Debt Busting: Visit the Mall that Bans Plastic

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Trying to avoid debt, but still want to shop?

Consider checking out the mall that doesn’t take plastic. ShopDebtFree.com is an online shopping mall that accepts no credit cards. Everything is paid for via eBillme, a service that lets customers pay for purchases out of their checking account using their bank’s online banking portal. It’s the same process you would use to pay a utility bill online - only in this case, you list eBillme as the payee.

ShopDebtFree offers more than 800 stores, including major online retailers like Buy.com and TigerDirect. Recent deals included Acer netbook computers for under $300 and Adidas backpacks for $50.

“I can’t imagine a product category we haven’t covered,” says Samer Forzley, vice president of marketing for eBillme.

One of the site’s most popular features is the Deal of the Day, spotlighting a product which is heavily discounted. There are also frequent contests where site visitors can win gift certificates or other prizes.

Business has been booming since the financial crisis began. “People were hurt by credit cards,” says Forzley. “People now want to avoid debt, and want to make sure they only spend what they can afford.”

Forzley says the eBillme payment system has two main advantages over a traditional online credit card purchase. “First, you don’t share any financial information with us or any of the retailers. And you stay debt free by paying only with money you have right now.”

Recognizing that some consumers may be reluctant to give up the buyer protection safeguards offered by credit cards, eBillme “has several policies designed for security and peace of mind,” says Forzley. “These are all part of our Buyer Protection Program.” That program includes a 90-day return policy, allowing customers to return an item for any reason within 90 days for a refund. There’s also a price guarantee, where eBillme will refund the difference if a customer finds an item cheaper elsewhere within 90 days of buying it through eBillme.

“We’ve taken what credit cards offer and added to it,” says Forzley. In addition, since purchases are made using an online banking service, customers can also take advantage of their bank’s individual fraud and security protection systems.

The site also publishes a debt-free living magazine that’s updated every two weeks and features a blog dedicated to helping people avoid debt and save money. 

Forzley says the site really doesn’t have any competitors: “I don’t think there’s anyone else that offers debt-free shopping like this.”

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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