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Privacy Benefits of Using a Prepaid Card to Shop Online

Privacy Benefits of Using a Prepaid Card to Shop Online

In this digital age, you can’t be too careful with your personal information. Shopping online is a great way to save time, money, and effort, but transmitting your credit card number over the Internet can be risky. With hackers and thieves becoming cleverer all the time, even secure web sites may one day become targets. A good way to sidestep much of this risk is to use a prepaid Visa card, available at many gas stations and supermarkets.

Prepaid cards work like a regular credit cards, but aren’t tied to a bank account. This makes it so that, even if your card number is stolen, the thief only has access to as much money as is loaded on the card. Instead of having to deal with thousands of dollars in fraudulent charges on a credit card, you might lose less than a hundred.

While providers of prepaid Visa cards usually require users to register a name, phone number, and address with them before the card can be used to make online purchases, the user’s SIN number and other private information is not collected. Because of this, you protect your banking information because a lost or stolen prepaid card can’t be used to open new accounts or as proof of credit. It also makes it less likely that any financial crimes a thief commits using the card will come back onto you.

Prepaid Visa cards are purchased with cash. There is no credit check associated with purchasing one. Virtually nothing about the transaction can be tracked, and there are no statements or bills for a thief to pick up. This is true about prepaid Visa cards in general, but Internet shopping by its nature creates many databases that have your information in them. This information, in the right hands, is rather easy to piece together. Prepaid Visa cards leave far less personal data tied to the card numbers lying around in the sales records of online stores.

The simplicity of Internet and the “click past the fine print” mentality can make people more susceptible to scams online, like the many “Click here for a free* iPod!” ads. Scams manage to look like they’re coming out and telling you everything up front. However, when you look into the fine print on the “buy a bestselling book for $9.99” offer, you notice that the $9.99 is only an introductory price, and over the course of the next year, you’ll end up owing the company almost $500. If you rely on prepaid cards for online shopping, you won’t end up getting a free iPod, but you also won’t end up paying a crazy amount of money without knowing what happened!

It may take a little effort, with the extra step of going out and buying the cards every once in a while, but using prepaid cards to shop online can save a world of hassle. The basic protection that prepaid Visa cards provide is beneficial because of its simplicity. After all, the less information about you that there is out there, the less likely someone will be able to use that information to steal your identity.

Bio: Charlie writes for Ace Cash Express, which provides loans, prepaid debit cards, title loans, auto insurance and gold buying.


  1. Khaleef @ KNS Financial

    Good tip! As you said it can be very easy to be careless when shopping online. A few credit card companies allow you to get a virtual CC # for every transaction – this can be another option when shopping online.

    • Tom Drake

      Good point about the virtual numbers. I remember hearing about them but haven’t looked into them yet.

  2. Tyler

    Personally, I have never bought and probably never will buy a “pre-paid” card. Reasons:
    1) The liability on a regualar credit card is limited
    2) You are giving someone an interest free loan
    3) They charge you all sorts of fees plus some have expiry dates
    3) They are available in rounded amounts but your purchases may be a few dollars less. So you have keep on reloading/buying new cards and paying all the fees.

    • Tom Drake

      I found them pretty useful, though I’ve only received them as gifts so far, so I haven’t actually gone out of my way to by one. The West Edmonton Mall Visa gift card seems to be popular here in Edmonton.

  3. Beth

    I didn’t like the pre paid credit card, I got one as a gift and the activation process took forever on the phone.

    • Caitlin

      can you activate your prepaid card online?

  4. Scott

    I like giving the prepaid credit card as a gift, it allows the receiver to use the money how they want, where they want. I shop online all the time, and have never had any info compromised (that I know of)

  5. Robert Jensen

    I think prepaid credit cards would be good for those who are setting out to own their very first credit cards. This includes students and those who are still finding it hard to manage their finances.

    Having a prepaid credit card would definitely help the cardholder limit their expenses to the prepaid limit and thus, avoid over expenditure.

  6. rams

    i aggre with this setences “The basic protection that prepaid Visa cards provide is beneficial because of its simplicity.”

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  8. Mary

    I just hope whoever writes these keeps wrtinig more!
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  10. Adam

    sounds great.. i suggest this kind of cards for teenagers because u never know how much info they give when they use ur credit card online…

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