Great, but let’s first go through how these cards work and why you should probably avoid getting one unless it’s straight from a bank.
These cards are often sold by a wide range of persons on forums and unverifiable companies. They often sell the cards at a significantly marked-up price with no real benefit. I have seen companies charge as much as 10 times the actual cost of the card, plus high top-up fees. The only advantage to you as the end-user is a slightly simplified due diligence process. This simplified due diligence process tends to change once the reseller gets big enough and the issuing bank starts asking questions.
Many resellers of these cards disappear after a couple of months, leaving you with a card you cannot top-up.
While resellers are not necessarily bound by any confidentiality or data protection regulations, banks are.
Most no-name cards you see are issued by one of two banks: FBME in Cyprus or Tanzania or Choice Bank in Belize, although a number of Polish banks have recently taken the market by storm.
These banks have some very interesting card products and a fairly simple process for anyone willing to resell cards.
How to get Anonymous Offshore Prepaid Cards
So why should you get it from a reseller?
In short: you shouldn’t. I cannot recommend it at all.
Unless the middle man is offering value added services that justify the extra cost – always get your cards directly from the issuer.
To get one from an issuer, you typically need a bank account with the bank. This is an at times time-consuming and costly process, which can take several weeks and cost a few hundred USD/EUR, to cover expenses for having document notarized and sending documents by courier (you should avoid sending copies of passport and other sensitive documents by post) to the offshore banks. However, despite all of this – it is usually the best option.
The banks typically ask for a minimum deposit of 0 to a few thousand USD/EUR. The minimum deposit is often negotiable and many times not even a requirement. Many banks instead charge a (higher) monthly fee for the account if it falls below the expected minimum.
If you hold an offshore prepaid card and there ever is an investigation into your financials, you are much safer if you have a card straight from an issuer and not from a middle-man. To understand how, we need to understand how it all works.
How No-Name Prepaid Cards work
Every time you use the card, the first six digits and last four digits of the card are saved. Sometimes the full card number is saved. The first six digits are called Bank Identification Number (BIN) and from this it can be determined which bank issued the card. But not only the (partial) card number is saved. Most stores and all ATMs also store the name that is on the card. In case of a no-name prepaid card, either there is no name or another name (a company name or a completely different person).
If you are using a prepaid card with a BIN or card number that is known to be used by prepaid card resellers, all the authorities need to do is to turn to that reseller and request all information about the person to whom your prepaid card was given. The company may not have to comply with the request, but your data is not as secure as if it were held by a bank and, thus, protected by banking secrecy.
If anyone tells you that using an anonymous offshore prepaid card is 100% secure, walk away. They do not know what they are talking about.
The only 100% secure solution is comply with the law. If you choose to dive into the dark side of offshore banking and incorporation, you are taking a risk.
“… and no passport/ID copy”
Prepaid cards are financial instruments and, as such, are subject to due diligence (KYC) requirements as per anti-money laundering (AML) regulation. Anyone selling you cards without performing due diligence is likely to go out of business very soon or have their requirements changed soon.
Is that something you want to be involved in?
Didn’t think so.
There are times when using a reseller can be useful, for example as an affiliate payout method. Affiliates that do not have bank accounts may find it easier to get paid to prepaid cards issued by an offshore bank and handed to them from for example a gambling, adult, or other high-risk or controversial merchant. In many countries, more people have a cell phone than a bank account. Prepaid cards are extremely popular in these countries.
In the end, no-name/anonymous prepaid offshore cards have their use and will definitely and significantly decrease the risk of exposure in case of an investigation into your finances. As far as possible, get your card from a bank. It might cost more upfront, but will save you a lot of money long-term.