© 2021 CyberNews - Latest tech news,
product reviews, and analyses.

If you purchase via links on our site, we may receive affiliate commissions.

The ultimate guide to safe and anonymous online payment methods in 2021

12

woman holding credit card and smartphone

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.

When it comes to anonymous online payment methods, there are many options to choose from:

  • 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
Safe and Anonymous Online Payment Methods to Use This Year video screenshot

Cryptocurrencies

  • Pros: can be completely anonymous if handled correctly; widely supported online
  • Cons: some payments take relatively long to process; utility offline is limited

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.

Prepaid debit cards

  • Pros: super convenient both for paying online and offline
  • Cons: the sign-up process may not be anonymous

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 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

  • Pros: incredibly convenient because you’re using your regular credit account
  • Cons: only work online

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, since they use virtual credit card numbers and are not physical cards.

Prepaid gift cards

  • Pros: absolutely anonymous, payments are instantaneous
  • Cons: not very widely accepted

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.

PayPal

  • Pros: reliable and widely-accepted
  • Cons: achieving true anonymity is difficult

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.

Google Pay

  • Pros: very cheap to maintain
  • Cons: is neither widely available nor accepted

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. 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 online purchases, you might run into some trouble. Being a reasonably new payment method, it isn’t widely supported, so it isn’t yet widely available.

Apple Pay Cash

  • Pros: available in more countries than Google Pay
  • Cons: significantly more restrictive than Google Pay

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. The lack of privacy gets shot down, as well. It won’t be optimal to use a throwaway email with an Apple product that has to be associated with a particular device.

Paysafecard

  • Pros: easy to pay 100% anonymously
  • Cons: can be difficult to find in some countries (particularly the US and Canada)

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

  • Pros: Easy-to-use and widely available (through PayPal checkout)
  • Cons: Not very anonymous

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

  • Pros: No need for bank account
  • Cons: Your funds aren’t FDIC-insured

Cash App is an anonymous mobile payments service, 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

  • Pros: easily available and can be 100% anonymous to use
  • Cons: limited availability as a payment method online

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

  • Pros: largely dependent on the vendor
  • Cons: requires extensive research to tell the good from the bad

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.

VPNs

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.

Free press

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

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.

How to receive money anonymously?

If you want anonymously to receive money online, cryptocurrencies are the best option. Offline, the cash is still king when it comes to anonymous transfers.

Both methods are very hard to pin down directly to you. You could receive money in cryptocurrencies, then convert it in currency and transfer it to your own bank account.

How to send money anonymously?

Sending cryptocurrencies is the most discreet way of online money transfers. Most online wallets also double as cryptocurrencies wallets. You can use a phone number or email, which will be the only info that you’ll need to make a transfer. This is much safer than using fake names on services that eventually will ask for verification.

Does signing up with a fake name make transactions more private?

Signing up for services with the fake name might sometimes add additional problems down the line. For example, PayPal’s sign-up process can be completed with a fake name. They’ll have no ability to verify your identity unless you want to transfer your money somewhere else. To do that, you’ll have to verify your identity or link your bank account. If the names mismatch, you’ll get flagged, which could lead to freezing your funds in the wallet.

Comments
Shy Eyes
Shy Eyes
prefix 1 month ago
masked credit cards are gr8 for svcs since you may use any name you want. If you want to purchase goods online for delivery masked cards don’t work for several reasons:
1. I used to deliver the goods to my PO box using a fake name after I noticed I got mail for every person that owned my box since it was built. A new clerk noticed what I was doing and called the postal inspector (police) who informed me it is illegal to use a fake name to receive goods.
2. So I opened a pay mailbox not affiliated w/usps and he permitted me to use one alias to receive goods to protect my privacy. That used to work fine, now it never works anymore. Retailers are using data brokers to validate every aspect of the transaction before they approve the online sale. Now they always flag my goods orders as fraud. I always cr8 a brand new masked eml address and one fraud dept said I was suspicious since “that’s a brand new email address”. I lied, said I had it for years. But how did they know that? Plus masked cards use the same billing address for every subscriber. Of course that is different from my shipping address, which itself is not a residence. So shipping billing does not help. Plus fact I either put all 9’s or the retailer’s own phone number in the usually-required phone field (they don’t like that either since then they can’t throw my name/phone against the credit bureau for validation). Did I mention they also flag the fictitious name since data brokers know every name/address combo in the USA? So all these things combined always result in a cancelled goods transaction every time. In fact they are so good now I don’t even get an email confirmation of my order w/cancellation next day, instead I get no nothing and no money is charged to the masked card.
Sandra
Sandra
prefix 3 months ago
Paypal reports to credit bureaus now.
miol
miol
prefix 4 months ago
I just tried paysafe card and I found that people which stand behind paysafe card want my personal details, my address and yet reviewer persuades us that paysafe card is 100% anonymous.. I dare to oppose, since anonymous solution means collecting no information.. Paysafe card complies KYC/AML rules and people should know it
89l
89l
prefix 4 months ago
this is a good summation. something has to be done. the overt collection, use, exploitation, and selling of data by dang near everybody and everything must be dealt with.

perhaps an opensource network of like minded individuals and collectives (i.e. not-companies) that are in alignment (but not necessarily in agreement) offering goods, information, and services. get a ‘good enough and big enough’ network and one can reduce exposure to the status quo matrix people & co.

the gub agencies like the DMV sell peoples personal information. they charge you for a drivers license which one is required to have, then sell the personal information to companies on the open market, which then again sell the information. wtf.
Paul
Paul
prefix 6 months ago
Hi
thank you for this very interesting information.
Concerning Google Pay, do you mean that the merchant doesn’t receive any personal information about the Google Pay account owner (except the email address used to create the account)?
Best regards
Trent
Trent
prefix 8 months ago
So how do you set up a Paypal account anonymously when they require your cell phone number for security purposes?
likh
likh
prefix 5 months ago
textnow.com
PJ
PJ
prefix 3 months ago
I used a TextNow number to sign up to Paypal, but the won’t use the number when they eventually have to verify me. So this is limited. They want you to have a number linked to your credit card or bank account or other personally identifying data. We’re all tagged cattle now.
Upholstery experts
Upholstery experts
prefix 10 months ago
Wonderful work, many thanks for putting in the time to
create this, i will give it a share on my facebook.
Russell Mayers
Russell Mayers
prefix 10 months ago
How about setting up a trust with instructions to the trustee to pay $14K a year to a designated beneficiary, and then pay any amount remaining after the death of the beneficiary back into my estate?
Moses
Moses
prefix 16 days ago
How would you set it up? This, i guess, could be useful in individual cases but maybe not on a big scale, I worry.
Anyway, it's an interesting idea.
Margie Diaz
Margie Diaz
prefix 11 months ago
I’d like to subscribe please.
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked