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Anonymous Credit/Debit Cards

As we all know, here in the US, it’s nearly impossible to use any type of plastic without being tracked. Thanks to the Patriot Act and other privacy robbing pieces of legislation, cash is quickly becoming an unaccepted form of payment.

I created this page to serve as a repository of my own research and more importantly the feedback from others regarding their experiences with some of the various prepaid cards that exist for the time being. Please leave comments here with your experiences, any suggestions you may have, or any questions that others may be able to answer.

Here’s my original post where I first began discussing anonymous credit cards.
———————————–
For quite a while, I’ve been looking for an anonymous credit card. A truly anonymous credit card as in no personal information is associated with the card or stored on the card itself. If you Google “anonymous credit cards” you will get a number of links supposedly offering you anonymous credit cards, but proceed with caution.

I had in the past managed to find a number of anonymous “virtual” credit cards from my Google results, where I could get a number, expiration date and even CVV2. The problem was these cards were just virtual cards, but not physical cards that I could swipe. While this virtual credit card was great for online purchases and even mail order shopping, it didn’t offer a solution for my day to day needs like purchasing gas, groceries, etc. where a physical card is necessary.

Luckily, one of the links you will eventually always come across when searching for privacy friendly credit cards–which are technically prepaid debit cards– is a link directing you to Ryan Barrett’s site snarfed.org and his discussion on anonymous prepaid debit cards, which includes some physical cards. While this article was originally written in late 2005, it has remained fairly up to date through various blog comments and discussion.

It is through this article that I found out about Vanilla Visa prepaid debit cards. You can get these prepaid debit card/gift cards from CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens and a couple other places. Today, I purchased one. The purchase started off shaky as I couldn’t find them in the CVS I was in so I was getting worried. Finally I asked the girl behind the counter if they carried gift cards and she pointed me to a whole display of gift cards and prepaid Visa and Mastercard’s. Let me caution you, do not be duped into buying any of the other prepaid Visa or Mastercard card’s unless you know for sure that they will not require a SSN or other personally identifiable information upon activation. Be very sure to stay away from the GreenDot cards as their last remaining anonymous card, WebSecret, was discontinued late last year. While the WebSecret website is still online, you can no longer buy them anywhere. All Green Dot cards now require a SSN to activate.

So after the girl pointed me in the right direction, I began looking through the dozens of gift cards on the rack. At the very bottom I found two rows of vanilla visa cards, the $50 and the $100. I grabbed the $50 card and headed up to the counter where I was able to make my purchase with cash and completely anonymously. There are some “service fees” associated with these cards when you purchase it, but they are minor in comparison to the benefits offered. The fees are $3.95 for a $25 card, $4.95 for a $50 card, and $5.95 for a $100 card. Personally, I feel it’s well worth the fee for a truly anonymous product.

Just because this card is anonymous and doesn’t have your personal info stored on it, does not mean you can’t use it online. When shopping online, you can use any address you would like for the shipping address since there is no personal information associated with this card. One of the few negatives with this card is that if you attempt to purchase anything that is more than the remaining balance on your card, it will be declined. All this means is that you will need to pay for the difference in price (assumedly with cash since you’re being anonymous) before paying the remaining amount with your card. For all the gotcha’s, I would suggest you check out their FAQ page.

I will update as I start to use my anonymous card. I can’t see any huge problems or negatives however, so I highly recommend the vanilla visa gift card for all my other privacy aware friends.

Popularity: 100% [?]

150 Responses to “Anonymous Credit/Debit Cards”

  1. john Says:
    February 15th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    You might want to try gift 2 go prepaid visa cards cards because you can use them online and they don’t have to be registered. They can be purchased at any Walgreens in 30, 50, or 100 dollar amounts. I have not had any problems using these cards whatsoever.

    http://gift2go.net/

  2. Sarah Says:
    March 3rd, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    OceanusInternationalConcierge.com

    Club membership comes with Visa debit reloadable up to $2,500 per day with a card max of $9,000. No SSN required. You need to fax them a copy of ID and the card will be issued in name on card. I think you can also add company name to card.

