Posted by Chuck on August 28, 2017
Credit Cards

Published on August 28th, 2017 | by Chuck

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Privacy.com Review: Get Virtual Card Numbers which Allow Using Any Name & Address

 Privacy.com Review

Direct Link (contains my referral)

Privacy.com is a free service which allows consumers to make payments online safely and anonymously. For security or privacy reasons, people don’t always want to use their regular payment methods online and expose their card/bank details, name, and address to random online vendors.

On a basic level, the site is another option for issuing virtual card numbers for online use, a service offered by banks like Citi and Bank of America, see List of Banks Offering Virtual Account Numbers. Privacy uses the Visa network for their virtual cards, issued by Customers Bank.

Privacy.com takes the virtual card idea to a new level in two ways:

  • Privacy allows more customization in the virtual account number with options to close, edit, or pause each virtual card. You can even customize how the charge shows up on your bank statement, with a few options to choose from.
  • You can use any name, address, and phone number with your Privacy virtual card. This can be useful in cases where you don’t want to give out your address, and it might be helpful for some international purchases since you can even use a foreign address. Contrast this with Citi or BofA’s system which probably tie to your name and billing address.

$5 Referral Bonus

Looks like the referral bonus is no longer offered.

If you signup using a referral link, you’ll get a $5 bonus to start with which you can spend down using a virtual card generated in your Privacy account. To get the $5 bonus, you’ll have to complete the signup and link a bank. Your first $5 in spend automatically will pull from the $5 bonus and not from your bank.

The referrer also gets $5.

You can use my referral link or Misha’s referral (he let us know about this site and gave me lots of good info) to get the $5 signup bonus. Or find and share referrals on this dedicated page. You can even try making a conga there (though it doesn’t always work properly).

You can find your own referral link in the Refer Friends tab in the bar at the top of the page under Refer Friends. Please don’t leave any referrals in the comments of this post, rather leave them on the dedicated page.

How it Works

Find a referral link for signup so that you’ll get the $5 bonus, and signup with your email address and a password. Add your bank as the funding source of the account and then you can generate virtual card numbers.

Privacy does not allow you to pay with a credit card, you need to input a bank account as the payment method. The bank is linked using the bank login details. (Reader Misha tells us that they may be able to add your bank with just the routing/account number if you contact support and request this specifically.)

Create a new card using the New Card tab in the top bar. No need to set any address when creating the card, just use any name/address you wish when checking out online and it’ll work.

You can close out, edit, or pause any existing virtual cards by clicking on the card in the Cards part of the page. Go to (your name) > Account to adjust the settings for Notifications, Two-Factor Authentication, and how the transaction should appear on your bank statement (‘Privacy.come’ or ‘H&H Hardware’ or ‘Smileys Corner Store’ or ‘NSA Gift Shop’).

You can create up to 12 cards per 24 hours and can spend up to $1,000/day and $2,000/month. If you’re using Privacy a lot, you might find useful the Chrome extension which makes it easy to generate card numbers automatically in the browser.

Offers

Privacy.com offers money-back offers at select retailers, e.g. spend $50 at Nordstrom and get $5 back. You can find these offers in the Offers tab on the website. Be sure to activate the offer before using it, then use a Privacy.com virtual card number and they’ll deduct the offer amount off your total charge.

Cash Back

Privacy.com is also trying a cash back program where you get cash back on each purchase. Typically this is 1% back on all your spend. Check the Cashback tab for more details.

Our Verdict

Privacy.com is a similar idea to the virtual card numbers offered by Citi and Bank of America. Privacy takes this to next level with customizations and anonymity features. It’ll be especially useful for a lot of us who like to signup for various promos which ask for a card and address.

You may not want to use Privacy for large purchases due the the lack of rich credit card rewards on the purchase, yet for the right usage it can be helpful. For example, if you are registering a web domain to rack up some free Swagbucks, using a Privacy card means your name and maybe even address is not out there in public. Certain charity donations which are known to generate lots of spam mail; you might be able to make up a fake address and save yourself the spam.

The $5 bonus is a nice little incentive to this a try. I tested it out by purchasing a $1 Amazon gift card purchase using a random name/address with the Privacy card number, and the purchase went through without a hitch. I intend to use Privacy in the future for various trial signups which are done virtually to save myself from spam and the possibility of being charged again.



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Is there any good list of services that have signup bonuses? I know Uber uses your phone number so that won’t work.

What’s wrong with using your phone number?

It’s difficult to change your phone number to churn bonuses. I believe Google voice and similar are blocked.

