Whether you are paying for a service, buying a physical product, or donating to charity, at one time or another you likely paid for something online. In 2019, Americans have spent $137.7 billion according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This was more than $100 billion from what they spent a decade ago ($34 billion).
Spending and sending money online is very easy, but it comes with a price.
No, I am not talking about the cash. I’m talking about your digital privacy.
Any time you buy something or send money online your transaction gets recorded and your data will be on display.
Fortunately, there are several methods to anonymously pay for goods and services online.
Let’s take a look at these methods and how they work.
How do You Send Money Anonymously on PayPal?
When it comes to sending money online or making online payments, PayPal is one of the most widely used methods.
To use PayPal you are going to need a bank account and a debit/credit card and an email address to register.
PayPal officially doesn’t support anonymous money sending, but you can get around that by using a virtual credit card and an anonymous email account tied to a name different from yours.
This can be a bit cumbersome and it will take some time to prepare (open an anonymous email account and sign up for a virtual credit card).
Virtual Credit Card
Speaking of virtual credit cards, they are a great way to anonymously send money online without revealing your identity.
However, you can only use them online, but on the upside, you can close the virtual account at any time. This is why they are also referred to as “disposable credit cards”.
Prepaid Debit Card
Another method to make anonymous payments online (but it also works offline) are prepaid debit cards. For online payment, you’ll need to register your prepaid debit card with a website.
However, keep in mind that some prepaid debit cards are “reloaded” and will require an SSN or a credit card to activate, making them less anonymous.
Prepaid Gift Card
Certain prepaid gift cards can be used both online and offline, while some can be used only offline. Although they are not accepted everywhere, these are still a good way to pay for something instantaneously without revealing your identity.
One problem with this method is that you might not be able to be anonymous when signing up for the service you want to pay for and also prepaid gift cards are not that widely accepted.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Etherium and Monero, just to name a few, provide a decent level of privacy, the level of which depends on the crypto itself as well as the crypto exchange.
And there’s the problem. For bigger cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, you will need to register with a crypto exchange service. Unfortunately, some of them will ask for your private info upon registering.
One crypto though is to almost all purposes fully anonymous. That’s Monero XMR.
This is because public keys or addresses of people in the blockchain are hidden and you can also hide the transaction value with RingCT. In essence, this means that both the route and the value of the transaction will be impossible to track.
With Cash App, you can send money online using only a username and without using a bank account, which makes it plenty anonymous.
The problem is that Cash App imposes a spending limit of $250 per day, which you can only get over by verifying your identity, which nullifies your anonymity.
This is a 100% anonymous payment app that lets you find retailers who sell prepaid Paysafecard vouchers that you can then buy using cash. The user can then make anonymous payments using the 16-digit PIN.
Although this method is fully anonymous, it requires an Internet connection since it combines online and offline interactions. Besides, you might only be able to find it in Europe, while those in the United States and Canada won’t be so lucky.
3rd Party Private Payment Service
As the demand for anonymous online payment methods increase, more and more 3rd party private payment services come up.
Unfortunately, they all handle payments differently, so it’s really a hit-or-miss with these. You’ll need to be very careful about scams, so be sure to double-check the service before using it.
If you are using these, be sure to do so via a throwaway or other anonymous email account and not your personal email account.
Can You be 100% Anonymous When Sending Money Online?
As every transaction is a 2-way agreement, it’s not always possible to achieve 100% anonymity. For instance, when buying something from an online retail store, you’ll have to supply a delivery address, or you might need to verify your identity in some way to register for the service.
Different methods provide different levels of privacy and security for your online transactions, so you might need to test a few to see what works for you. Personally, I find Monero XMR to offer the best privacy, but other methods may work better for you.