pay VPN anonymously

Safeguarding our online privacy is a constant challenge. Sites like Google collect vast amounts of data about us, tracking our every move through cookies and other means. In many countries, citizens suffer from strict internet censorship and block VPN services. Using a VPN is a way to protect your digital privacy but, ironically, not all VPNs offer anonymous payment methods.

In this post, we’ll discuss some of the privacy risks associated with traditional payment methods as well as why anonymity can be so important when purchasing a VPN service. We’ll follow this by exploring some safe and anonymous online payment methods (and covering which VPN providers offer which). The aim is to help you make an informed decision as to which VPN service and payment method best fits your specific privacy requirements.

Why is it important to pay for a VPN anonymously?

Traditional payment methods leave a trail of personal information that could allow the VPN provider or a third-party to identify you. If anonymity is your chief concern, then credit cards and PayPal won’t cut it.

Here are some of the main reasons why it’s worth paying for a VPN anonymously:

  • Protect against data breaches: By paying for a VPN anonymously, you prevent the VPN provider from having access to your personal payment information, be it your name, credit card details, or billing address. This extra layer of privacy ensures that even if a VPN’s stored data was compromised, your personal and financial information would remain secure.
  • Avoid tracking and profiling: Traditional payment methods can be traced and linked to your identity. This data can be used by companies, advertisers, and even governments to track your online purchases and online behavior. This can potentially lead to profiling. Anonymous payment methods help prevent such tracking.
  • Circumventing censorship: Some countries such as ChinaRussia, and the United Arab Emirates have strict internet censorship. A VPN is a key tool in accessing unrestricted internet. Paying for a VPN anonymously can help avoid repercussions from authorities monitoring internet and VPN usage.

How to pay for a VPN anonymously

Choosing the right payment method is an important part of finding a VPN provider. Not all VPNs provide anonymous payment methods but we’ll take you through the various options, covering their pros and cons. Each offers a different level of anonymity and ease of use, allowing you to select the one that best aligns with your privacy needs and convenience.

Here are the best anonymous VPN payment methods:

1. Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero allow you to make payments directly and anonymously. These digital currencies operate on decentralized networks and this ensures transactions aren’t tied to your identity. Many VPN providers now accept cryptocurrencies and you simply transfer the cryptocurrency from your wallet to the VPN provider’s wallet address.

You can get a high level of privacy by paying in cryptocurrency. However, it’s worth knowing that some cryptocurrencies offer a higher degree of privacy and anonymity than others. For example, although Bitcoin remains the most popular and widely accepted cryptocurrency, transactions are publicly recorded on the blockchain, whereas Monero transitions are private by default. Unfortunately, Monero and other more private cryptocurrencies are harder to get your hands on and are less widely accepted.

2. Prepaid card

A prepaid debit card works much like a regular debit card but isn’t linked to a bank account (or your identity). What’s particularly important is that a prepaid card can be purchased in cash at a physical store. You can then use a prepaid card to pay for your VPN subscription just as you would with a regular debit card, entering the card details on the payment page.

If you want this payment method to be truly anonymous, you must buy it in-person and with cash. Otherwise, there’s a chance that the card purchase can be traced back to you, which can in turn link it to the purchase of a VPN subscription.

3. Disposable/virtual credit card

Not to be confused with a digital credit card that simply uses the same card details as your physical card, a disposable or virtual credit card is designed for one-time use. It uses a disposable number that’s different from that of your physical card, protecting your real credit card details. What’s more, it produces a unique card number for each transaction.

Although a disposable or virtual credit card provides you with a level of anonymity when buying online, transactions are still visible to your bank and the card network (such as Visa or Mastercard). You can get a disposable credit card by contacting your bank or existing credit card issuer. There are also numerous third-party services such as Revolut that offer virtual credit card services.

4. Gift cards

Gift cards offer a high level of privacy due to the fact that they can be purchased with cash and don’t require you to provide personal information. Unfortunately, very few VPNs actually sell or accept gift cards in exchange for their services. One of the very rare exceptions is NordVPN which sells a physical subscription box in the following stores:

  • USA: BestBuy, Walmart, Staples, MicroCenter, OfficeDepot, Amazon US
  • UK: Currys, BOX, Ebuyer, Amazon UK
  • Canada: BestBuy, Staples, NewEgg, London Drugs, The Source, Amazon CA
  • Germany: MediaMarkt, Saturn, Euronics, Amazon DE
  • Ireland: Harvey Norman
  • Netherlands: Licentie2GO

5. Cash

Cash is the most direct form of anonymous payment and, unlike most other payment methods, leaves no digital trail. However, there are a few issues with paying for a VPN in cash. First, there’s the issue of security. Cash sent in the mail may be lost or stolen. It also costs extra money to mail it in the first place! Finally, there’s the time it takes for the cash to be received by the VPN service and for the cash payment to be processed.