    Two memberships:
    $49/yr – debit card plus members-only discounts on VOIP, etc.
    $149/yr – debit card plus address plus members-only discounts on VOIP, etc.

    You sign up online (only a name, email and location) and then you get instructions to pay by paypal, moneygram or western union and fax an ID. After you have your card, you can even load with cash at one of the big nationwide banks. (I have never done this myself, so far I’ve always used W.Union.)

    One thing I love besides high balance I can keep on card is VOIP service. My vonage bill got up to $40.00 but now for $32.38, I have biggest membership, reloadable/replaceable debit card, remote address, VOIP telephone line that I can take anywhere. (Oh, and you can get an unlimited number of additional VOIP lines for $1.00 per YEAR. I got one and sent it to relative in U.K. so he calls me in U.S. for free.)

  3. HolySmokeBatman Says:
    March 4th, 2010 at 10:46 am

    The Patriot Act has removed any possibility of privacy in regard to *any* financial transaction. Justifiably, it is done to prevent money laundering and track activity which could be indicative of terrorist activity. (You can not return an item to Home Depot for a cash refund either without someone entering your drivers license number into a “big brother” system.) Nonetheless, U.S. citizens sacrifices our freedoms because of law enforcements/ homeland security’s inability to perform due diligence on this type of activity without encroaching on our rights as citizens. We’re on the grid and tracked like bits and bytes across the national infrastructure. We are the dolphins caught in the tuna net. [I figured this out on my own. I don’t *know* anybody. Nor have I been exposed to any confidential information regarding this practice by Homeland Security. I am just not an ape.]

  4. scantyass Says:
    April 6th, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    if it’s got Panama or Nigeria on it, then it’s a scam. the law in the us is straight on financial transactions, it must be verifiable and must have a real person behind it (remember the terorist). any other thing will not pass the AVS which is now standard procedure with major marchants….. sorry

  5. jalso Says:
    April 12th, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Has anyone had any luck with Simon prepaid cards?

    Please make suggestions, I need a anonymous prepaid card urgently. Must work for worldwide purchase ONLINE.

  6. ido Says:
    May 17th, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I used SIMON giftcards in this way about a year ago. If they still work the same they are the BEST prepaid anonymous card.

    1) They only cost 1.50

    2) They are NOT re-loadable, BUT SIMON malls will charge the remainder on your old card when buying a new card so you won’t ever lose the balance.

    3) NO monthly charge, the card has NO charges for the first year.

    4) You can load any amount small or large that you want (exact amount for your purchase)

    5) When I used the card to make an online purchase the card allows you to goto their website and add in your Name/mailing address. You of course can use a fake name if you want. Only tracability would be your IP address when you login to the website to update the address associate with it.

  7. Bozo Says:
    June 16th, 2010 at 1:04 am

    There are many ways to mask one’s true IP address.

  8. Untraceable Says:
    June 20th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    you can use a virtual private network, or something like Tor browser for free. Just google “free proxy service”.

  9. Ji Says:
    June 21st, 2010 at 4:34 am

    I want to know how you can get a Simon Giftaccount or a www-card account without a credit card. I’d like to be able to go and get just a plastic prepaid visa card with cash that you can purchase at any store. These virtual cards are better than purchasing a store bought plastic prepaid card though because you can specify the exact amounts you want and can be cheaper for those of us who don’t have a Simon Mall nearby for instance. The lowest I can get a card for is $4-$5. The Simon Virtual Gift Cards are only $2. Plus- for some things like activation of accounts thats all you want to do. Like Paypal, eBay, Facebook, Google, etc. You don’t want to provide real identifying information.

  10. Ji Says:
    June 21st, 2010 at 4:36 am

    I’m sorry- when I said purchase a prepaid plastic visa with cash at any store- I meant to follow that up with followed up with and then use it to purchase virtual visa cards.

