retailers.

Key Takeaways

  • If you don’t have a credit card to make purchases online, don’t worry. There are plenty of alternative options available, including debit cards, PayPal, ETFs, and Coinstar.
  • Using a debit card to shop online can be less secure than using a credit card. Instead, try loading a prepaid card using your debit or cash.
  • If you have a lot of extra coins, bring them to a Coinstar to convert your pocket change into store credit or redeemable eGift Cards.
  • Though not all online businesses accept it, you may be able to make online purchases using cryptocurrency. However, be sure to consider the capital gains tax you may incur before doing so.

Choose your preferred payment method

The majority of U.S. adults have a credit card, and it’s become the most common method for both online and in-person payments. But if you don’t have a credit card, regardless of the reason, you still shouldn’t have a problem making online purchases. The most common alternative to a credit card is a debit card, but it’s far from the only option.
If you don’t have a credit card yet but are interested in signing up for one, we can help. We’ve rounded up a list of the top personal credit cards. You can read reviews from existing customers and find out what credit cards fit your credit profile.

SuperMoney may receive compensation from some or all of the companies featured, and the order of results are influenced by advertising bids, with exception for mortgage and home lending related products. Learn more

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Erin Gobler

Erin Gobler is a Wisconsin-based personal finance writer with experience writing about mortgages, investing, taxes, personal loans, and insurance. Her work has been published in major outlets, such as SuperMoney, Fox Business, and

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