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Is AliExpress Safe To Use With a Credit Card? A Guide to Safer Payments

Ashley Ferraro, Product
May 6, 2024
 Min Read
Protect Your Payments With Virtual Cards

With a 60% year-over-year surge in order volume, AliExpress is thriving in markets around the world and showing no signs of slowing down. But while some delight in the online retail service's budget-friendly prices and personalized offers, others are wary of its business and security practices.

The truth is—you're never completely safe when shopping online, but some websites may be riskier than others. This article aims to explore where AliExpress stands in this regard, tackling the following questions:

  1. Is AliExpress safe to use with a credit card?
  2. What are the potential dangers of shopping on AliExpress?
  3. What measures can you take to enhance your security on AliExpress?

Is It Safe To Buy From AliExpress With a Credit Card?

Like other e-commerce platforms, AliExpress has to collect your personal information to facilitate payments and delivery. However, the company has implemented measures to maintain data accuracy, ensure appropriate use of collected data, and prevent unauthorized access, as stated in its Privacy Policy. It also commits to notifying users and the authorities in case of a data breach.

AliExpress doesn't sell any items but acts as the middleman between sellers and consumers. To protect buyers, it handles its own transactions, holding each payment in escrow until the order is completed. The seller doesn't receive the money until the buyer confirms they received the goods as advertised.  

In case you don't receive the goods within the specified period or aren't satisfied with them, you can dispute the payment with the seller. If you don't come to an agreement within 15 days, AliExpress will help resolve the dispute. 

You can make direct purchases with your credit card on AliExpress, but you also have the option to use AliPay, Alibaba's payment platform similar to PayPal. You may be able to pay for some items with PayPal as well.

In general, it's safe to use a credit card on AliExpress. While you may run into issues with particular sellers or product quality, AliExpress is generally secure as a platform. You should still be careful, though—you risk exposing your personal information to fraudsters every time you transact online.

A close-up photo of a smartphone displaying the AliExpress app download screen with credit cards next to it

Potential Dangers of Shopping on AliExpress

Despite its security measures, like any other merchant, AliExpress is not immune to cyberattacks. In case of a data breach on the company's servers, your personal information, login credentials, and saved card information could end up in hackers' hands. Additionally, since AliExpress doesn't offer two-factor authentication (2FA), your account could be more vulnerable to takeovers.

Besides breaching databases, hackers may use various forms of fraud and scams to trick you into sharing sensitive information, such as:

  • Fake support—The perpetrators pretend to be AliExpress customer support. They contact you requesting that you complete an urgent action, such as account or card verification, by sending your sensitive information
  • Copycat website—In more elaborate schemes, fraudsters may create fake copy websites of AliExpress that can steal your data when you enter it. 
  • Seller fraud—Some fraudsters pose as sellers and ask you to complete your payment on a different platform designed to capture your data. 

Possible Consequences of AliExpress Credit Card Fraud

If cybercriminals obtain your personal and financial information, they can take advantage of it in many ways—from making purchases to stealing your identity. 

Financial Disruption

If you notice and report fraud in time, you generally aren't liable for any monetary losses that result from it. The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) limits your liability to $50, and most card issuers have zero-liability policies, so you likely wouldn't have to pay anything. 

However, you'd still have to wait for the issue to be investigated and resolved to get your funds back, which could result in temporary financial hardship. If you fail to report the incident in time, you may have to cover the total sum lost and end up in debt. 

A photo of a person holding an empty wallet open
Source: Towfiqu barbhuiya

Risk of Identity Theft

The fraudster doesn't have to know your credit card numbers to cause harm. If they obtain your personal information, such as your address and Social Security Number, they can:

  • Apply for credit and loans
  • Open new accounts
  • Commit tax fraud
  • Acquire government benefits

They may also use the stolen information to impersonate you and manipulate other individuals into giving away their sensitive data.

Credit Score Damage

Your credit score could be decreased if you accrue debt or the perpetrators apply for credit in your name. Although you may be able to reverse the damage if you notify the card issuer and the credit bureaus in time, that process can take a while. In the meantime, your financial capability may be reduced, and your budgeting plans disturbed.

