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The pros and cons of different online payment methods

Money makes the world go round, but the ways we pay are changing. Keep your finger on the pulse of modern money transfer services and solutions with our handy guide to different online payment methods worth considering.

Long gone are the days of only ever paying for goods and services with cold hard cash. For decades we’ve been able to insert, swipe, and eventually wave our debit and credit cards at point-of-sale machines. Even internet banking has been around since the mid-to-late 1990s, allowing us to manage and manoeuvre funds between our own accounts as well as make transfers for gifts, bills, goods, services and more. 

Now the world has entered a new wave of online and mobile payment services offering even greater convenience, flexibility and security. The latest platforms are designed to make transactions easier than ever before by eliminating the need to enter personal information, long card details, or both. Instead, they use payment method storage and/or third-party processing technology so you don’t need to carry physical cards or remember complex numbers. 

There advantages are clear, but with over 200 different types of payment options available you’d be forgiven for feeling a little confused about which to use and when. To help we’ve outlined the pros and cons of some popular online payment methods you might consider incorporating into your everyday life.


One of the original web payment platforms with over 250 million users worldwide, PayPal is well established as a reliable payment processing alternative to debit and credit cards. It is widely accepted for checkout on e-commerce websites.  


  • Free and simple account setup using your email address – easy to link to a bank account, debit card or credit card.
  • A straightforward way to pay for items.
  • No fees for sending money to family and friends.
  • Choose whether to keep money received in your PayPal Cash account or transfer it to your external bank account.
  • Encrypted bank or card information for a high level of security.


  • Small processing fee for sending money as part of a business transaction.
  • A free bank transfer can take several days to process; instant access to your money incurs a small fee.


Available at checkout from an online store, AfterPay is a simple payment plan that automatically splits your total payment into four equal, interest-free fortnightly instalments. It’s a sound choice for any transaction where you would prefer to delay full payment, for example because the purchase is expensive or you’re not sure how much money is currently in your account. 


  • Seamless integration with online stores.
  • Allows you to shop now and pay later. 
  • Instalments are interest-free.
  • Option to login and make payments before the due date.


  • While there is no real ‘catch’ with AfterPay as such, it’s worth bearing in mind that it can encourage impulse spending.  
  • You could be charged late fees for missed payments.  


POLi is a real-time online debit payment method that allows you to use your internet banking to securely pay for products and services, pay bills and travel expenses, etc. It’s a great alternative to a debit/credit card because you don’t need to link it to a card in the first place. 


  • No fees for deposits or transfers
  • Highly secure software – never captures sensitive information.  


  • A downside of POLi is that it’s only available to people who live in Australia, New Zealand and the US, so it doesn’t provide the global flexibility of PayPal and other services. 
  • Payments processed via POLi are non-reversible, so you need to be quite careful when making transactions.


Wise is an increasingly popular option for transferring money abroad. You might, for example, use Wise to send cash to children or grandchildren who are living, working or holidaying overseas.


  • Good exchange rates and transfer speeds. 
  • No additional international transfer fees charged by your bank. 
  • Robust security and encryption to protect your personal information. 


  • You can only send money to a recipient’s bank account.
  • Not all currencies and countries are supported.  

Apple Pay and Google Pay

Finally, don’t forget there are handy payment systems already integrated into an app on your iPhone (Apple Pay) or inside your Google Wallet (Google Pay) on your Android smartphone respectively. As with PayPal, both Apple Pay and Google Pay let you choose whether to use your bank account or debit/credit card for transactions. Secure purchases can be made anywhere that accepts these payment networks.