In A Nutshell
- If you are looking for a simple way to pay for something anonymously, I recommend using a disposable credit card.
- A Vanilla Visa credit card is currently the most anonymous credit card available. There is no name or other identifying information associated with these cards, and they can be used almost anywhere in the U.S.
- Using Bitcoins is another good option — however be aware that Bitcoin transactions are only quasi-anonymous.
- The paid service MaskMe allows you to create disposable credit cards
Vanilla Visa Credit Card
You can find Vanilla Visa credit cards at many convenience stores (like CVS) — there’s a full list of retail locations here. There are no fees associated with card, beyond a $5 fee at the time of purchase. You can get cards that range from $25 to $500. If you buy a $500 card, you pay $505 at the store, so you are basically paying a 1% fee for your anonymous credit.
I recommend registering your card on the Vanilla Visa website. If you don’t register, the card won’t be accepted at many stores. The registration process simply involves entering a zipcode, and nothing else. Of course, if you wish to remain anonymous you can provide a fake zipcode. You should also obfuscate your IP address while activating the card (see my article How To Be Anonymous On The Internet for more information).
MaskMe: Create Masked Emails, Phone Numbers, Credit Cards
MaskMe is a service run by the privacy company Abine. It allows you to create disposable credit cards (legally). You choose how much you want to add to a card, and a “masked card” will be automatically created. You can obtain a new card whenever needed. All charges on the credit card will show up as “ABINE, INC”.
The cost of this service (MaskMe Premium) is $5 a month, and it also gives you access to the other features — Masked Phone Numbers, Masked Emails and the MaskMe apps for iOS and Android.
Simon American Express Gift Card
Another option is to purchase a Simon Gift Card. You can get these card at any mall listed on this page. Simon Gift Cards are not reloadable, but you can load them with $500 using cash. You are not required to give out any personal information to purchase the card. However, by using their website, you can link any name and address to the card, so you can use them with merchants that do AVS checks.
Disposable credit cards are also handy if you wish to purchase online from a company you don’t know or trust. Your card will not be linked to any bank account or line of credit.
Amazon Gift Cards
Gift cards can be anonymous if purchased with cash. Many website accept Amazon Gift Cards as a form of payment, so an Amazon gift card can be a anonymous checkout gateway.
A reader posted this technique, which sounds useful:
What I do is I purchase a Virtual credit card from http://www.moneypakreload.com with bitcoins. With that I go on Zmazon and Zappos and buy my stuff. I have done it 3 times, and I’ve always got the credit card in about an hour and amazon and zappos processed it without any issues.