privacy through prepaid credit cards

I originally wrote this in March 2005, and only update it occasionally. It’s still a good overview, and generally up to date, but parts may sometimes be stale. Also see Why I’m weird about privacy and faking out address and credit card forms.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I’m a privacy freak. I can’t explain why, but I’m hyper-sensitive about giving out personal information. I practically hyperventilate when I consider all the databases of things I’ve bought, people I’ve called, and movies I’ve watched. I may not be especially private about some things, but I’ll be damned if Safeway needs my phone number or address to sell me a loaf of bread.

Unfortunately, this can make life complicated. For example, I get all my mail at work. I didn’t get a cell phone until 2010. I buy plane tickets and hotel rooms with cash. I’ve frozen my credit report with all three agencies. It’s inconvenient, but doable.

The worst part, though, is that I don’t use a credit card. I have one, to build a credit rating, but I only use it to buy gas, so that there’s no profile of my real purchasing habits. This is inconvenient, to say the least. I have to go to the airport to buy plane tickets. I pay cash for everything. I can’t buy anything online.

To put it bluntly, this sucks. So, I set out on a quest to find an anonymous, prepaid credit/debit card I can use online – in essence, digital cash that I can swipe at Amazon as well as the checkout counter.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s the executive summary: I use Simon gift cards. I buy them in person at a Simon mall, and overall, I’m pretty happy with them. They may not be perfect, but they’re close.

Hank Taggart agrees with me in his book How to Purchase Anonymously on the Internet, on both the details and the conclusion to use Simon. If you’re interested, it’s well worth reading.

Types

There are lots of prepaid credit cards out there. The candidates break down into a few rough categories: gift cards, prepaid cards, VCCs (virtual credit cards), and exotic “digital cash” alternatives.

Gift cards are the runt of the litter. They only go up to $500, they generally can’t be reloaded, and some merchants refuse to accept them, whether explicitly or because most don’t support AVS checks. On the plus side, you can buy them with cash and without providing any identifying information whatsoever. Examples include Simon and Westfield mall gift cards, the credit card companies themselves, and many other banks and financial institutions.

If gift cards are the runt, prepaid cards are the big brother. They’re stored value cards that otherwise behave just like full fledged credit cards. They’re reloadable, can store over $500, and thus require and usually verify personal information and and SSN. Like gift cards, there are lots of different kinds, often aimed at specific target audiences like teenagers or travelers or people with bad credit. Providers include dedicated companies like Green Dot and NetSpend, most banks, and as usual, the credit card companies.

Continuing with the family metaphor, VCCs (virtual credit cards) have to be the sketchy uncle. They’re usually issued by overseas companies, often in unusual countries with looser laws and regulations, which usually means no ID checks! They’re stored value and reloadable, like prepaid cards, but with limited funding mechanisms and higher fees, often based on a percentage as high as 20%. Examples include Card444, Seven Capital, Sovereign Gold Card, wwwcard, and ePassporte. Some are based in more comfortable countries, e.g. Swiss Bankers and UK-based Entropay, but that usually also means they require stricter ID checks.

Finally, the colorful, harmless, doddering old grandpa: digital cash. These upstarts tout security, privacy/anonymity, and (more) independence from governments and central banks. They range from Bitcoin, championed by libertarians and privacy freaks alike, to PayPal, that bastion of banking regulations and ID requirements. Others include ECount, ProPay, E-Gold, Liberty Reserve, and Mondex.

Most are up and running, and you can use them to buy things, but none are widely accepted. Credit card networks like Mastercard, Visa, Discover, etc. are still the top dogs in terms of acceptability, but provide little true security and absolutely no anonymity. Hybrid systems like PayPal have made inroads, but only a little, and most of those are fallint into the traditional bank and credit card model, losing any hope of anonymity in the process.

Personal information

The card I’m looking for shouldn’t ask for much PII. If they do, they shouldn’t actually use or verify it. Social Security number, driver’s license, passport, birthdate, and phone number are all things I’m not willing to give up. Ideally, I don’t even want the cardholder’s name to be mine. I am willing to give some personal information, though, such as address and email. I’m also willing to lie about the rest.

Unfortunately, the PATRIOT Act‘s money laundering requirements classify pretty much all stored value cards as financial instruments, especially if they’re reloadable or can store over $500, and require issuers to collect and verify ID, usually including SSN. Some go even further; Morgan Beaumont‘s application form, for example, asks for a copy of your passport or drivers license! No thanks.

Here’s an example disclaimer:

The USA PATRIOT Act is a Federal law that requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. You will be asked to provide your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. You may also be asked to provide documentation as proof of identification.

The verification part seems to vary, though. Some issuers seem to be less strict about it than others. I’m always on the lookout for an issuer that’s sufficiently lazy that I can give them totally fabricated information. Fingers crossed!

Purchase and Reload

I’d like to be able to buy prepaid cards in person, with cash. It’d be nice if there were many convenient locations, but I don’t mind going out of my way.

Many cards support one of the common retail reload networks, including Green Dot‘s MoneyPak and Western Union‘s SwiftPay. You can buy reload packs or add money at the register at drugstores, convenience stores, gas stations, and other common retail stores.

Other cards, like Elite Plus, can be bought at most major banks. Yet other cards, like Vaya, can be paid for by mailing a check or money order. Finally, some banks sell prepaid cards outright, but they usually require you to have an existing account.

Once you’ve acquired a prepaid card and start using it, it will eventually run out of funds. At that point, you can either buy a new card or add funds to your existing card, also known as recharging or reloading.

Recharging is definitely preferable to buying a new card, since the new card would have a new number. If you used the card to pay any recurring bills, such as Netflix or Vonage (which I love), you’d have to switch each of those services to the new card number. Unfortunately, many prepaid cards aren’t rechargeable at all.

The dregs

I’m willing to live with the inconvenience of switching card numbers. However, there’s always a small amount of money remaining on the card that I can’t use. It’s not enough to buy whatever I’d normally buy, and I’m not inclined to buy a bunch of little things that I don’t need just to squeeze out the rest of my money. It’s my money, after all!

Ideally, major e-commerce sites would let you use multiple credit cards to pay for a purchase, specifying the amount to charge to each card. Restaurants have done this forever, but I don’t know of any sites that do. If you’re in this predicament, consider donating to your favorite non-profit, web site, or other worthy cause. You can specify the exact remainder on your card as the amount to donate.

Credit Reporting

The main target audience for prepaid cards is people with bad credit. So, a few issuers offer the “feature” of monthly reporting to credit agencies. This may be good if you need to build up good credit fast, but I don’t, and I sure as hell don’t want them voluntarily reporting anything to anyone. Watch out for this.

Acceptability

The card should work like a normal Mastercard, Visa, or Discover card, without exception. I should be able to use it anywhere those cards are accepted, especially online. Having said that, I’d only use the card to pay for things online, like Netflix and Vonage.

So, I only need the card number and CVV; I don’t really need an actual physical card. However, a physical card does help in some cases. When I buy airline tickets and hotel rooms with a prepaid card, it helps to have the physical card when I check in.

Also, if your goal is privacy, there’s still an open question. Some card issuers, mostly the ones that support retail purchase, don’t ask for cardholder name or address. (This may have changed since 9/11.) If a merchant checks cardholder name and address when they authorize a purchase, could I use a name- or address-free card with that merchant? If so, how?

Fees

I expect that I’ll pay extra for the privilege of using a prepaid card. I don’t mind activation fees or yearly fees, but I’m not inclined to pay a monthly fee (e.g. Green Dot), and there’s no way in hell I’m going to pay a fee per transaction. Also, the activation fees for some cards are prohibitively large. Elite Plus charges $150! No thanks.

The Verdict

I currently use Simon gift cards, and I’m happy with them. They’re not reloadable, but they take up to $500, accept cash, and don’t even ask for my name, much less my address or SSN. Plus, their web interface lets you connect any name and address you want to each card, so you can use them with merchants that do AVS checks.

Before Simon, I used WebSecret, which was great, but expensive, and ultimately discontinued. Before that, I used Bank of America gift cards, which were also discontinued. They required name, address, and SSN, which I fabricated, but still didn’t like. Worse, they only allowed purchase with another credit or debit card. Simon cards are much better!

References

238 thoughts on “privacy through prepaid credit cards

  1. I may not be especially private
    about my social life, my body, or my
    desktop...

    It’s true…you can touch him for free :-P

    As somebody who has given in to these databases, is too lazy to be inconvenienced, and basically welcomed our credit card overlords, I promise I would use untraceable digital cash if it were available. I believe in sci-fi they call them “cred chips“.

    So if the second place credit card company is looking for a new product, listen to the guy, there’s an untapped market!

  2. whoa. i hadn’t heard of web secret before…but even considering the $5/month fee, it sounds perfect! my current prepaid cards are running out, so i can’t wait to hit up a rite aid and pick one up.

    thanks for the tip!

  3. 7-eleven also has E-cash cards that look very promising. The fees are better than greendot at 8.95$ per year and 2.00$ to reload. Monthly fees are only after 12 months of inactivity.

  4. a guest commented elsewhere:

    Anonymous Cellphones might be possible. I got a VirginMobile phone setup and it seems as though I don’t even have to enter in my name, address or anything. Just email when I activated the phone. You can even pay cash.

    i replied:

    agreed, i’m a prepaid fan too. it is more expensive, but if i ever give in and get a cell phone, i’d definitely go that route.

    on a similar note, i’ve been wondering if the prepaid providers support phone number portability. even if they do, though, i doubt i could keep my current Vonage phone number. sigh…
  5. Sunrocket.com has portable numbers…see below:

    SunRocket ‘s All-Inclusive Annual Edition gives you a year’s worth of Internet home phone service for only $199. Cancel anytime and receive a refund for unused months.

    Unlimited calling ??? U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico Free international minutes ($3.00 credit every month) Free extra phone number – Local or AnyWhere Number Enhanced Emergency 911 Service Over 12 enhanced calling features, including Caller ID, 3-way Calling, Enhanced Voicemail, and much more??? Two free Directory Assistance calls each month No charge to activate No hidden fees – Taxes included in the Bottom-Line Price No cancellation fees 31 day money back guarantee ONE OF THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL NUMBERS FOR FREE: Signature Number A Signature Number is an extra phone number for anyone in your household and includes its own voicemail box and distinctive ring. The number only supports incoming calls.

    Local Signature Number This option provides you with an additional inbound telephone number associated with your local calling area.

    AnyWhere Number An AnyWhere Number is a special Signature Number outside of your local calling area. It is a way for people to call you that live in that area without having to pay a long distance charge.

    Hope this helps, JSeagull

    - JSeagull

  6. Great article! I’m privacy-obsessed too. If you haven’t already read it, you need to pick up a copy of How To Be Invisible by J.J. Luna, and check out his accompanying website at http://www.howtobeinvisible.com. The guy shows you how to live more privately than those in the Federal Witness Protection program. Pretty good info.

    You should also check out Privacash cards: http://www.privacash.com I didn’t see them mentioned in your article.

    Does anyone know whether you can use pre-paid credit cards for hotel and rental car deposits? Since the purpose of a deposit is to use the credit card for additional charges, I wonder if they are sometimes not accepted since they’re “throwaway” cards?

    How embarassing to be declined checking into a hotel room 2,000 miles from home and they won’t accept your only credit card at the hotel!

    - Hill

  7. howtobeinvisible.com is good stuff although privacash doesn’t seem to be so priva afterall. I took a look at their privacy policy and it says all the same b.s. as they all do:

    “Information We Collect We collect, retain, and use nonpublic personal information about individual customers, as required or allowed by law, solely to provide products and services to our customers. We collect nonpublic, personal information from the following sources:

    • Information such as your name, address, phone number, and social security number that we receive from you when you register your PrivaCash card by phone or on the website.
    • Information such as your account balance, transaction activity, and transactions parties.

    Information We Share We do not disclose any nonpublic personal information about our customers to anyone, except to our affiliated financial service providers, and except as permitted or required by law.” BLAH, BLAH, ETC., ETC.

    Now compare that to WebSecret’s privacy pollicy:

    “When you purchase your account, we do not collect your name or other personally-identifiable information about you, other than your zip code and a secret word. For that reason, we will not disclose personal information about you to any third party except as necessary to comply with applicable law or court orders, or if you give us permission.”

    That’s it, thats the whole policy. Sounds better to me!

  8. John says:

    I just think it’s that their site doesn’t work right….I tried several major metropolitan areas and no dice. Perhaps the same locations as other green dot cards?

  9. john says:

    i just bought a green dot card, put $20 on it, tried to activate it online, it asked me to call their phone number, got on with an account representative who wouldn’t activate my account because they couldn’t verify the phony personal information i provided. and they can’t reimburse me without my mailing address. $30 down the drain, thanks a lot.

  10. doyouknowhow says:

    Is anyone able to let me know if there ‘s another service like that available in the UK ???

  11. Article seems a bit out of date, but it doesnt actually have a date, so no easy way to tell.

    Is there currently any card that exists that is usable? What card(s) are you using now, if any?

    Websecret no longer exists.

    Perhaps instead of just a list of all companies, you could put put a short list of ones that offer an acceptable card (or maybe a chart showing which features [or misfeatures] each card has associated with it)

  12. it was written in early 2005, and it’s been updated a few times since then. what makes it seem out of date?

    also, why do you think websecret no longer exists? i bought a websecret card just a few months ago, and the web site is still up. Green Dot hasn’t announced anything about cancelling it.

    currently, i’m using Simon gift cards and the occasional websecret card.

  13. C says:

    The websecret card has been discontinued.  I called the company and was told that they are no longer able to offer anonomous cards.  Now you must provide your SS# and verifiable personal info. to get a greendot card.  Because some people have websecret cards already, the company cannot shut the website down yet.  It’s a drag because it was a good card to use and was widely availible until mid-late summer 2006.  I came to this site looking for alternatives.  Looks like there are none right now.

  14. GiftCards says:

    I’ve used the Simon Malls cards.  They are only $2, and you can load up to $500.  The card agreement says they can charge you a 3% fee for international transactions, but I did one (in US dollars) and never got charged this fee.  The big downside to these cards is once you associate a name and address with the card, you can not change it.

    A good alternative is the All-Access Visa gift card.  They sell these at ACE check cashing and some other places,  It’s $5.95 for the card, and you can load up to $250.  You can change the name and address as many times as you want.  This is quite useful if you plan to use the card to buy gifts, since you can buy things online and have them shipped to different addresses.