  11. David Pratt Says:
    June 25th, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Might I recommend the MiCash MasterCard? It’s a reloadable prepaid card. It does not generate a paper account statement but rather you go on line to check your balance. You can use it internationally, or get a Maestro companion card to send to your love ones abroad. It can be used online or wherever debit MasterCard is accepted. While not making you “anonymous” it is a good way to keep some of your spending separate from your other banking, especially if you use direct deposit straight to the card.

  12. John Preston Says:
    July 9th, 2010 at 4:23 am

    PayPal is a criminal organization with enough money to buy off the politicians so that DAs and Federal prosecutors will not charge them for the crimes of embezzlement and theft.

    I opened a PayPal account and a friend transferred $200. I could not spend it without a credit card so he provided a virtual credit card number with a small limit. That activated my account, and I was about to make some small purchases on eBay. I then sold a $30 item leaving me with a balance of $197, and PayPal froze the account.

    I couldn’t even refund my friends $200. I had him send $3 so the amount would be just over $200. PayPal stole the additional and would not allow me to refund my friend on make purchases on eBay.

    I called PayPal and the damn liars said it (embezzling my $200 was for my protection.) PayPal claims they will release the money if I provide all 12 different items. Providing only 11 of the 12 is not enough.

    They required a copy of my driver license. That was rejected because it was issued several years ago and the address doesn’t match my PalPal address.

    They require copies of utilities bills. They were rejected because they are in my parents’ name–not mine.

    They require a receipt of the item I sold. By chance I did have it so that one item was approved.

    They also require separately the name, address, and phone number of the seller. Even though that information is on the receipt that has not been approved. I have bothered to send it separately because all the other items cannot be approved.

    They are requiring that the address on the virtual credit card match my PayPal address. My friend would have to temporary change the mailing address for credit card. Obviously that will be approved.

    They require a SSN.

    They require a bank account that matches my address and I don’t have a bank account.

    And they have a number of other requirements.

    That was two months ago and my $200 is forever gone.

    If you open a PayPal account and they think you may not be able to provide all 12 items, and if you have enough money in your account, PayPal will steal it. And, if you sell an item on eBay and don’t have a receipt and also the name, address, and phone number of the seller (good luck if the seller moved), you will never get your money back.

    Without any doubt PayPay is robbing people out of hundreds of millions of dollars and a few tens of million will buy off the politicans.

  13. visa webs » Allaccessgift Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 11:51 am

    […] 8.Anonymous Credit/Debit Cards | The Privacy Guy As we all know, here in the US, it’s nearly impossible to use any type of plastic without being tracked. Thanks to the Patriot Act and other … I should have stuck with Allaccessgift pp visa’s. Buy it with cash, register the card under a fake name at their website, and you have anonymous online purchasing power. http://www.theprivacyguy.com/anonymous-credit-debit-cards/ […]

  14. visa webs » Card Debit Gift Simon Visa Says:
    August 18th, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    […] 13.Anonymous Credit/Debit Cards | The Privacy Guy It is through this article that I found out about Vanilla Visa prepaid debit cards. You can get these prepaid debit card/gift cards from CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens and a couple other places. Today, I purchased one. http://www.theprivacyguy.com/anonymous-credit-debit-cards/ […]

  15. James D Cline Says:
    August 24th, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    I am sure it is against the law for a SSN to be used for form of ID. Just change a number in the SSN and no one will ever know. If they call SS they will not be given any info . This is what I understand from several books I have.

  16. NoNameous Says:
    August 26th, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Jonathan (and others):
    Yes, the law requires that cash be acceptable for settling any debts. But nobody’s required to accept cash when you’re paying up front. When you’re renting a car, buying hardware, whatever, you’re typically not paying off a debt, because you’ve not gotten the goods or services yet. Parties are allowed to put additional requirements – “pay by card” – on transactions before they’ll extend you service.

