How to Use a Credit Card in a Store

Using credit cards to make purchases in stores can be convenient as well as beneficial if you have a card that offers cash back or other rewards. In order to prevent high balances from accumulating, keep track of purchases made with a credit card, and do not purchase more with a credit card than you can pay off when the statement arrives.

Shop Assistant Standing By the Checkout Counter in a Drugstore Being Handed a Bank Card By a Customer
Using a credit card in a store is almost too simple, just swipe and sign. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Step 1

Sign the back of your credit card if you haven’t done so already. The signature panel on the back of the card is one way that merchants distinguish whether the card belongs to you by matching your signature with the one on your card.

Step 2

Swipe your credit card in the machine at the register, or present it to the cashier for her to swipe it. Each store may have a different policy regarding how credit card purchases are made. Department stores traditionally require the cashier to swipe the card, though some stores now have customers swipe the card themselves. Stores with the do-it-yourself method also have a cashier backup in case a card’s magnetic strip does not work, or if the customer prefers the cashier to swipe the card.

Step 3

Present your identification to the cashier to prove that the card belongs to you. If the cashier doesn’t ask, volunteer to show it anyway. Chances are that the store has a policy requiring cashiers to ask to see ID’s, though some cashiers get busy and forget. Showing your license will remind the cashier to take an extra second to protect the identity and credit cards of all customers.

Step 4

Sign for your purchase by signing the receipt or the signature panel on the credit card machine. Keep a copy of the receipt in your records. When your next monthly statement comes, verify the charges on your statement against your receipts to ensure accuracy. Keeping receipts will also allow you to return or exchange an item if you have a problem with it in the future.


When making credit card purchases online, only enter your credit card information into secured websites. You will see a little lock symbol on the page, identifying it as secured. Secured websites also start with “https” instead of “http.”

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