If you have more than one credit card, there may be occasions when you want to minimize the spend on each of them and find it desirable to split the cost of your online transaction between two cards. However, the vast majority of online retailers do not offer this option. But why not? In this article we'll answer that question and touch on several other topics including:
- Is using two credit cards for online purchases possible?
- What is a split payment?
- Are there any online stores that allow split payments?
- Why aren't split payments normally accepted online?
Is using two credit cards for online purchases possible?
The question of whether to allow two credit cards for online purchases is one for each merchant to decide. If the answer is yes, they will also need to set up the appropriate payment processing technology to conduct this type of transaction. Retailers accept a growing number of payment forms in-person at their brick-and-mortar stores—even allowing more than one credit card for a single transaction. However, when it comes to the online shopping experience, things are quite different. Though merchants may allow you to combine a credit card with a gift card to make a purchase, it's rare to find one that lets you use two credit cards for a single online transaction.
What is a split payment?
A split payment is when you use two or more forms of payment for a single transaction. This can include credit, debit and gift cards. Perhaps you've been in a situation when you have a gift card for a favorite store, but your shopping cart exceeds the balance on that card. It's helpful when you're given the option of splitting this transaction between that gift card and a credit card to cover the rest.
Another example of split payment is when you and your friends are at a restaurant, and you ask the server to divide the bill equally among each friend and charge each of their cards the same amount. Retailers and restaurants typically allow split payment transactions in their brick-and-mortar locations, but it's uncommon to find that option online.
Why aren't split payments normally accepted online?
Many retailers site security concerns, technology obstacles and expenses as the main reasons for not supporting multi-card payments on their websites. Let's break down some of those reasons.
Many online merchants use a third-party shopping cart vendor to process their transactions. In many cases, the shopping cart is only configured to accept one card at checkout. In addition to the shopping cart vendor, merchants rely on many other digital platforms to support the end-to-end e-commerce component of their business and these tech platforms would need to be configured to accept two cards.
Security and verification concerns
Online merchants are continually working to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting any loopholes they find. One way they do this is by using address verification services (AVS) to help prevent fraud. AVS is a tool that helps merchants confirm that the submitted billing address matches the address that the credit card issuer has on file for that cardholder. If a consumer uses multiple cards, each one would need to be validated by AVS and would require extensive coding. This could be a significant added expense for the retailer. In addition, it may add excessive steps for the consumer, making the checkout process clunky, time consuming and ultimately off-putting — all things that retailers try
Return policy complications
Using multiple credit cards could also complicate the return and repayment process. If a consumer uses two or more credit cards for the transaction, especially if they have two different issuers, the retailer would need to set up a way to verify which card should be refunded.
Are there online stores that allow split payments?
It's rare to find online stores that allow split payments. You could purchase a gift card from your favorite online retailer using your credit card, then make your purchase on their website with a gift card plus credit card combo.
Even a tech-savvy retailer like Amazon has many forms of acceptable payments, including Venmo, but they do not allow split credit card payments. They allow customers to split payments between one of the accepted credit or debit card and an Amazon.com gift card, but you can't split payment among multiple credit cards.
When it comes to online shopping, retailers typically won't allow split payments between two credit cards. If you're shopping in person or dining at a restaurant, you're more likely to find merchants who allow it.
Regardless of which combination of payment options you choose, it's always a good idea to keep tabs on your current credit card balances, what day of the month your billing cycle ends, and what your credit utilization is. Knowing these pieces of your credit landscape can help you make an informed decision about which card to use (or not use) when making a purchase.