There was a time when people refused to punch their credit card numbers into a website, a time when all e-commerce companies had to set up phone operations to take orders. People were happy to give their details to a stranger on the other end of the phone, but not to a secure website. Those days are long gone, but in an age of fraud and criminality some people are still wary about entering their financial details online.
There is no better alternative to a credit card when it comes to online transactions. Fears of fraud are not entirely unfounded when it comes to debit cards, as everything you have could be connected to that bank account, but credit cards are completely different. Not only do all of them have secure systems in place to detect fraudulent use and then immediately stop any further payments, but all credit cards are also secured directly against fraud. So, if anything happens to your money you can claim it back no questions asked.
These claims are so common that many credit card companies don’t even bother to report incidents of fraud to the police, and whilst this is good news for the fraudsters, it is also good news for honest credit card users as it shows just how quick these companies are to give you your money back. It’s almost an automated process, and one in which you are never treated as the bad guy. I have been through this process myself after losing both my credit card information and my PayPal information — through which my credit card was also connected — and being stripped of several thousand dollars. Everything was fixed in a phone-call, no further issues. It also happened to someone close to me who had their identity stolen and their cards maxed, but this was fixed just as quickly and just as easily.
I use gambling sites and although I do not believe this was the issue in my case, it is certainly a possibility. My friend, however, does not gamble and is also one of the few people who still refuse to put their credit card details online, which proves that this can happen to anyone regardless of what you do and how much care you take. The credit card companies know this and have systems in place to remedy it.
All good banks should also have the same systems in place for debit cards, but there are greater risks involved. If someone takes you for every penny on your credit card then it doesn’t matter, credit is credit and once that is wiped clean then you can continue on as normal. If someone strips you of every penny in your bank account then you may struggle to pay the bills and to feed yourself until the issues are fixed. Credit cards are also guaranteed against all cases of fraud, whereas debit cards are not, and whether you get your back back or not is entirely at the discretion of the bank.
There is an advantage with debit cards though, which is that you can withdraw winnings directly into your bank account, but if you’re browsing through sites you’re not 100% sure about — which you will almost certainly be doing if you’re based in the US and are therefore restricted to the type of gambling sites you can join — credit cards are the way to go. There is also the added bonus of matched deposits (some of which apply strictly to those who deposit with credit or debit cards) and loyalty point schemes from your credit card provider, offering cash-back or other incentives such as air miles.
If you’re still reluctant to use a credit card then you should also exercise the same reluctance when it comes to debit cards, and instead concentrate on prepayment cards. The best ones out there include EcoPayz and Vanilla Visa. These are widely available and you can sign up for EcoPayz online. You simply need to register your name and card, and then deposit some money onto your EcoPay card, which you can then use at your chosen online casino. This still involves the use of your card online, so if this worries you then there are plenty of prepayment cards out there — including Vanilla Visa — that you can pay for and top-up using cash.
PayPal is the most widely used of these third-party payment systems, which has been the case for many years now. These days PayPal is an eBay company and is used for over 95% of all transactions on the International eBay websites. It can link directly to your bank account or your credit card and you can also pay with money that has been sent to you from other PayPal uses, but PayPal is only used for gambling where it is legal to do so, which is why you often only find PayPal on the bigger European sports books such as William Hill and Stan James.
Other third-party payment programs can also be used, such as Skrill, but there is a significant grey area when it comes to their legality in the gambling industry, especially for customers based in the US, so these are probably best avoided. If they are used then you should try to limit yourself to smaller transactions and you should never leave too much money in your account. In such instances it is worth remembering what happened to all of the US based poker players when the Full Tilt, Pokerstars and Absolute Poker websites were indicted, their money was taken away from them and they were unable to get it back for a significant time.
To summarise, prepayment cards and third-party payment providers can assist those who are overly cautious, and they do have their uses, but you should exercise caution where gambling is concerned and if possible you should always opt for a credit card, as they provide so many more incentives and so much more security.