  17. usaa web » Loadable Debit Cards Says:
    October 22nd, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    […] 2.Anonymous Credit/Debit Cards | The Privacy Guy It is through this article that I found out about Vanilla Visa prepaid debit cards. You can get these prepaid debit card/gift cards from CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens and a couple other places. Today, I purchased one. http://www.theprivacyguy.com/anonymous-credit-debit-cards/ […]

  18. HoustonAlthea31 Says:
    November 4th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I think that to receive the home loans from banks you must present a firm reason. However, one time I’ve received a consolidation loan, just because I wanted to buy a house.

  19. Mr Ed Says:
    November 8th, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    If you need to register the card at a web site, unless you using a an IP masking service like anonymizer.com or hidemyass.com, they’ll be able to easily trace who you are based on your IP address. One alternative may be to use a public computer at a library. That won’t trace the IP address back to you. If you choose to use an IP masking service, be aware that it typically will only mask the ports that are most commonly used for http (i.e. port 80) or https services. If their site uses a browser add-on, it could use a different port that is not being anonymized. Safest thing is to use a PC in a public place you have legal access to.

  20. Seven Capital Ltd Says:
    December 15th, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    we have prepaid cards contact us seven-capital.com

  21. REVIEW IT BEFORE YOU BUY IT!!! Says:
    January 31st, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    MOST INFORMATIVE SITE FOR ELECTRONICS….

    **YOUTUBE VIDEO REVIEWS ON THE HOTTEST ELECTRONICS OUT**…

  22. I.D. ReQuired Says:
    February 5th, 2011 at 11:17 am

    A little over two years ago, Back in Message #76, (2009-January-31) skip Says…

    “…So, to dust off and sum up this article. There are NO truly anonymous pre paid cards that will work online….”

    That has remained constant to this day.

    Yes ? No ?

    p.s., thank you so much to all the contributors who were ripped off and burned, and who took the time to warn the rest of us before we gave our money to these companies.

  23. Blue Monk Says:
    April 18th, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I was just looking around here after a virtual debit card that i could use and i got to this conclusion. If i find any … i’ll share it here. Btw this was a long read.

  24. Eight Ways to Not Get Caught | Bitter Lawyer Says:
    April 22nd, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    […] Just remember to use cash for your purchase, and while you’re at it, pick up one of those pre-paid credit/debit/gift cards for when you need to add […]

  25. Limewire Says:
    April 27th, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Has anyone checked out http://www.sovereigngoldcard.com/ SovereignGoldCard for an anonymous credit card?

  26. Carl Says:
    May 8th, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I was hearing a Paul Simon song The Afterlife for the first time as I came to the end of the posts having jumped around thru 2009 and then consecutive posts since late 2009.
    The song seemed worthy of sharing on account of it’s chorus “you’ve got to fill out a form first” Ya I’ve maintained a considerable level of anonimity; I had a God given oppotunity at buying a home a month ago having more good qualities than I required beforehand. The fact that you dont just plop down a big wad of cash and it’s done as you would most any purchase weighed heavily in my failure to buy this property at the time. Since then it’s not appearing in MLS. If that’s the property that God wants me to have then that’s the property I’ll end up with. The former sentence is a good one to surprise your realtor with by the way.
    I never had a credit card. My belief is that credit cards are instruments of the devil bringing mankind closer to accepting a 666 or mark of the beast required to do any form of commerce. Putting such a concept together with the relationship credit cards share with the foundations of our fiction based economy surely present a case in favor of the devils love for plastic.
    The Simon Gift Card has worked anonomously for me but the international transaction limitation has got me stuck. My anonymous MiFi/Skypephone combination crapped out when Skype switched it’s billing server in March (Skype is a UK company). Priorly my Simon Gift Card had been getting billed the $2.95 Skype wanted for enabling landline and cellphone access from VOIP. No explanation for why it worked before. Even more confusing that billing to the Simon Gift Card worked for Skype to Go the service just described but not for phone number provided by skype for landlines and cellphoned calling into Skype.

