The Pros and Cons of Online Shopping

*Credit and Debit Cards: You need a card to shop online, but it doesn't have to be a credit card. Most banks offer debit cards with the Visa name that are accepted like a credit card but work just like a check. If you have a checking account, you can shop online.

*Convenience: Online shopping can be much faster and easier than schlepping out to the mall, but slow connections, busy Web sites, and user inexperience can all slow you down to a crawl. You can't take your purchase home with you, but online retailers offer a variety of shipping options. Some also offer gift wrapping and guaranteed holiday delivery.

*Price: You can find great deals online. You can also comparison shop without leaving the house. You will pay shipping and handling, but there is no sales tax on Web purchases.

*Inventory: It is often possible to find high-demand items online that are not available at local retailers. But individual online retailers may carry a more limited inventory than their retail counterparts.

*Security: With a little common sense, shopping online is at least as safe as traditional shopping. Use a browser with 128-bit encryption, purchase only through secure sites, and know with whom you are doing business.

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