Payment options


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Online payment options

Credit card payment screen on a tablet

What's coming up?

There are many ways to pay for goods you buy online. In this activity, we're going to provide an overview of the most common methods using credit cards, direct debit or direct deposit, and PayPal.

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How paying online works

When you go to a shopping website's checkout, you'll be asked to enter your delivery address details and choose a payment method. The three main payments methods accepted by most websites are:

  • Credit card
  • Funds transfer from your bank account, also known as direct debit or direct deposit
  • A special service called PayPal.
Woman sits at a cafe while doing some online shopping on her laptop
A zoomed in image of a mastercard

Paying by credit card

Credit cards are the most common way to pay online, with most websites able to accept at least one of the major credit cards.

Fraud protection with credit cards is quite strong. This makes it a relatively safe way to pay online.

When you check out and select credit card as your payment option, you'll be asked to type your credit card number and some other details. Once you've done that, the site can charge your credit card, and you'll see the charge appear in your card statement.

Paying by funds transfer

You can transfer money directly from your bank account to a website. A direct deposit lets you transfer money from your bank to an account number given to you by the website.

A direct debit lets you use a system like BPAY (short for Bill Payments) to transfer funds to a website. The site will give you a BPAY reference number (which is like a bill number) and a biller code (which identifies the site). You can then transfer funds to the website using your bank's phone or internet payment system.

Shows someone paying a bill on their mobile phone while out in public
The PayPal logo

Using PayPal

PayPal is a service especially designed for online purchases. PayPal acts as a "middle man" for online payments and means that you never need to give your card details to a website.

How PayPal works

If you choose to use PayPal when shopping online, you pay PayPal using a credit card or your bank account. PayPal then pays the seller on your behalf.

PayPal also offers buyer protection and will help you get your money back if there is a problem with the goods.

A diagram showing how you pay PayPal and PayPal pays the seller when you purchase goods using PayPal, and it also provides additional buyer protection.
The PayPal login and Sign up screen

Why use PayPal?

Using PayPal means you don't have to provide your credit card number or bank details to shopping websites. They can stay private. This is useful if you aren't sure you can trust a website or you buy goods from many different websites.

To use PayPal, you have to first create an account with PayPal at You can find out more about how to do this and other purchasing goods online options in our How to pay online course.

A couple look happy and confident to be using their laptop computer


You've completed the Online payment options activity and know that there are lots of ways to pay for goods online.

The most common way to pay is by credit card, but you also might encounter other methods like direct deposit and PayPal.

A website might give you some other options, however, including what are known as pay services. We'll look at that in the next activity What are pay services?