Single-Use Credit Card Numbers for Better Privacy

Single Use Credit Card Numbers for Better Privacy

Online shopping is  very convenient since it saves us a lot of time and allows us to find the best prices without leaving our homes. Getting the things we want is as easy as putting the item in our virtual cart and checking out. But at checkout, do you slightly hesitate when having to enter your credit card number? I know I do, and it’s completely normal as you are worried that your credit card number is going to fall into the wrong hands.

If you regularly shop online, you are going to love Privacy. What it does is generate a one-time credit card number for your online shopping that will only be valid for one purchase. This will repeat itself every time you buy something online. This way you will never have to give your real credit card number, and as a result it reduces the chances of you falling victim to identity theft. You will, though, have to give your information to Privacy to complete your purchases.


How to Sign Up

Signing up is very easy. You start by filling out a short form. You are asked to enter your Email, Password, Address, Name, and birthdate. The last step would be to connect the bank account you will be using, and Privacy works with banks such as Citibank, Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.

Your login information is transferred through a safe TLS (SSL) connection. Privacy also uses 256-bit encryption to keep your information secure while transfering your login details.

You will also be asked to install the Privacy Chrome extension to make your online shopping a lot easier. For now there is only an extension for Chrome and Firefox, but Support for Safari and Internet Explorer are coming soon.

Other Great Features

At checkout you should see a small Privacy icon right beside the credit card form, and when you click on it Privacy will automatically create a new virtual credit card particularly for the site you are shopping on.


You get to choose from what account you want the money to be withdrawn from, making it comparable to a debit card. You can either use Privacy’s mobile app or the web app. To cancel cards from there, pause them or set charge limits that go from $1,000 per day and $2,000 per month.

You can also have a credit card number for a certain service. For example, you can create an alternative credit card number for only your Hulu subscription. That number can only be used for that and nothing else.

You can also easily stop those annoying 30-day free trials that make you give your information to try their service. This way, if you forget to cancel it on time, you can just eliminate that Privacy number you had for it.


It’s up to us to keep our information safe, and Privacy is a tool that will help us with that. If you have used PayPal, you won’t have a hard time getting used to Privacy.

Do you do a lot of online shopping? If so, how do you keep your information safe? Let us know in the comments.


  1. Privacy sounds good, doesn’t it? However… instead of just linking to your checking account they require your login credentials to your whole bank account! The gives them access to EVERYTHING in your bank account, not just the funds in your checking account. I think this is WAY too much access so I’m holding off hoping they’ll eventually offer a service that connects only to my checking account.

    1. Hi Russ,
      Every service obviously has its reasons for asking what it asks for, but sometimes they may ask for too much. It´s up to us to decide if we are OK with the conditions, since what is OK with one user, is completely unacceptable to another. If you find a service you are happy with, don´t forget to drop the tip. Thanks for commenting. =-)

      1. Any third party like this that asks for my bank login info can just go die an early death! There is absolutely ZERO reason to need or ask for this information is TOTALLY out of line! If they think they have a reason to ask this, then I suggest they go back to the drawing board and figure out where they went wrong!

        1. Hi Kevin,
          So, I´m guessing you´re not a PayPal user then? =-) or are you willing to trust more popular services?

          1. I’m not a PayPal user. I’ve tried to use it a number of times over the last decade, but EVERY time I used it, it always resulted days of subsequent tasks to get the transaction to work or errors to be corrected. I’ve (eventually) learned to avoid making a transaction if using PayPal is the only option available for making the transaction.

          2. wait..I used Paypal for years and they do not , I repeat, they do not asked for how I logged on into my bank personal account. if I remember correctly, Paypal (or any other service provider) would only ask for your bank rounting # and your checking/or saving account #. So if this Privacy service would want to know my bank log on information then that is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE no matter how good their services are. And if you agreed to that, you are a totally dumb human.

    2. Hey – I’m working on

      We hear you – it’s tough for us, because we are a free service and manage a different sort of risk than many other providers (including PayPal). That said, we are definitely working on alternatives.

      Feel free to shoot me a note –, and I can let you know when we’re ready.

  2. Hi Judy,
    Perhaps you may be able to explain…………..If the Credit Card Number generated is a one-time number that is only valid for one purchase/transaction how does it handle a credit/refund from a supplier for an item that has been returned?

    1. Hey guys – I work on

      Refunds go directly back to your funding bank account regardless of the state of the card.

    2. Hi Dwight,
      Good question indeed and you also got a good answer from Bo that works there.=-)

  3. Be careful – handing over your bank account authentication to a third party, even for legitimate reasons, might constitute a violation of the Bank’s Terms and Conditions and if discovered, could be used against you to deny a refund, in the event of a completely unrelated fraud, against your account. Maybe this service is offered in conjunction with, or with the cooperation of the Banks, in which case it might be OK. Just saying, check out the Ts and Cs before rushing in.

