Worrying about private information is not about exaggeration. More and more people are concerned about it, especially in the age of technology. You have to be a bit extreme and maybe a little paranoid to protect yourself against all kinds of frauds. Using conventional cards will give others access to private data that can cause financial losses and headaches. This is the main reason wherefore more and more people discuss anonymous credit cards.
Imagine making a random transaction, be it online or in a shopping mall. At this point, you have no idea how long your personal and card information will be stored. There is no control whatsoever. There are situations when such details are shared with companies or advertisers, not to mention governments or unscrupulous individuals. Regaining control of the situation might seem impossible, but anonymous credit cards keep gaining more and more popularity.
Now, when you think about anonymity, you probably find it impossible in a world where everything is shared. There is an Internet connection everywhere you go and going unnoticed is almost impossible. The truth is there are certain levels of anonymity one can reach, whether it comes to withdrawing cash, using a card in a restaurant or booking a flight. Furthermore, such deals tend to come with little to no bureaucracy.
Getting as much anonymity as possible will most commonly involve using a prepaid card. Such cards look and work like classic cards, with small differences. But then, you become your own banking institution, meaning you must preload money onto the actual card in order to use it. You get the convenience of using a card and there are no checks whatsoever. It can be quite anonymous, but it also helps with budgeting and data protection.
Prepaid debit and credit cards are quite straightforward and they belong to a unique category. It is hard to find such a service in a bank, but you have to understand how it works in order to know where to look. From many points of view, a prepaid card is like a debit card because you are not borrowing money from an institution. Instead, it debits money from your own account, based on how much you load it with – like a prepay mobile card.
Understanding the concept of a prepaid debit or credit card
Unlike classic debit cards, prepaid cards are not associated with accounts. In other words, there are no bank accounts behind prepaid cards. On the same note, many of the services associated with traditional debit cards may not necessarily be allowed with prepaid cards. For example, most issuers will not allow you to set direct debits. At the same time, you are less likely to gain any interest on the money stored on the prepaid card.
While the term is often used in this industry, there are no prepaid credit cards. A credit card involves getting some money from an institution – the money you will have to pay back later on. Prepaid cards do not provide any types of credit facilities. Instead, it could be compared to a debit card, as you spend the money you have – obviously, you will have to load the card yourself upfront. Otherwise, you will not be able to make any transactions.
Charge cards might represent the closest things to modern prepaid cards. In other words, you get a bit of credit that you will need to pay back before the end of the month – you have to do it in full, rather than in monthly installments. It feels like having a short term credit. However, a charge card is still way different from a prepaid card. To help you understand the concept better, imagine a prepaid phone card that you need to charge on a monthly basis in order to be able to call, text or use the Internet.
Prepaid cards come with a few fees – after all, this is how issuers make money. Sometimes, you might need to pay a fee as you order the card. You may also purchase one from a local store – again, it is not free. There are, however, a few free cards on the market, but you would have to do some research upfront. There will be other fees associated with them though – nothing is free in this industry, so expect to pay later.
Figuring out how prepaid cards work
You will have to preload the respective card with money. There are more payments accepted. Ideally, you should find a prepaid card that allows fueling it with money over the Internet or perhaps an application. You want to be able to do it anytime, regardless of where you are – quite convenient when on vacation abroad. You can also preload such cards in post office shops or convenience stores, yet the online option is more common.
Many prepaid cards will charge when you load cash. For instance, if the card is free, you will most likely be charged when you load it. If you pay for the card, you may not necessarily need to pay fees when loading it. Browse around for various deals. Some cards will also charge you if you withdraw cash from an ATM, but they could be free when you make payments in shops or over the Internet. Always check the small print before proceeding.
Once you are done loading the card, you are free to use it anywhere, anytime. You can use it just like you use your regular card – it could be contactless or not. It comes with a PIN and you can use it to pay in stores or over the Internet. You might as well withdraw money if you have to pay in cash. Finally, it is worth noting that most of these cards are issued by Visa or Mastercard, but this is not a general rule – there are more options than ever these days.