  27. Carl Says:
    May 8th, 2011 at 3:48 am

    Not usually this long winded. Pretty tight lipped actually. Must be the kindred spirits. After the previous post I received an anonomous blessing regarding an anomaly. I visited my account with Skype and saw the lapse from Simon Gift Card payment failure I had attributed to the international transaction limitation near the end of March so I looked at my alias’ gift card balance and it verified the failure and since has exceeded the year long service fee exemption therefore incurring the fee.
    Decided to try reactivating the Skype Out and checked the gift card website for results and it went through. Seeing success and nothing to lose (better to use balance before more service fees) I attempted to purchase a phone number from Skype. Success again. It was interesting expirimenting around with the Skypephone and landline trying either way making calls. It went into effect immediately. Looks like Batteries will be the next issue

  28. James Says:
    June 19th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    once a vanilla card is used on the www, would it not lose all anon properties? They could just trace back any previous purchases with that card and know who made those transactions…

  29. Bobbie Says:
    June 20th, 2011 at 4:05 am

    I go to smith’s food king here in utah and buy a kroger prepaid visa , I load as much as I want for 3.00 and throw it out after i am done with it. you just go online and put the card number and 3 dig. code and it it activated no name address nada.

  30. suzy Says:
    June 29th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    To that person who mentioned using a public library computer – is there any library that does not require your id or library card to use it? Actually, I do know of one library that is the exception. But besides that, is there any reason why we can buy with cash anonymously but we can’t buy with cash anonymously?

  31. suzy Says:
    June 29th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    To that person who mentioned using a public library computer – is there any library that does not require your id or library card to use it? Actually, I do know of one library that is the exception. But besides that, is there any reason why we can buy with cash anonymously but we can’t buy with plastic anonymously? If the fed is requiring ssn like a bank to link a name and ssn to the account, why is cash footloose and fancy free?

  32. Steven Ballard Says:
    June 29th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I don’t know, with all the credit card fraud, even scanning – I would be really scared, it just doesn’t feel comfortable…

  33. Investigation Services Says:
    July 9th, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Vanilla visa is available in $25, $50 and $100 denominations.It is also considered as a fast prepaid card.

  34. dash Says:
    July 19th, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Don’t use the walmart prepaid visa, didn’t know til too late, they require the ssn, if entered incorrectly, it locks you out, and then you wait for a 7-10 business days refund of your cash!!! Or you can pay extra for expedited shipping!!! WTF

  35. Bill Says:
    July 24th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Question regarding the Vanilla Visas: Are the store locations that they are activated in logged and/or attached to your purchases with said card?

  36. Amanda Says:
    July 26th, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    From what I’m reading, I can’t use an American Express credit card to pay for a prepaid Visa or Mastercard. Does anyone know if this is changed or have any ideas on how to do this? I suddenly got an unexpected tuition repayment bill from my university and only have the funds currently available on my AMEX credit card. I will be able to pay it off (the Amex) but don’t get the funds till 3 weeks later than the university needs it for me to continue classes. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  37. Amanda Says:
    July 26th, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Another tidbit… university takes mastercard, visa, discover & even diners club but not amex

  38. Jim McKigney Says:
    July 30th, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    I bought a Greendot card and It told me that I need to activate it with my social security number. How am I supposed to know why they need it?! I’m just a 17 year old boy for Celestia sakes!

    But I already opened the package and now I have no choice but to have my parents activate it. well that sucks.

  39. jill Says:
    July 31st, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    i too have the same problem with these walmart green dot prepaid cards. bought three and every time said, they couln’t verifie my information wouldn’t give reason. any one know how to get this straightened out

  40. Aaron Says:
    August 14th, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I don’t know if it was answered, I’m not reading through all these comments… Visa cards you need to go to their site and register your address information, and match it during online purchases for it to work… I prefer the mastercards, as all you have to do is fill in a postal/zip code, and use the same postal/zip code during online processes.

  41. Aaron Says:
    August 14th, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I’d be weary how anonymous this form of payment is though… If the authorities needed to track down who purchased the card, they could simply visit the store and get the surveillance feed of who purchased it… Of course it wouldn’t be a name, but they’d be able to use that photo to get someone to come forward with a name.

  42. Antwerp Says:
    August 20th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    as the author states, vanilla visa is the way to go. There’s no registration required (maybe to qualify for loss isurance or something, not sure, doon’t care), I just bought in cash a $250 and a $500. Plan to buy 2 more $500 today.

  43. Antwerp Says:
    August 20th, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    To James about losing anonymity purchasing on the web. I agree, but hopefully anyone interested in remaining anonymous has done their homework. Anyone tracing my post to this site will find themselves in California, a long way from where I sit.

  44. PacoBell Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    @Aaron: “I’d be weary how anonymous this form of payment is though… If the authorities needed to track down who purchased the card, they could simply visit the store and get the surveillance feed of who purchased it… Of course it wouldn’t be a name, but they’d be able to use that photo to get someone to come forward with a name.”

    I’d be more worried about automated facial recognition tied to a database. No doubt they already have this information if you’ve spent any time in front of a bank ATM. Why else would they have signs forbidding you from wearing anything that obstructs your face, even sunglasses?! I suppose it’d be wise to purchase/top off your prepaid card in a venue where nobody knows who you are, say while on vacation or out of town/state. Still,there are copious amounts of Visa ReadyLink sites to recharge at. Unfortunately, they all probably have a camera at those kiosks pointed straight at your mug. I dunno, purchase a lot of them at Halloween, the one day disguises are normative? 😉

  45. George Says:
    September 29th, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    Hello Privacy Guy
    I just wanted to leave a comment. Recently I purchased a Vanilla VISA at CVS, variable value and ask to have it set to $55. There was a $4.95 service chg which I did not mind but when I tried to use the card at Walgreen’s web site or at another site (www.shopnational.com)neither would accept the card.
    I talked to both sites and was told by Walgreen that they just don’t accept gift cards and National told me that the card transaction would just not go through even though the order amount was less than half the card value. Now I am just trying to use up the money on the card by buying gas etc with it.
    I had hoped to use the card to make a couple of purchases that I’d find rather embarrassing in person but just wound up wasting a lot of time.

    Geo

  46. Publicity Guy Says:
    October 24th, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    I’m more interested in virtual debit cards, which have no geographic information associated with them. With a physical card bought from a store, they can always keep track of which store each card number was delivered to.

    Using a virtual debit card, it should be theoretically impossible for anyone to know where in the world the person who owns the card was at any point in time. However, the cards require you to activate them over the phone, which gives them geographical information in the form of phone records. If you’re not careful, the phone record can even be enough to identify you personally.

    Can you post an entry on how to get around this vexing problem?

  47. Dasen Says:
    October 25th, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    But how and where can you get a Visa type gift card that you can make payments with overseas websites?

    If you buy the Visa gift card in the USA you can only spend it in the USA.

    DAMM Patriot Act! 🙁

  48. M&M Says:
    October 27th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I use Visa Gift Cards purchased from US Bank. I believe Wells Fargo offers the same product. You can buy them using cash; there’s nothing about the card associated to the purchaser when you buy it.

    You go online to ‘register’ the card. They ask you a bunch of personal info but here’s the trick; you don’t have to put in legitimate info! I put in the address of a local mall as the “billing address”, phone number to the same place, and just ‘123456789’ for the social security number.

    Here’s the other trick (especially for online purchases). When you are asked for your “Billing Address” be sure it’s EXACTLY what you typed in to the registration form. If you need to then log back into the registration website so you can see exactly what you put in there.

    Then be sure to set your “Shipping Address” as separate from your “Billing Address”. Now whatever you ordered will end up at your shipping address.

    PayPal is tricky… now PayPal wants to ‘verify’ credit cards. What they do is make a small transaction against your card (like $1.00… what a rip off! but hey, it’s anonymous!) Now you have a verified PayPal ‘credit card’ which you can use pay via PayPal with.