    I’ve also used the vanillavisa.com gift cards.  These are available in smaller denominations (up to $100).  They sell these at rite-aid, cvs, walgreens, etc.  You don’t seem to have to register any personal info to use these.  I’ve used these for online shopping and the card validated regardless of what name/address I put.  These cards say they are only valid in the United States.

    When I have a few dollars left on a card, my local gas station doesn’t have any problem selling me $3.72 (or whatever amount) of gasoline and charging it to my gift card.  So I use them up that way.  The only thing is I have to stop the pump at the right amount.  If you go over then the card will be declined, and you’ll have to use a different payment method.

    A friend of mine used up some simon malls cards by paying his phone bill online.  Many utility companies will take partial payments where you can enter the amount you want to pay.  I don’t do this because my phone company charges a service fee for each credit card transaction, so I’d end up with a bunch of extra charges if I split up the payment.

    I haven’t had any merchants refuse a pre-paid card, however if you buy from someone who uses PayPal as their credit card processor, PayPal will first authorize $1, then charge the amount of the purchase.  Thus you need a dollar more on the card than what you plan to spend.

  15. Jim says:

    One warning about GreenDot cards: if you have a website that gets paid advertising commissions through Google Adsense, GreenDot will lock your account if they get a direct deposit from Google. That happened to me. I called to yell and scream and they said the intent of their direct deposit is for adding funds from an employer paycheck, that’s it. Even though the direct deposit program’s pimp page inside  your GreenDot account area says commission checks and the like are OK, apparently they’re not.

    Also, when I called GreenDot to speak to a customer service representative, my call was answered in the Phillipines by someone whose understanding of English was very limited and unfortunately I haven’t yet taken the time to learn Tagalag just to get good customer service from their company. I got my password wrong and the rep simply gave me my correct one. I thought that was a bad security practice and asked for a supervisor. The supervisor didn’t understand what I was complaining about because he could only speak in broken English. So much for globalization.

  16. Cassandra says:

    Can anyone tell me which prepaid credit card I can add/use in my paypal account? I recently was on the phone with Paypal asking them if I could add a GreenDot prepaid credit card to my account and they said they do not accecpt them..

  17. Dee, From Yonkers says:

    Very good articles and info, I think that GIFTCARDS.COM would also fit in as a potential card to go along with the vannila cards, all acces cards, and simon mall cards as mentioned above. I am personally afraid of idenity theft on the internet and any card as provided by giftcards.com and others that lets you change the name and address on the cards is great for me no matter what the fees, as long as not ridiculous. Basicly you could use any name with these cards and have shipped to your address. Dont mind giveing out my address for delivery, but thats about it.

  18. Posizionamento Motori di Ricerca says:

    Well… I wonder if anyone able to let me know if there ‘s another service like that available in the IT?

    thanks

  19. Anouar says:

    I had been using the Websecret card for a long time. On August 2006 it wouldn’t let me activate online anymore. I called their customer service several times. Each time they would take my address and phone number and tell me that they will call me back but they don’t. That was the last time I used a websecret card witch cost me $100 down the drain. Now, I use the Simon gift card which has only $3 fees annually; unlike the websecret which is $5 a month.

  20. International says:

    I don’t know of anyone selling gift cards in Italy, but many of the ones sold in the United States can be used in other countries.  You just have to find someone willing to mail them to you, which many US companies won’t do because of fraud, mail theft, customs delays, etc.  But you can buy them on ebay if the seller is cooperative.

    If you run a business, and are willing to buy gift cards in bulk then you can get gift card issuers to be more flexible, and maybe sell to you in Italy.

  21. anon says:

    Watch out for fees on gift cards!

    According to their web site, giftcards.com charges 35 cents per transaction.  I don’t know what happens when you try to use up the exact balance remaining. Also it’s $2.50 per month after the first 6 months.

    Vanilla Visa fees are $3.95 for $25, $4.95 for $50, $5.95 for $100. Free for 12 months, then $1.50/month, but beware: Many of the vanillavisa cards I’ve bought had an expiration date on the card which was less than 12 months away.  Totally anonymous card though. The name on the card (and magstripe) is “A GIFT FOR YOU”.

    Netspend gift card: There are two versions of this card. There are the ones they sell at the supermarkets which begin with 4007 66… These are available in $25, $50, $100 denominations. Then there are the ones they sell at the check cashing places which you specify the amount.  These begin with 4046 75… The fees are the same: $5.95, free for 6 months, then $2.95/month.  You can check your balance for free on their web site, but they charge 50 cents if you call their 800 number!

    Simon malls visa: $2, free for 12 months, then $2.50/month

    American Express gift card: $3.95 for $25, $4.95 for $50, $5.95 for $100. Expires on date printed on card.

    Mastercard cancelled all their prepaid cards, including websecret. You can’t buy the regular gift cards either.  Only Visa and AmEx.

    The one dollar authorizations are really annoying.  Paypal is not the only company that does this.  Apple did this to me when I bought an iPod from their web site.  It takes 7 days before the $1 is removed.

    I’ve had mixed luck using cards at gas stations.  If the place lets you pump first and then pay, then it’s usually ok as long as you stop the pump so it doesn’t go over the amount.  But make sure you have some cash in case they (or you) screw it up.  Some places will let you tell them how much you want to charge, have you sign the receipt, and then let you go pump that amount.  I’ve found Shell stations will usually do that.  Some places just won’t take gift cards or will always try to authorize $50 or whatever.  It depends on how their credit card processing system is set up.  Tell the cashier you have a gift card and ask what to do.  If the person has been working there a while they will usually know what the procedure is.

    Another thing I have done is buy regular store gift cards using the remaining balance, if they are the kind of gift card where you can put any amount.  Some stores will not do this because they have a cash-only policy for gift cards, so this doesn’t always work. One place that does let you do it is Panera.  And they have free wireless too :)

  22. The Doctor says:

    My my my…. Paranoia is alive and well in the house.  Wait, is that a black helicopter I hear??

  23. Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT buy Privacash Cards!! says:

    They state on their website “Customer Service is Free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week”.  You call the number, have to punch in your account # and opt to be transferred to a rep.  Then They charge your card 1 fee for account investigation (for punching in your card #, which you have no choice but to do in order to get through) and another fee called a ‘transfer fee’ for being put through to an agent.  I had their prepaid card for a couple months, needed a virtual card, spent $50 on one which clearly claims “INSTANT” access to your new card number and 3 digit security code..  submitted the order, got a blank page.  The money was taken from my account immediately.  30 Minutes later, no email, nothing.  I call them and a #1: the woman I spoke with had no idea what a Virtual credit card even was.. I had to try and explain it to her, and she kept telling me it would be mailed in 7-10 business days.  After persisting, she put me on hold, came back and told me to call the ‘home office’ during regular business hours the next day.  HELLO?!  But if I wanted to go get a prepaid card in the AM, I would have chosen a card I could actually use..

  24. The Victim says:

    Ah, yes, The Doctor:  spoken like one who has not had an identity theft problem. (Yet.)  Lucky you.

  25. Michael says:

    You CAN use Greendot  cards in Paypal and you can also use Greendot Cards to make EFT’s from your Greendot  card to your Paypal account.

    I currently have a Greendot card added to my Paypal account and I can also use it to make EFT’s from my Greendot card to my Paypal Account.

  26. patt says:

    Today i bought a visa all access card ($166 loaded) I wanted to buy something online. This was the biggest mistake of my life!!! First i gave my ssn and tried to purchase the item and it would not let me. I called customer service only for them to say that i needed to send them copy’s of my ssn and drivers licence, NO THANKS!!. so i thought forget this. I went to a local atm so that i would get my money and destroy the card but visa had already unauthorized the card!!! I called and told them of this and they said they had locked it and that they would not unblock the card until i gave them more info about myself. They even said that this all access card was not a gift card that it was more of a bank account which is ridiculous since the official site advertises it as such!!!!! I tried to reason with them but it was useless they said all they could do if i didn’t want to send them more info was to close the account, charge me $6 for refund and finally send me a check that will arrive in 3 – 4 WEEKS!!! AGHHHHHHHHHHH.

  27. Need Advice says:

    Does anyone have an opinion on the best card to use not all my correct personal information, but the card can be reloaded with cash?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Do you ever actually have to register your name and address to use a gift card?  I’ve used Simon cards and All-Access gift cards for online shopping without ever registering.  When you go to the web site to check your balance they will ask you to put in your name and address, but you can skip it and still use the card to make purchases.

    Note: I am talking about the All-Access GIFT card, not what patt purchased.  The gift card has “Gift” written on it in cursive letters.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Are there any gift cards that you can use at ATMs?  I can’t find any, all the ones I’ve found allow me to purchase in cash without any ID or connection to who I am, but I can’t find any that are ATM Capable.  Anyone know any stores in the USA that sell the ATM Capable gift cards?

  30. Anon pt II says:

    (From Simon Gift Card Terms)  –
      __________________

    Preauthorized/Recurring Payments:

    You agree not to make preauthorized or recurring regular payments through the use of the Giftcard.

    (Seriously, what if you do this unknowingly or intentionally for
    that matter?)

    Internet, Mail, and Phone Order Purchases:

    Internet, mail, and phone order purchases may require that
    we have the name and address of the Giftcard owner on file.
    If you wish to make internet or mail order purchases,
    you will need to go to http://www.simongiftcard.com and enter your name and address prior to performing an internet, mail, or phone order transaction.

    (I suppose you could fudge the name and address when asked, right?)
      ________________________

    While I totally dig the privacy preservation angle and all, my personal strategy is to use such cards to thwart the sneaky companies who dupe you into recurring monthly payment programs. I’ve read about this problem here – 

    http://www.infomercialscams.com/scams/video_professor

    and here –

    http://www.infomercialblog.com/

    They cannot overdraw or charge a prepaid card when its empty!

    Privacy issues aside, if you like to purchase ‘digital’ or ‘non-tangible goods’ like .mp3s, .pdfs, or ebooks online and worry about a website’s  ‘free monthly membership trial’ rolling-over into a steep monthly membership charge BEFORE you can effectively cancel in time, then these cards might be used to circumvent that dilemma as well.

    Privacy buffs be sure to check this out too –

    Residential Wi-Fi Mapping Database Revealed
    (aka ‘Your Wireless router’s location is now known by all…Thanks AOL!’)

    <a href=”http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/20/1932253&from=rss”>http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/20/1932253&from=rss</a&gt;

  31. I buy my pre-paid Visa cards from Ultimate Anonymity. You can get it in any name and address you want and it works on sites that use AVS (address verification system). Send a money order in the mail with a note of what name and address you want to use and a few days later you get a password protected txt file (the password is the zipcode you sued in the address) with the card details. Very convenient.

  32. Girl says:

    Is there a pre paid credit card that lets you load more than $500 on it?  I’m looking for a card that I can walkin and buy with cash. Last time I had a prepaid card all I had to do was pay a fee and they let me load up to $1,500.

  33. whoa, really? the $500 limit seems pretty widespread for cards that you buy with cash. if you find your $1500 card, or another one that goes above $500, please let us know!

  34. On Mon, 26 Mar 2007, stuart wrote:

    I really enjoy your site. There is some really useful info on there. I recently read your take on prepaid credit cards. I am in the process of trying to rebuild my credit. I’m looking for a prepaid card that reports to the credit bureaus. I don’t think greendot reports. Do you know of any that do?

    hi stuart! i looked on cardreport.com and found the eufora prepaid mastercard, which evidently reports to transunion. you might have to sign
    up for their “credit builder” thing as well. good luck!

  35. GC Holder says:

    Plan what you’re going to buy ahead of time so you don’t have money left over on prepaid cards!

    Back in february, someone posted a Simon Visa card number on digg.com.  The card number is 4793 4783 0025 4886 919

    Although there were many attempts, nobody ever managed to spend the remaining $1.83.

  36. will says:

    All those “report to credit agency” prepaid cards are lying.  I work at a credit agency.  A $5 a month fee WILL NOT change your credit for the better.  We could care less about the money you spend on the card since its prepaid . . . its not credit. . . so go ahead and spend $5000 on your prepaid card every month. . . your credit wont move one point

  37. Joey says:

    I went to a local mall and bought a Simon card today.  Used cash.

    Went to the simon website and “registered” it with a made-up name, address, etc. – did not ask for anything interesting like a SSN.

    Immediately used it online.

    Perfect.  Thanks for the site and for your help.  Now if I could just use this to buy anonymous Internet service from the cable company instead of using some poor saps open access point …

  38. danielle says:

    Be Careful where you buy these credit cards. I bought 2 vanilla visa cards at Christmas time and they werent activated by the merchant correctly and now it looks like im ouit $211.00 because they say there is nothing they can do.

  39. Amanda says:

    My Privacash card is expiring in May and it seems that no one near me sells them anymore, even though several places are listed on the website. Is there a problem with the Privacash company, or is it just my local area?

    I use the non-personalized card for my business and it’s really handy. I’d like to continue using Privacash cards if at all possible.

    Just FYI, I tried to order a non-personalized card through the mail with a money order, but the customer service rep said they only allow that if I bought the card with another credit card over the phone, requiring all sorts of identifying info. Kind of defeats the purpose, I thought.

  40. anonymous says:

    …loved your article!!!  I’ve used gift card visas for personal use.  Suntrust sells them at their bank without having an account.  I know you can purchase hotel tickets using them.  Too, I just stumbled upon Vanillavisa prepaid gift card.  Looks promising…  There sistercard(I suppose – it listed on their site) is Mio card which can be reloaded, use a pin, atm, etc…but I haven’t purchased one.  Check it out.

  41. anonymous says:

    Really nice article.Could not agree more. Does anyone know of a single use mastercard/visa  for europe/UK, where you don’t need to give out personal details to get one?

  42. onadime says:

    so what is the current situation Ryan? Is there a visa/mc out there that does not require personal info? can be reloaded? be bought with cash at a local retailer? there is a dating site i would like to join (loser, i know) and just do not trust. as it is I will be posting photos and don’t want the direct connection. thanks for taking on such an important topic. how about that “social networking” site of Rupert Murdoc’s! crazy kids.

  43. Neil says:

    Bought a $100 Vanilla Visa and just went to purchase a few things…..declined. Went to another store…..declined.

    Visa better not be screwing me out of 100 dollars. I’m going to call customer support on monday.