Here comes the best news and one of the main reasons wherefore so many people opt for prepaid cards. There is no need to go through a credit check. You do not have to pass it and no one will really care about it. It makes no difference how bad your credit score is. It makes no difference how bad your financial situation is. Even if you had to file for bankruptcy, you can still get a prepaid card because no checks are performed.
Credit check requirements associated with prepaid cards
But then, some providers may take a look through your file. It is not about the credit score, as they do not care about it. Instead, they will perform a soft check in order to ensure there are no fraud or money laundering suspicions. However, a soft check will not leave any marks on your credit file. It is different from the classic credit check that tells everyone else who searched for your data. Other than that, requirements are basic – such as being over the legal age in the respective country.
There are plenty of benefits associated with prepaid cards and the possibility to learn how to budget is never to be overlooked. Lots of people choose to rely on prepaid cards because they struggle with their expenses. They cannot refrain themselves from spending money on irrelevant stuff. If you are prone to spending more than what you need, this could be the right way to stay on track.
Benefits of using a prepaid card
Anonymity and security are also among the main benefits of prepaid cards. The prepaid alternative to traditional debit and credit cards will easily limit the damage associated with fraudsters and hackers. The most money you could lose is the amount on the card. From this point of view, regular small transactions are better than storing all your savings on such a card.
Prepaid cards are also suitable for students and teenagers. If you got kids and you want to teach them what financial responsibility means, a card will make them feel like adults. Load their allowance a few times a month (such as weekly) and let them budget by themselves. Handling small amounts of money is a great start in their financial life.
Loads of people rely on prepaid cards when they travel, especially if they travel to countries with a relatively high crime rate. You are less likely to lose too much money if you get scammed and you can always add money every now and then. You can also cancel the card should you lose it, not to mention the fact that it is not linked to a bank account.
The fact that no one really performs a hard check on your credit is another plus worth some consideration. In other words, anyone can get a prepaid card. People with bad credit will find a viable solution to be able to use cards. The same rule applies to those who are new in a country and do not have an actual score or financial history in the respective country.
The application is fairly simple and quick. You can do it in person in various banking institutions, but also over the Internet – apply and wait for your card and PIN code to arrive by post. Compared to applying for traditional debit or credit cards, applying for a prepaid card is much easier and you get accepted almost instantly.
There are more ways to top up a prepaid card and there will always be an option next to you. Most people do it online, but you can also do it by phone or text. Some ATMs also allow loading up prepaid cards. Simply put, this option is super attractive for those who are always on the move and do not feel like carrying large amounts of money.
Worried about compatibility issues and acceptance? Forget about it. Most prepaid cards out there are issued by Visa or Mastercard. Most ATMs and shops in the world accept Visa and Mastercard, meaning you will not have to worry about spending. You can do it at the shop on your street or abroad with no issues at all.
Now, unlike credit or debit cards, prepaid cards are less likely to charge foreign exchange fees. There is a catch here though. You must ensure the currency on your card matches the currency in the respective country – quite common in the European Union, for example. Traditional cards will still come with some fees.
Some providers are specifically aimed at travelers. Those who travel with business purposes or go on holiday can easily lock in specific exchange rates. Assuming the card is in a different currency, you can come up with a good deal for a specific period of time. This way, you can reduce the bill for your next holiday or business trip.
From many points of view, prepaid cards seem perfect to a lot of different categories of people. No matter what your financial situation is like, chances are you could always do with a prepaid card, whether you want to teach your child what budgeting means or you go on holiday. But then, these cards are not perfect and also come with a few drawbacks.
Drawbacks associated with prepaid cards
Fees are likely to kick in, whether you like it or not. You can use debit cards with no fees at all (at least locally). You can also use credit cards and repay everything back and avoid fees. But then, charges vary widely from one provider to another. For example, while you can find some free prepaid cards, some of them come with an initial charge, which can be quite high.
Then, you are likely to face fees when loading money onto it too. Some providers charge if you add cash only. They are not bothered about other options. However, these rules vary from one provider to another. Such fees tend to be about 2% or 3% of the total amount of money you load, so they can add up overtime.