Stress and Inconvenience

Even if the fraud doesn't result in financial or reputational losses, it could still disrupt your life. Dealing with fraud can be a time-consuming and exhausting process. Having your personal information stolen can also leave you feeling violated and anxious about the future.

A photo of a person sitting on a couch and holding their head in despair
Source: Alex Green

Tips for Keeping Your Credit Card Safe When Buying on AliExpress

Follow the guidelines in the table below to protect your card information and make your AliExpress shopping experience more secure:

Set a strong password To prevent unauthorized access, you should choose a complicated and unique password for every account you create. Doing so is especially important with websites that don't offer two-factor authentication, like AliExpress.
Avoid public Wi-Fi networks It's essential to use only trusted Wi-Fi networks to log into or shop from AliExpress. Public networks are usually less secure than private ones, so they may enable hackers to spy on your activity and steal your sensitive data. 
Don't save card information Although saving your credit or debit card on AliExpress could make your transactions more effortless, you shouldn't do it—your data could be stolen more easily in case of a data breach.
Ignore sketchy requests If you receive an unusual and urgent-sounding email or message from AliExpress, it's best to disregard it. You should also avoid any special payment requests that a seller makes.
Turn on transaction alerts You should switch on transaction alerts and security alerts for your e-banking account so you can detect fraudulent activity quickly. 
Pay with virtual cards You can link your payment card or account to a virtual card to mask your real financial information during transactions, ensuring potential hackers who breach the servers can't access it. An independent virtual card provider like Privacy gives you comprehensive card features to control your online security.

Privacy Virtual Cards—Secure and Convenient Shopping 

Having a reliable and secure online payment solution, such as Privacy, is crucial for staying safe when shopping online. The Privacy Virtual Card includes a temporary 16-digit card number, expiration date, and security code, which functions as a standard payment card during transactions but shields your financial information from prying eyes. 

Since they're issued by Visa® and Mastercard®, Privacy Cards can be used at most vendors and websites that accept these card types, including AliExpress, Amazon, eBay, and subscription services like Netflix, Shopify, and Adobe.

Your data is safe with Privacy since the company employs the same robust security measures as any bank. It uses encryption, offers two-factor authentication, and monitors transactions. You can also switch on transaction alerts and get notified whenever your cards are used or declined.

Besides securing transactions, Privacy makes checkouts fast and seamless with its browser extension. When you want to check out, the extension will autofill virtual card details, so you don't have to look for your wallet or type in numbers. You can get the extension for many well-known browsers, including:

You can also create and manage your virtual cards on your smartphone by installing the Privacy mobile app (available for Android and iOS).

A photo of a person holding a credit card in front of a laptop
Source: Leeloo The First

Privacy Card Types and Card Controls

After connecting your debit card or bank account, you can generate your Privacy Cards, choosing between the two available types:

  1. Single-Use Card—This card closes shortly after you complete the first purchase, so potential hackers who steal it can't use it at all. It's ideal for trying out new websites whose security practices you're unsure of.
  2. Merchant-Locked Card—This card enables transactions from only one merchant and is not usable anywhere else. It's an excellent choice for recurring payments, such as bills and subscriptions. 

If you want to stick to your budget or protect your bank account from overcharging, you can set spending limits on your Privacy Cards, and Privacy will decline all exceeding transactions. You can also pause and close your cards without affecting your actual bank account or debit card. Privacy will block all further transactions, allowing you to stop unexpected charges, such as those from subscription services you no longer need.

Privacy—A Quick Setup Guide

To start using Privacy, all you need to do is:

  1. Create your account
  2. Enter the information needed to verify your identity
  3. Connect a bank account or debit card
  4. Request and generate Privacy Virtual Cards

Privacy offers three plans—you can review them in the following table:

Plan Price Benefits
Personal Free (for domestic transactions)
  • Up to 12 virtual cards a month

  • All card controls

  • Privacy Browser Extension

  • Privacy App for iOS and Android

Pro $10/month
  • Everything in Personal

  • Up to 36 virtual cards a month

  • No foreign transaction fees

  • Priority support

  • 1% cashback on eligible purchases (totaling $4,500 a month)

  • Ability to mask transaction details on bank statements

Premium $25/month
  • Everything in Personal

  • Up to 60 virtual cards a month

  • Dedicated account management

Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
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