If you have decided to equip your computer with a premium VPN service, it means that you have understood how you can secure your browsing, hide your browsing activity from your ISP, and bypass firewalls with the help of a virtual private network tool.
A trustworthy VPN can give you access to blocked sites, unlock streaming services like Netflix, save you money on flights or hotel booking, protect your privacy while downloading torrents, and get past geoblocks. Some of them can even sidestep VPN blocks if they are armed with obfuscated servers.
However, some people prefer to retain their anonymity at all costs, even when registering for a virtual private network service. Therefore, we are dedicating this article to privacy-concerned users. We are showing you various solutions to remain as anonymous as possible when they sign up and buy a VPN service.
Take a look at the list of topics below to see what you are getting yourself into (click to jump):
- An overview of VPN privacy
- Advantages of anonymous VPN subscriptions
- Disadvantages of anonymous VPN subscriptions
How to sign up and pay for a VPN service anonymously
- Hide your IP address and spoof your location
- Secure your email address with anonymous information
- Use a disposable or anonymous phone number
- Buy a VPN service with an anonymous payment method
- What are the best VPNs to sign up and pay anonymously?
- In conclusion
An overview of VPN privacy
Generally speaking, there are three pillars of VPN privacy: data logging policy, jurisdiction, and payment method.
Data logging policy
Most VPNs claim a no-logging policy, also known as “strict no-logs” or “zero logs”, depending on who you are asking. By definition, this means that it should not collect ANY type of data about you.
In reality, though, all of them collect non-personally identifiable information from your browser, such as operating system, device type, language, battery charge, date and time of visit, referring site, or Google Advertising ID.
Theoretically, it is raw data stored in bulk, so there is no way to associate it with a particular individual through their IP address. Practically, it can be used to establish statistics about users with identical browser preferences, which is the first step toward narrowing a search and tracking down someone.
It is actually one of the reasons we recommend reducing your browser fingerprint. The logging policy should be taken into account when you wish to sign up and buy a VPN service while remaining anonymous.
In other cases, it is illegal to use a VPN in some countries while others must be approved by the government, which means that the data flow is being monitored and filtered.
Therefore, it is a good idea to sign up and pay for a VPN service with safe jurisdiction if you wish to become anonymous online. Alternatively, its logging policy must be ironclad so that the VPN provider does not have anything to share with the government even when requested.
When it comes to virtual private network services, there are two types of payment modes: anonymous and non-anonymous. Simply put, anonymous payments protect your online identity from the VPN provider and any third-party payment processor, while non-anonymous payments do not.
Anonymous payment modes include cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, cash, prepaid cards, gift cards, and vouchers. Non-anonymous payment modes are those which must link you to a banking service or require proof of identity. Examples include Paypal, Amazon Pay, and Google Pay.
What does it all mean?
Now, let us combine all scenarios to see what this means and how it breaches your online privacy. If a third party wants to track you down through a VPN, they must first agree to the laws of the company’s country, depending on the VPN jurisdiction.
If the VPN service has an unsafe logging policy (collects and stores your IP address and other data), but it operates in a country with safe jurisdiction, there are fewer chances that it will be contacted by authorities.
But, if the VPN has a strict no-logging policy, then it will not be able to help the agents, regardless of its jurisdiction. The company might be willing or obligated by law to help, but that is not possible if no user logs exist in the first place.
If the VPN provider uses another payment processing company, however, authorities will approach this third party to request complete customer information, which includes all your bank details.
The moral of the story is that you should remain as anonymous as possible, especially since you do not have to be a cyber-criminal or villain to upset some laws that would draw the attention of authorities.
