Looking for Visa/MC Gift Card to use for online shopping
January 3, 2017 3:23 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to use a pay-as-you-go gift card type thing for some kinds of online purchases.

I want to sign up for an encrypted email service, and make more donations to groups that I support, but I don't like PayPal or giving out a lot of personal information just to donate to a cause. I'm also hoping to limit my online exposure by using a card that I can easily just toss and get a new one instead of worrying about this breach or that. (My Discover card used to offer one-time-use credit card numbers for this purpose.)

I'm looking for help in finding one that has low fees associated with it, that I can buy with cash.

Does anyone know a website that lists these things and where to get them? I've poked around a bit but can't seem to find any listings that might have a grid of the fees associated with them.

Also, if anyone has a solution to this that isn't a gift card, please suggest that too!
posted by typetive to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
try here

Although you may have to 'register' your card in order to reload it. Some merchants will require a zip (or full address) to verify the card is valid.
posted by kookywon at 3:32 PM on January 3, 2017

The other term to search on is General Purpose Reloadable (GPR) cards
posted by kookywon at 3:59 PM on January 3, 2017

Both Bank of America and Citibank still offer this kind of card- Bank Of America calls it Shopsafe. There is also a startup called Privacythat also does this- they just appear to have gotten out of the invite only phase.
posted by rockindata at 4:19 PM on January 3, 2017

Although you may have to 'register' your card in order to reload it.

You may also have to register your card to enable online purchasing with it. I tried to do something similar to what you're trying to do a couple years ago, and ran into an apparently hard wall with every card I tried that it had to be associated with a physical address, phone number, etc., before I could use it online. I don't fully understand all the laws and regulations, but my general understanding is that relevant portions of the Patriot Act required banks to put in place "customer identification programs" (to prevent money laundering and terrorism, of course) and it was at some point determined that these requirements apply to gift cards as well.

This Privacy company from the comment above is news to me, but I somewhat doubt they have a way around this. So you may find it difficult indeed to be genuinely anonymous online if you're making purchases. But this may not be an issue if you're simply trying to stay off donor lists.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 4:44 PM on January 3, 2017

I have a privacy.com account. Works as advertised -- you can create one-time-use CC numbers, and on the merchant payment page you can enter pretty much anything you want in the name and address fields and the card will verify.
posted by ldenneau at 5:18 PM on January 3, 2017

Yeah, I doubt that you are private to the Feds, but it would deal with the hack of the month issue. Apple Pay and (I'm pretty sure android and Samsung equivalents) work similarly for bricks and mortar stores- each transaction is a disposable card number that is then linked back to the original card in apple's world. That's why you can't use Apple Pay at so many big retailers- they want to be able to track your purchases by credit card number.
posted by rockindata at 6:14 PM on January 3, 2017

CitiBank calls theirs Virtual Card and I have been using it for years, FWIW. These are one-time use cards attached to your real card but with different card numbers, so you are not giving out your real card number to a merchant. I am not 100% sure this ticks all your check boxes, but I just thought I'd mention it FYI.
posted by forthright at 6:49 PM on January 3, 2017

How much do you plan to run through the card? Kaiku is free as long as you transfer at least $750 a month to it. It doesn't have to be all at once, of course, but it does have to be ACH. (They say direct deposit, but any ACH transfer counts..I have yet to pay them any fees whatsoever)

Even if that's more than you want to spend for the specific purpose you want the card for, you can always pay a bill or use it at the grocery store or withdraw the excess from a fee-free ATM the same day the transfer credits to keep your fraud exposure down.

All that said, a no fee credit card you only use online would make even more sense. I have never had a major bank give me any hassle about disputing charges and your potential liability is lowest (is anyone not doing $0 fraud liability now?) with a credit card. There are scenarios where you can be held liable for fraud on debit cards, or at least a decent chunk of it. You can always tell the bank to not give you more than an $x credit line.
posted by wierdo at 2:11 AM on January 4, 2017

Oh, I failed to mention that you do have to pay for cash loads with Kaiku, but that is the merchant's fee, not theirs, and it's either $2 or $3 a month if you don't qualify for the waiver. You may be better off with nonreloadable Vanilla Gift Cards depending on how much you can load at a time and consequently how often you need to buy a new one since there are now limits on how soon they can start charging fees, as nonreloadable cards are considered a gift card and are regulated as such.
posted by wierdo at 2:17 AM on January 4, 2017

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