Transaction fees are not to be overlooked either. They are not ideal, especially if you use the card for many small transactions. Some of these fees only apply if you withdraw cash, while others may occur for various transactions in stores too – both online and offline. Again, they vary widely from one provider to another.
Monthly fees are worth some attention too. They vary – they might be less than a takeaway coffee or more than a lunch. They are certainly worth some consideration and they will keep going for as long as you have the card. Other extra fees could be noticed when you use the card abroad, not to mention replacement fees if you lose your card.
Finally, there might be fees to transfer money off the actual card, as well as fees to upgrade the card to another package. Believe it or not, some providers may charge you for canceling the card as well. Most prepaid cards out there will have at least one of these fees. Some of them are irrelevant, so triple check the small print and ensure you get the right card for your needs.
Now that you are aware of what prepaid cards can do, you probably ask yourself – what are the most popular online providers in terms of security and privacy? Sure, full anonymity is an almost impossible concept and while these providers will require some data about you, they have a good reputation for maintaining high standards of privacy – great for business, offshore companies and secretive people.
Best rated prepaid card providers over the Internet
The Payoneer card can be both virtual and physical. You can use it online to order stuff over the Internet, but you can also use the plastic in real life for all kinds of physical transactions. It is associated with the currency balance in the account. Issued by Mastercard, it will most likely be accepted all over the world, regardless of the store. It can also be used to withdraw money.
To order a card, you will only need an ID. Obviously, you have to put in your address as well to get it shipped. You can order one after signing in – based on your location, you might be able to do it during the signup process. If the step is not there, go to the account settings and look for card management. You could order one there or at least see the eligibility requirement needed to do it.
Eligibility is mostly based on a single factor – having $100 or more received in the account over the past six months. This criterion does not include network payments or payments received from electronic wallets – such as Skrill or PayPal. Other than that, it is worth noting that users with Russian shipping or billing addresses can no longer order Payoneer cards.
Prepaid Financial Services is mostly aimed at the British market. The provider issues prepaid cards over Mastercard, so they can be used anytime, anywhere. You can use such cards to withdraw money, shop over the Internet or in real life – any retailer taking cards will most likely take your Prepaid Financial Services card as well.
Prepaid Financial Services
It is important to know that the provider only offers access to emergency cards in the GBP (British pound) currency only. The application is fairly simple and involves completing a form. You will need to provide details about yourself, as well as contacts. Further on, you will need to send a scanned copy of your ID for the application to be completed.
While ideal for the UK, the card can also be used abroad – double check the fees though. You can get more cards for the same account. Exchange rates are clearly displayed on the official website and updated on a daily basis. At the same time, other fees are also mentioned. Balance can be checked on a 24/7 basis over the Internet or through text messages.
Registered in Cyprus, Profee is practically a payment system suitable for electronic commerce and fin-tech professionals – but not only. It is great for large stores, regular Internet users who want some privacy or people who travel a lot and need to keep some money separately for extra security and fraud protection.
At the moment, Profee only provides access to virtual cards. In other words, you get the details associated with a card, but you do not get the physical item. You cannot pay in person, but only over the Internet – whether locally or overseas. At the same time, you will not be able to directly withdraw cash from a local ATM.
Requirements involve a scanned copy of your ID, proof of address, a photo of yourself holding the ID and a KYC form. You will be allowed up to 150 euros a year. To increase the limit, additional documents will be required. You will pay an issuing fee, as well as monthly fees (only if you fail to use the card over a month). Everything else is free.
IbanDirect is one of the first cryptocurrency friendly virtual cards on the market. It comes with an IBAN, but it is also connected to the SEPA network. The card is only available in one currency – EUR. It features the contactless technology and no access to banks whatsoever. Users also gain access to online accounts to keep an eye on their transactions and balances.
The card comes with a compatible application that provides access to everything you need. Apart from your balance in euros, you also have a Bitcoin balance. The card can be used over Apple Pay and Android Pay as well. It works like any other card and it comes from Visa, so you can literally use it anywhere in the world – as long as there is an ATM or a card machine.