  44. Jack says:

    Wow great artical. This helped me out a lot. I’ve been looking EVERYWHERE for some decent info on pre paid credit cards and this is article is the only thing that seemed to have helped. One question though that I’m still unsure of is, does ANY website that accepts credit cards be used the same way with pre paid cards? Just want to make sure before getting one.

    Also, what would be the best card to buy at this time that doesn’t share SS# and my personal information. I’m thinking PrivaCash or Vanilla Visa.

  45. onadime, jack, i still use simon cards, and i love them. they work both offline and online. for online merchants that use AVS, simon’s web site lets you register a name address – without checking it! – for each card.

  46. Jack says:

    Hmm…thanks for the advice Ryan. I guess I’ll get a Simon card. I guess that only problem is HOW I’m going to get it. I’m guessing that getting through online is going to cost $$, and I don’t have any way to pay online, so that’s no go. I live in NJ and all the store/outlets are far as hell from where I live. Still Simon Cards sounds like the most convinient one.

  47. Felicia says:

    Greendot is not safe. I’ve used them for three years without a proplem (aside from the exccessive fees), and just this week I had 5 unauthorized charges placed on my acoount. I called Greendot while they were still in the pending stage to inform them that they were not legitimate. They gave me a website in Austrailia that I had supposedly made a $50.64 purchase from. The website had no contact info, it is a classified site for car buffs. I explained to Greendot that I am not a car buff, I can’t even tell most of them apart, I haven’t recently looked at any car parts and if I ever need to it certainly wouldn’t be from Australia. I made this call while the transaction was still pending, yet greendot paid them anyway. There were four other transactions from Isreal, a company that seems fairly reputable and that I did make a $19.00 trasaction with, but there were four more charges that Greendot says is from the same company that I did not authorize. I called the company and they deny charging anything to my card but the original $19.00 transaction. Two of those charges remain pending and the ther two magically disappeared. They are for $30 and $1. So all in all I’m out about $80. It’s not going to kill me, but it really ticks me off. The worst part is dealing with Greendot customer service, where it is next to impossible to speak with a live person. The menu does not give you that option, so you have to keep pressing buttons until they get sick of you doing it and transfer you to a live person, who is absolutely clueless. Unlike Bank of America or Wells Fargo, the burden is all on me to prove that I didn’t make those transactions. Even though I’ve spent thousands of dollars through them, paid hundreds of dollars in transaction fees in the last six months alone, they would not reverse the transaction until I jump through a bunch of hoops. So I ask “what does pending mean anyway?” They say it gives the cardholder a chance to dispute the transaction before it is finalized. I DID THAT! The rep even agreed with me that it would be ridiculous for a non-car buff who lives in California to be searching for car parts in Australia, yet they paid them anyway, and now I have to write a letter and send it to them snail mail explaining what I spent two hours explaining to them on the phone. I told them that I was a long time good customer, and if this is how they treat their customers, I will jump through their stupid hoops, resolve this, and end my relationship with greendot, which has earned them far more in the last month than the $50 in dispute. They stuck to their guns and are going to make me do the stupid letter, even though it was their fault for paying a transaction that was already in dispute. Three years, thousands of dollars, and they wouldn’t budge. The cards have been useful in the past, but if there’s ever a problem, you are on your own.

  48. I called my local check cashing place, and they sell Net spend gift cards.


    No Name associated with the card.
    No privacy information required to take the card home
    You pick it up, right there in the store, they don’t mail it to you.
    $9.95 for the card, and you can load up to 2500 on it, in cash.
    It can be reloaded any time you want.
    It expires aproximately 3 years from todays date.
    The fee is either per transaction ($1 credit/ $2 ATM) or $9.95 a month.

    The fee is fairly expensive, but seems reasonable for my fairly “unreasonable” requirements.

  49. Happy Shopping says:

    the netspend gift cards also are not reloadable, only the all access cards which require info as stated above.

  50. Bubba says:

    I am just trying to find a website where I can use my legit cc to get a cc number to use on my swingers website.  I dont want my bill to keep saying swingers dot com, I just want it to say xyz company…who provided me with the new number.  I am currently unable to leave the house to buy one of these cards from the local store.  any advice??

  51. D.E. says:

    I need a card for a hotel ASAP!
    I really appreciate the article and the fact that this discussion is still active! As much as I like privacy I need a prepaid card NOW that I can use at hotel check-in. Would a vanilla, greendot, etc. card work for that? Again speed and acceptance is the most important thing right now, not privacy. Thanks in advance!

  52. Phil This says:

    Ryan – Do you know what the WWWcard checks for when making  a purchase? I was using privacash’s virtual card for complete anonymity (just a note – they only check home address and zip, no other info matters) this is until they stopped utilizing green dots universal reload. Then I couldnt reload my privacash virtual card.

    When I needed a new alias I would just ditch the card number and open a new one. But I am in need a something to replace that and reloadable and I looked at WWWcard and they are virtual, just wondering if you know what info they check for when buying online? So if I paid with my CC I could use a different name and address when buying…. Thats what I am looking for. Any help appreciated.

  53. Papa says:

    What’s going on with those virtual credits cards. are they as good as any other prepaid cards? I try to register for one. To load the card i am suppose to send money to someone in portugal. sound fishy! any help would help. thanks

  54. 666MFR says:

    privaNOcash

    I have been using a privacash card for almost a year, yest i bought a reload for 400  4.95 fee but went to load it they said my account didnt exist with green dot and told me that privacash wasnt part of their network….. i tried to explain that they were or use to be and the rep. was clueless with limited language. i contacted privacash and they said green dot was having “techn. problems” with their card. they couldnt give a timeline on a fix but offerd the green dot refund #. now i have a piece of paper that cost me 405 bucks and is worth nothing. Green dot says it will take 2 days to process and 7 days for refund to get here…..

  55. Listen up – about 6 months ago I bought a privacash card, went to a public computer – created some fake info – and had a private debt card. Now I got another card and they REQUIRE a SSN to match with the NAME. I am sure you could figure out someone’s SSN # – but I’m pretty sure thats breaking the law now. So Privacash is out – anyone have any suggestions? All I need is a debt card for ordering domain names and hosting.

  56. Tayana says:

    Hi! I am broke and I thinking about purchasing a reloable debit card. I thought that the amount you put in the card is the price of  the card. I was gonna go to the store, buy the card for a $1 and the card would have $1  in there. Wow , I didn’t know that the cards would cost so much.

  57. John says:

    Anybody know of an “anoymous” card that AOL will accept to open an account?

    I’m tired of having to give up my identity just to connect to the internet in general, and AOL in particular.

    I tried Simon giftcard and AOL won’t accept it because, as I was inforemed by the cutomer support girl, they do not accept “prepaid” cards (yes, I registered it, BTW).

    Anyone know of an “anonymous” card that doesn’t have the  routing numbers that give it away as being “prepaid”?

    Maybe a “secured” anonymous card issued by a real bank somewhere? Or do any prepaids function more as a real card than as a “giftcard”, with wider acceptance?

    Good discussion.

  58. Matt says:

    I found Simon giftcard is very easy to use. I only pay $2 for the card, no personal info needed and the good thing, they do not check the personal info given when you register the card in their website. I bought a Greendot card yesterday since I need to buy something over the internet and Walmart is closer to my house. The card costs $9 and they asked for my SSN. I am gonna ask for a refund,minus $10 liquidation fee. I will not use Greendot again.

  59. Michael says:

    Thanks for the tip on Simon gift card.  Picked up one yesterday with ease at one of the local Simon Property malls.  I still have an issue though, how do I make it Verified for Visa?  Or is it not possibly.  Is there any card similar to Simon Visa Debit gift card that has the Verified for Visa capability?  Seems like a lot of online sites now only support payment through it.

  60. Billybob says:

    Ryan, you are correct, sorry, was able to buy a card at a local mall, provide cash, get card.  I had to go online to give a name/address/telephone number to activate the card for Internet use.  For those that want to maintain ultimate privacy,  perhaps best to login through a WIFI connection at your local coffee shop. ;-)

  61. ThomasWilliam says:

    Anyone tried Vanilla Visa (www.vanillavisa.com)?  Saw the cards available at Rite Aid stores in $25,50,100 for a $4.95 fee, from the website doesn’t look like any other info is needed.

  62. I use a card from a company called Gteks.  I did not have to give them my social or drivers license.  I can load my card just about anywhere including all Green dot locations.  It is internationally accepted and costs me less than my old Walmart card.  I get free customer and two features I love, mobile banking using text messages and card to card transfer so I can send money to anyone.  It is really the best card I have found and I have not used any that are as good.  The company did not sell them off of their site but they were very nice when I called and sent one right out.  Hope this helps! (i put the website in the website box but it is http://www.gteks.com just in case)

  63. I have also picked up three of Gteks’s prepaid cards for my kids a few weeks ago. I have two sons in college that I send money to from my card directly to theirs to pay their bills and what not. It is cheaper than using the Western Union since Gteks only charges a flat fee no matter what I send, unlike the others who work off a percent of the total sent. I got our temp cards right away and then they gave me us real cards with our names on them so I know my kids are the only one spending my money. And best part is I am not worried that when they get done with school they are going to have outstanding credit debt!!! Great product! I have even purchased some for holiday gifts this year!

  64. a private individual says:

    Maybe you should give an explanation as to why to bother with this in the first place and not just get a credit card, like mastercard or visa, which works everywhere?

  65. Leean says:

    I need a prepaid card I can get online immediately , to open a Paypal account with. Does anyone know if the Simon Giftaccount card will work with Paypal? I’m sure the one they mail you will, but not sure about the virtual one. I live in a small rural community, and can’t purchase a prepaid card without traveling about 20 miles.

  66. Rochelle - Frustrated & Irritated says:

    Can someone please give me some useful information on the GreenDot Mastercard.  I purchased the card yesterday afternoon at 4:30pm at a local Walgreens in Las Vegas, Nevada. I waited the 60 minutes they require you to wait before you can activate the card.  I filled out the entire application and then the last step stating I had to call a 1-800 number to complete the process.  I called the number and entered all the information I was given online only to hear the info was invalid, which was not true because I compared it with the online printout repeatedly.  There are three different 1-800 numbers on the back of the card but they are all basically the same automated message with the same 3 menu’s.  None of these three menu’s give me the option to talk to an actual person.  I have searched online for any other contact number, but they are all linked together.  While searching online for a contact number, I found numerous articles claiming the company was a scam and all they do is rip people off.  They never send out the actual card, there are numerous “unauthorized” charges and it takes weeks to get a refund if you are not satisfied with the card.  I spent $200 (+ a 9.95 service charge) in order to purchase a flight online which took every penny I had.  I am furious and dont understand why I cannot reach an actual person, no matter what time of day I call.  Can someone please give me some insight on how to reach the company itself?

  67. Bill says:

    When you use netspend gift cards, is the minimal personal information and purchase history of yours stored permanently or is it deleted after the card expires?

  68. Whatever says:

    Hey everyone, just wanted to say hat’s off to Ryan for starting
    such an important but often unaddressed topic of discussion in
    this day and age.. and ever more thanks for still sticking with it. I
    was sure when I realized that this post was begun 4 years ago?!
    that there would never be any current info here, and was so glad
    to find out I had been wrong.  :) So considering all that, I’ll be
    happy to do my part to keep it alive, as the problem certainly still
    exists (if not worsened, even) since this topic was orginally first
    started.

      Ok, let me just quickly say that I read somewhere above that
    Mastercard had terminated all its prepaid cards, but that can’t be
    true because I was just on their website recently, and they
    seemed to be offering a number of them. In fact, you might want
    to check out the link below on this, because they actually appear
    to be offering a version of Netspend card that comes complete
    with a maximum card limit of $10,000…. along with a few others
    that have $2500 limits. And, yes I know just from the research I
    have done myself into all this, that such things are completely
    unheard of. Bear in mind I didnt follow up or bother to look for the
    catches (which there probably are!) into all this. But I did notice
    that they expect a street address in their application (No P.O.
    Boxes), and a few other things that suck. No SS#’s though,
    unless that comes a few clicks further down the road than I
    bothered to see.. Anyway, here is the link:

    http://www.mastercard.com/us/personal/en/aboutourcards/gift_prepaid/issuers.html


      But the main reason I wanted to reply was to try and help out ROCHELLE, and her
    Greendot problems. Where to begin? I guess I should say I know about the frustration with
    them and there rediculous automated “customer service” line(s). I actually remember storming
    about fuming over it as I called each number I could possibly get my hands on, only to find
    with decreasing levels of sanity, that I would get connected to the same useless and I mean
    USELESS system of  3 Menus. My theory is, they know that people are going to have
    problems, and they have no intentions of helping anyone. So they designed a fool proof wall to
    hide behind, that often will just say “I’m sorry we couldnt help you. Please try again.
    Goodbye.”  and actually hangs you up! rather than fowarding you to a live person to resolve
    your issue like any normal business would.  (And NO.. pressing the wrong buttons,or pretending
    not to have touch tones doesnt work on this number, guys) Doing that stuff results in you being hung up with
    that helpful message.) So, all the usual tricks to get a live operator are out. Truly they didnt
    want to deal with you, is the impression you cant help but to get from all this. Also, as Rochelle
    knows, hitting “0” or any other type of universal plea for help is NOT a valid option. Goodbye.

      On a side note, I would like to add that when I first discovered this type of kind generosity
    from their so called “customer service”, that I was calling in from a payphone that had been all
    but buried inside a man made snow bank left over by a plow that had decided to make the
    convenient “drive up phone” into a Stand-up only phone, instead. So, balanced precariously
    on this ice encased mound of hell, I stood outside freezing my ass off, and bending over just to
    make the receiver reach my ear, while I dealt with this MERCILESSLY retarded automated line. Fun.

