Privacy.com allows you to create single-use virtual debit cards for online transactions. This works perfectly for anyone who doesn’t want untrustworthy websites to have their debit card information. Privacy offers free and paid plans.
I’ve used Privacy for over a year now (I think) and want to share my experience with this virtual card creation service.
To help you figure out whether it’s worth using, I’ll cover the following points:
- Pros and cons
- Who it’s best for
- What it is
- Pricing and plans
- How to get refunds on transactions
- How to get started
We have a lot to cover. So keep reading to learn more.
Pros and Cons of Privacy.com #
Here are the pros and cons of using Privacy virtual debit cards:
Pros of Privacy
- Simple to create virtual cards
- The free plan has robust features
- Per-transaction spending limit
- Cashback if you upgrade
Cons of Privacy
- No security key login
- Lack of credit card support
Who Is Privacy.com Best For?
You’ll want to use Privacy.com if you make many purchases online and don’t want to risk giving your real debit card details to an untrustworthy eCommerce business.
If a website requires a debit card to use their services, yet the account isn’t secure, you’re risking your online privacy and security. Because any hacker or social engineer could break into your account, steal your card, and wreak havoc on your finances.
Using the burner card feature could make it, so the card deletes itself after a purchase. Thus, if someone attempts a shopping spree with your financial information, they’ll have no success.
And you don’t have to call the bank to cancel your card and order a new one.
It’s also great for setting spending limits.
Let’s say you have Diablo Immortal on your phone and for some reason you let your kid play it. With a normal debit card attached to your account, they could easily blow $50,000 on legendary Rift runs if you don’t have biometrics enabled on your app store.
When using Privacy.com, you can add a card to your app store and set a spending limit (even $0. That way, when someone tries to waste your money on microtransactions, they’ll see “transaction declined.”
|Credit Card Support||No|
|Max Number of Virtual Cards (Per mo.)||60|
What Is Privacy.com?
Privacy.com, otherwise dubbed Lithic, is a service that enables you to mask your debit card information by creating virtual or single-use cards.
They create their virtual cards through their Lithic API. It’s a card issuing platform.
And they partner with Patriot Bank (and some other banks they didn’t specify) to make it, so they can create these cards. A financial institution located in Connecticut.
Their Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) ID is 412623.
Privacy.com Features #
Features you’ll find in Privacy’s free and premium versions include:
- Single-use virtual cards
- Spending tracker
- Set an account spend limit
- Browser add-on
I’ll cover the details for the paid plans in the “Pricing and Plans” section.
Single-use or Disguised Cards
You can create 12, 36, or 60 single-use or permanent virtual cards per month. The number of Privacy cards you can produce depends on the pricing tier you’re subscribed to.
Before you can use these cards, you’ll have to add a funding source. I’ll cover the steps to add one later.
Here’s how it works.
You create a virtual card. You’ll get regular debit card information like:
- Card number
- Card Verification Code (CVC)
- Expiration date
When making purchases on other sites, you’ll enter the virtual card’s information. And when it comes to using your name, you can use whatever name and address you want.
Once the purchase proceeds, the online store will pull money from your Privacy.com account.
Then Privacy will pull money from your funding source.
In my experience, many websites will consider a Privacy card as a prepaid card. So you may want to look up whether the place you want to shop accepts prepaid cards.
Here are some examples of stores I’ve been successful with Privacy:
- Google Play
- Apple App Store
You’re likely wondering how Privacy virtual cards will appear on bank statements. That depends on different factors like:
- Debit card funding source:
- PayWithPrivacy* (merchant’s billing descriptor)
- Or PWP* (merchant’s billing descriptor)
- Checking account funding source: (merchant’s billing descriptor) PRIVACYCOM
That’s with the Privacy Personal (free) plan. With Pro, you can change the merchant’s billing descriptor to what you want. But it’ll still say “PRIVACYCOM.”
I’ll explain why when covering the Privacy Pro features.
Per-card Spending Tracker and Spending Limit
Each virtual card you create has separate transaction pages to simplify bookkeeping. You can also set spending limits for each card (from $0 to unlimited).
You can set spending limits in the following increments:
- Per transaction
- Per month
- Total amount your card can spend
- Per year
See the image below as an example:
For instance, if you pay for a one-month’s subscription of World of Warcraft, and don’t Blizzard to ‘accidentally’ take more money from your account, set a limit. To account for taxes, you’d want to set an $18 monthly limit.
Many of you may not know what game and company I’m talking about. But they’ve made their web interface easy enough for a 6-year-old to understand.