The registration is quick and starts with your name and email address. Once in, you will have to complete a longer form. You will need to send in a scanned copy of your ID for verification. Fees and charges are clearly displayed on the official website – note that the monthly limit is 5,000EUR, while the monthly ATM limit is 2,500EUR (with a 500EUR limit on a daily basis).
Fillit brings access to an IBAN, as well as a classic UK account number. It allows EUR and GBP cards (euros and British pounds only). It promotes quick payments and it offers a virtual and plastic prepaid card. The company is based in Bulgaria and account registration is quick and simple – no fancy documents required, but just a scanned copy of your ID.
Your card will normally be dispatched the next day, but the shipping time depends on where you are located. It may take more than a month for another European country than Bulgaria and up to a few weeks for Bulgaria. You can use the prepaid card pretty much everywhere around the world – with associated fees, of course.
Another good thing about Fillit is the possibility to preload your card through various methods. You can use a classic card over the Internet, but you can also make a wage transfer or a bank transfer. Standing orders are also accepted for regular payments, not to mention text messages to certain numbers from your phone.
People involved with cryptocurrency assets have probably tried all kinds of options regarding digital currencies before running into Crypto. The provider brings in a prepaid card that can be used with no issues at all, just like a regular card. It is a Visa card, so it will be accepted pretty much everywhere around the world.
From a practical point of view, there are no major differences between Crypto's prepaid card and a classic debit card. The main difference is that your Crypto card will not be linked to a bank account – you will have to top it up first. You can do it through a bank transfer, over a debit or credit card or by using cryptocurrency.
The application is fairly simple to use and it does not require any difference. Crypto's portal has educational guides as well, including risk assessment. You will need to scan your ID and take a selfie – no major verification requirements. In terms of flat currencies, the account is only available in euros. Each user is limited to one card only.
BlackCatCard gives you full control over your money, regardless of your location. You can sign up and get a virtual bank account within five minutes only. You will also have a virtual card that you can use straight away – you can top up, shop or make payments as soon as the registration is completed – a matter of five minutes.
Each user can have up to five cards – ideally, with different purposes. You can access the BlackCatCard platform through its official website or online application. Registering the account does not require too much verification – scan your ID and take a selfie. The card is issued by Mastercard, so it is widely accepted all over the world.
The plastic card will be processed within a single day. However, the shipping will take longer, based on where you live. It might be a good idea to avoid topping it up until you receive the physical card – just a matter of safety. You can use your own name on a card or add specific nicknames on each of the cards you use.
Viabuy's prepaid card is issued by Mastercard and widely acceptable. You will get an IBAN assigned to the account, which you can load in several ways – including direct bank transfers. You can make payments all over the world – as well as online. Payments are free of charge, yet other fees apply – double check the whole agreement upfront.
The card features a beautiful and luxurious appearance – you can get it in gold or black. Ordering is fairly simple. There is no need to perform a credit check or require proof of income. The verification is exclusively done online – a live selfie and a quick scan of your ID. Confirm the name you want on the card, but also make sure to sign it as soon as you receive it.
Viabuy accepts customers regardless of their location. The card is shipped within the next 24 2hours, but the shipping will last longer, based on the user's location. From all the terms and conditions, it is worth noting that many free features are only available for payments in EUR. Users can get more cards for the same name.
ePayService provides viable solutions to both businesses and individuals looking for extra flexibility and full control of the finances. The prepaid card is issued by Mastercard and makes a good choice for those who struggle with classic bank accounts – users might as well use it to receive their wages on a regular basis.
There are no fees or charges between ePayService customers. There are no transaction fees over POS devices either. Bank transfers are limited and fees are 1%, with 25EUR as a minimum value. There are no daily limits regarding your spending habits. Furthermore, the card loading fees are quite low – 1.99EUR, regardless of the value.
It is important to know that the provider offers access to more currencies – EUR, GBP and USD. You can access your control panel through the official website or proprietary app (free for Android and iOS devices). The application is quick and barely takes a few minutes. Users can have more cards, while the verification process implies scanning the ID and taking a selfie with the website in the background.
