Many websites and online apps require you to pay for certain services. Normally, that would mean using a credit card and giving away your real identity. But if you want to pay privately, that’s possible. Here are several solutions for paying anonymously online. If you need to make a payment on a website or app without revealing your true identity, consider one of the following anonymous payment methods:
Prepaid credit cards. You can buy a prepaid card (using cash, if you want) that does not have your name on it, then use it to make payments online. This is the least sophisticated way to pay anonymously, and it is only truly anonymous if you use cash to buy the prepaid card, but it is simple and works. If you bought the card using a non-anonymous credit card or a bank account, it could still be traced back to you.
Use a masked or virtual credit card. This method is similar to using a prepaid card, but you can do it completely online without having a physical card. See our article on using Blur’s masked credit card service. EntroPay is another option.
Update 2018: I now recommend using the cryptocurrency Monero whenever possible, due to the fact that it is a truly untraceable payment method.
Bitcoin. This quasi-anonymous payment method has been growing steadily in popularity in the last few years. More and more sites are accepting it for payment (though not all do). You need a Bitcoin wallet for this to work. That requires a little bit of setup, but it’s well worth the effort if you want to pay anonymously online on a frequent basis. If you purchase Bitcoins from a bank account, though, keep in mind that it is technically possible for your currency to be traced back to you. Bitcoin is essentially anonymous, but it’s not perfect (despite what you read in mainstream-press articles about Bitcoin).
PayPal. Although PayPal is not designed as an anonymous payment solution, you can set up a PayPal account in a way that makes it nearly anonymous. There are several considerations if you want to do that but the most important are to access PayPal only through a VPN that hides your real IP, and to link your account to a prepaid debit card so that it is not associated with a bank account that can be traced to you. Look out for a future post with details on using PayPal anonymously.