    1. Hi Harold,
      I agree, you should always be careful with any service that requires sensitive info and read absolutely everything and not just skip through it. =-)

  4. Hi Bo Jaing
    Thanks for the explanation, however I’m not so sure if indeed it would work as you put it unless I’m missing something.. For example, all the suppliers I have ever dealt with insist on processing refunds back to the same credit card number to which the original Charge was made. ……………so if the purchase was made via a one time generated number for a single transaction, how is that number still going to work for a refund say 2-3 weeks later?
    Me thinks perhaps this requires more than a Leap of Faith on which to hand over all of one’s Banking Details…….Just a thought. .

    1. Hi Dwight,

      Good question! I should have been more clear.

      A closed card can’t be charged again. However, merchants can still issue refunds to that card.

      So if a merchant wanted to refund the purchase, they could refund it directly to the card you used (regardless of state of the card). Then we push the money directly back to your funding account.

      Hope that helps.


  5. Hmmm…sounds like a neat idea. But give out my info to yet another (even more) faceless entity on the net? I think I’ll wait a couple of years and see how they do before I jump in.

    1. Hi etim,
      Waiting never hurts, that way you see all the flaws and not go through them yourself. =-)

  6. Here in New Zealand we have what are called visa debit accounts. These are linked to any other account you have with the same bank. Not sure if these are available as such in other countries. So if someone was to try and fleece your account it ONLY has access to the Visa Debit card, and people transfer their money to it for a specific amount just prior to making an online transaction. Anyone trying to remove money from a debit visa account would automatically be rejected and the IP address generated to the bank for actioning.

    1. Hi Paul,
      That sounds interesting. I haven´t heard of that, but how popular is that in New Zealand? =-)

      1. How popular? Exceedingly so. People are, rightly, wary of using credit cards because of the damage that hackers can do. OK, replacing them and getting refunds are possible… but a monumental hassle.

        I don’t have official numbers but I can tell you that my banks (yes, plural) tellers tell me that most people use them rather than credit cards. Even though Paypal is an option. And Paypal is/has been hacked so not a road most people want to go down.

        And my, albeitly small numbers, friends and children all use debit cards for overseas transactions. In fact my daughter and eldest son have only just got credit cards (she’s 27 and he’s 24) and ONLY because they are going overseas and they may very well need it.

        They plan to dump them when they return to NZ.

  7. Bank of America has the best system. It’s called ShopSafe. They issue virtual Visa card numbers ON THEIR WEBSITE, while you are logged into your account. The card can be used only by one merchantm, has its own selectable credit limit and expiration date. You can extend the limit, date, or cancel the card at any time without affecting your real account. Charges go to the associated visa account.

  8. Yes, about 20 years, before BofA acquired Michigan National Bank in 2001. Michigan National had it for several years before the acquisition. B of A does not advertise it. It is buried deep in the website in the services section when you have your visa card page opened up.

  9. It is very simple and easy to protect credit card number and personal information from bad guys. We can make use of several apps, to get rid from theft. Great post. Thanks for sharing the article.

  10. Two alternatives:
    1) Citibank issues virtual credit cards if you have a real credit card with them. You can set a $ limit, and whether it is one-time only or ok for recurring charges. For one-time use, card expires in a month or two. They work wonderfully, and refunds against an expired card work just fine. Charges show up on statement with regular plastic-card charges. Recipient has no idea it’s a one-time card unless he tries to use it a second time. He’ll also be disappointed if he tries to charge more than limit you’ve set. Excellent for out-of-country purchases.

    2) An alternative to Privacy is Blur from They provide virtual cards, and as I recall they only need a different card against which to make the charge. They eat the merchant fees when they collect funds using the card you provide. It’s not a free service, but it’s not real expensive. I used this function a few times in the past, but stopped when I got a Citibank card. Other thing Blur does that’s real nice is e-mail masking. Click a button, and you’ll get a unique e-mail address. (As an example, I just generated Use a different address for each newsletter, etc., and you will see who is selling your e-mail address. It’s bi-directional, so you can respond to an e-mail they forward to you, and when it gets to them, the recipient will see it came from Start getting spammed, and you can turn off forwarding for that address with just a couple of clicks. A legit-looking site wanted my e-mail address to provide a quote, and I used an Blur address. Within a week I was getting flooded with Nigerian scam offers at that at that address. Needless to say, they didn’t get my business. Blur can also provide phone number masking.

  11. Hi Doug,
    Those look like great alternatives, Thanks for sharing. Have you been using them for very long?

Comments are closed.