Create virtual credit card numbers and get cash back from Privacy.com

Stay safer when shopping online and score cashback savings while you're at it. Plus: Win an iPhone 8!

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read
protecting credit cards from scanners

Stop using your real credit card numbers online. Use Privacy-generated virtual numbers instead.

Alina Bradford

I'm not sure how Privacy.com escaped my radar for so long, but I'm glad I discovered it and even more glad to share it with you now.

The service generates virtual credit card numbers for online shopping, which is awesome all by itself. But it's about to unveil a new, secondary, perk, and 500 Cheapskate readers can get in early.

If you're new to this service, as I am, it bears a bit of explaining. Privacy.com links to your checking account (via a US-based service called Plaid, which securely links apps to banks). So you'll have to fork over your bank ID and password, which definitely feels weird.

Once you're set up, you can use Privacy to create both repeated-use and single-use credit card numbers -- the former for things like Netflix subscriptions and Amazon accounts, the latter for one-off purchases. Those single-use numbers "self-destruct" just two minutes after the first charge occurs.

Cool, right? In theory, you wouldn't ever have to use your actual credit card number online -- meaning there's a lower chance of getting victimized by fraud. You can even use a fake billing address if you want another privacy layer.

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What's the downside? You'll stop earning the points and perks (such as cashback) afforded by your credit card. And that brings us to today: Privacy's new cashback option will score you 1 percent on all purchases and "boosted" rates (up to 5 percent) from select merchants. This works for any or all card numbers you generate from your account.

Take note that these rebates are provided in the form of Privacy credit, which you can spend using any Privacy card. So it's not cash in the strictest sense, but nearly as good.

I haven't put Privacy to the full test yet, as I had some wrinkles getting my account set up (which I shouldn't have attempted while traveling). But I'm eager to start using it because I've had my credit card number stolen maybe four or five times over the years, and I never again want to deal with the hassle of having to update it the zillion or so places it's on file.

If you've tried the service, let me know what you think of it!

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Bonus deal: In case you missed the awesome CNET Live show yesterday, you can watch it here -- and find the all the deals and promos code when you scroll down a bit.

You also missed your chance to win an iPhone 8 and three months of service, both courtesy of US Mobile. But never fear! You can still enter that giveaway. In fact, you've got until June 17, and this is one of those giveaways that lets you rack up extra entries by hitting up social media. Damn good prize, so have at it!

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