    Anyway, of the advice I can give you with Greendot, is this:  First, stop searching online or
    elsewhere for a contact number. You WONT find one. Because they DONT want to talk to
    you. No such “normal” numbers exist for them as far as I know :)  -So, what I found after
    much trial and error, is that the ONLY thing that works to get a live person is to pretend you
    are activating for the first time again. When trouble arises during this process, you will find that
    (their greed?) takes over at the possible threat of losing the money you put in, and eventually
    a live person will come on to “continue your activation process” (as they called it.) This is your
    one and only chance to tell them what is wrong. They will have NO IDEA what you are
    talking about, and you will have to explain it six or seven times, like they are a two year old.
    Dont let them slip away! (they’ll try to run!!) and you will certainly be put on hold several times.
    Each time when they come back, they will need the whole thing explained again. Even though
    it will be the same person, coming back, who (strangely) doesnt know what you are talking
    about -AGAIN.  After much trial and tribulation, you will probably get your issue resolved to
    some degree of satisfaction. But this will be after they wore down all standards of what you
    consider fair trade, simply so that you can get back inside your warm car. So be warned, and
    also expect that AT LEAST ONCE through this process you will get completely hung up, and
    have to start the whole thing from scratch again. Dont let that upset you, it happens every time,
    so be prepared for it. And just pretend like you are a new customer every time, until you get someone to say hello. Then
    you can make your move. Repeat as necessary.

      I dont want to completey trash on Greendot here, because IF you can get past all this crap,
    everything will probably be fine. Its the startup that seems to be the weak point of their service
    in my experience. Though, after reading some of  the things I did above here, I am definitely
    not very surprised. As far as what overall problems that I personally had with greendot? I just
    dont have the wherewithall to even get into it, right now.. maybe some other time. I’ve already remembered too much!

    oh and by the way, I was eventually told by someone there, that whenever you activate with
    them you should only purchase the basic minimum you can start the card with, which is $20.
    That way I guess you dont lose much when all these problems activating arise. But I’m really
    not sure what person in management might have told them to tell me that.. Someone who is
    sick of dealing with all the problemed activations, no doubt. Oh, and they dont care if you
    are traveling, or need the card no matter what.. etc. Their basic resolution to all problems is to
    just send you a refund check, which will arrive in 4-6 weeks. Getting much more out of them is
    relatively hard, especially considering that it is too much to ask that they even speak to you in
    any understandable form of English, most times. But not impossible!  I did finally end up
    getting one person who understood and actually helped.. but only after about 15 (?) calls, and two months worth of effort.
    So keep hope!! :)

      On a final note, I’m still looking for a good card! from reading
    everything in this thread, obviously Simoncards and possibly
    vanillavisa seem to be the only choices.. but neither seem to be
    available in my area. So regretable, they discontinued websecret.
    Seems like it would have been perfect. I can only wish I had
    stumbled across this post back BEFORE I bothered with Greendot,
    because back then I might have still been abe to get a Websecret
    card instead. Is there anything left in the world like that anymore,
    at all??  Its just wrong that you are not allowed to do anything in
    this world anymore without being counted, logged, stamped,
    monitored and profiled, for no good reason at all, other than
    companies want to make more money off you by studying your
    buying habits. :(  And if you stand up for these basic inalienable
    rights to privacy, then you are punished, by not being able to
    even buy anything online.
    Its not fair.

    P.S. To Bill’s question, about your stuff getting stored
      permanently? Probably. Don’t count on it getting deleted.
      When in doubt, companies tend to save everything in case
      of any future liability or litigation that might arise. While I
      am far from any legal expert on policies, I would definitely
      err on the side of caution, if you are worried about it. Now a
      days, when hard drive space can hold so very much data
      so inexpensively, basically nothing gets deleted because it
      doesnt have to be. And I would think that the statute of
      limitations on any possible “litigations” probably extends far
      past the expiration date on your prepaid card. So, when in
      doubt, always remember, that once you turn over your
      personal information for any reason, it is then out of your
      hands or ability to control it. OR DELETE IT.  !!

  69. Angry mom says:

    I purchased two green dot cards for my kids Christmas Eve for their Christmas gifts. They were for $250 each. There were in the gift card section and that’s what I thought they were. Later I discovered they were cards with just numbers for activating. They want birth dates and SSNs which I don’t plan to give. I was just buying what I thought were gift cards and instead of three MC or Visa I could get the same amount put on one green dot card. The gift card rack was crowded with customers so admittedly I did not read everything. I’ve tried calling the numbers and of course could not reach anyone. I did find a number online (google) which is not toll free. I called it and of course there was no operator, just a directory for which you had to know a name. I guessed Smith. Sure enough two choices came up. I got the voice mail of someone in “management” supposedly. I’m waiting for a response. I went back to the supermarket where I purchased them. Nothing. They take no responsibility. Any ideas on getting a refund without activiting it and giving them all this info? I dont want their card.

  70. james says:

    angry mom call to activate the card. Make up the info they ask for. Then you will get a live person to complete the process. Immediatly tell them that you do not accept the terms of the card agreement and you want a refund. Did this today, I was told THE CHECK IS IN THE MAIL only time will tell. Do not complete the activation process. I also emailed Columbus Bank & Trust, they issue the cards.

  71. investigator says:

    We need to know the names and addresses and social security numbers and driver’s licence #’s and birthdates and places of birth of all the paranoid PSYCHOTIC individuals who came up with, and enforce the “Law” about financial institutions needing to obtain personal information on customers who do financial transactions.
    These PSYCHOTIC pieces of garbage are in violation of our basic freedoms and rights that are garanteed to us all in our country’s constitution and bill of rights. Those which our forefathers fought so hard to obtain. Untill these PSYCHOTICS are brought to justice, and isolated from the rest of society, and these suppressive “Laws” are taken off the books (and thrown in the garbage landfills where they belong) DO NOT give out any personal information.

  72. has anyone EVER bought a card from one of those sites that charge 600 to 1200 dollars for a card? the sites have been up for years  but i haven’t nor do i know anyone who has sent these people their money. help me out please.

  73. Shapeshifter says:

    Current as of JAN 31, 2008___________________________


    I came across http://www.trucards.com/ which states:

    “Do you want a Credit Card that does not require you submiting your ID? Identity theft is a major issue ravaging the Internet at this moment, Internet been a stateless and “faceless” entity allows the use of somebody else’s identity to commit Internet crimes. TruCards has come up with ID-free credit card services that does not require you submiting any form of identification before you can purchase our virtual credit cards.”

    I opened an account with a disposible email address (mailinator). HOWEVER to fund your trucard account, they only give you one option (It wouldn’t let me select money order or cash) which is e-gold. Being unfamiliar with e-gold, I tried to open an account, but it requires a real address…yada yada yada…

    I didn’t finish the process, but it might be good use trucards as sort of an anonymous financial “proxy” per se or something else out there that is similiar.
    note that their site is copyright 2005 and the “news” section on the left is from 2006, so now I am thinking this is defunct.
    God dam terrorists had to ruin it for everybody. :(

  74. Joe says:

    Things have changed. I went to the Simon gift cards site and they require that any card of $150 or over must be sent to the person paying for the card. You can’t have a friend buy the card for you and then send it directly to you. A SSN and date of birth is also required for amounts of $300 or more. I do not know if they enforce this when you buy the cards in person, but buying one online is not so private anymore.

  75. Nice article with some good thoughts.  I run a web site for school age kids who build toothpick bridges for science classes.  It’s a nice business and I encourage people to use a prepaid credit or debit cards when making on line purchases.  However, I disagree with you on Simon’s.  Get a reloadable one that can be loaded from a checking account like the Bank Freedom Prepaid MasterCard.  There are no fees at all when using it over the internet plus it is completely reloadable.  I recommend it.

  76. Paranoid+ says:

    First, I’m disappointed that you have to enable java script to post a comment here. That’s not a privacy/security responsible attitude! Let’s hope this site isn’t a governmental trick to upload rootkits to the machines of paranoids like me, ahem. That said…

    I went to Simon recently and bought a $20 card, activated it, and was able to buy in the mall & online without the need to provide anything real. Next I’m planning to buy a $300+ card (from Simon, not online) to verify Joe’s comment.

    I find it very stupid to order the cards online anyway.. they could track it back to your bank account and see who paid for it. Let alone it’ll be shipped to YOUR address! How anonymous is that?!

    Best is to buy from Simon in person while wearing sun glasses and a hat to avoid face-identification cameras, after parking your unable-to-read-from-above-license-plated-car away from the mall security cameras (am I exaggurating… anyone?)

    The only advantage is to buy online with it. Otherwise just use cash for real shopping

  77. I tried the using a card from a company called Gteks.  I had a few problems with them but I have started using greendot and havn’t had any problems ever since.

  78. Some suggested the bank freedom prepaid card but I can’t find any more information about it. Any honest reviews about that card are appreciated.

  79. What I really enjoy about prepaid credit cards is the fact that you don’t have to disclose your bank credit/debit card numbers to people that you might otherwise not trust.

  80. Here is the deal…

    We complain about our privacy cause identity theft …

    But before that normaly we complain cause we dont get refunded our money from the theft and are stuck footing the bill.

    The government looks at it as we will take which ever complaint that will allow us to monitor our citzens and treat them more like our big brother no pun intended :P

    Control is to put you underneath someones thumb. Control is everywhere from DNA to GSM to Crash Data Computers in your auto to account information and spending habbits… They want you to be imprisoned in there system weather in prison or out they want you to have no other way and feel as if your only purpose in life is to serve them and the communities hell less work they gotta do if someone’s doing it for them yey! more hedge funds!

    The government wants to see everything plastic really it’ll save them money and trouble investagating. Imagine how much more cops, feds, investagators, any agency could sit on there ass and drink coffie at your local dunkin donuts if alls they had to do was pull up records of cash going where and when and how much and link that with a fair amount of money and bingo probable cause and in this day in age probable cause is guilty as charged!!!!!

    Whats good for the goose is good for the gander I would like the public to have access to every red cent contributed to the government and spent by the government ! Then we will know who is the worst villan of all.

    They monitor us then hows about us monitoring them which should be done anyways our taxes are hard at work.

    I want to be able to walk into anywhere and buy a gift card with no info tied to it and  have it be used where ever I damn well please as well!

    I just was a victim of 800+ dollar checking account theft which the bank did not reimburst me even after a police report, better business, and loads of complaining.

    I think identity theft victims should have all rights to purchase cards without information as it is I run all kinds of security precautions on the PC as well as own 5 paper shredders that slice and dice to rid most all possibilities on my end!

  81. kool Joe says:

    ok i had a thought. i been checkin out this long ass msg board and i must also give kodos to everybody for keepin it going. but im wondering if anybody has used any sort of card to fill out the little online offers for like video professor or blackbuster online inorder to get a bigger prize like a laptop of xbox or ps3. 
    u kno the sites that advertise the free hi-priced merch but u gotta do like 10 online offers?  if anybody has had any experiense with this please share, or give it a try and share. thanks.

  82. mareejane says:

    I just found out that my airline tickets purchased throught ATA (which just went bankrupt) are no good.  I tried to file a dispute with GREENDOT online.  They don’t take online or phone disputes, so I had to send a letter.  Has anyone been through this before?  What are the chances of getting my money back?
    thanks.

  83. vanilla says:

    Just purchased a vanilla visa and have been trying to make a purchase on line – I keep getting declined due to security code – has anyone else had these issues?

  84. Remorhaz says:

    Ok here’s a question….  I want to buy airline tickets.  This requires a credit card.  If you pay in cash they automatically stamp your tickets and line up the TSA proctologists, tasers and rubber gloves ready.  I know you have to show 50 forms of id just to board the stupid plane but I really don’t like the idea of the government forming travel dossiers on me.  I have a passport w/chip so maybe this is moot but still… anyone ever buy an airline ticket with a anonymous card?  What do you do (and this is my case actually) if the ticket you want to buy costs more than the limit on the card?  Get 12 more?

  85. RSMLLC says:

    Just wondering, but has any firm tried to solve the Big Brother problems (in the direction of protecting privacy) by offering a combo product such as a virtual-with-offshore physical card? Offer a virtual card with the usual nonverifying features, thus avoiding disclosure—-BUT add a bonus feature allowing the online account balance to load to a no-name anonymous card, put out by the same or different company. It would be extra nice if the anonymous card could also be loaded with e-gold and orther digital currencies, while the virtual card could load to/from ACH. The best of all worlds, access to one’s money in the real world, and real privacy! Is this possible?

  86. Joe McFerrin says:

    [QUOTE]You might want to look at this website before you purchase a GreenDot prepaid credit card…..all the fluff you have given it doesn’t add up with what these people are saying………..

    http://www.ripoffreport.com</i>
    [QUOTE]

    Yes, they do have some bad reviews but you have to understand a card as big as them will have a couple bad experiences.  I’ve had a Green Dot Card for a while and have nothing but good things to say about them.

  87. I would mostly agree with your post, but credit card institutions (i.e. banks/issuers) are always going to demand a certain set of information from those in which they lend money. Sure, companies that offer debit/prepaid cards are great for people trying to build credit, but, anonymous I hardly think so…and let’s not forget the annual fee!

    I would tend to steer people away from prepaid cards if possible simply because unless you know they’re reporting to the credit agencies, you’re basically paying a company to lend you your own money at a yet-to-be-determined interest rate.

  88. Credit Card Applications says:

    I have to admit I am amazed at the efforts you go through to make sure you don’t leave any paper trail.  But what is the point?  Do you really care if someone knows what you are buying and when?  If you aren’t some kind of drug dealer or terrorist, why would it matter.  Then if you did care, do you think someone real cares to look at your purchase more than just a stat?  Not that you are special to some people but I really doubt someone at Visa really cares to know about what your purchasing.  Not to be rude, its just my two cents….

  89. A Convenient Truth says:

    Here’s an idea regarding how to use the small remaining balance left on a prepaid card: Purchase goods from Amazon using a gift certificate acquired by cashing in coins at a Coinstar machine.

    To do this, determine the cost of your Amazon purchase including tax (if applicable) and shipping (free over $25). During the Amazon checkout process, the step just prior to payment will give you this purchase total.

    Subtract the balance remaining on your prepaid card from the Amazon total. Then, cash in exactly the amount of the difference in coins at a Coinstar machine. Be sure to select your Coinstar payout in the form of an Amazon gift certificate. At the moment, Coinstar waives any coin counting fee for accepting the payout in the form of a gift certificate. (NOTE: Keep in mind that gift certificates require cashing in a minimum of $5 in coins.)

    When you pay for your Amazon purchase, apply the Amazon gift certificate from Coinstar first, and use the prepaid card with a balance remaining to pay for the rest.

  90. A Convenient Truth says:

    Sorry about that double post. * blush *

    Ryan, can you delete the second one?

  91. all access fan says:

    Here’s another vote for the all access gift card. Available in various denominations ($25, $50, $20-200 variable, etc.) Use their website to find out where to purchase them near you. The cost of the card varies as well, depending on the value of the card. ($3.95-$5.95?)

