Online Payment Alternatives to PayPal

I’m a little more than a casual online shopper, so I make lots of electronic payments. I prefer to avoid stores, so I buy almost everything aside from food via the Internet. I frequently use eBay. I’m also something of an airline mileage fanatic, so I prefer to pay with a credit card that earns me miles and free upgrades.

PayPal is great but the various fees they charge you to receive payments are not so great. And if, like me, you prefer not to connect your PayPal account to your bank account, they certainly don’t make it easy for you.

You can link your PayPal account to a credit card, but once you’ve spent or received a total of $10,000, you are required to connect a bank account. PayPal will draw funds from that bank account from then on, which means no more credit card rewards. If you look closely, there is an option for PayPal to draw funds from your credit card instead, but it’s an obscure link that most people miss.

PayPal’s ubiquity makes it hard to avoid, but there are a few other options.

Amazon WebPay allows you to make online or mobile payments using your email address, just like PayPal. This is a no-brainer. There are no fees for sending or receiving money, and you can add funds with a bank account or credit card. Not everyone accepts Amazon WebPay, but I use it whenever it’s an option.

Square is an application for Android and iPhones. The app, along with Square’s external attachment, turns a mobile phone or tablet into a credit card terminal, allowing anyone to accept person-to-person payments. I use Square when someone owes me money after a night out. Instead of splitting a dinner check with a large group, I can pay with my card and everyone else can pay me. There is, however, a 2.75% fee per transaction.

Dwolla charges a 25-cent fee for each transaction, which can take place online or at a brick and mortar store. Their mobile application allows smartphone users to find nearby merchants that accept Dwolla.

Take five or ten minutes to investigate each of these options in order to determine which makes the most sense for your particular online payment needs.

Robert Siciliano, personal security expert contributor to Just Ask Gemalto, discusses hackers hacking hotels on CNBC. Disclosures

5 Online Security Using PayPal

Sometimes home security begins online. Many millions use and rely on PayPal for convenient and secure ecommerce transactions. But is it safe? The short answer is “yes”. The longer answer is “it depends”.

PayPal has numerous redundant measures of protection in place to protect their user accounts. PayPal falls under many of the same rules and regulations as banks and retailers.  They don’t have a choice to be secure or not, they have to be.

But PayPal is just like everyone else, they are under constant attack.

Most security issues with PayPal aren’t actually with PayPal at all, but with its users.

1.    Don’t click links in emails that come from PayPal. The emails may not be from PayPal but from scammers trying to phish your information. Always directly log into PayPal to access your account.

2.    Don’t link your bank account to PayPal. If your PayPal account is compromised then the money stolen will be from your bank account opposed to your credit card account. There are many more layers of security in your credit card connected to PayPal.

3.    Keep your PC security updated. Your PC is a path to PayPal, your bank or any other online accounts you have. Many of those accounts are only as secure as your PC. Make sure you have updated anti-virus, firewall, spyware detection/removal etc.

4.    Use a trusted PC. I would never use anyone else’s computer to login to my bank or PayPal

5.    Use a trusted internet connection. Banking online or using PayPal from a free internet café invites trouble. Your best bet is a hard wired connection from home.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to Home Security Source discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures