If you have read prepping blogs you know there is always talk about money or how to buy sell or trade if the normal banking system goes down for any reason. I love the convenience of debit and credit cards for on-line bill paying or buying stuff over the internet. There are some down sides to that as all of those purchases are tracked directly back to you and your bank account. Now cash is great if you can make the purchase face to face and it can be private since your bank, corporations and or the government can’t track what you buy. A big bonus with cash is it does not rely on electricity or the internet for the transaction to complete.
But what if you want to purchase something online but you don’t want to use your credit or debit card from your bank? I’m suggesting anything illegal, just a way to make an on-line purchase without your name or access to your bank account accessible after you make that purchase. I think store bought Visa, Master card or Discover gift cards in various denominations could fill this need.
I play Fortnite and yeah I a 55 year old woman likes playing the game. I’m also an old school gamer used to paying once for a game and not supportive of the loot box mechanics of many of the new games. What I did is get a Visa gift card and bought $25.00 of the in game currency. I think I have gotten $25.00 worth of value playing the game and Epic can’t access my bank account, nor can I make a large purchase of stuff in the game without adding another gift card or regular debit/credit card. I recommend you never give a child your credit/debit card number to purchase any game or save that card to any game playing system. Use a gift card as the kid’s allowance but the kid only has the gift card’s “value” as the max they can spend on the game. Some parents have taken several thousand dollar hits because their child wanted to buy “loot boxes” in a video game because the parents think it is a free to play game.
I think there are other online purchases that gift cards could be a good choice. Let’s say you want to get an online subscription for some thing like Netflix because they have a show or some films you want to binge watch. There is a free period if you sign up with a credit/debit card and they hope you forget to cancel or the company makes canceling the subscription difficult. Well the gift card’s money runs out and the subscription is canceled not by you but by the company and there are no repercussions to you as you just used a gift card.
Buying gift cards can be great for people that want to use mostly cash and are unbanked for what ever reason. I don’t think most of the people that don’t use a bank are criminals. Sure a few are but most folks often get caught in the credit trap of not having an banking account and are not able to create financial connections to be profitable to banks or live/work in the wrong area to use credit unions.
Downsides of using gift cards is paying a fee buying the card. Your local mega mart is not selling that card at it “face” value. I figure you will pay 50 cents and up depending on the value given to the card. Watch your store’s coupons as many of the gift cards will offer a discount coupon if you buy their card. Look at the expiration dates for the cards. I just bought a VISA gift card that expires in 2025 but I don’t know if most cards are good for 4 years.
While I may not like it the governments seem to be pushing people into using grey/black markets with the covid push of a mandatory vaccine just to buy groceries or engage in simple commerce. Gift Cards are well liked by people that prefer anonymity and breaks the chain of credit/debit card reporting to banks. But unlike cash the gift cards can be use online.
This is only an idea I’m starting to work on. I’m limiting myself to buying $25.00-$50.00 per month of gift cards but I sort of count it towards my Emergency cash stash of a few months. Just something for you to think about as you prep and what may or may not work for you.