Shop safely online without using your credit card numbers

Alternative online payment methods are quick, easy and free. And if an online merchant is compromised, you're safe

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Greg GazinYou can shop anywhere for just about anything online or with your smartphone – even for groceries.

It’s a convenient part of the daily routine for many.

However, some people are hesitant, even fearful, about making themselves vulnerable by using their credit card online. When retail giants like Home Depot, Target and Marshalls are hacked and credit card numbers are compromised, it’s easy to understand the fear.

But those fears may lessen as online shopping changes are made. Many processors and service providers are offering more payment alternatives online or via smartphone. They offer a third-party user ID and password each time you check out. You still use your favourite credit card and collecting those valuable reward points, but you never have to enter or reveal your number, expiry date or security code.

Instead of an identifiable card number, a token or one-time transaction code is used to transfer payment information. That information is totally useless to hackers and far more secure.

There’s no fee to use these services. You set up an account and create a username or ID, and a password. You enter your card information once, along with a shipping address, and then validate your account via email or text.

PayPal has been around since 1998 and was once owned by eBay. PayPal is accepted at places like Best Buy, Cineplex, Ikea, Kijiji and donation sites like Upon checkout, you’re directed back to your PayPal account, to pay using your preregistered Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express (AMEX) credit card. PayPal can also be used via mobile app.

Visa Checkout has been available in Canada since 2014. It can be used online at places like Pizza Hut, London Drugs, Roots, and Sick Kids Foundation. This service is not limited to Visa – you can also pay with your MasterCard, AMEX, Visa Debit and select gift cards. Simply select Visa Checkout at checkout and it will also automatically populate your shipping address.

New to Canada is Apple Pay, which allows you to make secure purchases online with your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and select Macs. Using your Apple ID, instead of an account, you can securely add your debit and credit cards from most major Canadian financial institutions and AMEX to a Wallet App. Online purchases can then be made though your web browser to places like Best Buy, London Drugs, McDonald’s and Petro-Canada, or through individual apps from places like Starbucks and Groupon that have Apple Pay capabilities built in the app. To authorize, you can even use the iPhone’s fingerprint sensor or the side button on your Apple Watch.

ApplePay can also be used wirelessly at select retailers at point-of-sale. You just hold your smartphone or Apple Watch near the reader, leaving your credit card in your pocket.

Google and Samsung, among others, also offer these types of services. And we can expect a number of others to offer alternate payment methods as acceptance by merchants and consumers grows. Some payment processors even offer a protection program on eligible purchases.

Using these types of services makes a lot of sense. Even though you’ll not likely be responsible for charges if your credit card is ever compromised while shopping as you do now, it can still be a nightmare. You need to cancel your card, stop any automatic charges like utilities or monthly payments, and then wait for a new card to arrive.

Alternative payment methods are quick, easy and free. Changing your user ID and password is easy. And if an online merchant is compromised, all they’ll get is useless information.

Troy Media columnist Greg Gazin, also known as the Gadget Guy and Gadget Greg, is a syndicated veteran tech columnist, communication, leadership and technology speaker, facilitator, blogger, podcaster and author. Reach him @gadgetgreg or at

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The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

Greg Gazin

Greg Gazin helps consumers demystify technology and shows how it can be useful, practical and even fun.
He’s penned over 4,000 articles and blog posts and currently produces content for media outlets such as Troy Media and its syndicated sites, Active-Life Magazine and others. He’s also been a writer for Sun Media,, Edmontonians, Toastmaster Magazine, (G4 Canada) and others. He has appeared on a number of radio and TV programs including City TV’s BT (Breakfast Television) Edmonton, SUN TV and CTV NewsChannel and has been a regular presenter at The Business Link.
Greg is a Distinguished Toastmaster and Past District Governor (Director) and has previously held positions as Lt. Governor of Education and Training, Lt. Governor Marketing, Division Governor and Public Relations Manager.

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