You can only adjust the dollar amounts with your spending limit by increments of $5 (e.g., $5, $15, or $4,500).
Using your card as a burner? Set your card only to enable one transaction.
Account Spending Limit: More Like a Restriction
Whether you’re a paid or free subscriber, you’ll have a 24-hour account-wide spending limit of $1,250. And a 30-day limit of $5,000 .
You can increase your spending limits if you fall under certain criteria:
- Subscriptions to recurring transactions
- At least 1–2 months of consistent spending
- Continually maxing your daily and monthly limits: this shows Privacy that you’ll need a bigger limit
If you sign up for the Teams plan (their highest-paid tier), you can request spending limits.
And if you’ve had your Privacy.com account long enough, you could email them at [email protected] and politely ask if you can get an account-wide spending limit increase.
I wouldn’t use Privacy for expensive monthly purchases. Unless they increase the account-wide spending limit to meet your needs.
Privacy.com Browser Addon and Extension
The Pay by Privacy.com browser extension and mobile apps enables you to create Privacy burner cards by clicking two buttons.
You can get this extension for the following browsers and mobile operating systems:
- Chromium Browsers (e.g., Brave)
- Google Chrome
Instead of switching tabs while you’re on your merchant cart page, you just need to click the plugin icon and click “New Card.”
Afterward, enter your nickname and spending limit.
And finally, shop.
You can manage all your burner cards with this plugin. Just ensure you’re logged into your Privacy account.
If you’re the type of person who usually runs multiple screens in your setup, I recommend skipping the plugin, despite my praise.
Privacy Pricing and Plans #
Here are the current plans Privacy.com offers:
|Tier||* Price||Card Creation Limit||Cashback|
|Personal||Free||12 per month||No|
|Pro||$10/mo.||36 per month||Yes|
|Teams||$25/mo.||60 per month||Yes|
* These prices don’t include potential fees or taxes.
I’ve covered Privacy Personal.
The following sections will focus on the company’s paid tiers. I’ll cover the price, features included, and whether it’s worth getting.
Privacy Pro costs $10 per month and adds features like:
- Cash back on purchases
- Hidden transaction information
- Allows you to create up to 36 virtual cards
- Priority customer support
- Everything Privacy Personal includes
The following sections will cover these features in-depth.
You can receive 1% cashback as Privacy Credits on any transaction you use a Privacy card with. And you can get a max of $4,500 cash back per month.
Privacy will convert the cash back you earned into Privacy Credits every month around the 10th of the following month. Once you have your credits, you can spend them on almost any Privacy card purchase.
You can’t spend Privacy Credits on the following vendors and categories:
- International websites
- Particular clothing brands like YeezySupply, Footlocker, Nike, and Adidas
- Money transfers
These credits work like free money. And refunds work like any other refund with your Privacy card.
Discreet Merchant: “Hide” Transaction Information
The Discreet Merchant feature will mask a merchant’s name on your bank statement. It’s a great feature for those who have shared bank accounts and want to buy a surprise gift for your partner.
Without Discreet Merchants transactions will appear on bank statements as Privacy.com [EmbarrassingShirt.com].
With the feature, you can choose from a list of options to mask the merchant’s name. Here’s an example: Privacy.com NSA Gift Shop.
The burner debit card service can’t discard “Privacy.com” in the bank statements due to compliance regulations.
Thus, I don’t recommend upgrading to remove “Privacy.com” from your statements.
If you don’t want delayed support, you’ll need to pay. However, I’ve never noticed a difference in the response time from their customer service. The last request I had took way less than 12 hours to receive a response.
Better response than many websites I’ve experienced.
Privacy Teams costs $25 per month and offers the following features:
- Everything Pro provides
- Dedicated account manager
- Create up to 60 Privacy cards
- * Export your account
- * Support for multiple users
* It says on their blog that this feature is “Coming soon.” But that was in 2019. And I haven’t seen any updates .
This plan only makes it so you can create more cards and gives you a dedicated account manager. If you need 60 cards at the same time, then I’d recommend using Teams.
Otherwise, stick with Personal or Pro.
How Privacy.com Secures Your Data
Privacy is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) compliant. That means Privacy.com Lithic and their virtual cards met a checklist containing 12 items.
