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Privacy.com Virtual Credit Cards – Great for service trials, questionable sites, and more

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JayZJay    65

A week ago today, this article was published:  https://www.neowin.net/news/mastercard-is-making-free-trials-less-frustrating-by-pre-empting-subscription-charges.  I doubt many saw my comment, but I have used Privacy.com (I'll just refer to them as "Privacy") a few times just in the last week.  So, I decided to share here on the forum where more people might benefit.

Before I share a bit about "Privacy", the big question might be… Who can use "Privacy"?  Privacy.com's website as of today (January 23, 2019) says:

"We are currently available to US citizens or permanent residents who are 18 and older who are the account holders of a US checking account or US debit card."


"Privacy" gives one the ability to create Virtual Credit Cards (VCCs) that you can Pause (card doesn't work while paused), create with No Limit, create with other $ dollar amount limits (Per charge, Per month, Per year, or Total for that card), create as a Single-use card, and more.  These "Privacy" VCCs have proven to be EXTREMELY flexible and handy for me. 

I knew about "Privacy" for a few months, but finally signed up back in the summer.  I wish I had signed up sooner.  The service is free, but works very well.  More than once, having a VCC that was single-use (or had other limits I had placed on the VCC) has prevented a charge.  I pause VCCs all the time so they are not a working credit card.  Privacy's VCCs are Visa cards.  So, any place that will accept a Visa card will accept a "Privacy" VCC.  I have not experienced any problem with any "Privacy" VCC that I attempted to use.


Another feature that is handy is that you can give a company whatever name and billing address you want when using a "Privacy" VCC.  So, if you don't want to use your real name or one of your real mailing addresses as the billing address, then you can do it.  For example, maybe your real name and billing address are John Smith, 100 E. Main Street, etc., but for whatever reason, you don't want to give a company your real name and/or billing address.  No problem.  Give them a "Privacy" VCC and say the cardholder name is Bob Johnson with a billing address of 922 North Pike Road, etc.  Of course, that name and billing address is only an example.

To be clear, your "Privacy" account has real bank accounts of your choosing that are behind the scenes and are used as a funding source for your "Privacy" VCCs, similar to how PayPal and/or other services can work.  "Privacy
is free because they make money from the bank "interchange" transaction fees that are taking place as part of credit card processing.  You and I, as customers, don't see these behind-the-scene fees.

As I mentioned above, I've used "Privacy" a few times this week.  For example, I just did a CBS All-Access 7-day trial this week and used a "Privacy" VCC as the card to be charged.  So, I will cancel my trial perhaps, but I can also pause the VCC I gave CBS All Access if I decide to.  Again, a paused VCC is not chargeable.

So far in my experience, I can absolutely recommend checking "Privacy" out.  Those that are in the U.S. should check them out or make a note about them for future consideration.  Currently, you will receive $5 credit for signing up that will work on any VCC transaction.  They didn't offer that when I signed up.








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Skiver    1,971

I'm from the UK so ultimately this site, in particular, isn't useful but I'm curious, in what scenario would you not want to give someone your real name or billing address? 

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JayZJay    65

What I am about to share doesn't directly answer your question, but is food for thought.  I will give you an example here in a minute that does answer your question.

"Address" is a legal term, at least in the U.S.  From my experience and knowledge in law and legal matters, there are many reasons not to use your house or apartment location ("address") -- wherever you live and sleep -- as your primary mailing address to receive mail and packages.  Of course, from the standpoint of someone being up to mischief, having your primary mailing address at a different location than where you live/sleep provides protection as well.  Anyone up to mischief cannot find you simply be intercepting some of your mail.  

From a privacy standpoint, one is entitled to their privacy even if they are not doing anything unlawful or illegal.  So, maybe you don't want some person or company that you rarely ever have interactions with to have your real information, especially if you suspect that the first interaction will be the only one.  Obviously, our information is shared all over the place, but every time you keep your name and mailing location/address out of a company's database, then it potentially saves you from another piece of junk-mail or being added to another database.

I am selective in giving out the location of my house, but this sometimes creates a problem if I want a package sent to my house but the billing information for a credit card has a different location/address as the billing/mailing address.  Often, companies are picky about allowing a new customer to ship a package to a different location than the billing location/address on the payment method (credit card in particular).  I have experienced this periodically over the years, especially if ordering from a company for the first time.


I just had a situation where I wanted to buy a college textbook for my daughter from AbeBooks.com, which I have known about for probably 20 years but had never ordered from.  My daughter needed the textbook as soon as possible and I didn't want to take a chance of having a problem because I wanted to ship it directly to her college mailbox, but wanted to pay for it myself.  In that case, the name and billing address would be different than the name and shipping address.  They are in different states too.  That combined with being a new customer that had just created an AbeBooks account would possibly cause a problem.  Some companies will simply not allow a customer to ship to a different address than the billing address on a credit card, especially a new customer.  With Privacy.com's VCCs, I could get around this easily.  I just created a Privacy Visa (VCC) and gave AbeBooks my daughter's name and address as both the billing and shipping address, eliminating any potential for a problem.  The order processed immediately without a hitch.

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