How to Use a Prepaid Visa Card Online

Prepaid Visa cards are great tools for use everywhere, including at the fast-food drive-thru and when you want to pay a bill at your local utility company. So what happens when you want to avoid the in-person experience and buy something online? It's just as simple!

Get the facts about how to use a prepaid Visa card online so you can keep your finances protected and get the items you need quickly. Shop from your computer or mobile device — and reload1 your card, too — with these easy steps.


Using your prepaid Visa card online

1. Safety first

Before you ever hit the "order" button online, there are some safety precautions to take first. Make sure the website you are shopping at is a legitimate, secure site. You are probably already familiar with how to shop at places like Amazon or your favorite Shopify store, but it's still smart to look at the URL for any store you visit. Check to see that it's secure (with a little "lock" icon on the browser) and that it starts with an "https" address, not just "http."

Also, it's a good idea to decide if you'll want your financial information stored after the purchase. You may be asked to create an account when you buy, which is your opportunity to create a strong password that you haven't used anywhere else. Then, when you revisit this retailer, your prepaid Visa card information will already be saved for easier purchasing.

(Of course, if you want to be especially careful, avoid having your financial information stored after each purchase. You can always enter it again later.)


2. Make sure your card is ready

Not all prepaid Visa cards can be used online right away. Activate your card to the address and phone number you want to be used with your online shopping account. For example, if the mailing address is different from the billing address, your order may be declined. You can still have an item shipped elsewhere, though.

Check to make sure you have enough funds on the card balance to cover your purchase, plus shipping and taxes. If you need to confirm how much you have available, call the number on the back of your card, or check through the mobile app for your card.


3. Complete your purchase

When it's time to finish shopping, you'll be given a chance to review all the information you put in for the card. Double-check that you have put in the correct account number, expiration date, and security code (usually three digits on the back near your signature panel).

If you find that the card balance isn't enough to cover the entire purchase, the retailer may give you a few options. This includes splitting the transaction between your prepaid card and another method of payment (a second card, PayPal, or Venmo), or waiting to complete your purchase until you add more funds.


How to add money to your prepaid Visa card

To add funds, follow the directions for your card account. For the Netspend Prepaid Card1, you can load2 the card at an approved retail location or use the smartphone app3 to snap a picture of a check4 and load your card on the go.

You'll simply:

  • Download3 the latest version of the Netspend Mobile app, available for Apple and Android devices

  • Choose the "Mobile Check Load" option from the main menu4

  • Complete the steps to take a picture of your check and confirm your load amount

Funds may not be available right away, but once you get confirmation that they are ready, you can return to your online purchase and finish checking out.


Frequently asked questions

Are you still having issues with your prepaid Visa card? See what other questions users have when making purchases online.


Do I need my actual prepaid Visa card to make purchases online?

When you use your card numbers only to buy something online, you are making a "card not present" purchase. It's allowed as long as you are the authorized cardholder and have permission to use the card. You'll still need all the same information from the card, including the account number, name on the card, expiration date, and security code. The billing information, including the phone number, should match what's on file for the card account, as well.

If you are making a purchase without a card because you don't know where your card is, consider contacting the Visa card issuer and reporting it lost. This protects your card until you find it again and keeps unauthorized users from accessing your card balance.


What if my card purchase is rejected?

It can be frustrating to have your card purchase not go through, and many things can cause this. Here are the most common:

  • Order billing information doesn't match the information on your card account

  • You don't have enough money in your account to cover the purchase, shipping, and taxes

  • Your card has been flagged for suspicious activity, has a freeze on the account, or is subject to a security review

  • The retailer is having payment processing issues

If your card purchase doesn't go through, wait a minute before trying again. You should contact your card issuer to see if the payment is still trying to process. Otherwise, you could end up making the purchase twice accidentally. Your card's mobile app is the best way to see pending transactions.

If your prepaid card shows the purchase pending or authorized, contact the retailer to see if they see it on their end. While this is inconvenient, it's the best way to know if you're at risk of having the charge go through before making the purchase a second time. Note that it can take time for an authorization charge to fall off your account, even if the purchase didn't go through. Unfortunately, this means you can't use those same funds while it's being sorted. If it's been a few days and you still see that money being held for a pending authorization, contact both your card issuer and the retailer to get it resolved.


Why should I use a prepaid Visa card for online purchases?

Prepaid Visa cards, like those from Netspend, offer the same convenience, flexibility, and security as other cards backed by Visa technology. It's a great way to track spending and not spend more than you have. Just as when you use a credit card, you'll get an electronic confirmation of your purchase that can be used when contacting the retailer for any order or shipping issues, and most prepaid cards have some protection against unauthorized charges to your card account.

If you are drawn to the idea of using a credit card to shop online but don't want to risk adding to your debt, the prepaid Visa card is a wise alternative with many of the same perks and benefits. The best part is that you can reload it easily from your mobile device, so your next purchase is just a click or two away. 


1. IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR OPENING A CARD ACCOUNT: To help the federal government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, the USA PATRIOT Act requires us to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens a Card Account. WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: When you open a Card Account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and your government ID number. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying information. Card activation and identity verification required before you can use the Card Account. If your identity is partially verified, full use of the Card Account will be restricted, but you may be able to use the Card for in-store purchase transactions. Restrictions include: no ATM withdrawals, international transactions, account-to-account transfers and additional loads. Use of Card Account also subject to fraud prevention restrictions at any time, with or without notice. Residents of Vermont are ineligible to open a Card Account.

2. The Netspend Network is provided by Netspend Corporation and its authorized agents. Netspend is a licensed provider of money transfer services (NMLS ID: 932678). Netspend’s licenses and related information may be found at Fees, limits, and other restrictions may be imposed by Netspend and other third parties in connection with use of the Netspend Network.

3. Netspend does not charge for this service, but your wireless carrier may charge for messages or data.

4. Mobile Check Load is a service provided by First Century Bank, N.A. and Ingo Money, Inc., subject to the First Century Bank and Ingo Money Terms and Conditions, and Privacy Policy. Approval review usually takes 3 to 5 minutes but can take up to one hour. All checks are subject to approval for funding in Ingo Money’s sole discretion. Fees apply for approved Money in Minutes transactions funded to your card. Unapproved checks will not be funded to your card. Ingo Money reserves the right to recover losses resulting from illegal or fraudulent use of the Ingo Money Service. Your wireless carrier may charge a fee for message and data usage. Additional transaction fees, costs, terms and conditions may be associated with the funding and use of your card. See your Cardholder Agreement for details. Mobile Check Load service is not available for use within the state of New York.

Ready to change the way you pay?

Order a Card today, and you’ll receive it in the mail within 7-10 business days.

Subject to card activation and ID verification.*