The ultimate guide to safe and anonymous online payment methods in 2023
In today’s digital age, it’s essential to understand the dangers associated with handing over personal information, such as your name, address, and credit card number, while shopping online. The risks of identity theft, data breaches, and unauthorized access to sensitive details are ever-present. Therefore, anonymously paying for goods and services online is one of the crucial steps for your digital privacy.
Some anonymous payment methods can be used online and/or offline. In contrast, others may only be available with an internet connection. Awareness of ways to pay online anonymously is essential for keeping your identity off the radar. In this article, we explore various payment methods that offer complete anonymity, reviewing their advantages and disadvantages so that you can choose the most suitable option for a risk-free payment online.
The best untraceable money transfer apps and methods in 2023
When it comes to anonymous online payment methods, here are the safest ways to send and receive money online from strangers or the ones you know:
- Cryptocurrencies – mostly anonymous and a widely used payment method online
- Prepaid debit cards – widely available and easily usable on services that accept them
- Disposable (Virtual/Masked) credit cards – add a safety layer that protects you, should your data become compromised
- Prepaid gift cards – if you manage to find a service that accepts prepaid gift cards, these are among the most anonymous and efficient payment options
- PayPal – widely accepted, but semi-anonymous
- Google Pay – semi-anonymous and isn’t widely available
- Apple Pay Cash – isn’t anonymous and isn’t widely available
- Paysafecard – availability will vary depending on your location. Otherwise, it’s an anonymous payment solution
- Venmo – semi-anonymous with wide availability (process the same as PayPal’s)
- Cash App – flexible and anonymous app if you’re willing to deal with the limits
- Paying by cash – the most anonymous payment method
- Third-party private payment services - many different types of services to choose from
Cryptocurrencies (or cryptos, for short) use cryptography and decentralized user processing to validate tokens that can represent monetary value. Crypto tokens can be verified and traced back through every transaction. Cryptocurrencies are typically used to facilitate anonymous payments online.
Crypto is great for private payments if you want to stay anonymous, but the more successful cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin) are quite expensive and must be purchased on crypto exchanges. It’s also common for these exchanges to require registration with private information, which can negate the whole anonymity aspect.
Cryptocurrencies require an internet connection and a crypto wallet app, so it’s a pretty limited offline payment method.
We advise you to use cold wallets for storing your funds and enable a VPN when making online transactions. Our best VPN recommendation is NordVPN which offers top-notch security and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.Learn more about NordVPN
Prepaid debit cards
Prepaid debit cards are an anonymous payment method offered by most major providers. They’re loaded with money beforehand that you can spend. This removes the need for transactions that might identify you.
To use these cards online, you have to register the card with some sort of website. It’s a good way to sign up anonymously for services in much the same way that prepaid gift cards are used. One advantage of this payment method is that the cards can be used offline for anonymous purchases as well.
That said, make sure to avoid cards that can be reloaded as these require actual credit and an SSN information to activate, which defeats the purpose of using an anonymous payment method. Plus, they usually have very high fees for transactions.
Disposable (Virtual/Masked) credit cards
Virtual credit cards have certain advantages over prepaid cards and the like. These are credit card numbers that allow you to perform transactions with your real credit account, without revealing your actual credit card account number in the process. This is great since it allows for anonymous accounts to operate with funds from your actual credit account, and protects your real account in case of a data breach.
If you’re worried that your data may have been stolen or compromised, you can simply close the virtual account. One downside to this is that trying to get a refund on the services can be somewhat difficult.
Disposable cards can only be used online or in places where contactless payments are accepted. Other than that, you won't be able to use it since these are not physical cards and they use virtual credit card numbers.
Prepaid gift cards
Prepaid gift cards sold at gas stations or retail shops can be used in some instances as an anonymous payment method. Depending on the service to which you want to pay for, they may be able to accept prepaid gift cards as a payment method. This is great as the cards don’t contain any ID or payment credentials.
They’re also quite widely available, and easily usable on services that accept them (for example, to pay for a VPN service anonymously). The only point where you may be concerned about your identity being revealed is when you actually sign up for the service you intend to pay for.
Depending on the prepaid gift card, you may be able to use it online, offline, or both.
Although it’s had a somewhat spotty track record when it comes to respecting its users’ data, PayPal can be used for making semi-anonymous payments online. To make an anonymous online payment with PayPal, you’ll need to register a payment card or bank account. When you make the transaction, your recipient will only see your registered name and e-mail address.