    Also, as mentioned in an earlier post, you do have to register the card to make online purchases, but information is not verified and seems to be used solely to match information entered on merchant sites.

    Does not appear to have a fee per transaction. A monthly maintenance fee of $2.95 a month kicks in after six months after activation. As a gift card, this card cannot be reloaded and the maximum amount is $250.

  92. J Beverly Hills says:

    Have anyone tried Corbie Card (Mastercard)?
    http://www.corbiecard.com/ (CorbieCard.com)

    Sounds good & funny…any clues of that working?

    Pro:
    (1) They may not ask for your SSN
    (2) Claims to work as credit card(not debit card). Hotels and etc wouldn’t think twice about you.
    (3) Minimum primary card age is 16?
    (4) Reasonable limit up to US$25000
    (5) Works in US Dollars (UK based?)
    (6) No inactivity or monthly fees.
    (7) Have affiliate program (reseller)
    (8) No credit check and those usuals.

    Con:
    (1) Their site is too simple.
    (2) Ordering pages are not SSL encrypted (not https)
    (3) Online customer service only
    (4) Not sure about their reliability on communications.
    (5) Fees not explained. Claims further fees besides security and card depend on the usage.
    (6) No online reviews about them or testimonials.
    (7) Too good to be true?


    p/s: Contacted them but no replies as yet. Seen them around online since 2002 but dissed as scam then. They’re still around?

    I dont want to point any fingers if they’re innocent and at the same time, dont want anyone to fall into a trap.

    USA

  93. Anon says:

    The ULTIMATE book and website on PRIVACY is http://www.PrivacyCrisis.com&nbsp; . In this book you will be shown the most practical and up to date methods to live and BANK anonymously In the U.S.A. . The site has great information and MP3’s of radio shows the author has been interviewed on. Listen to the MP3’s, they are GOLD. You can just sit back and relax, he’s done all of the work for you.

    P.S. J.J. Luna (www.howtobeinvisible.com) has a great book and site but this one is far superior.

  94. I started using prepaid Visa cards from my local mall a few years ago for privacy reasons but became very frustrated with how hard it was to completely use them up.  Figuring that other people must be having this problem (about $3.2 billion went unused on Visa, Mastercard, et. al. gift cards in 2007), I created a site (www.cashfromcards.com) to let people transfer their remaining balance to PayPal instantly.  It will work for Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover gift cards.  In the spirit of privacy, the only thing close to personal information it requires is your PayPal email address.

  95. Frustrated says:

    I’m a young professional working in the Caribbean. I’ve bee trying to get a credit card for a while (just to make on-line purchases) but these archaic banks in the region, refuse to give me one. I don’t have bad credit or anything, since I’ve never bought anything on credit – I don’t know what’s the issue. Anyways i started looking around to see if I could get a prepaid debit card that can be used for on-line internatinal purchases. No such luck, since no bank here offers such a product. My question really, is if I could get a prepaid card from an American bank/company (I’m not American), and if so how?

  96. Frustreted,

    Get a graphcard.com account. There may also be local payment methods in your country and you can create virtual debit cards for purchases

  97. Jeremiah (TT) says:

    I live in Trinidad and Tobago and RBTT has a credit card service that they offer call right notes. It is non rechargeable and can be purchased at the teller.

  98. Bob says:

    The more I read the more confused I get.

    I want a card, mainly for online purchases. I want to get the card from a store that I can walk into, not on-line since I do NOT want to give out my SS#.

    Can I get that in a pre-paid credit/debit card, or can I only get that with a gift card – or neither?

    Bob

  99. Kp says:

    does anyone know where to find the “security code” on the greendot temporary cards? My physical card has not arrived yet and both itunes and ebay require this 3 digit code. Where is it or am I S.O.L. until it arrives?

  100. Bryan says:

    Sooo, is everyone saying the option is just left at simon gift card? Cause some people say the all access gift card asks for ss#.  Is simon our only real option left?

  101. Vanilla2 says:

    I just bought a $25 Vanilla Visa card at Rite Aid and it won’t work online. I keep getting invalid CVV2 number. I wonder if the clerk activated the card properly.

  102. Burt says:

    Ugh, just wasted forty dollars on the visa travel money card. Well, I can get it back but they said they wouldnt activate cause they could not validate my info, so to get it activated i need to now provide them with drivers license, passport, birthcertificate… all the stuff we originally didnt want to ever provide an online source. Someone must know something besides simon that works.

  103. Disappointed says:

    I can not recommend the All Access Gift Card by Netspend.
    I purchased one last year knowing all the minor details including the maintenance fee. The maintenance fee becomes active after 6 months, after which they will deduct 4.95 or something like that.
    At one point I was happy because it seemed they reduced the maintenance fee to a little over 2 dollars. I checked this online  over this summer and my balance was over 100 dollars. Now I try to login and it says my card is invalid, the expiry date says 2009. I keep calling the so-called 24/7 customer service but no one is ever there. Preliminary google searching unearths others with this “invalid card” login error as well. So in conclusion BEWARE OF THIS COMPANY FOLKS.

  104. Formerly Disappointed Now Relieved, Lessons Learnt says:

    I was about to give up and part ways with my cash but in a last ditch effort I decided to try something else. The customer service number on the  allaccessgift.com never has a rep available as I explained before so I decided to go use the number on netspend.com which is supposed to be for their reloadable cards not the gift cards.

    To cut a long story short, if you have not used your card within a year it is automatically deactivated for security purposes and you must call them back to reactivate it. I now have access to my funds. All this hassle could have been avoided if the number on the proper website the same one listed on the card itself had working customer service in place. I would have forgotten about this card and my money would have probably been totally depleted by maintenance fees.

  105. Formerly Disappointed Now Relieved, Lessons Learnt says:

    Addtionally, they should really add this scenario in  the fine prints on their package even if this is standard procedure for credit/debit/gift cards.

  106. THE_MAN says:

    HI, I have been looking all over for a good pre-paid card, with either no monthly fees or very low ones. I would also like a card with a limit more that $500 and of course no SSN required. As I read this post and research all over the internet, I can only find one that comes close- the simon gift card. My question is-  is there any other option? There is not a simon place to get one anywhere near me. Thanks for any info!

  107. Zebidee Q. Xavier says:

    I’m hunting for a card in the UK.

    I guess things have tightened up since this article was written (early 2006?). A look at the card options on moneysupermarket.com/prepaidcards will soon show most card issuers seem to want ID like driving licence, voting register info, etc. Can one fabricate this sort of info?

  108. Sooner or later, the “System” will close up all the holes and no one will be able to conduct commerce without being tracked (or at least have the ability) by “Big Brother (Beast)”. Paper cash still provides us a little anonymity but even that is getting phased out in the name of “Security, Safety, & Convenience..”

    I say what don’t they get it over with and start stamping RFIDs (barcodes) on everyone’s forehead…..

  109. Ing says:

    Try the “Gift2Go” card.  They are cheap and ask for name, address (fabricated if you choose) and email only if you register for online use.  I have been using them without any problems.  Except one, my PayPal account was just frozen for excessive credit card registration and removal. Go figure

  110. Angel(: says:

    Noooo ! it works. I was really pissed at first  too. But I called the number that other guy gave u on this on page  the number is 1-402-935-2050 and then okay If u use a vanilla visa gift card just go to that site and check the balance and like look under where it says charge u : $1.95 it’s before the two words _________ <—–PAYPAL *EXPUSE right there and yeah the 4 #’s it works I got it! hope u do too(: Goodluck with it![=

  111. abegail says:

    to union bank, bakit ganun kayo masydo brutal mga agent nyo,oo may utang ako di ko pinagkakaila un,,lam nyo kung ano save agent nyo pag d ako nakbayad  pupuntahan ako sa office para ipahiya para magbayad ako,dahil lang s 15000 sobra naman agent nyo,nagmumura wala pinagaralan…..kukunin p mga gamit ko d2 hauz,grabe,,

  112. Michelle says:

    Are you still checking these comments, by any chance?

    Because I’ve gone to the Simon website, and it says to order the card online – which means they need me to pay for it with something with my information!

    Didn’t you say you were paying with cash in person for your card?  If so, how I can I find that information?

    There are several Simon malls near me, but I’m not aware that any has a leasing office or anything like that where I might be able to buy a card.  Or are they for sale in the individual stores? 

    Your help is much appreciated!

  113. Lisa P says:

    A lot of people, especially these days, are in need of free credit repair. So many people go out into the world unprepared, and without proper budgeting skills. It s hard at times to cultivate the proper discipline to get everything paid off at once.  One unpaid bill can turn into two, and the next thing you know you have a serious problem on your hands. The maxed out credit cards, the sleepless nights, the harassing phone calls from collectors, the shame, guilt, and stigma that comes with all of it it can be hard to bear. Getting out of the hole can take years, but it is very possible. There are an incredible amount of resources out there for free credit repair; after all, we are living in the information age. Others have done it, and you can too.

  114. David says:

    Just recently, an astronaut on an EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity, or spacewalk) lost hold of her tool bag, and it floated out to the heavens, never to be seen again (well, except maybe by aliens.) She apparently hadn t tethered it to her space suit, and many people, in a similar fashion, lose hold of their debt management and budgeting and need free credit repair. One missed bill can become two, two to three, and then you have real trouble on your hands. So many people have to deal with all the pains of credit struggles the sleepless nights, the harassing phone calls and letters, the stigma, the inability to purchase a home or a car except at exorbitant interest; it can be too much to bear. However, do not believe for an instant that there is no way out. We live in the information age, and credit repair information is out there, just waiting for you to learn how to fix your credit score. The road to a better credit score can be long and tiresome, but it is a journey well worth taking. There are so many online resources for free credit repair, that not looking into it is just not acceptable.

  115. A- says:

    ryan… I have a lot of answers for a lot of your blog questions… Many of these people requesting information on your site… Being a help would be my pleasure… you can contact me here… this email… snarfanswer@live.com

  116. A- says:

    ryan… I have a lot of answers for a lot of your blog questions… Many of these people requesting information on your site… Being a help would be my pleasure… you can contact me here… this email… snarfanswer@live.com

  117. Pete says:

    Isn’t there a prepaid card I can buy in person and reload online? I don’t want anything mailed to me, and I’m too far out into the middle of nowhere to make trips to town to reload it every time. I want to protect my real account info while not sharing my address/name/ssn etc.. I’ve looked all over but cannot find any. Do you have any suggestions?

  118. THE MAN says:

    I heard walgreens has gift visa cards- no ssn name or addresses, but arent reloadable and come in 25 50 100 and so on. The best way I know of is the simon cards, but you have to do it in person. It sucks becuase those who want to use cash to be unknown have to pay retail price becuase all the great values are on the internet and need a card, and that is when it is most dangerous for it to be stolen or info about you noted down.

  119. A lot of good information about prepaid cards. However, one prepaid card not mentioned was the AccountNow Prepaid Credit Card. AccountNow Prepaid Credit Cards are available primarily online, but can be purchased at Check Center retail locations across California. You can also reload your prepaid card online from your personal checking or savings account.

    AccountNow all of the basic features of other prepaid cards with some extra unique features, such as: free online bill pay, short term loans, and free SMS text alerts.

    If you want added security, you can buy prepaid Visa gift cards with an AccountNow prepaid card account. The visa gift cards are cannot be recharged like the AccountNow Prepaid Credit Card, but you can use them for single use transactions, like online shopping and save your prepaid credit card for regular transactions like monthly bills.

  120. Prepaid101 is a free card comparison site for prepaid credit cards.
    Prepaid101 is a great site to shop, compare, and apply for a prepaid credit card. You can compare cards side-by-side and read (or submit) prepaid card reviews from the site’s editor and consumers.
    If you want more information on some of the cards mentioned within this blog, check out the prepaid card reviews at prepaid101.com.

  121. We The People says:

    Whew, Long thread. I made it half way and gave up. Skipped to the end to just ask, sorry.

    All other things aside, I am looking for a card I (as a house-bound disabled person) can recharge online or by phone WITH ANOTHER CARD.

    I have Chase accounts for my basic stuff. One I purposely crippled so it has no cards or checks on it for my automatic SSI deposit.
    I then use online banking to transfer the amount I wish to spend onto another account with a Chase debit card attached. That works fine.

    Here’s the stinker!

    Unlike Chase “Credit” cards that will decline if a merchant tries to take more than what you have available, Chase “Debit” cards will LET the merchant take as much as they please (up to the cards max.) screwing your account to the ceiling!

    So I am looking for any card I can struggle somehow to get the first initial time (store, bank, merchant, etc.), then transfer money to online/phone my funds for immediate use after.

    That would stop those “Implied Consent” auto-renewal thiefs dead in their tracks.

    Note:
    When I called VISA directly today I was told that the policy of NOT denying when the balance asked is more than the balance available is a bank based decision. Not part of the VISA policies.

    They said almost 25% of the banks they
    “Logo” through/to don’t do that,
    but over 75% have that problem.
    Thay were very aware of the complaint.

    I asked REPEATEDLY which of the (<25%) banks have “Debit” cards that actually act like debit cards but was told they don’t have that data handy…

    So even though I can (as example) do my once a month Wally-World food shopping and get in line with $200 on my Chase debit card and use my VISA number for $201 only to be decline when I use my PIN.
    I CAN use the VERY SAME VISA NUMBER with my “John Hancock” and IT WILL GO THROUGH.
    Double standard that pisses me off!

    Had that been a “Credit” card from Chase, I of course would be declined…

    They (Chase) will decline if I try to spend more of what I (obviously) don’t have as credit, but validate more than what they KNOW I don’t have as debit. Am I the only one that finds that super-stupid???

    And yes, Chase has a pre-paid on too,
    but it can only be recharged in the branch…DUMB!

    Anyone here that has a bank’s (debit) card that WILL decline using the “John Hancock” PLEASE post so we all know.

    Thanks for helping the handicapped.
    We The People

  122. divinediva says:

    I am looking for a “virtual credit card” that changes numbers as you use it, and allows you to use any name/address?  I know they exist, but are hard to find.  Any thoughts?  Love the posts….

  123. Hey We the People.
    Well you should check out the AccountNow prepaid credit card. You can recharge the card with your checking or savings account. I think the easiest way would be to just have a portion of your check deposited onto the card automatically.

    It basically works just like a debit card from a checking account, but unlike your chase card, it wont overdraft. You can also add money to your prepaid card with PayPal, which is cool.