    What I prefer about these gift cards:
    – You can choose exactly how much you want on the card. So if you know your purchase is going to be $72.89 you can get a card for $73. That way you don’t have that ‘extra’ money on there that usually gets wasted. For example if I used the Vanilla card I would have to get the $100.

    – Works online and offline; you can use it anywhere! It’s treated just like any other Visa credit card. Don’t tell people it’s a debit card; just tell them it’s a credit card and to run the transaction like any other credit card.

    TIPS:
    – Be sure to remember it costs like $5 to get the card. So if you need a card for $80 value then bring $85 cash to the bank to buy it.

    – Make sure you got the EXACT amount of your purchase correct! Does your total include taxes, shipping, etc? I’ve been burned by getting a $52 card, coming back the next day to make my online purchase, only find out the total I had did not include taxes…. I was $2 short on a card I could not reload!!!

    – If buying from someone who only uses Pay Pal then factor in that PayPal verification fee. Last time I did it the transaction was $1. Be sure to verify all of that before you go to get the card… again you don’t want to end up short!

    What I don’t like about it:
    – Can’t reload it with cash… honestly if I could reload these things with cash I would use the same card all the time.

    – Extra costs… $5 to buy the card itself, $1 to verify with PayPal, that extra little bit you always end up with, plus the gas and time to get the card.

    – Hassle! Figuring out your exact total with no surprises, going to the bank to buy the card, registering the thing, verifying with PayPal (if necessary)… It’s just so much easier to use your credit card =P

  49. M&M Says:
    October 27th, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Oh, other tips…

    Cover Your Tracks: Most websites let you edit or delete your Shipping Address. After your purchase has shipped and arrived go back to the merchant’s website. Log in and edit your account or profile. Go in and either delete or change your Shipping Address. If you can’t delete it then just change it to some bogus info.

    Why do this? You are hedging against hackers. These websites get hacked ALL THE TIME. Say the website does get hacked and they get your information… they now have the credit card number of an empty gift card, a bogus billing address, and a bogus shipping address. They have NOTHING to use against you for identity theft!

    Anonymous Email Address: You should setup a separate email address that is in no way affiliated with you, your main email address, or your personal information. Use this email for communication about online purchases using the gift cards. Again if someone does get your info they have all this bogus info not affiliated with a real person.

    You may be thinking “But I put in that bogus phone number. What if they need to call me?” Most times there is a place to put NOTES on your online purchase. You should note a couple of things in there. First tell them to be sure to note that your Shipping and Billing address are different. Second tell them you prefer to be contacted via email.

  50. Mike Donovan Says:
    October 28th, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    About the Prepaid US Bank cards marketed under the Simon Malls GiftCard….these are actually US Bank pre-paid cards. I found out tonight of something new – and (surprise) it’s not good for the consumer (of course).

    I did an online transaction for $100 even with a company and it showed up on the Simon ‘Check Your Balance’ site as a charge for $115 – not $100. I checked with the company and they said did NOT add any other charges as a ‘hold’ or anything else. So, I called the customer service number on the back of the card and talked to a US Bank customer service representative. Are you ready for this? They now add 15% of the total amount as a ‘hold’….it is refunded back within “7-10 days.” In other words, they are keeping an additional 15% of YOUR money, making it UNavailable to you for a week even though this is pre-paid and you’ve already paid them. The US Bank rep told me the card is “designed” to automatically add this 15% ‘hold’. Now, why would US Bank do this? She said it was for “accounting.” Uh, yeah…more like COUNTING. As in counting the interest they are racking up with YOUR 15% of every online transaction made with YOUR money (remember, it’s pre-paid). Multiply all the ‘holds’ of 15% and US Bank executives are effectively making big money in a very underhanded manner.

    Unless the above is changed – I will NEVER buy another Simon GiftCard branded US Bank prepaid card. Banks….ripping us off….so, what’s new?

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