The PCI-DSS compliance requirements checklist includes:
|Use of firewalls||Proper password protections||Encrypt all cardholder data|
|Encrypt transferred data||Uses anti-malware software||Continually updates firewalls and anti-virus software|
|Only “need to know” staff can access personal data||Unique IDs to access personal data||cardholder data kept in very secure physical location|
|Create a data access log||Continually scan and test for vulnerabilities||Document when and who accesses files|
Most of these are vague, but here are some details Lithic Privacy provides a bit more details on their website:
- Send all traffic through a Transport Layer Security (TLS): hackers can’t ‘listen in’ on transmitted data between you and Privacy
- Password protection with PBKDF2 with 100k iterations: reduces brute force attacks because attackers will find difficulty guessing your password
- Data center protected with Internet Protocol Security (IPsec): they use AES-256 encryption (some of the best encryption around)
- One time password (OTP) account login security: makes it difficult for people to enter your account
You must enable OTP yourself. I’ll cover this later when I cover getting started with Privacy burner cards. I wish they had hardware security key integration. So if a miracle happens and someone from Lithic reads this post, please consider adding it.
In short, it’s secure.
Getting Refunds With Privacy Cards
I had no problems getting a refund on a shopping website, having used Privacy.com as my payment method. I only had to initiate the refund with the vendor like normal.
A day later, the money went back to my Privacy funding source, not as a Privacy Credit.
According to Privacy, you can still receive refunds even if you paused or closed the card that you used to purchase the product.
Privacy may convert a foreign currency to USD on a different day. So the actual conversion rate may differ. But they won’t charge you currency conversion fees.
Privacy.com Alternatives #
Here are some ‘alternatives’ to Privacy virtual cards:
|Service||Transaction Fee (Per Purchase)|
|PayPal||None (for buyers)|
|Stripe Issuing||0.2% + $0.20 (domestic)1% + $0.30 (international)|
|Capital One Eno||None|
|Revolut Premium||None (but there’s a subscription)|
The following sections will cover websites and services kind of like Privacy burner cards. I’ll cover each services’ details, pros and cons, and whether they’re worth using.
That way, you can choose the right software.
Privacy.com vs. PayPal
Privacy burner cards offer a bit more flexibility since you’re creating virtual cards, instead of having to log into PayPal.
Many websites I’ve used don’t allow me to log into PayPal. But your shopping habits aren’t the same as mine, so you may run into more support.
PayPal also doesn’t allow you to create self-destructing debit cards. Privacy does.
Regarding customer service, PayPal has some of the worst and most unhelpful customer service I’ve experienced. Once in a while, I do encounter friendly and helpful team members.
Privacy.com definitely has the upper-hand in this area.
And Privacy virtual cards do a better job with not having account-wide glitches with two-factor authentication. When enabling 2FA on PayPal, it has a weird ‘glitch’ and doesn’t let me log into my account at all.
So I’d have to call PayPal and wait 30 minutes to talk to someone in an attempt to log into my account.
Both companies will require personal data. Because they must adhere to banking laws. But at least with Privacy, you can use a different billing name and address with various eCommerce businesses.
PayPal wins in sending money, though. But that’s irrelevant. Because both businesses technically have different purposes.
Stripe Issuing: Best for Business Owners
Stripe Issuing allows you to create both physical and virtual cards for your business. After creating these cards, you have full control of their distribution and management.
You can set spending limits on each card and choose whether you want to use them once or multiple times. Stripe also allows companies to create branded physical cards.
That’s not likely a feature you’re after. But I felt obliged to mention it.
Unlike Privacy’s subscription model, you’ll pay whenever you generate a physical or virtual card.
You will also need to pay transaction and international transaction fees.
They charge a 0.2% + $0.20 fee per domestic transaction. Stripe also charges 1% + $0.30 per international transaction.
Pros of Stripe Issuing
- Physical and virtual cards
- Same features as Privacy
- Great for businesses
Cons of Stripe Issuing
- Transaction fees
Capital One Eno: Best for Capital One Account Holders
You’ll only find this feature useful if you have a Capital One account. Their Eno tool allows you to generate and manage anonymous virtual card numbers for your account.
What sets Eno apart from Privacy is the price. You don’t have to pay for Capital One Eno.
Pros of Capital One Eno
- Unlimited virtual cards
- Same features as Privacy
Cons of Capital One Eno
- Must have a Capital One card
Revolut Premium: Best for Travelers, Expats, and Digital Nomads
Revolut offers various financial services like investments, banking, and budgeting.
They also offer disposable cards.
You can connect these to your Revolut account and use them as self-destructing cards whenever you purchase something. You can’t use Revolut’s virtual cards on subscriptions.
You must subscribe to their Premium membership to use this perk.