    If you are looking for other cards like the AccountNow prepaid card. Check out http://www.prepaid101.com. Its a card comparison site for all types of prepaid cards. You can compare all different prepaid credit cards to find out which makes most sense for you.

    Hope this helps.

  124. TY John,

    I had already spotted AccountNow at the top of the recommended list. However there is a 3-5 day delay time before you can use the funds.

    PrePaid101 doesn’t list any card that can be recharged via a second card. That is the essential feature I seek due to my situation.

    I found another (AccountNow) way that I’m considering,
    but I’m going to wait a bit and check back here for other suggestions before I commit to it.

    Below is the (AccountNow) info & CSR phone exchange responses.

    Thanks All
    We The People

  125. We The People says:

    Thursday 11-22-09 Update:

    AccountNow, Inc.
    2603 Camino Ramon
    Suite 485
    San Ramon, CA
    94583-9137
    925-498-1800 – Phone
    925-498-1801 – FAX

    http://www.AccountNow.com

    **************************************************

    866-925-2036 – M-F 5AM-6PM PST

    Automated Menu:  :(

    I tried letting it ask me for my SS or PC number
    TWENTY TIMES in a row to see it it times out
    and transfers you to a human being.

    No dice….

    So:
    Enter 123-12-1234 as a fake “Social Securiy” number…
    You MAY have to do it a bunch of times, be persistant !

    It will ring through,
    Then it will ask for the last four of SS (or birthdate),
    enter 1234.

    It is a pain, but has to be done to get a rep on the phone !!!

    You’ll know you succeeded when it tells you your balance is $0.

    Menu:
    1 – Balance
    2 – Transaction Details
    3 – Lost Or Stolen
    4 – Deposit Options
    5 – Request Additional Card
    6 – Bill-Pay Options

    DON’T press any number or your stuck,
    just wait…

    Serves above menu three times,
    then transfers you to someone with a pulse..  :)

    Topic-Specific Links:
    http://www.accountnow.com/services/fee-schedule.aspx
    http://www.accountnow.com/services/deposit-center.aspx

    Better Business Bureau:
    https://www.bbb.org/online/consumer/cks.aspx?ID=1080118113757383
    <a href=”http://goldengate.bbb.org/WWWRoot/Report.aspx?site=99&bbb=1116&firm=61092″>http://goldengate.bbb.org/WWWRoot/Report.aspx?site=99&bbb=1116&firm=61092</a&gt;


    **************************************************

    Pre-Paid AccountNow Visa/MasterCard Cards



    Innitial CSR Questions/Answers:

    $9.95 (Still) to open account ?
    Free to open, fee upon first load instead
    (Says $9.95, then $10.00 on same page…forgot to ask…)

    Will it “Decline” for insufficient balance ?!
    YES  !!! YEAH !!!  :)

    Charge for any declines
    NO  !!! AWSOME !!!  :)

    Zero balance allowed ?
    Yes
    (Zero-acitivy monitored though,
    Approximately 4-months safe)

    Deposit by credit/debit card ?
    No, bank account transfers only  :(

    Available instantly ?
    No, 3-5 days  :(

    Needed:
    Name
    Phone Number
    E-Mail Address
    SS Number
    Mailing Address

    “To receive your welcome package and prepaid card,
    you must enter a physical U.S. address.
    Cards CANNOT be sent to P.O. boxes.”

    **************************************************

    I found a way to satisfy my need to obtain instant account transfers and bypass the 3-5 day delay. I re-itterate that I’m a wheelchair+house-bound handicapped person that cannot “Run” to the store every time I need money on the card… I shop once a month by medical transport.

    Open a first account, direct deposit into it.
    Open a second account, use it for purchases.

    I can then keep my “Purchase” card at $0 preventing those “Implied Consent” thiefs from overdrafting me (with auto-renewals, etc.) anymore.
    No more overdrafts or fees, ever.

    Transfers from the “Direct Deposit” card to the “Purchases” card is instant,
    I just transfer the exact amount of the transaction before use.

    On shopping day I transfer a large ammount to the “Purchases” card,
    then transfer back the leftover balance upon returning home.

    This minimizes the time my money is exposed to the time it takes me to shop…

    The following questions arose upon this new way of thinking…



    Additional CSR Questions/Answers:

    Transfer (AccountNow) card to card ?
    Yes

    Any fee to transfer between cards
    No

    Limit to number of transfers between cards
    3-Day / 30-Month total

    Daily transfer limit ?
    Yes,
    $300 (from) regular ($4.95-Month) account
    $500 (from) direct deposit (Free) account

    Funds available instantly ?
    Yes  :)

    **************************************************

    Additional Notes:

    Deposit by PayPal online ?
    Yes

    Any fee to transfer from PayPal ?
    No

    Limits ?
    Yes, 30 Deposits per 30 days

    Daily limit ?
    $500

    Available instantly ?
    No, 3-5 Days  :(

    **************************************************

    “Money Share” Card:

    $10 for card still ?
    Yes

    Order it online ?
    No, phone only

    Will it “Decline” for insufficient balance ?!
    Not applicable, PIN Number only…

    (This didn’t fit my needs, so I asked no more questions)

    **************************************************

    Other Questions:

    Visa “Ready-Link” Delay ?
    Yes, 3-5 day delay  :(

    Fee for over 30 deposits a month ?
    No, Deposits auto-rejected instead !!!

    **************************************************

    I realize that annonymity isn’t a strong point for this card. Sorry.

    I still hope someone posts info on any bank’s prepaid card that allows funding from a debit/credit card over phone/net with instant account funds availability.

    Either from an additional debit/credit/savings/checking account within the same bank,
    or a Visa/MasterCard logo’d debit/credit card from any other bank.

    Why is this simple need so hard to fill?

    We The People

  126. We The People says:

    Ryan,

    When you get a chance could you edit/fix the “Better Business Bureau” links above?

    For some reason, there was a problem with (just) those two links…

    Thanks

  127. We The People says:

    “DivineDiva”,
    PayPal has non-static (dynamic) card number generation in their PayPal IE plugin. It generates a one-time visa number for each single purchase. I’ve not seen or used it yet so I can’t comment further (yet). I do plan to try it sometime soon though.

    “Me”,
    PayPal:
    Login >>> “My Account” >>> “Add Funds” >>> “Add Card”
    Note: They use address AND CVV check.
    A card like AccountNow will work.
    A card with CVV only (gift, lazy bank) won’t work.

  128. john says:

    Is there any type of card where I can get payments wired?  For example I have a number of affiliate accounts who take months to send out cheques so it would be great if payments could be wired into the card as a kind of realod.  Does anyone know if this exists?

  129. kandice says:

    yeah but i wanna know if its possible to buy airline tickets online with those credit card things you buy at walmart rite aid and various stores because i know buying tickets online is cheaper but i just dont know how to do it cause i dont have a credit card but i was wondering if i could buy an airline ticket with a credit card you buy at a store

  130. Hatin America Online says:

    Does anyone know of an anonymous way to open a dial-up America Online account? ie: is there a prepaid anonymous card that they DO accept? I’ve given those people my personal information for the very last time! Should something ever happen and you decide to end or suspend your account temporarily they still continue to charge you. The ONLY attraction to their internet service is features and ease of use, the bill payment aspect and customer service SUCKS!

  131. We The People says:

    Hatin’ AOL,
    Kandice,

    You would need to call and ask if they use one or both of these to chose a proper card:

    AVS (address verification system)
    (Some cards spoof this with success)

    CVV/CVV2 (Card Verification Value)
    (The three digit number on the back)

  132. ok, my head is spinning with information overload.  There is a mall not too far on the simon.com site, what exactly is involved in getting and activating say a $100 card, what information and or identification will be required? As soon as I get it from the mall is it good to go, or is there an more online hoops to jump through?  TIA

  133. Jax. says:

    No more hoops……..unless you WANT to register the card in A name.  You dont have to register it if you dont want to and it will work just fine.  As far as buying it at the mall, its the cost of the card plus $2.00 , so a $100 card costs ya $102.00 .
    It is already activated, registering it is mostly for reporting it lost or what have you.

  134. Stuart D says:

    Somehow, using credit card is also advantageous, it s worry-free since your don t have to bring cash when shopping around. Now that Valentine’s Day is coming up; it’s one of the holidays that we’re obligated to potentially spend too much money ont.  Many people will be pulling out the credit cards and racking up the bills for high end flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, and restaurant reservations.  Like payday loans, it can be worth it.  Spending some quality time with that special someone can make all the difference in the world it puts all the other worldly hassles in their place.  You can do the same thing with payday loans, and organize the nonsense.

  135. Lukey says:

    Is there any card similar to Simon Gift Card in the UK ?

    Every man and his dog seems to want your personal information in their database before they will let you do anything.

  136. trish says:

    Hi, I live in the usa nowhere near a place to get a simon card and have never seen a simon mall. I am looking for a credit type card that can be reloaded through my bank account and be used to purchase goods in the uk. I use alot of fhings from the UK online goods, services etc. Alot of them need a UK address to get a credit card or prepaid card and can only be reloaded if in UK. I want to do all of this from the USA. I have a UK VPN so it looks like I am in uk but if I use my credit card then transactions can be declined as it is a USA credit card.  I need a card that works in UK for a non uk resident. I do go there alot on business. I need it to be reloadable thru credit’debit card or bank account for travel. I do not like to use my regular credit card overseas as you need to show passport and sometimes ID card also. Because of that someone stole my Idenity after a purchase from harrods with my credit card and had over a $ 6,000.00 shopping spree as harrods amd most places take a photo copy of passport and ID to kep if from other country then UK. Person had those things and had a great time in europe. I never was able to get the money back from the EVIL WASHINGTON MUTUAL BANK. They even closed my account and withdrew an overage of $900.00 that they say I owe even though it was from identity theft. I know waht I am asking for is not annoymous and that would be nice but I just dont want someone to have access to all my funds from my visa debit card and in need it for USA and UK. Please Help. Sorry about the rambling on major jet lag. I also need it for IRAQ and other UAE countries as don’t want to use my car there either but in military and need something. Not everywhere has a ATM. Thank you, Trish

  137. noname says:

    I went to my local Dollar General store & bought a Vanilla Mastercard gift card.The cashier activated my card without me having to give any info at all.I drove home (I live about 10 minutes from the store)& went to the Vanilla website & registered the card.All they wanted was my name,address & phone#,I gave them a fake name & phone# but I gave my real address ( if your not going to use the card for an online purchase that needs to be delivered you could use a fake address).After I registered the card I used it to open a broadband internet account under the fake name with my local cable company.
      I had been stuck using a dial up connection because where I live the cable co. is the only option for broadband & I owe them money from a billing dispute a couple years ago that I will never pay because I was right.So now I have broadband again & that would not have been possible without this card.

  138. prepaid cards says:

    hey noname. Can you reload vanilla cards? if im correct you cant. I like the privacy of one time prepaid cards but in the long run they create a big problem. I like using a prepaid debit card account because you can use them like a checking account or credit card but without having to go through credit checks and stuff. Also, you know that if you dont use those one time prepaid cards for a while they take money off them, which is crazy because they are taking money away that you spent.

  139. notvanilla says:

    I bought a VanilliaVisa, tried it on four sites – all rejected the card. Looking for other options now, but don’t recommend them.

  140. Fed Up says:

    Hi!  I was very pleased to have found this column here, as it addresses the exact problem that I have been having, and have yet to find a workable solution for.  I would like to tell some of my story, but first, and please I don’t mean this in a condescending or any other negative sort of a way.. it’s just that I noticed in most of your posts something that I found troubling, and hope you don’t mind if I mention it….

    That is that most of you seem to not be bothered by activating or registering or whatever anything online, as long as you can get away with giving false info.  But anything you do online can so very easily be traced right back to you. Regardless of what you actually type in their forms.  If you are using your home PC, the computer you use at work, one at the library where you have to use your library card with your info bar-coded into it to gain access,  or even if you use one that belongs to a friend, neighbor or relative of yours, anyone at all who knows you that can be associated with you, then your online activities can be traced back to you very, very easily!  The Internet is about the most UNprivate place in the world to be… though ironically, it is also often referred to as being a place where you can be anonymous.  NOT TRUE!  If Big Brother wants to find you, or know anything about you, he only has to log on to get all the info he wants.  You leave a “footprint” actually, thousands of them everytime you go online.  And NOTHING you do is ever REALLY deleted.  It stays in there somewhere for those who are experts in that area, there is nowhere you can hide online…  it’s wrong, and it’s scary, but it’s also necessary to be always aware….. 

    The only way I have been able to think of to do something as anonymously as possible online, is to go to a place like FED-EX/KINKOS, or there are some other places left that will rent you for about $12.00/hour a computer with Internet Access, and allow you to pay CASH for it.

    If you are not using a public computer anonymously like that, then it doesn’t really matter what fake info you give them – even if they accept it and don’t verify it on the spot and activate an account for you.  You might think that you have gotten away with being anonymous, but you have not.  Don’t think that the web site didn’t take a cookie from your comuter as well as place one of their own yours.  They know who you are no matter what – unless you pay CASH for the use of a public computer or you activate by phone using a PAY PHONE.  Even then, unless you can afford to travel half way across the country just to activate something, they still know your general location.  Many people don’t seem to be aware of this.  The government on all levels has eyes everywhere!  It really sucks!  But anyway, please remember to be aware on all levels when you are trying to protect your privacy.

    Thanks for listening.  My stories about trying to get an anonymous card are no different than your own.  I had hoped when I accidentally bumped into this column to find some new and feasible ways aroiund the ridiculouosly nosy society we live in today.  But as I can see how hard everyone has been trying, still, they seem to manage to stay, or quickly get – one step ahead of us!  But surely, there must be a way…  now that I have found this place, I have bookmarked it (on my UNprivate PC) lol! Not really funny, but anyway, if I happen for any reason to find anything useable, I will surely post it here, as well as check back to see if anyone else has had any more luck.  Thanks again for listening to my rant about how there in no privacy in cyberspace.. It just really irritates me that this is so…..

  141. Fred says:

    Hi everybody, I found this post a long time ago, and while its really old (2003), the comments show that a lot of people still find the topic relative today. When I was younger the privacy issue was a big deal to me, but its not so much anymore as I guess I’ve gotten used to, but the real issue I have is that while I don’t use real credit cards anymore, we still need credit cards to buy things on the net.