This means that it’s possible to register your account on PayPal with a throwaway e-mail address and fund it with a virtual credit card. That way, you can make anonymous payments that are difficult to trace back to you. Granted, the process is a bit cumbersome, but on the plus side, PayPal is very widely accepted. Since the service only works through the PayPal website, this method is online only.
However, for extra anonymous payments, we suggest using a tested VPN that has proven to mask your actual IP address and cipher your online transactions with unbreakable encryption. Our top recommendation for that is NordVPN.
Since 2018, Android Pay and Google Wallet merged into one entity that is Google Pay. It combines a digital wallet platform and an online payment system into one entity. Using it is very much like using PayPal, you can use a throwaway email, and fund it with a virtual credit card.
Without any fees to use debit cards or bank transfers, it’s one of the cheapest services if you want to add an additional layer between your banking information the transaction/purchase. It’s pretty flexible, too, considering integration with other Google services. It’s possible to send and request money through Gmail and Android messages. If you’re using an app, you will need the recipient’s email address or phone number.
If you want to pay using Google Pay for purchasing goods or services at local retailers, you might run into some trouble. You can only use this payment method where contactless payments are accepted and small shops often doesn't support that.
Apple Pay Cash
If you have an iPhone that’s running at least iOS 11.2, you already have Apple Pay Cash. If you already set up Apple Pay with your debit card, you can easily send or request money via iMessages.
The major caveat is that it’s only compatible with iOS, so the actual usage option becomes very limited. There’s no desktop interface, so you’ll be left with an even worse and more restrictive version of Google Pay.
However, if you do manage to get it up and running, this adds an additional layer of protection to shield your banking data. Yet, that gets hammered by the limited usage options. It won’t be optimal to use a throwaway email with an Apple product that has to be associated with a particular device.
Using a VPN service
A reputable VPN is one of the best ways to make your online transactions completely anonymous. VPN encrypts your data and turns it into an uncrackable code, making it difficult for hackers, malicious entities, or even your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to intercept and access your sensitive information.
Moreover, a VPN masks your real IP address and replaces it with the IP address of the VPN server you connect to. It means that websites and online services you access can't directly trace your real IP address back to you, and therefore, it’s impossible to associate your online transactions with your identity.
Since payment information is extremely sensitive, you should select the VPN service carefully. Hence, we recommend choosing from our top VPNs, like NordVPN or Surfshark. We ran multiple tests that ensured these providers offer unbreakable security and offer multiple layers of protection online.
Paysafecard is an anonymous payment app that enables users to look for retailers who sell prepaid Paysafecard vouchers. The users can then buy the vouchers with cash and use the Paysafecard 16-digit PIN for anonymous online payments. They boast about being the world’s most popular online prepaid payment method.
You can also combine up to ten PINs in order to pay for larger items and subscriptions. Although this is a great payment method for making anonymous online payments, it’s easier to find the cards for sale in Europe, while users in North America may face some difficulties.
Paysafecard requires a combination of online and offline interactions,which means it’s only usable if you have an internet connection. If you want to see the availability of Paysafecard in your area, check out the mobile app to search for local retailers who sell it.
Venmo can be as anonymous or public as the person using it intends. It integrates a friend list and social feed that adds more livelihood to the act of money transfers, which can potentially be privacy liabilities. It’s even possible to publicly announce the made transactions.
It functions as a digital wallet, so when someone sends you the money, you can keep it there or transfer it to your bank account, which will charge you a 2.9% rate of the total amount. It’s not intended for large transactions –a weekly limit of $5,000 is a pretty limiting factor. For everyone else, that should be enough.
Venmo is PayPal’s subsidiary, so the payments will go through their checkout process. This smears some shady users’ data practices on Venmo, as well. However, if you follow the same safety precautions as using PayPal, Venmo is an anonymous intermediary for your transactions.
Cash App is a mobile payments service that you can use anonymously, allowing users to transfer and request money. Using unique usernames known as $Cashtag you can transfer money with username alone, eliminating the need for bank account details.
Without identity verification, you’ll be limited to the daily spending limit of $250. It’s also possible to withdraw money using its debit Visa card or transfer it to any other bank account.
You can request for money by entering someone’s e-mail or phone number. Once the request is received, both parties will need to confirm their banking information, and the transfer will go through.
Not only this service isn’t very restrictive, it adds more flexibility to cash out your wallet. It adds a sufficient barrier to your privacy when making purchases. It even supports Bitcoin trading.