Their Premium subscription is £6.99 ($9.25). And as a Premium Revolut user, you’re only able to create one burner card per account. That means you can’t set specific cards for various websites.
According to Revolut’s website, you must be a resident of the following countries to use Revolut:
We are currently only supporting legal residents of the European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The EEA includes:Source
Pros of Using Revolut
- Automatically handles disposing of your old card and creating a new one
- Great for you who have a Revolut account
- More affordable than Privacy
Cons of Using Revolut
- 1 burner card per account
- Can’t use virtual cards on subscriptions
You can only apply for a Lithic Privacy.com account if you’re a United States citizen. To verify your identity, they’ll ask for the following information:
- Full name
- Last four digits of your social security number
- Phone number
- Debit card
- US bank account information: they don’t allow international banks
Fill out the application and wait 24 hours.
You should receive an email detailing whether your account was approved.
If they declined you, contact their customer service. They responded to my inquiries within 12 hours. But your experience may differ.
Upon creating an account, immediately enable two-factor authentication.
Navigate through these account settings to enable it:
Dropdown menu with your name > Account > Toggle on ‘Two Factor Authentication’
While you’re here, you can also see your account spending limit, integrations, and notifications settings. Familiarize yourself with these settings.
For two-factor authentication applications, I recommend Yubico Authenticator (if you have a YubiKey security key). Or the Aegis Authenticator mobile app.
I don’t recommend Google Authenticator or Authy. Aegis offers more security options and has better account exporting features.
Regarding Privacy virtual card service’s data privacy.
Californian citizens have the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA) on their side. So if that’s where you live, you can contact Privacy and ask them to delete your information. Ensure you mention you’re a resident of California.
After they verify your account.
Residents in other states can attempt to do the same. But you may not have as successful of results. Pay attention to your state’s data laws to see whether they add a similar act.
How To Create a Virtual Card on Privacy.com
Follow the process below, and you’ll quickly protect your debit cards from potential hackers:
1. Click “New Card.”
2. Set your nickname and select a picture to identify your card.
3. Set your monthly spending.
4. Create your card.
Afterward, you have access to various features to control your card.
For example, you can pause your card, which means that if any merchant tries to pull money, you’ll end up with a declined transaction.
Or, you can add a tag to your card to make it easier to find.
You can customize the card’s appearance or loan the card to someone in need.
If you loan your virtual card, ensure you set a spending limit. Otherwise, you may find an empty bank account.
Privacy.com Frequently Asked Questions
Privacy.com has some areas on their website where they’re vague.
I aggregated some frequently asked questions that should help you better understand the virtual card company before creating an account.
Is Privacy.com Legit and Safe?
Privacy.com is safe to use. They’re PCI-DSS compliant, they hash account passwords using PBKDF2, and they use AES-256 encryption .
How Does Privacy.com Make Money?
Privacy.com makes its money from subscription fees from Pro- and Team-tier plans. They also earn from transaction fees they give merchants.
Does Privacy Work on PayPal?
Privacy virtual burner cards does work on PayPal during my test. When adding a Privacy Card, you won’t need to do anything special—add it like a normal Visa card.
Keep in mind that PayPal will consider Privacy’s burner cards as Visa Prepaid cards.
Does Privacy.com Show up on a Bank Statement?
Privacy virtual cards will appear on a bank statement as Privacy.com [merchant name] on a free account. If you use a paid account, it’ll also appear as Privacy(dot)com in the beginning, but you can mask the merchant name.
Who Owns Privacy.com?
Boling Jiang, an America-based investor who owns Privacy.com (otherwise, Lithic) .
Can I Use a Credit Card With Privacy.com?
You can’t use credit cards on privacy. They will not allow you to enter credit card information as a funding source. You can only use debit cards and bank accounts to fund your account.
Why Does Privacy.com Need My SSN?
Privacy.com Lithic asks for the last four digits of your social security number (SSN) to verify that you’re a United States citizen. Upon verifying your account, you can send an email to [email protected] and request them to remove your SSN.
Where is Privacy.com Located?
Pay With Privacy, Inc. (Privacy and Lithic) is located and based in New York City, New York, United States.
Privacy.com provides tools for you to anonymize your online shopping with virtual burner debit cards. Their free and premium tiers have all the same core features.
The only difference between their plans lies with their customer service response, the number of cards you can create, and the cashback feature.
I’ve used this app for a while and recommend it to online shoppers. If you want to create more cards, go with Pro or Teams. It doesn’t cost much.