    As I said earlier privacy isn’t my thing anymore, now its well, trust. I don’t trust most online merchants billing systems with open access to my bank account. I’ve had too many lost bank accounts, and overdraft nightmares over the years. Some were my fault, some where my now ex-wife’s fault, and now I’ve got crappy credit. If you’ve ever gone through the process of trying to fix one of these nightmares, you’ll quickly discover that it’ll keep you up at night more than mere fears of being on someone’s database (unless your thinking of the big three credit reporting agencies databases, or bad check reporting companies).

    When Greendot first came out, I went for it. Later I switched to Walmart’s branded Greendot. Yeah, you lose the monthly balance, but only as far as one payment over your available balance, then it freezes until you fund the card again (minus the negative 10 bucks). I accepted this for a long time, but then I had to move for family reason to a really small town, and the nearest Walmart, or drugstore that I can get a Greendot Money Pack is three hours driving distance from where I now live. It really put a cramp in things until one of the convenience stores in town, started selling 25.00/50.00/100.00 Vanilla visa gift cards.

    These work okay for a lot of things. Occationally they’re not accepted with some online retailers. Mostly, though I used them for Paypal purchases. Only, if I’m buying something with Paypal (which I do a lot), its kind of a pain in the butt. You have to register the gift card, add it to your Paypal account (or I guess, instert payment service here), then you’ll lose access to 1.00 off the card when they ping it. You eventually get that 1.00 back, but its usually 2 weeks or more down the road before you’ll see it on your gift card again.  By then you’ve probably forgotten about it. I even used to keep all the cards, and once every 2-3 months I would, using another paypal account, send all the remaining balances to the second account, then pay that money back to my main account, and then finally throw the cards away. A pain in the butt to be sure, but its almost like throwing
    your change in a jar, and then taking it and rolling it up, or throwing it in a change counter at the store for some seemingly free forgotten money.

    I’ve always been on the lookout for something better, and six months ago I found it. A company called AccountNow <http://www.accountnow.com> If you put in the Referral code: “US10Credit”, you’ll get $10.00 when you
    first add money to your card.

    AccountNow does have the same problem as Greendot or Walmart’s Greendot, but the pluses so far have outweighed the 9.95/month service fee. Also like Greendot, you only ever lose the service until your balance is negative, and then you pay that off when you finally reload it. The real beauty of this company is that along with Greendot Money Packs, they offer a whote lot of other ways to reload your card, which is one of the two big reasons I now use them almost exclusively. Remember I’m three hours drive to next big town that has a Walmart or drugstore that sells Green Dot Money Packs so this is more of a big deal for me than maybe most of you.  They also offer other funding options like: Western Union, Money Gram, Visa Ready (Unless you sign up for a Master Card), and of course Green
    Dot.

    You can use Direct Deposit as well to fund it with your Paycheck, Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment, Disability, SSI, some retirement benefits, Military, and a whole slew of other Government programs. Granted I don’t use direct deposit, but its there if I decide to, and they’ll wave the monthly fee if I ever do use it.

    You can also fund the card using any of the online payment accounts, like Paypal, Moneybookers, Alert Pay, e-Gold, etc. This turned out to be a
    bigger seller for me, than I first realized. In fact my second Paypal account that I used to use to transfer remainder balances from all my prepaid gift cards is now my primary Paypal account because of this little feature.  Paypal, and all those other payment services want a Bank Account. I really don’t like giving them my bank account, and now I don’t have to.

    AccountNow gives you a free MetaBank Routing and Acct number associated with your card. You transfer money back to your “Bank
    Account” to get the money off of these services and put them on your card. Its the only thing that isn’t an instant reload, but to me the important thing is that it protects my primary checking account!

    They offer a whole bunch of other things which I don’t personally use, like Line of Credit loans (if you use direct deposit), and free bill pay, plus they’ll
    report your successful bill payments to your credit report, which will help improve your credit rating.

    The other service they offer is the next most important one, to me, that they offer, which I use to protect my Card balance. Its called their “Money Share” card, and its a 10.00 one time sign up cost. They promote it as a way to give your kids a credit card for their allowances, but I found another more important use for the card). Transferring money to the Money Share card is free from your AccountNow primary card, and the Money Share card is now what I use for ALL my online purchases, whether they’re through Paypal or not. Companies that sell you stuff and try to set up a monthly charge when they’re not being clear about that, or companies that sell you something for 2.00 and in their terms of service have some other little ditty about a 97.00 charge they’re going to hit you with in 30 days down the road, are in for a nasty shock when they try to take it out, and its not there. Which opens the way for the last most important thing to me about them, there are no over draft fee’s with AccountNow.

    So give them a look over, you of course have to give out your social security number, but turn off the credit reporting service if you don’t want it and aren’t going to use bill pay.

    AccountNow <http://www.accountnow.com> – Referral Code: US10Credit for a free 10.00 bucks when you first put money on the card (if done within the first 90 days of opening the account I think), it’ll pay your first months fee when you do have money on the card.

  142. Quinnj says:

    We all know that nowadays not only war and poverty is the basic issue of all country, but RECESSION. Many are struggling financially, and as times get tougher we often have to rely on our credit cards to get us through. Yet the banks and credit card companies — many of which have received billions in taxpayer bailout money — continue their abusive practices, hitting customers who make their payments on time with sudden interest rate hikes and new fees. Do you need to repair your credit? First thing to do is know all your credit score, and then if you figure it out, I think only you can tell whether or not you not need to repair your credit.  A defined step is to get your credit report; there are numerous websites, like Annualcreditreport.com.  It isn’t a wise move to go for pay sites that have an extremely annoying and banal band on TV you know who we mean.  The law makes it so you can get your report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion once a year for free, no payday loans necessary.  You might also put the credit cards away as you start to repair your credit. We all know that credit cards are really helpful, but in times of recession it isn t good to have bad credit history so better work on you credit score and start repairing your credit before its too late.

  143. completely exposed says:

    PrivaCash is being discontinued. Spend the rest now!

    Its site currently says:
    “Thank You For Your Interest In The PrivaCash Prepaid MasterCard
    We are no longer accepting new card orders. If you have additional questions regarding your card account closure or want to verify your balance, please call [phone numbers in an image file].

    Please spend the funds on your card by Friday, July 31, 2009. Any funds remaining on your card after this date will be mailed to the address we currently have on file. Circle K employees who have a PrivaCash prepaid payroll card should spend their funds by Saturday, August 15, 2009.”

  144. Vanilla MasterCard SCAM says:

    I received a Vanilla Mastercard as a gift and it was DECLINED every time I tried to use it. I did not want to embarass the gift  giver  so I put it away and tried again later. Seems like many places will not redeem it! When I logged onto the site they show they are deducting a “service  fee” for NOT USING THE CARD. When I called – you guessed it – ETERNAL HOLD.

    Turns out the company TAKES AWAY your card value month by month in “service fees.” WTF? They get $50 for  the card, they get to work with or invest that cash and then they take away a monthly fee for – what? – storage in my wallet???

    I think Vanilla Master Card is a SCAM.

  145. Emme says:

    I am looking for a reloadable card that I can use a fake or private address on it – won’t ask for my SSN, phone number and all that. I have to be able to easily use it online – what does anyone reccommend?

  146. Halsey says:

    I have a prepaid card, but I don’t know how to put an address and name on it, so I can buy xbox live for halo 3. :( It totally blows.
    Can someone help plllleeeaaaseee?

    happy_bunny123321@hotmail.com e-mail me if you have an answer, but not if you’re gunna be a creeper. thankkkkssss

  147. Ryan says:

    Prepaid cards is a good idea but it has be a hassle for single professionals to keep switching cards. Another idea would be to choose a bank which allows you to get a new credit card every 6 months or so.

  148. Prepaid Credit Cards says:

    You have to also understand that prepaid credit cards are generally geared towards those with low credit score, or those that can’t get a regular card.  While there are a few out there that can work for you, a lot of them charge you an arm, and leg for fees alone.

  149. Ace Cash Express Prepaid Debit Card says:

    Looks like bank overdraft fees imposed to consumers will be over this coming July. More and more prepaid debit cards will be available in the market..

  150. mrh says:

    good info from Ryan.  The last few years, I’ve actually taken this a step further.  Luckily I’ve had an account with Greendot before they asked for SSN info or I’ll use a giftcard  In my case, due to some issues with a previous business, I’ve had a company try to sue me years later….so I’m very leary of phone calls and tend to keep my info very private.  besides using a prepaid card, i keep a postoffice box at a Mailbox Etc (which they don’t use PO box #’s anymore, it’s just a regular address so no one will know the difference) and the mail I get there, I don’t open any letters unless it’s something I’m expecting. I figure if a letter is that important, the company sending  will send registered to ensure I sign for it, otherwise they can’t prove I recieved it.  all other mail, I automatically shred without opening.  guess I won’t be that $1,000,000 lotto winner by mail!  For phone calls, I do have 1 prepaid #, but also an ATT cell phone, I don’t have a voicemail setup, so no one can leave messages and I don’t answer any calls that I don’t know. my family and friends know to text me if its an emergency, so no need for a voicemail.  For checking any bank accounts or doing online purchases, besides using the prepaid card, I make them from my work internet (I work at a military base, and feel confident their security is safe).  or I just find a wi-fi spot.  not that I’m trying to do anything illegal, i just don’t want anyone, whether it’s a company or the government  knowing my buying tendencies or internet practices, or who I am in general. any email accounts I setup, I never use my real name or info. and I use 3 or 4 addresses consistantly so no one can attach me to just one…and usually I only check from wi-fi spots.  going to these extremes may seem like alot of work, but it’s not.  there’s places that sells greendot every few miles mailbox etc’s, and wi-fi spots all over nowadays.  basically if anyone would want to find out any relevant info about me, they’d just have to spend the time/cost to follow me around for days.

  151. itsmebob says:

    wow mrh, that seems like a lot of work for someone unless they are trying to do something like avoid child support, debt collection, or they are actually mel gibson in conspiracy theory.

  152. mrh, I’m guessing yr not married. lol. my wyfe gives out personal info left/ right and centre and she’s a fac3b00k fiend posting everything. i’m w/ mrh tho, not kowtowing to the many different “Beasts” / non-human entities (multi-nat.corps, gov.s,bankingthugs,et al) preying upon ppl for clandestine control of our lives.

    go NAVI!!! not NAVY!

    Avat4r reference. it’s official, i’m an Avatari

    is there a way for me to link paypal w/ an anon prepaid?

  153. There are tons of great prepaid debit cards listed at GetDebit.com.  Most of them, however require that you fill out an application with your full name, social, and address, so it may be difficult to get the privacy benefits you are looking for.

    Check out the cards at http://www.getdebit.com

  154. Misty says:

    Theres prepaid Visa gift cards.  Pretty awesome and they want NO personal information.  Not reloadable and maybe $5 for the card but can be used anywhere.

  155. Jim says:

    Thanks to Mr. Barrett for starting this topic and thanks to all of you who continue to keep it alive.

    What do you do with the small remaining amounts on your cards? I saw the one reply about the phone company and gas station. Any other ideas? I have these annoyingly small amounts like 2.63 that I feel guilty about not doing something with.

    Thanks!

  156. Mike says:

    “Halsey, Sun 09 Aug 2009
    I have a prepaid card, but I don’t know how to put an address and name on it, so I can buy xbox live for halo 3. :( It totally blows.
    Can someone help plllleeeaaaseee?

    happy_bunny123321@hotmail.com e-mail me if you have an answer, but not if you’re gunna be a creeper. thankkkkssss”

    This person obviously does not grasp the concept of protecting personal information. Privacy Fail.

  157. TrevorTheBettorProglol says:

    Hello everyone, I was wonder since I am only 16 and don’t have parents and live alone would it be possible for me to get a Prepaid debit card that wont make me broke?
    If so can anyone give me a simple site that verifies that I am able to get one, I am finding it very difficult and need a lot of help!!!

    Also I ordered a NetSpend Debit card and tried to activate it, then it said I had to be 18 or older when before that the site had said that there were no age requirements…….PLEASE HELP I’M GOIN INSANE!!!!

  158. LetscallmeMartin :) says:

    Hey Ryan,

    Fabulous article and excellent research buddy.  It basically told me all I needed to know and it seems to apply even to my country in Europe too.  Im not that affraid of the state knowing all about me, cause here the state aint dangerous as such, its more the companies data that could be used for SSN identity theft related crimes that scare me.

    Jim(the Tues 26th Jan 2010 one), you could always donate them to charity if they take odd amounts digitally.  Else I think a post office should be able to just cash the card in, if you just say you need change.

  159. Me_who_are_you says:

    Walmart and Target let you finish off small amounts as long as you know what is available, just tell the cashier

  160. Exonanizmax says:

    The response level to national disaster is noble but it’s a real shame that so many people take advantage of the negative situations.

    I mean everytime there is an earthquake, a flood, an oil spill – there’s always a group of heartless people who rip off tax payers.

    This is in response to reading that 4 of Oprah Winfreys “angels” got busted ripping off the system.  Shame on them!
    http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/08/19/crimesider/entry5251471.shtml

  161. Sarah says:

    This will not work for everyone, but it works perfectly for me and I think for some who have posted here.  Here are basics of re-loadable Visa:

    1. No SSN required to buy or to activate
    2. They need fax or scan copy of your ID and one debit card will be issued in name on ID.  I got one with U.S. ID and my father got one using his U.K. drivers license.
    3. Daily load is $2,500 max, total card is $9,000 max (good when I go overseas, and it works at ATMs and every place I have tried on the internet and in person).
    4. I have loaded my card by paypal, Moneygram and cash.  I think they also have other load methods but I am not sure what they are.
    5. I lost a debit card once and of course lost the money on it.  If this one is lost, you call the customer service number, they cancel the card, and send you a new card with same remaining balance.
    6. There is a $4.95 monthly fee, and a 50 cent fee when I use at the store, but NO tricky overdraft fees like I got burned on before BIG TIME.  If what I am buying is one penny more than I have on my card, my purchase is declined.

    You sign up for it online, but then you pay and load by paypal, Moneygram or other.  It comes with membership at Oceanus where you get other stuff.  The basic one is $39.  They have another option that is $149 and includes a mailing address.  Both types of memberships get members only discounts and the extra I just got was vonage-like service for $19.97 per month.  It worked great right out of the box.  And I got a second line for $1.00 per YEAR.  It is unbelievable.  I gave it to Dad so he calls me from U.K. for free.

