How To Get A Free Single Use Credit Card

by on July 21, 2009

paypal_logo1UPDATE:  Paypal discontinued their single use credit card number program.  Click here for a credit card with no fees that allows you to generate one time use credit card numbers.

The PayPal system contains a method to generate a single use credit card number linked to your PayPal account.  Don’t want to read the rest?  Click here to sign up for a Paypal account and use their Single Use Card feature.

Why would you want to use a single use credit card?  Well, the most important reason is that you should never use a Debit card for online purchases of any kind.  Let us look at why…

Credit cards:

  • Credit cards have many protections for both online and offline purchases that protect against fraud and theft.  It’s in the bank’s best interest to make sure fraud doesn’t happen since it’s their money you are spending.
  • Credit cards typically have a maximum allowable deductible for fraud at somewhere in the $50 or less range.
  • Credit cards allow you to dispute charges, many up to 90 days after the fact.

Debit cards:

  • Debit cards use money directly out of your bank account, and thus banks have much lower reason to protect the account.  It’s your money, not theirs.
  • Debit cards can have deductables starting at the hundreds of dollars for theft and fraud, some have none at all.
  • Many Debit cards only allow an account owner to flag fraud or dispute a charge within 2 days of the charge.

What does that mean to you?  Well, if you only have a debit card but you’ve been itching to try a particular offer, it just might be time to do it.  If you’ve found a particularly enticing “free trial” that may be too good to be true at a site that you don’t particularly trust with your real credit card, now you can create a one off card tied to your Paypal account.  Even credit cards have risks as well, so if you can avoid using your real one for an online purchase, so much the better.

We’re going to do this Homer Simpson free Frogurt style and go through the good and the bad…

Credit Card number that is secure from theft, that’s good!

The card can only be used by the merchant that you originally use it on.  No potential for someone selling your card number on the black market, as if they do it won’t work.

The Paypal Virtual credit card isn’t actually “single use” but actually “single merchant limited use”, that’s bad!

It gives a merchant the ability to charge the card up to 4 times over the course of 2 months.  As the Paypal help info puts it -

“The limit for any single-use card is 4 authorizations from a single merchant or an expiration date up to 2 months from the creation date, whichever comes first.”

Certainly better than using a regular credit card online, but doesn’t stop a particularly unscrupulous merchant from double charging you, or for a “trial” offer to charge your card before the trial time period is up.

You can cancel the single use credit card anytime, that’s good!

Simply click on the “Cancel Now” button in the Paypal interface to shut off the card whenever you want and even the merchant you originally used it on can’t charge it again.  Perfect for those reoccurring billing free trial offers.  Simply cancel the card if you don’t like the product.  Make sure you call their support number and cancel as well, but certainly cancel the one time use card as soon as you know you don’t want more of the product.  This will prevent any “mistakes” from happening where they will ship and charge you despite canceling, which many people have complained about.

You can’t set a limit on the card to only be the amount of the charge, that’s bad!

You can’t actually set a limit on the card unfortunately.  The card will match your daily PayPal limit, which you can set as low as $500.

It’s still far far better than using your real credit card number, that’s good!

Seriously now, if you are ever giving your credit card to any site you don’t trust, use a single use card.

How do I get a Single Use Card?

Click here to sign up  and create a single use card. Then go to My Account, then click on the Create Secure Card Number link.  Note that you do NOT need to install the plugin, as you can simply create a one time use card right from there.

Again, remember that it won’t keep you completely safe from being scammed, but it will certainly help!

UPDATE:  Paypal discontinued their single use credit card number program.  Click here for a credit card with no fees that allows you to generate one time use credit card numbers.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kelvin Smith February 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Unfortunately, this is no longer available. The PayPal Plug-In was discontinued effective 9/22/10.

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