Are there disposable or pre-paid credit cards?
June 26, 2004 10:18 PM   Subscribe

Is there such a thing as a disposable credit card?

I'm thinking something along the line of pre-paid phone cards. Or maybe like the swipe cards they use at Kinko's (where you can continually add more credit as you need it by inserting it into a special vending machine). Seems like these would be natural products to offer and I can't imagine I'm the only one it has occurred to. I'd be MUCH more apt to buy online with something like this – particularly the small stuff (ie: buy an article from a newspaper archive, lookup a word at the OED site, do a single search at Lexis/Nexis, toss Matt an occasional pizza, etc.)
posted by RavinDave to Shopping (12 answers total)

If you have paypal, they issue one-time use credit card numbers for web shopping. If you click on the "widthdraw" tab, then click on "Shop online with a PayPal virtual card ", you'll see what I'm talking about.
posted by Hackworth at 11:28 PM on June 26, 2004

Amex introduced disposable cards for online purchases a few years back.

7-11 and other gas station/convenience markets around here [austin, tx] sell pre-paid mastercards. i've never looked into them but it sounds like exactly what you're looking for.
posted by birdherder at 11:36 PM on June 26, 2004

Citibank has this too. Haven't used it, but I like the idea.
posted by adampsyche at 8:25 AM on June 27, 2004

Q. How is money going into these disposable credit cards if you don't have an account there?

A. Usually with a credit card.

/Missing the point>
posted by page404 at 8:48 AM on June 27, 2004

The point is that you typically trust your credit card issuer, a bank, more than you trust a random merchant. The technique is a way to limit exposure of your real credit card number. For example, there are a few merchants that use unencrypted forms or even request your credit card number in e-mail. I'd never send them my real credit card number, but if one of them has something I want, I'd feel far more comfortable using a disposable number.

Ideally a disposable number would actually let you specify which merchant it applies to, or to manually approve the charge before it is applied, and/or specify the charge limit for that number.
posted by kindall at 10:06 AM on June 27, 2004

Prepaid Master Cards

Great, now I feel like a comment spammer.
posted by revgeorge at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2004

I've recieved one of these as a gift, and boy is getting anyone to accept them FUN. I've only managed to use it successfully twice. There's still a balance sitting on there. In order to make it work you have to:

1.) Find a clerk who has encountered one before and REMEMBERS the experience.

2.) Know the exact balance remaining on the card. The two times I was successful, the clerk had to key in the balance of the card. You would think this would all be computerized and easy.

Mostly, you'll get blank stares, confusion, or agressive "we don't accept credit cards without names on them" types. Just my experience. YMMV.
posted by adamkempa at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2004

If I were, you know, awake I would have added that my personal experience with that Prepaid Master Card company is well documented (self link, gasp). YMMV.
posted by revgeorge at 11:09 AM on June 27, 2004

The Red Cross gives out pre-paid MasterCards to people whose house burns down. A friend got $200 on his, and didn't seem to have a problem using it anywhere.
posted by cmonkey at 12:14 PM on June 27, 2004

All the cool kids have Visa Buxx
posted by falconred at 12:30 PM on June 27, 2004

Charter One offers some that do not require any processing or shipping fees, as long as you use it as a credit card and not to withdraw cash from. Fatwallet has more info, along with some ideas in how to use them.
posted by the biscuit man at 3:43 PM on June 27, 2004

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