How can I get some disposable credit card numbers to use online?
April 5, 2007 7:47 PM   Subscribe

Is there an easy and effective way to buy a disposable credit card number online?

Short story is I want to get a subscription to but apparently it's one of those companies that is unresponsive about cancelling. I refuse to give my credit card info out to dirtball companies that do that. Sadly their product is good and has no competition, and my local library's database offerings for pre-1995 newspapers is rubbish.

I'd like to use my credit card with a trusted merchant to put $38 on a disposable credit card and give that to NewspaperArchive, so that if I decide not to continue the subscription the auto-rebill will get rejected.

What's a good way to do this without signing up for credit cards or with megabanks? Is there an online Paypal-type operation that would give me some disposable Visa or MC numbers for a small fee? And do problems ever arise when they validate the card? (such as address verification not being valid on a disposable card)
posted by calhound to Shopping (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you already hav a credit card, you can call your credit card company or check their website; they may offer one-time use numbers. You can set whatever limit you like.
posted by who squared at 7:57 PM on April 5, 2007

PayPal has a virtual debit card option. It's basically widget that generates a temporary debit/credit number that's tied to your PayPal balance. Numbers stay active for a month or so. Works with most major online retailers, highly recommended.
posted by superfem at 8:04 PM on April 5, 2007

that would be "a widget"
posted by superfem at 8:05 PM on April 5, 2007

There are Visa Gift Cards that can be purchased from several big-box stores or even your local bank. They can be for a certain amount that you can select, but there might be a small fee charged.
posted by bach at 8:07 PM on April 5, 2007

Green Dot sells Visa/MC debit cards OTC from many, many locations - gas stations, drug stores, etc.

They've got a locater on their site. You can get a card for $5-$10 and use it instantly online (the real plastic will arrive in the mail in a few weeks).

I've used it a couple of times. Not only is it easy, it also thwarted a shady dealer like the OP is dealing with.
posted by unixrat at 8:14 PM on April 5, 2007

Response by poster: How does this work when you have to put in billing information? I've been on a lot of e-commerce sites where if your billing info and telephone number doesn't match, it refuses the sale. I assume Paypal Virtual Debit Card ties it to your profile, but what about the other options?
posted by calhound at 8:17 PM on April 5, 2007

Citi credit cards have this feature, though I haven't tried it. Some details on this blog bost: Citibank’s Random Credit Card Number Generator.
posted by reeddavid at 8:19 PM on April 5, 2007

I've used Citi's one-time numbers for years when making online purchases -- never had any problems.
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 8:24 PM on April 5, 2007

Simon gift Visa card.
posted by toxic at 8:33 PM on April 5, 2007

IAAWC (wary consumer)

Be sure you do cancel if you decide to though. If you don't cancel, they do have the legal ability to come after you for non-payment (assuming the user agreement works that way). They won't come after you, but they could send it to collections, and mess up your credit. Just be sure to document the two or three times you try and cancel, and if a collections agency ever calls, just ask them to verify you owe, and give them a copy of your cancellation docs.

Letting your credit card lapse isn't a cancellation.
posted by cschneid at 8:37 PM on April 5, 2007

There are plenty of services out there that allow you to create one-time credit card numbers with a set credit limit; I think the only catch is the full amount of the card gets charged to your actual credit card before you use it.

I know this because someone stole my credit card info (I guess by hacking into an internet storefront) and proceeded to buy a bunch of these one-time credit cards using my info. If it works for the criminals, it can work for you too!
posted by chrominance at 9:17 PM on April 5, 2007

I've personally used Citi's online credit card features. It's very intuitive, easy-to-use, and best of all free. Makes sense -- it saves them money if people are getting ripped off less.
posted by Aanidaani at 11:25 PM on April 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you can get your hands on a .edu email address you can get TimesSelect for free.
posted by time to put your air goggles on! at 12:09 AM on April 6, 2007

Just because you're using a so-called 'disposable' number that 'expires' after a certain date doesn't mean your card won't be charged if you are charged over the amount of the card or after the expiration date. I have had disposable numbers with a few major credit card companies who allowed charges from these 'disposable' numbers through, even though it was expired. Apparently 'subscription' based charges are allowed to pass through, according to the liars who man the credit card company phones.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 8:24 AM on April 6, 2007

I don't have an answer, but wanted to thank you for asking this question. was horrific about trying to cancel and finally my debit card expired, so they couldn't charge it anymore.
I'm glad to know about Citi's option, because is incredibly for genealogical purposes and I may need it again.
posted by jdl at 5:12 PM on April 6, 2007

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