I can’t think of any good sign up bonuses that aren’t phone based. I don’t really need any subscription services

That isn’t really “churning,” it’s just stealing. It’s against the terms and you will get shut down.

So in order to avoid using your cc info, you have to give them your bank login credentials. Sure, I’ll do that.

I think the idea is you give one company your bank information, instead of giving many companies your CC info. I have same concerns though, which is why I never had a paypal account.

Ohh I just realized you said *login credentials*. No way in hell. That’s like giving out your PIN number, seems like it would transfer liability to you. I do see 007 mentioned the traditional linking method which is reasonable

Just FYI, they do have an alternate option to link via routing and account number (the same information that is on any check you write to anyone).

Unfortunately, you have to email support to get this option, although it’s a pretty straightforward URL that you type so you could conceive ably figure it out yourself (I was told the URL with the instructions that I cannot disclose it publicly, as they are still “testing” it). To be fair, I requested this after I had some difficulties linking my account using the routing and account number method.

For myself personally, I have this linked to a 2nd-ary checking account, that I also use for things like Target RedCard Debit Card and a “hub” account for all my NetSpend/Insight cards. It emails me every time there is a transaction.

Finally, to be fair for the comparison:
(1) You are using virtual CCs made through privacy.com to avoid disclosing your address to 3RD PARTIES to whom you are making payments (charities, domain address, etc.)
(2) In order to do this, you have to disclose some billing method to privacy.com. In order for them to make money (off the merchant fees), this must be a bank account. The default option is to link via bank login and password – which, I admit, was a little unsettling to me at first, although many sites nowadays do this and people seem to have no anxieties doing so. With that said, you can unlink the account as soon as you want. Further, there is a (hidden) option to link via routing & account number (via ACH test deposits, etc.) but you have to email support to get access to that option. Again, you are disclosing your bank account to PRIVACY.COM, and not to the 3rd party know for spamming.

One more point – privacy.com allows 2FA to be set up to USE ONLY Google Authenticator (and not SMS, which can be insecure), so as far as a hacker accessing your account, they have a good security option set up (I guess the best security would be a physical token, but even someone as paranoid as me has not gotten to that point yet due to inconveniences of needing a physical token to sign up all the time…)

Hope this is helpful and sorry if it is a bit ranty!

Sorry, “To be fair, I requested this after I had some difficulties linking my account using the routing and account number method.” should read “To be fair, I requested this after I had some difficulties linking my account using the login and password method.”

I’ve not given my account login not even to Quicken, I’m not gonna do it with some random company. I don’t care for virtual cc numbers and for the moment I don’t see the merit in being able to have a different name and address. Who knows, maybe some time in the future.

Fair enough.

I was very hesitant at first, and kept deleting my linked bank account after adding it. That is probably why eventually it stopped working to add via login/password and I had to email support so that I can add via routing and account number.

Again, this is also my secondary checking account, which generally has a max balance of $200, so I am not super worried. And I have instant email notification for ALL transactions on this account.

To be fair, though, this was the “baby step” (setting up that account with privacy.com) that got me comfortable enough to use the bank account with the Target Red card debit card, and I am now much happier with that set up, especially after my Sallie Mae MC was discontinued. Keeping 5% off at Target and free shipping with no hard credit pull is pretty nice.

hmm, it can be useful for those who are banned by some sites (Target, I’m looking at you).

It should work unless they banned your ip.

Also, if you are buyinga physical good, you may run into problems as you would still need to presumably provide a real shipping address with a real name…

It’s unlikely a large retailer would block anybody solely by IP address because they frequently change and some people are behind proxy IPs shared by hundreds or thousands.

Fair enough. I’m pretty sure one of the Visa gift card sites blocked my ip for a while after I kept using the wrong field to try to login (they had two options one for new users one for old and I kept using the wrong one). After the ban, I would always get an error no matter what I tried for card number and 4 digit cvv code. Would connect to neighbor’s xfinity wifi ap whichever had a different ip and same info would work fine.

Of course, this site is no target in terms of scale.

What are the fees for using their services?

None. They make money from the credit card/debit card fees the merchant pays.

Of course, you are losing whatever rewards you would have gotten on your credit card had you used it instead of privacy.com, which deducts from your bank account.

Huuuuuge bummer that they don’t let you use credit cards. There was a great use for this otherwise.

Technically, they say in their FAQ they are working on adding this as a feature. However, realistically, I don’t see how they could do this and make money (unless they charge you separately for this service).