Very few VPNs actually accept payment in cash. A couple of exceptions include Proton VPN and Mullvad VPN.

What are the privacy risks with traditional payment methods?

Traditional payment methods include credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers, and even online payment platforms such as PayPal. All of these come with a number of privacy risks.

Here are some of the privacy risks associated with traditional payment methods:

  • Personal data exposure: Traditional payment methods usually require you to provide personal information such as your name, billing address, and financial information. This can potentially be accessed by the VPN provider, payment processor, banks, and even third parties in the case of data breaches.
  • Transaction tracking: Banks and payment processors track and record transactions. Such records could be accessed or requested by the government. If you’d prefer to keep your purchase of a VPN subscription private (particularly if you live in a country with strict censorship) then you want to avoid this transaction tracking.Data breaches: Financial institutions and payment processors are frequent targets of cyberattacks. Should a breach occur, your sensitive financial information could be exposed and misused. This could lead to serious security issues such as identity theft.
  • Associated with VPN use: When you use a traditional payment method such as a credit card to purchase a VPN subscription, records indicate this purchase. This can of course lead to legal issues or surveillance if you’re in a country in which VPNs are illegal (or where specific VPNs have been blocked by authorities).

VPNs with anonymous payment methods

Below we’ve included a table of the best VPNs with anonymous payment methods so you can quickly and easily find one that meets your privacy requirements:

VPNCryptocurrencyPrepaid cardDisposable / virtual credit cardGift card / retail boxCash
Atlas VPNxx
Proton VPN✓*x✓*

* Cryptocurrency and cash payment methods for Proton VPN indicate that, although accepted, they’re not available during initial signup. Instead, you first have to sign up for a free account and then go to upgrade your account. You’ll then find these anonymous payment options.

What else can I do to maintain anonymity when using a VPN?

Aside from using an anonymous payment method to pay for a VPN subscription, you can use a burner/throwaway email account that’s not tied to your identity. Most VPNs require you to provide an email address when signing up. There are several reasons for this with the primary being account management (should you need to reset your password, for example). Only a few VPNs don’t require an email address (Mullvad and Windscribe).

You can use almost any email service to create a throwaway email although some are specifically designed for the purpose. Disposable email services allow you to create an email address that expires after a set period of time. Popular options include Guerilla Mail, Temp Mail, and 10 Minute Mail.

There are a few other things you can do to help maintain anonymity when using a VPN. In particular, make sure your VPN kill switch is on. This disconnects you from the internet if the VPN connection drops, preventing your data and IP address from being exposed. You can also make use of a privacy-friendly browser such as Tor or connect to a specialty Double VPN server to have your data routed via two server locations and thus encrypted twice. Of course, it’s also important to keep your VPN updated to ensure you have the latest security features and bug fixes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to pay for a VPN anonymously?

Yes, it’s legal to pay for a VPN anonymously. Cash, cryptocurrency, and prepaid cards are all valid ways of paying for goods and services. However, the legality of VPN use can vary by country. Many of the best VPNs have been blocked in countries such as China, for example. It’s therefore important to be aware of local laws regarding VPNs before connecting.

Will using cryptocurrency to pay for a VPN guarantee anonymity?

Cryptocurrencies offer a degree of anonymity but don’t guarantee complete anonymity. This really depends on the cryptocurrency you use and the way the transaction is conducted. What we would say is that although the most widely accepted cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, isn’t your best bet if you want to maintain online anonymity. The reason for this is that its transactions are recorded on a public ledger and can therefore be traced back to real identities (with some work).

Monero is considered to be more private than Bitcoin. Its transactions are designed to be untraceable and it uses features such as stealth addresses and ring signatures. But it’s far less widely accepted.

Can I buy a prepaid card with a credit card and remain anonymous?

No, if you use a credit card to purchase a prepaid card, there will likely be a record of the transaction that can be traced and linked back to you. It’s for this reason that you should look to pay in cash at a physical store in order to purchase a prepaid card anonymously. The same can also be said for gift cards although very few VPN providers accept gift cards as payment.

Are there any risks with sending cash to pay for a VPN?

Cash is the most anonymous payment method but there is of course some risk with sending cash through the mail for a VPN subscription. There is a chance that the cash may be lost or stolen. If the cash doesn’t reach the VPN provider, you won’t have the VPN subscription you need. To minimize risk, don’t send too much cash at once. Double check the address you’re supposed to send the cash to and make sure it’s written both accurately and clearly.

Do I still get a money-back guarantee if I pay for a VPN anonymously?

Depending on the anonymous payment method used, it’s not always possible to get a refund via the money-back guarantee of a VPN provider. This really varies by VPN provider. What we can say is that several of our top-rated VPNs do honor the money-back guarantee even for cryptocurrency payments. If you have any doubts, it’s important to check the VPN’s refund policy before purchasing.