Technology Review – Unique Credit Card Numbers for Online Shopping

Online shopping is everywhere but safe online shopping isn’t. In one year, I replaced nearly every credit or debit card due to hacking.

Even the most cautious internet shopper is defenseless when hackers steal information from websites that store your payment information.

What if there was a way to have a unique credit card number for every website you used? Then, if (read: when) you get hacked, you only need to shut down that card number. You wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of contacting your bank and getting a new credit card, followed by the pain of re-entering your payment on every single site online.

Enter an online shopper’s best friend: review website screenshot

Privacy connects to your checking account and allows you, via a website or app, to create unique credit card numbers for each merchant you use. You can set cards for recurring or one-time use and you can attach weekly, monthly, yearly or per charge dollar limits to them as well. Setting limits can keep you from breaking your budget. It also prevents companies from jacking up the price of your subscription without you noticing. (I’m looking at you, cable companies / internet providers). You can only use each card with one merchant. Privacy locks cards to one store or website to keep someone from using your card somewhere else.

When to Use Privacy

Maybe this sounds neat but you’re not quite sure how you’d use it. Let me share a few of my favorite use cases.

  • Websites I’ve never used before and inherently don’t trust. Using Privacy significantly lowers my risk, especially if I use a one-time use burner card that can only be charged a single time.
  • Websites that make it difficult to cancel your subscription. I’m looking at you Let it be known that your ridiculous “phone-in-72-hours-before-your-plan-expires” policy to cancel an online video subscription is anathema. You’re the worst.
  • Places where I have to give my number over the phone. If you are calling a florist or spa to buy a gift for someone and have to give out a credit card number over the phone. No worries that the flower lady will do something suspicious with your card. (No offense, flower lady).
  • Websites with trial subscriptions I might forget to cancel. Hi, Spotify!

Recently we ordered a stroller adapter online and later got a notification that it was on backorder. In the meantime, I found the adapter somewhere else and ordered it so that it would arrive sooner. The original website wouldn’t let me login to cancel the order (!), so I just shutdown the Privacy card for that account. I got an email that my payment didn’t process and just ignored it. I knew Privacy had my back.

Other Great Features

I really appreciate being able to create a burner card for one-time use. If you know you’re only going to use a card one time (like in the florist example above), you can set the card as a burner. With a burner card, once a single payment is processed, another transaction can’t go through. This is the best option for websites you don’t trust and probably won’t order from again.

You can also pause cards without canceling them, in case you want to save a merchant to use for later, but don’t want any fishy charges potentially showing up in the meantime. You can set Privacy to alert you when a transaction is attempted. That way you’re always on top of what’s happening with your card.

There are credit card companies like Final that are doing the same thing, but then you need to sign up for a new credit card, and Final has foreign transaction fees. If you’re addicted to getting points with your credit card purchases, Privacy will likely disappoint you since it’s linked to your checking account and there isn’t a rewards program.

I don’t use Privacy for every website or merchant, but I love using it for subscriptions, giving a card number over the phone, and on websites I probably won’t order from again. Power to the consumer, baby.

You can search your cards to find the one you need to shutdown via the handy iOS app or on the website.

Click this link and you get $5 just for signing up (and I do too). Not a bad deal to keep your bank accounts safe online.