Would be nice if they let you code the purchases as travel and/or internet. I might as well be willing to pay them 1% if so — plus, they’ll still be getting whatever kickback they are set to get through their own virtual cards, so, should be sustainable.

You could email them to suggest that option (support@privacy.com).

See, e.g., https://privacy.com/faq -> Settlement & Billing:

“Can I use a credit or debit card as a funding source instead of my bank account?

We don’t support credit or debit cards for use as funding sources at the moment, but we are planning to add this functionality in the future!”

Considering CC processing fees, 1% would be a big loss for them.

I’ve used similar services before, they take about 3%.

Many would be very happy if they coded as office supply store 🙂

So you’re losing out on CC rewards in exchange for a private transaction? I can’t think of a reason why I’d need to to do that, unless I REALLY needed to disguise a purchase from my wife, which I don’t.

this shit is gonna get hacked, but i guess if you guys are comfortable, go right ahead.

More info about their security:
https://privacy.com/security

Again, for me personally, I love the service but two things that make me generally sleep well at night despite usually being super paranoid:
1. I have a non main bank account linked. I have notifications by email instantly for ALL transactions from that account. Max balance usually $200. As much as I like privacy.com, I probably wouldn’t link my main account.
2. Again, my account is linked NOT via bank login and password, but via routing and account number. You can do this yourself with a publically accessible URL, but you have to ask support@privacy.com for that URL. Your routing and account number is on every check you write, so definitely NOT private.

Also, my Privacy password is 64 characters generated by 1Password. I use mandatory 2FA with Google Authenticator ONLY and no SMS backup. The chances of my Privacy account being hacked are virtually ZERO unless I am physically compromised (i.e. phone stolen, gun to head).

I wrote a detailed reply but it is currently awaiting moderation.

More info about their security:
https://privacy.com/security

Again, for me personally, I love the service but two things that make me generally sleep well at night despite usually being super paranoid:
1. I have a non main bank account linked. I have notifications by email instantly for ALL transactions from that account. Max balance usually $200. As much as I like privacy.com, I probably wouldn’t link my main account.
2. Again, my account is linked NOT via bank login and password, but via routing and account number. You can do this yourself with a publically accessible URL, but you have to ask support at privacy.com for that URL. Your routing and account number is on every check you write, so definitely NOT private.

Also, my Privacy password is 64 characters generated by 1Password. I use mandatory 2FA with Google Authenticator ONLY and no SMS backup. The chances of my Privacy account being hacked are virtually ZERO unless I am physically compromised (i.e. phone stolen, gun to head).

I like your comment
Can you give me the URL for adding the account number/ routing
Also, if I choose to add a funding source using my bank online access, is that process instant or they wait for 2daya for test deposits

Can you share the URL to add an account by ACH,please? 007 007 I’ve emailed support but they haven’t responded yet, and I want to make a purchase using a private card before the end of next week.

Sorry, I just tried the URL I used back in 1/2017 and it no longer seems to work. I would check with Privacy support… hopefully they have a new one for you.

This is actually a pretty good service for those who don’t have a citi or boa card. Even for people who do have those cards because last I checked, you still need to use your name and address for the purchase.

People who have never used or read about the benefits of using a “vcc” are gonna think this is pointless. For those that have used a vcc, know this is a decent service. There’s even people that pay $5 or more for a $1 vcc depending on what they are using them for.

If you’re truly paranoid about privacy.com stealing your bank info or getting hacked, then use a prepaid debit card like netspend and only give them that routing/account number. Then fund a small amount or only when you need it.

Can I set the limit on the first virtual card at $5 and then just buy a $5 Amazon gift card with the free $5 referral credit? Has anyone tried doing that yet?

Tried to use it, got a message: “giftcard, international remittance, and cash-out purchases are currently not allowed.”

Might want to mention this is also a USA only service currently. Would love to use it if they bring it to the UK.

Does it work for USPS mail forwarding verification for the $1 charge? Could be handy for me for that purpose….

Haven’t tried it but I’d be careful using fake addresses with USPS mail forwarding verification… I’m not sure whether there would be any potential legal consequences with USPS vs a private company.

Also, I’m pretty sure for usps mail forwarding verification, the only address that needs to be verified is the one you are moving TO (at least this was true a year or so ago when I used the site). No matter what address you use as the from address, I def wouldn’t use a fake address as the TO address, as your real mail is liable to end up at the fake address…

I’ve been a very happy privacy.com member for a while now and never had any problems.

$5 Amazon credit couldn’t be easier to get with this! Thanks for the excellent write-up.

How would returns work if there was a need? Since the card numbers are temporary and all…

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