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The truth about virtual credit cards...

Posted 12/21/2020

Tired of using you credit card for ”free access”?  There is a little known work around you need to know about.

Imagine this scenario, you have the chance to try out an online service at no charge for a preset trial period. The site promise a “money back guarantee” and they tell you they won’t charge your card if you cancel before the trial period ends, yet they charge your card anyway. Sound familiar? You go to cancel but find it hard to navigate the purposely complicated cancellation process. You simply wanted to “kick the tires” and had no intentions to sign on but now they have your credit card information.  Good luck cancelling or reaching their support group.

What if I told you there’s a way to get your free trial offer without ever providing any valid form of payment? I’ve used it continuously for years. You’re still puzzled and feel obligated to hand over your credit card information. Don’t do it.  
Don’t get me wrong, if you intend to subscribe, then do so. What I’m saying is that sites that offer “free” trial periods should be held accountable. If there’s a promise to never charge your card, why do they need it?
Sure, they hope you stay and sign on, or maybe you forget you did. Having your card on file can be “convenient” - for them!
Now the trial is nearing it’s end and you find your way through the cancellation maze only to find out they’ve already charged your credit card. Sound familiar?
Maybe you sign up for the trial period then forget you provided your credit card information and get surprised when you monthly transaction records and credit card bill show up. You get the idea. They have your credit card information and it’s up to you to manage it.
There’s a way around this whole process and it works particularly well for companies that have reputations for charging you prematurely.
In many cases given the option, you should pay with electronic transfer systems which are great because the vendor can’t withdraw any money or charge you again. I use this method for yearly subscriptions.
Don’t get me wrong, if you plan to stick with a provider and they have an excellent reputation, by all means, give them your credit card information.
So what am I proposing?  Years ago I stumbled on a method used by some of the most security conscious individuals. It’s free, completely legal and best of all, it works!
If the vendor won’t give you free trial access without a credit card, I’d wonder why.
If they really need a credit card number, give them a valid one but NOT YOURS.
What am I talking about? There are hundreds of valid credit card test numbers available online. These numbers are used to test the validity of e-commerce credit card system but are not actually valid to process or go through to any billing.
If the vendor applies a “hold” on the credit card, this method does not work. Then at least you know they’re the ones who already plan on charging you in advance.
In these cases, you can provide your valid credit card information then immediately go in and change the credit card number on file. They’ve already billed you once so your new number won’t get processed until the next billing cycle. You could get charged once but never again.
This works particularly well when you’re ready to leave. I’ve done this with numerous online membership sites. I inform them I want to cancel, right after the last billing cycle. By then my credit card information has already been changed to the test number.
There are companies out there selling this service as virtual credit cards. This is exactly the same thing except you don’t pay for the information you can readily get online for free.
It should be noted that some test numbers are designed to be rejected so be careful which ones you use.
You can finally beat the crooks at their own game. Instead of putting the onus on you to cancel, you now shift it to them. The’ll have no choice but to cancel you - just like you politely asked them to do.  
Remember you’ll need to follow their cancellation rules and inform them in a timely manner. Once you do that 99% of the vendors follow through correctly. I’ve been burned in the past so I’m extra diligent providing my credit information.
Naturally if you choose to stay on, you can’t use the test numbers and will need to provide a valid credit card number. Better yet, a different form of electronic payment.

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