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How can I pay online without a bank account?

Learn about all the payment methods you can use to shop online without a bank account. From prepaid credit cards to gift cards, we review all your options.

Globally, people are shopping online more often than ever before. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic is a big reason why you would shop or buy more entertainment services online. If you used to shop with cash or if you don't have a bank account or a credit card, it can be challenging to pay for online goods and services. However, it's not impossible.

Reasons not to have a bank account

If you happen to have a poor credit rating, or do not live at a home address that can be tied to a specific bank account, buying online is downright difficult.

The World Bank Data from 2017 show that only 83% of young adults (15-24 years old) had a bank account in Ireland. In 2014 this percentage was 90%. Whilst reasons not to have a bank account such as living in a rural area were mentioned, most people simply preferred to keep their cash money safe themselves.

Let's explore the online payment methods for which you don't need a bank account.

PayPal without a bank account

The online payments service PayPal makes it possible to send and receive money, even without a bank account or a credit card. This easy to use system replaces checks or money orders, and many online stores and services accept PayPal as a payment method. There are some downsides to using PayPal without a bank account, though. For example, you won't be able to withdraw money from your PayPal account.

Paysafecards (and other prepaid credit cards)

You can buy a prepaid credit card (also called prepaid money card) without a bank account. Once you have a prepaid credit card, you can pay with it online on thousands of websites.

For example, you can go for a paysafecard online. It's a popular prepaid credit card with a value of up to €175. You can pay for it with PayPal or with another prepaid credit card.

Additionally, paysafecard's issuer Paysafe makes it possible to shop with online stores such as Amazon without needing a bank account. Simply select Paysafecash as a payment option during checkout. You then receive a bill via e-mail and pay this bill at selected retailers such as Co-Op. To use this option, you need to create a my paysafecard account first.

Of course, you can buy other prepaid money cards or prepaid credit cards with cash or PayPal, too. Examples are Transcash, Neosurf voucher, Revolut, VISA, Wise and Wirex.

The Post Office Money Card

Yes, you can also get a prepaid credit card at the Post Office. The Post Office Money Card can be purchased with cash. You can choose from two types of prepaid cards: the Pay as You Go card or the Pay Monthly card.

Prepaid Mastercard

Prepaid Mastercards are another option to pay online without a bank account. They're safe to use and can be topped up in different ways. They can easily be topped up online, just like other prepaid money cards or prepaid credit cards. You can even choose to create an easy to use E-wallet to use with this type of prepaid card.

Do keep in mind that prepaid Mastercards are sometimes referred to as Mastercards gift cards.

Gift cards

Gift cards are the branded cards that you can buy from a wide range of retailers. Examples of gift cards are Amazon UK gift cards, but also the Playstation Store, Blizzard and Read Dead Online gift cards, that you can only use to spend with the brand mentioned on the prepaid gift card.

Simply buy these gift cards with cash at your favourite retailer, or purchase the cards online (in which case you need a bank account, or a PayPal account for example). In the Netherlands, you are able to pay for these cards via your mobile phone credit or contract (in most cases).

How does a prepaid credit card work?

Single-use prepaid credit cards such as paysafecard, Transcash, and Neosurf, are essentially a digital code which you can directly use as a payment method with your chosen vendor. Once the value on your card is spent, you can no longer use it.

Reloadable prepaid credit cards are a bit different. You can load cash onto them with the retailer that you bought the card from. After this, you can use the money on your card to buy top-ups online (in most cases). Use the card to make purchases online, or simply swipe your prepaid card at the cash register in a shop, just like a debit card or a credit card. Every purchase amount is deducted from the balance that you loaded onto your prepaid card.

Topping up prepaid credit cards without a bank account

Simply purchase a code with cash and top up your card with this code. Or top up your prepaid money card online and pay via PayPal or with a similar service. Please note that you may need a bank account to buy a top-up code online, depending on the website you're buyin from. In some countries, like The Netherlands, you can pay for your prepaid credit card top up code with your call credit (or via your mobile phone contract).

The freedom of using prepaid credit cards

Using gift cards or prepaid credit cards and money cards, offers you complete control over your own finances. Topping up your prepaid card is easy. There are no worries about unexpected bills, you are in full control of your spending, and you can bypass the banking system if you want to.

*Accenture’s 2020 Global Banking Consumer Study, based on a survey of more than 47,000 consumers from 27 countries, including over 1,000 Irish people.