Many of us get a VPN for one reason and one reason alone: privacy. But end-to-end internet privacy is only as good as its weakest link.
When you opt to pay for a VPN service with a credit card, debit card, or PayPal, you’re leaving behind a huge footprint. Your payment provider knows you just bought a VPN (and which one), and the VPN has your billing details.
So much for keeping things to yourself.
There is a better option, though – you can buy a VPN with a gift card. It is arguably the most anonymous way available of doing so.
Gift cards can be bought with cash, and there’s next to no information you need to give the VPN company when paying with one. For those of us who don’t have a credit card, a gift card can be a great solution too.
As a bonus, paying for a VPN subscription this way is also an excellent way of getting rid of those half-used gift cards you may have lying around in your nightstand drawer (something I’m certainly guilty of).
A big drawback of gift cards is that not many VPN services take them as a method of payment. That said, you still do have several excellent options available.
Why Pay for a VPN With a Gift Card
A big reason for using a gift card to pay for your VPN is that it anonymizes the transaction. When you use other payment methods – credit cards, PayPal, and even to a degree cryptocurrency – you’re revealing a lot about yourself.
At a minimum, the VPN provider will store your payment details – especially if your subscription auto-renews. They’ll keep your name, address, and anything else their payment processor needs to complete the transaction (for example, an IP address).
And even if you opt for a no-logging VPN – which I strongly encourage you do – payment information data is typically not covered by those policies. That means the VPN can and, in many jurisdictions, will turn that data over when asked to by law enforcement.
Proof that you bought a VPN service can then be used against you in criminal proceedings. This should be of particular concern to journalists, political activists, hackers, and anyone located in a country where VPNs are illegal.
Buying a VPN subscription with a gift card is an excellent way to get around the personal payment information issue.
Gift cards are easy to buy with cash. Supermarkets, coffee, shops, gas stations, and others typically carry cards from the likes of Amazon, Apple, Walmart, or even Starbucks, to name a few.
Once you have a gift card, you can use it with a VPN that takes them as a form of payment. The only thing you need is the card number and an email address (which can be a throwaway) – that’s it.
So, the gift card is bought with cash – making that purchase untraceable – and you don’t disclose any personal information at subscription time. As far as anonymous ways to buy a VPN go, it doesn’t get better than that.
Pros and Cons of Paying for a VPN With Gift Cards
Besides anonymizing the purchase, there are other advantages to paying for your VPN with a gift card.
- Flexibility: Buying a VPN with gift cards means those of us without access to credit or debit cards can still get a VPN subscription.
- Ease: Buying a gift card is easy. In most countries, they’re sold in dozens upon dozens of retail locations, so finding one should not be an issue.
- Like Cash: Paying for a VPN with a gift card is as close to paying with cash as it gets.
- Control: In most cases, VPN providers will, by default, auto-renew your subscription. When you use a gift card, they can’t do that. You won’t have to remember to cancel or worry about being charged more than you’re expecting.
- Simplicity: Using a gift card to pay for your VPN is simple. Give the provider the ID number printed on the card, and that’s it – you have a VPN subscription.
That said, nothing’s perfect. And there are indeed some disadvantages to paying for your VPN using a gift card. I wouldn’t consider any of these deal-breakers, but you should be aware of them.
- Provider Choices: Not all VPN companies accept gift card payments, so your choices are limited.
- Premium Cost: Accepting gift cards isn’t a standard method of payment, and VPN services often charge a premium for their use. Depending on the provider, you could be looking at paying between 20% and 30% more than with conventional methods.
- No Auto-Renewals: Even though I listed no auto-renewals as an upside, some of us may also see it as a downside – having to remember to re-subscribe may not be ideal. Any VPN deal you got on your initial subscription may also no longer be available, meaning a higher renewal price.
Buying a VPN With a Gift Card
VPNs accept gift cards as payment in two ways. Most commonly, they let you use cards from major retailers. But, some also sell their own branded gift cards. Here are what I consider to be the best provider choices for both options.
Using Other Retailer Gift Cards
There are three providers worth recommending that let you pay with gift cards issued by major retailers.
Launched in 2006, PureVPN is one of the oldest VPN services in the market. Having been around as long as they have is a testament to the many things they do right.
An independently verified zero-log provider, PureVPN takes privacy seriously. And military-grade encryption and features like a kill-switch and DNS leak protection keep your data safe and secure.
They’re also a great choice for P2P, and all your out of market streaming needs – Netflix, Hulu, BBC, plus many others work flawlessly.
How to pay anonymously for PureVPN with a gift card is not necessarily obvious because the option is not clearly marked – but it is possible.
Go to the PureVPN discount page and click through to get their best deal. Then, on the “Select Your Payment Method” step of the checkout process and select PaymentWall. Among others, you’ll be able to pay with gift cards.
Private Internet Access – or PIA as they’re also commonly known – has been for years and continues to be a very popular VPN choice. And there are good reasons why that is.
PIA is inexpensive, reliable, secure, and privacy-oriented. They’re a no-log VPN and are the only major provider to prove those claims in several court cases in which user data was subpoenaed.
PIA accepts gift cards from 100+ retailers. Some of the big names that make the list include Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Starbucks.
The current PIA gift card trade values will get you 89 days of access for a $25 card, 120 days for $32, and 197 days for $50. In all cases, you end up paying a bit of a premium over PIA’s current sales.
Overall, Private Internet Access is a great provider. Though, of course, before you invest in them – even with a gift card you have little use for otherwise – you may still want to take a look at my PIA review.
TorGuard is a very reasonably priced VPN and has been a no-logging provider since they launched – our privacy has been their priority since the beginning.
The service is geared towards users of BitTorrent and other P2P file-sharing services but can be a great choice no matter what your VPN needs are.
Would you like to stream geo-blocked content or play online games? How about using a VPN in locations where they’re blocked? Or maybe safety over a public WiFi internet connection is what you need? An anonymous email address? TorGuard can do all that and much more.
Their ever-growing network includes 3000+ servers in over 50 countries. The VPN app is as secure as they come and has plenty of options for those of us who like to dig deep.
TorGuard accepts over 100 gift cards, and paying with them couldn’t be simpler. The option is clearly marked on the payment screen.
Using Branded VPN Gift Cards
Buying a gift card directly from a VPN provider in local retail outlets is a rare bird, indeed. So rare, in fact, that there is currently but a single VPN that offers the option.
Arguably the best-known VPN providers in the market, NordVPN is also one of the most secure and privacy-oriented.
Besides offering complete anonymity in payment with their own branded gift cards, NordVPN comes packed with plenty of other privacy features once you’re online. We’re talking things like a double VPN, TOR over VPN, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscated servers.
NordVPN is also one of the best providers for unblocking Netflix and other popular streaming services.
You can pick up NordVPN’s gift card (a.k.a. subscription box) in multiple brick and mortar stores in the US, UK, Canada, France, and Germany. You can also get it online at Amazon.
Buying your VPN service using a gift card is as anonymous as it gets. It’s also a great way to go if you don’t have access to a credit card or have old store gift cards lying around you’re not sure what to do with.
True, your selection of VPNs is a little more limited. But, several top providers – all listed above – do make the list.
Pick the one that’s right for you, grab your gift card, and sign up – and you’ll be surfing the web without restrictions and anonymously in no time.
And don’t forget to have a look at my current VPN coupon codes page to get the best deal. Gift card payments or not, saving money is always a good thing in my book.