Bunq was initially designed for those who are always on the go. The prepaid card can be preloaded and used anywhere in the world, whether it comes to withdrawing cash, making payments in local restaurants or shopping online. For this reason, the provider allows access to good exchange rates with no extra fees – all these without charging any monthly fees.
Unlike classic banks, Bunq will actually help you save up to 3% on your expenses, rather than charge you for payments made in other currencies than EUR. The platform and application will also provide details, tips and tricks throughout your travels. At the end of the day, you are global, so you should face no issues with offline terminals, car rentals, hotels or general shopping.
Bunq relies on Mastercard for its prepaid cards. It takes five minutes to sign up and you can get three different cards – available in EUR only. You need to verify your identity through video, while the KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements are quite powerful. While many fees are wiped, it is worth going through the agreement to see what else you would have to pay for.
LeoPay will give you free IBAN accounts in more than 10 different currencies, with EUR being the most common choice. You have 24/7 access to the account, as well as a Visa prepaid card that you can use worldwide. Users can order more cards – the first two cards come with no issuing or monthly fees, but such charges will apply starting with the third one.
There are no charges for international payments. The delivery is free and brings in secure contactless payments. Furthermore, there are spending limits you will have to be aware of. ATM withdrawals are accepted all over the world, while the app allows access to features that many providers overlook – for instance, you can lock or block the card through the app, without having to call.
Verification is done through a video call and users can have two different cards. Some of the extras you can enjoy include recurring payments, SEPA credit transfers, SEPA direct debits and European transfers at a flat rate – no need to bother with mathematical calculations and percentages. Simply put, you know precisely what goes out.
TransferWise has everything you need to ensure an excellent banking experience – suitable for particular situations, rather than your main everyday card. After all, just like other prepaid cards, it comes with some limitations as well. All in all, it has a prepaid card issued by Mastercard. You are free to pay with currencies in your own account, as well as free ATM withdrawals – but only up to 200GBP a month.
Traveling abroad? Converting money to a different currency? There is not much to worry about, as conversion fees are relatively small – normally, less than 1%. Your money will be automatically converted at a general exchange rate. What you get depends on the currency you want. You could get an Australian account number, a British account number, a classic European IBAN or an US account number.
The verification is more comprehensive when compared to other providers, but TransferWise has a good reputation. You will need to confirm deposits made over wire transfers or cards. Other than that, TransferWise is up to eight times cheaper than banking institutions in fees and charges, but it also allows working with money in more than 40 different currencies.
iCard has brought in the so called safety layer for your online shopping experience. This is the primary purpose of the provider, yet its virtual cards can be used anywhere. It is not all about shopping, but also about paying bills. The provider offers access to two different cards – one carrying the Visa signature and another one from Mastercard.
Just like any other provider, iCard brings in a few fees for its card, but most importantly, there are no monthly or yearly maintenance fees. Also, there are no usage fees. You can order up to 20 different cards, yet you can increase this limit on request. Each additional card will cost you 1EUR. As for the currencies, there are nine different options to choose from.
Whether you are after British pounds, euros, Swiss francs or American dollars, these are just some of the most common options out there. Apart from the 20 virtual cards, you can also get five physical cards. Verifying your account is done in a live manner, through the application. The application can be downloaded for free.
MyPCS makes card transactions a breeze. You can have three physical cards, as well as a virtual card from this provider. The platform can be used online, but it is highly recommended to download the application instead. The application is available for free. Plus, the verification is done exclusively through the application, so you will need it.
The card is accessible to everyone – there are no income requirements or commitments. There is no overdraft either, as well as no bank account associated with it. The card is secure and can be used anywhere, anytime. You can use it to withdraw money anywhere in the world, but also to pay over the Internet. It has the contactless feature as well.
Once you are registered, you will get an independent French IBAN. Other than that, you can load your prepaid card through cash, bank transfers or debit cards. Three cards have a maximum balance of 10,000EUR, while the chrome one comes with a maximum balance of 6,500EUR. They also cost differently, with the virtual card being the cheapest option.
Monese is one of the most reliable options on the market in terms of privacy and efficiency. Its prepaid card represents the most direct way to achieve independence, without any risks whatsoever. The card comes with the contactless feature and it is issued by Mastercard. It can be used anywhere in the world – online payments, withdrawals and so on.
