[Update 7/8/20: Privacy.com has brought back their $5 signup offer where the new member gets $5 to use toward their first purchase just for signing up (I believe you have to link a bank too). The referrer also gets $5 as well. Appreciate if you use my referral link to signup.]
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.