Whether you need to buy something or pay for a service online, keeping your hard-earned money safe should be your top priority.
Today there are many payment methods, but only a few of them can be considered safe. So, which payment options are the safest?
1. Virtual credit cards
Your credit card is protected by a security protocol called 3D Secure (3DS), which is pretty good, but doesn’t provide complete protection against fraud and identity theft. Virtual credit cards do a lot because they actually hide your real information.
Virtual credit cards are essentially just digital cards that are designed to be used once or only a few times (usually you create a new card for each payment or transaction). This card is linked to a funding source, such as a bank account. And when you want to pay for something online, you don’t enter a real credit card number, but rather a number provided by a virtual credit card service. In this way, you minimize the possibility of your information being stolen.
But even if the website hosting your information is hacked or hacked, you’re safe because your virtual credit card is of no use to the attacker responsible for the attack — it’s likely expired and there’s nothing they can do deal with it.
In short, virtual credit cards offer excellent protection against various types of cybercrime. The only major downside is that you can’t get a refund on an expired card if you need it, but that’s not a huge price to pay considering how rarely most people find themselves in this situation.
2. Digital wallets
Digital wallets are applications that store your card or bank information. Chances are you’ve used one of these in the past—PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay are among the best digital wallets available today. These programs are simple, convenient, very easy to use and act as a kind of barrier between third parties and confidential information that belongs to you.
When you pay for something with your digital wallet, whether online or in person, your payment information is not visible to the merchant. It is encrypted and hidden, which significantly reduces the likelihood of it falling into the wrong hands. Additionally, there are things you can do to increase the security of your digital wallet.
You should never use your digital wallet or any payment application on a public Wi-Fi network, as these hotspots are sometimes fake and often not properly secured. You should also consider installing security programs on your smartphone, including antivirus packages, network scanners, and authenticators.
There’s always the risk of your phone being lost or stolen, so make sure you lock your phone and wallet with a strong password. Better yet, use multi-factor authentication or biometric authentication to protect your device and payment apps.
3. Prepaid cards
Prepaid cards are cards that are not linked to bank accounts, but instead require money to operate. In other words, if you have a prepaid card, you can’t spend more money than you’ve already loaded onto it. This is what separates prepaid cards from credit and debit cards and makes them much more secure.
Using a prepaid card to pay for goods and services online is a great way to protect your money, because even if an attacker somehow manages to steal your card details, they won’t be able to access your bank account, only the money already on the prepaid card. If your credit or debit card details were somehow compromised, it would be a completely different story and potentially thousands would be taken out of your account.
One of the best things you can do to improve your cyber security is to have a dedicated prepaid card for online purchases and other digital transactions. You can simply top up your prepaid card periodically, whenever you need to pay for something online, instead of using your main credit card and putting yourself at risk.
So, are there any disadvantages to using prepaid cards? Unfortunately yes. Commissions are usually quite high. You often have to pay fees for buying and activating a card, as well as for reloads, balance inquiries and even card cancellations.
As a decentralized form of currency that relies on blockchain technology, cryptocurrency is inherently safer and more private than fiat money. It exists only in the digital space, making it ideal for transferring money between accounts over the Internet.
You don’t need to have a credit card, bank account or have access to the financial system in any way to use cryptocurrency. And if you know what you’re doing, the chances of being tracked by a third party are minimal, especially if you’re using sensitive currencies like Monero.
It should also be noted that protecting your crypto assets is quite easy. If you don’t want to invest in a cold wallet (a physical device that stores your cryptocurrency offline), there are many secure digital crypto wallets — Exodus, Wasabi, Guarda, and Coinbase Wallet to name a few.
On the other hand, cryptocurrency markets are very volatile and the value of the currency can change daily. This turns many people off, as does the fact that cryptocurrency is not accepted as a form of payment everywhere; true, more e-commerce platforms have accepted it in recent years, but it’s not like Amazon accepts cryptocurrency payments. So, in general, crypto can definitely be used for secure online payments, but it’s not for everyone.
Protect your money online
Digital payment systems have come a long way over the years. There are more options now than ever, and some of them are actually safe.
We can only guess what the future holds, but as online payment methods develop and evolve, so will cyber threats. And no matter how many precautions you take, you’re one wrong step away from having your bank account hacked, so make sure you’re on the lookout for signs of a breach.