    So here is how it breaks down for me by the month because I got the bigger plan that included the address:

      $12.41 membership fee
      4.95 monthly debit card fee
      19.97 voip telephone line
    = $37.33  And I am getting the debit card, the mailing address and the voip line combined for less than my old telephone line by itself.

    If you do not need the address, it would be a lot less, and you don t have to get the voip either, but I already had voip so switching so this is saving me a lot of money on things I was using anyway.

    You can get details from OceanusInternationalConcierge.com

  162. james from vegas says:

    i saw that someone asked if you can use prepaid “credit cards” to purchase airline tickets. first of all, i would like to say that there is no such thing as a pre-paid credit card, at least in my hours of searching on the net. i think there may have been pre-paid credit cards a few years ago, but, they are now all called pre-paid (no credit in the name) cards. and on the card the word DEBIT is typed. the reason this is of importance to me, is due to the fact that i wanted to rent a car. as far as i can tell, most car rental places require a lot of hassle when you use a debit card instead of a Credit card, including the fact that they will do a credit check on you, and decline the rental if you have bad credit. pre-paid “credit” cards, are not credit cards, they are debit cards, and you will probably not be able to use them for a car rental.

  163. George says:

    ok for Green Dot they need to verify the SSN to confirm that the name on the account is real, that there are no terrorists or money laundry people involved with this prepaid cards, besides that, Green Dot only requires SSN if you wish to have a reloadable card with your name on it if you wish to show that you have a debit card, without the SSN you can only activate a temporary card that you can use to spend the funds and then buy another one, they run the SSN check trough Experian to make sure that you are a real person, that is their main data base.

  164. JustAnotherGuy says:

    Those Simon cards sound great! I even live near a Simon mall. My only beef with them is that they aren’t reloadable. Has anyone discovered a similarly cheap, reloadable card that lets you fabricate identity info?

  165. JustAnotherGuy says:

    To clarify the above–everyone is focusing on price and ease of use. What really concerns me is–which ones don’t verify ID information?

  166. me says:

    I’m with JustAnotherGuy. I want something that doesn’t verify ID information. I live nowhere near a Simon mall.

    Are there any other options?

  167. International spy says:

    This thread has lost it’s heading!

    I have gotten lots of useful info tho.

    I want an international card that I can pay cash for and have total anonymity with. Other than the vanilla, it would be better to convince some homeless guy to register a gift card for u.

    I would have to go with the vanilla visa, u can get it anywhere, total anonymity if u pay cash, fee’s are worth the price, if u consider the options, they don’t go up real high though, but many retailers will take multiple payments if u call to order.

    Also, please note, that using pay pal to use gift cards internationally, is not anonomys. The government can get access to that.

    One thing I do suggest, is to check with the retailer to see if they accept the card you are planning on.

  168. just me says:

    Does anyone have any experience with http://www.card444.com/ ? It’s a virtual card, which is ideal for me. They say no ID or SSN needed. I need a prepaid card I can use online and load from my paypal balance.

    They seem awfully expensive though.

  169. Anon Joe says:

    FYI after many, many hours of waiting in a Verizon store on about 3 separate days, I finally managed to get a cell phone without coughing up a SSN. I handed over scans of utility bills, which may not have been necessary though. The magic word for them was “security deposit”. It doesn’t cost any extra, Vzw just wants to hold onto a few hundred dollars for a year to make sure you don’t steal their service (dunno what the big deal would be. How would the scam work? You get a month and a half of cell service, don’t pay your bill, and they cut off your service? What would they be out of?.)

  170. Sam J. says:

    Just me, I would stay away from Card444 – some foreginer ran place it looks like. This company Proxy Services their site is http://www.proxyservices.com they contacted me from a forum and told me to try out their service – very affordable and received the card within 6 hours to my E-mail address. Very anonymous and quick. No problems.

  171. Anon F. says:

    Problem with the one above is the max of $200. That is not very much. something like this with $1000 or at least 500 would much more useful.

  172. Anonymous says:

    You should check out bitcoin. (Unless you’ve already heard of it). Otherwise, this is your lucky day.

    Be prepared not to sleep too much for the next few days.. ;)

  173. meh. hashcash currencies like bitcoin are fun ideas, and the crypto and math is definitely interesting, but until i can use them to pay for e.g. groceries and plane tickets and real estate, i probably won’t spend too much time thinking about them.

  174. Drunken Money says:

    anon f, i am a subscriber to the PS one and they can do up to $500 per card, however, not reloadable (i imagine some USA restrictions would require for me to then submit my tax ID)

    and i still don’t understand bitcoin very confusing but it will be interesting to see in 10 years at this rate restrictions keep getting tigher on being anonymous..

  175. It appears to this viewer that many people (Excuse me) individuals or persons have been getting by pretty lucky in their endever to protect their privacy. (Does one really have this Right? Unlike a Man or a Woman who is free, a person, individual or yes even a real flesh and blood man or woman who is a SLAVE does not have certain rights. PEOPLE and PERSONS are different, Look it up in Black’s Law Dictionary if you have any doubts.

    CORPORATIONS / BUSINESSES all issue Checks, Credit Cards, etc. in the UPPERCASE NAME of that being. Look up what this means. This is known as a STRAWMAN NAME, A FICTION, A DECEASED BEING, yes even a PLANTATION SLAVE.

    The words person, PERSON, individual, INDIVIDUAL spelling doesn’t matter, mean the same thing SLAVE / FICTION / CORPORATION / DECEASED / // You figure out which fits you?

    I’m all for the Commonlaw Rights, God-Given Rights, and other such Rights, Privileges and Immunities that we once had before we became a captured People. Doubt me look up Bankruptcy of U.S. [1933] and the many Executive Orders since then.

    Any card one can use with the lease trouble is the one to have , hold, use. No doubt about it. But, as the old saying goes…You can run but, you cannot hide. Right now a lot of PEOPLE Chained down to their Strawman names are trying to run and hide… In this day and age this is almost an impossibility to achieve. But good luck anyway.

  176. Anthony says:

    Can you use these cards online? or do i have to swipe at physical location? Im looking for an anonymous card i can use for online purchases.

  177. Jim says:

    VanillaOne are great. I’m doing a a credit card payment system project, and testing with anonymous cards gets me around PCI issues, and is just plain smart. VanillaOne has been great — they honor the full reversals against authorizations I have posted. But MasterCard’s from mygiftcardsite.com have been a pain: 1) they increase the authorization amount by 15%, 2) they don’t honor reversals, 3) as far as I can tell, they don’t expire authorizations after the usual 2-5 days — 16 days & counting on the first one posted, and still it has not expired. None of these 3 facts are in their terms of service. I think they’re just stealing my money. Any suggestions for good MasterCard anonymous cards?

  178. L.A. says:

    I am looking for a reloadable Credit card that I can reload my throw away phone. But, not online. I want to call the cell company with the Card # and be on my way without anyone knowing who I am. Can anyone help? Thanks L.A.

  179. Curry Us says:

    Since I didn’t see any mention of expiration dates in regards to the Simon card, can I safely assume that the has no expiration date?

    (Naturally I’ll double check this before purchase, but to get one is a bit out of the way so I wanted to verify this before I make the effort. I have no immediate needs for the card but like the idea of having it on hand for possible future need.)

  180. anonKin says:

    didn’t pay pal change all it’s privacy policies last month? to be able to notify you about your expenditures AND THE IRS about your activities with paypal. no sign TOS no can use???

  181. Rockets says:

    I want a major international credit card that I can pay cash regarding and have overall anonymity together with. Other than the particular vanilla, it would be better to convince several homeless guy to register a gift credit card. I would have to go with all the vanilla visa, u can get it anywhere, overall anonymity if u pay out cash, fee’s are well worth the price, if u consider the options, they don’t go up real high though, but many suppliers is going to take numerous payments if u call to be able to order. Also, you should be aware, that making use of pay out pal to utilize gift cards internationally, is just not anonymous. The government can get usage of that. One thing I do suggest, is to talk with the particular retailer to see if they will approve the card you are planning on.

  182. Amendment to the PayPal User Agreement

    Effective Date: Apr 01, 2012

    Print • Amendment to the PayPal User Agreement

    Effective Date: April 1, 2012 •Section 2.3 of the User Agreement (Identity Authentication) is being amended because we are making changes to our customer identification program as a result of changes in the law. Section 2.3 will now read:

    2.3 Identity Authentication. You authorize PayPal, directly or through third parties, to make any inquiries we consider necessary to validate your identity. This may include asking you for further information, requiring you to provide your date of birth, a taxpayer identification number and other information that will allow us to reasonably identify you, requiring you to take steps to confirm ownership of your email address or financial instruments, ordering a credit report, or verifying your Information against third party databases or through other sources. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents at any time. If you use certain PayPal Services federal law requires that PayPal verify some of your Information. PayPal reserves the right to close, suspend, or limit access to your Account and/or the PayPal Services in the event we are unable to obtain or verify this Information.

    •Section 4.12 of the User Agreement (Micropayments for Digital Goods) is being updated to increase the maximum amount received in Taiwan New Dollars (TWD) that may be subject to a reversal without requiring a Dispute escalation from 10.00 TWD to 249.00 TWD.

  183. It seems there are two different Simon cards, American Express and Visa. The latter has a penalty of yearly inactivity. But are there any other differences?

  184. anon says:

    Thanks Touch, I should have known PayPal couldn’t be trusted to do anything anonymously. Looks like will have to use a different route now. Oh well, at least you saved me the trouble of buying a card that would likely be rejected. I wont be providing them with ANY PI, period :)

  185. Millie says:

    I’d like to clear up some confusion about Simon Gift cards and OneVanilla cards: WITH EITHER CARD, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PROVIDE ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION WHATSOEVER IF YOU GO IN PERSON TO PURCHASE AND LOAD YOUR CARD, AND AS LONG AS THE AMOUNT YOU LOAD ONTO EACH CARD IS $500 OR LESS. We are talking about 100% anonymity as long as you don’t do something stupid like pay for your prepaid debit card with your credit card or bankcard.

    Here is a link to a list of Simon Malls Nationwide: http://c.sears.com/ue/home/110208_Simon_Mall_Locations.pdf

    You can pick up a One Vanilla card at any 7-11 store.

  186. I can’t imagine your life. People look at me crazy when I say I don’t have a credit card. I do have a debt card which was issued from my bank and I have a PayPal card. I just don’t do credit cards.

  187. Fred says:

    what about telegraphic transfers? You can open a LLC account and proceed to a payement by TT from this account?

  188. i am a simple fellow and as i understand some of this im not finding what im looking for . a card used as a normal debit card but without any or all personal information attached to it . most importantly direct deposit . am i correct that the patriot act prohibits what i am looking for ?

  189. John says:

    I recently used Simon Gift Cards – and am pretty pleased with it. Here’s my experience:

    1. I had almost no issues in transactions in physical stored — coffee shops, grocery stores, restaurants
    2. One issue I DID have — once my card was rejected at a Shell gas pump. I had little over 90 dollars credit left on card, but since I had not registered the card, there was no associated ZIP code which is required entry while pre-paying for gas. Therefore it rejected the transaction. Not only it did reject the card, it temporarily (for about 1 day) put a hold on the balance so effectively had wiped out the remaining money on card. After little more than a day, the hold was released and I could spend remaining money later.
    3. I could register my card with a totally made up name and any address I picked . Mind you — the address is actual valid USPS address – not just mine. I just made up the name . After I did this, the next day, I could in fact buy gas from the same place — this time it accepted the zip code I had used while registering online.
    4. While registering online, Simon website doesn’t work over TOR — so you have to use a public wifi if you want to be truly anonymous.
    5. I was able to make online purchases by supplying same Billing Information that I had given to Simon website while registering. I made 3-4 transactions — none of them physical delivery of goods, so I don’t know if there would be any issues if you try to have it delivered to an address separate from the registered address.
    6. Some grocery store machines don’t recognize whether the card is a credit or debit card. Just selecting ‘Credit’ and giving zip code worked in each case.
  190. Steve says:

    I had used a Western Union Moneywise Mastercard for online purchases for more than a year. I never had to provide ID, though I was asked for a SS # when I registered an address to make an online account. (I had fraudulent charges at one point and made an account to further check my charges)

    Today I went to a ‘Stop & Shop’ supermarket to reload $200 on my card, as I have done a dozen times before., which had been by just showing my card and filling out a form with the card number, amount to be added, and signing the form. Once I had the number saved on my phone and didn’t provide any cards to add funds to my account.

    When I went in today (September 9th, 2013) I was asked for ID, and was told it was a new policy change from Western Union to ask for ID as of a few days ago. The clerk at the store was sympathetic when I said I didn’t have it because I was cycling and didn’t have a wallet with me. and she knew me from previous visits.

    She also said she spent the weekend going over the new policy changes, which were a ‘pain in the neck’ for her and the staff there.

    I will be looking for an alternative but the nearest ‘Simon’ location is some distance away from me. What experience do people have with the Green Dot cards?

  191. I was just told at a hotel, they would not accept a pre paid visa vanilla card at a hotel. They also would not take cash. Then I had one denied outright at another. Both cards had enough cash on them. Does anyone know why?

  192. George says:

    Thanks this is great! I have some updated info you everyone. If you have a small amount left on a pre-paid non-reloadable gift/debit card you can make a partial payment to your T-Mobile cell phone account online for that exact amount. It might not work if the amount if under $1. I do it all the time – don’t know how the other cell phone providers work.

  193. Mike Alanzo says:

    Does anyone know of a card that works outside the US? I frequently purchase items online from South Africa where card fraud is rampant. I would prefer to use a gift card to prevent the emptying of my entire checking account…

  194. Anonymous says:

    Which cards have acceptance outside the United States? I bought a Simon Visa gift card for an online purchase from a business that accepts only MasterCard and Visa. At the mall, while a prominent stand advertised Simon AMEX gift cards and other gift cards, the only advertisement for Simon Visa gift cards was a small paper display at the information desk; I had to explicitly ask a representative to activate and load one. Only after I had purchased it did I notice from the front of the card that it’s “valid only in the U.S.” Fortunately, the business in question is U.S.-based so I thought I would have no problems after registering the card online with the real contact information of a local restaurant. Unfortunately, the business in question rejected my card because as I later learned, it uses a non-U.S.-based payment processor.

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