Paying by cash
Cash is the tried and true original anonymous payment method. Although, you'll have to arrange an anonymous cash payment by a secure mail courier or an international cash payment service like Western Union, this method can’t be beaten. Just remember not to include a return address or any other identifying information before you send the money.
Although cash is tried-and-true, there are some obvious disadvantages, such as possible mishandling by mail. That said, cash is still a great standby for making anonymous payments.
Third-party private payment services
Many private payment services have popped up in response to the growing demand for anonymous online payment methods. They all have different little idiosyncrasies about how they handle payments. Typically, these are good to use as long as you make sure you’re careful not to register with your personal e-mail address or your real name.
Of course, you’ll have to do your research on the different services available because some may be poorly regulated, which means it’s easy to get scammed. Obviously, since these methods are either websites or mobile apps, they’re only available online.
Services you may want to pay for anonymously
All bank purchases leave permanent bank records. Suppose you're living in a restrictive country, or the only banks that you have are government-owned. In that case, your purchases can be used against you. That's proof that would hold up in the court of law that you knowingly broke the law. Here's what this applies to.
A VPN subscription records on your bank account is pretty good evidence that you're trying to bypass Internet censorship. This might instantly flag you as a suspicious individual.
Thus, some VPN services have added cryptocurrency payments. That way, you can pay for your subscription without leaving a permanent record. NordVPN is one of the best overall services, and it does accept cryptocurrencies.
In some countries, the media that isn't government-controlled is forbidden. So, if you're subscribing to Wall Street Journal, you could quickly become public enemy #1. Although it may seem like a stretch, these moderns versions of McCarthyisms are prominent in strict regimes.
Porn is widely banned in most Islamic countries. It's also a pretty embarrassing find when personal finance consultants in banks look at your monthly budget. One way to keep the books clean is to use a payment method that isn't tied to you.
In today’s world, every digital activity comes with potential dangers, such as risks of identity theft, data breaches, and unauthorized access to sensitive information. With such dangers at presence, it’s essential to maintain online hygiene and secure your personal data, such as your name, address, and credit card details, when conducting online transactions.
The safest and most anonymous online payment methods are cryptocurrencies, virtual credit cards, and Cash App. While all online transactions leave a digital trail, cash is the best method to send and receive money. However, not always the most convenient one.
So, on top of all the recommended anonymous payment methods, we also recommend adding an additional layer of anonymity and security with a reputable VPN like NordVPN or protect your personal data by removing them from databases with services like Incogni. It minimizes your digital trail and encrypts all your online activities, so no hackers, trackers, third parties, and even your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can see what you do online.
What is the best way to receive money anonymously?
The best way to receive money anonymously is by using cryptocurrencies, virtual credit cards, Cash App, Paysafecard, and cash. While the best way to receive money is offline with cash, you can add an extra layer of anonymity to your online payments by using a reputable VPN like NordVPN. It uses impenetrable encryption and includes extra safety features that prevent third parties, like hackers or trackers, from accessing your payments.
Can you receive money anonymously on PayPal?
Yes, you can receive money anonymously on PayPal without revealing your identity, by using a throwaway e-mail address, and funding it with a virtual credit card. The process also requires a phone number, so we recommend getting a virtual phone number. But beware that the process may not be 100% anonymous.
How can I receive money without showing my name?
You can receive money without showing your name by using cryptocurrencies, which is the most discreet method for online money transfers. With just a phone number or email, you can send funds without revealing additional personal information. This is safer than using fake names on services that may later require verification. Another option for high anonymity is virtual credit cards, which are disposable, conceal your identity, and don't require physical cards.
How can I send money without revealing my identity?
You can send money without revealing identity by using cryptocurrencies. They require a phone number and email, meaning you can send funds without revealing additional personal information. Another option for high anonymity is virtual credit cards, which are disposable, conceal your identity, and don't require physical cards. You can also use gift cards or cash for sending money without revealing identity. Beware that all online payments still leave a digital trace, therefore, you can also use a VPN like NordVPN, to minimize your digital trail as much as possible.
Is Cash App anonymous?
No, Cash App is not anonymous. If you want to send, receive, or cash out the money, you have to verify your identity by providing your full name, date of birth, and address. Even though transactions are visible just for the sender and the recipient, they are not completely anonymous. However, you can add a layer of anonymity to your Cash App transactions by getting a secure VPN, like NordVPN, that provides the best encryption methods for anonymous payments online.