Since the provider comes with its own application as well, you will be able to make payments with your phone without having the physical card with you. In fact, the virtual option of this card makes payments even safer, as you are less likely to lose it. Monese can easily become your primary payment option, as it can be linked to PayPal too.
The card can be locked or unlocked through the app if you misplace it. As for its design, there are three different options to choose from. It is worth noting that while you do not necessarily need the app to make payments, you will have to download and use it at some point. A selfie and a scanned copy of your ID must go on the app for verification.
Any of the above mentioned prepaid or virtual cards can make your life easier and add an extra layer of security to your payments. Your information is kept private, so there is nothing to be concerned about. On the other hand, more and more people turn to such cards because of the high levels of privacy and the solid amount of anonymity. Now, what other options do you have out there?
Other reliable options
- N26 – Mastercard card accepted worldwide with zero foreign transaction fees when used overseas.
- Hype – Italian prepaid card that adds to your security and requires a live ID and selfie for verification.
- WirexApp – Cryptocurrency friendly card that allows access to multiple currencies and a Visa prepaid alternative.
- Skrill – Prepaid Mastercard card with a strong security layer and easy to use due to its low requirements.
- Neteller – A card that is free to use online and in shops, with various rewards associated with each purchase.
Choosing the best virtual or prepaid card based on personal needs
There are numerous options to get yourself an anonymous card for extra protection, but at the same time, different cards come with different features. Generally speaking, they follow the same operating principles. In other words, you are less likely to get any credit – instead, you will have to preload the card before being able to use it.
So, what makes the difference when choosing the right virtual card then? Any of the above mentioned solutions will give you a reliable alternative to classic cards, regardless of your needs. This is when a proper assessment of your necessity kicks in. The best virtual or prepaid card for some people will not be the best for everyone else.
Your options are a bit limited if you are after asset protection. This type of protection works a little like an insurance and it is suitable for wealthy individuals or those living in countries with corrupt governments or political instability. Practically, the card will give you the option to diversify your assets, gain some diversification and lots of privacy.
People in this category will most likely rely on their prepaid cards to store money. In other words, they are less likely to spend too much on those cards. For the best deal, it is highly indicated to opt for a provider that does not charge monthly or annual fees. In other words, your money will be safe without having to worry about decreasing. Also, you have to choose a provider with a high maximum balance.
Then, there are people after prepaid cards who simply want an extra layer of protection during their shopping experiences. While these cards can be used at ATMs as well, they are mostly aimed at avid online shoppers. When you pay online, you have no idea how long your data will be stored for – how about being sold to other companies?
From this point of view, a prepaid card will allow you to shop secretively. For instance, some providers will even allow you to put any name you want on the card or perhaps a nickname. Choosing such a card involves paying attention to monthly or yearly fees, as well as fees associated with transactions – you do not want any of these.
Then, there are people who need such a card for foreign business or perhaps spending abroad while on holidays. Imagine having your card stolen or hacked in another country – lots of hassle, especially with authorities or merchants who cannot really understand your language. Having a prepaid card will prevent all these issues.
The best card for such situations should come with no foreign transaction fees. There should be no fees for ATM withdrawals either (or at least they must be very low). Finally, opt for a provider that offers access to multiple currencies, as well as good exchange rates.
Last, but not least, you will notice that some cards are suitable for cryptocurrency investors because they are cryptocurrency friendly. They can take cryptocurrencies and they provide good exchange rates. They are not suitable for someone who only needs to shop online or requires an extra layer of protection for their holidays.
As a short final conclusion, prepaid and virtual cards have gained a huge notoriety over the past few years. Whether it comes to protection, safety, asset diversification or privacy, there are numerous reasons to rely on these alternatives to classic banks. However, you should not get this idea the wrong way.
Prepaid and virtual cards are not fully anonymous. They provide anonymity in front of merchants or shops when you use them, but you are not anonymous to the actual provider. You will have to provide some sort of identification and you will need to preload your card with funds – most of these options will reveal your identity.