Advantages of anonymous VPN subscriptions
Here is how an anonymous VPN subscription can help retain your freedom:
- Casual users who download torrent files with copyright material without realizing it can receive DMCA notices;
- Those who are living or traveling to countries with censored Internet might upset governments for accessing blocked sites or using forbidden services;
- Journalists, whistleblowers, or political activities also risk upsetting governments;
- Anyone who practices free speech, such as bloggers who post, comment or tweet about controversial issues fear government repercussion;
- VPNs may store your personal information for long periods of time, and some of them do not completely remove your data after you stop using their service;
- Some VPNs collect and share your data with third-party marketing groups;
- Some privacy policies, which are legally binding documents, contain contradictory statements (like GOOSE VPN), so it is better to remain on the safe side;
Disadvantages of anonymous VPN subscriptions
There are few drawbacks involved when you want to sign up and pay for a VPN anonymously. Here are some of them:
- Some VPNs offer no kind of anonymous payment modes: Hotspot Shield, Speedify, StrongVPN, Avast SecureLine VPN, VyprVPN, Namecheap VPN, IPVanish, ProtonVPN, ZenMate VPN, Hide ALL IP, AnonymousVPN, HideMyAss! VPN, F-Secure Freedome VPN, Unlocator, SurfEasy, Kaspersky Secure Connection, Encrypt.me, Getflix;
- Some VPNs reject temporary email addresses (like Unlocator);
- It is not possible to set recurring subscriptions or benefit from discounts for loyal customers;
- You cannot issue refunds by taking advantage of a money-back guarantee;
- Some anonymous payment methods are available in a limited number of countries (like Mint prepaid cards);
- If the VPN’s parent company owns multiple services, it will likely share your data across all its services (e.g. Hotspot Shield, Avast SecureLine VPN);
- It is not foolproof. You still risk paying fines or going to jail, depending on what you do while staying connected to the VPN since there might be hidden ways to obtain your identity that we are not aware of;
How to sign up and pay for a VPN service anonymously
Now that we have explained why it is important to become a privacy-concerned VPN user and what are the pros and cons of anonymous payments, let us find out how you can effectively hide your identity when signing up and paying for a virtual private network service.
Everything comes down to:
- Hide your IP address and spoof your location
- Secure your email address with anonymous information
- Use a disposable or anonymous phone number
- Buy a VPN service with an anonymous payment method
1. Hide your IP address and spoof your location
The VPN provider learns your IP address and location as soon as you visit its website to inspect the product or make a purchase. You can easily tell because some VPNs show your current IP on the top part of the homepage, accompanied with a “You are not protected” message or something similar.
Identifying your IP address and location is harmless if the VPN shows personalized content. For instance, the site can auto-change settings to your language and currency, calculate VAT taxes, show blog articles most relevant to your location, or just collect demographics data.
The top VPN providers remove your IP address and location from their database as soon as you leave their website. Others, like tigerVPN, erase your IP address but continue to hold on to your location.
We can think of four ways to conceal your IP address and location from your VPN provider when signing up for a premium subscription plan:
Join the Tor anonymous network
Tor works similarly to a VPN service: it gives you a new identity while hiding your true IP address and location. All you have to do is download the Tor Browser, which is a modded version of Firefox, run the browser, then visit the VPN’s website to sign up for a subscription plan.
To make sure that your new IP address is fake, you can check out the IP address displayed on the upper part of the VPN’s homepage. And, if that is not available, you can go to a site like Whats My IP Address to find out your new IP and location.
Unfortunately, Tor is not available in many countries, so it might be challenging to come by it. If you fear government repercussions for using Tor, make sure to join the anonymous network using bridge relays since they are not listed in the main Tor directory.
Use another VPN service
It might sound strange using a VPN service to mask your identity and spoof your location when trying to purchase another VPN service anonymously. Especially since this other VPN service should be able to protect your privacy.
In this case, you might be wondering why should you even be looking for a VPN service when you already have access to one that does its job well. But no one said that account belongs to you. Therefore, if you have a friend with a top-notch VPN service willing to lend you a hand, that could be the solution you were looking for.
As we previously discussed, some virtual private network sites reject VPN connections in an attempt to obtain your true IP address and location. If this happens, activate obfuscation mode if your current VPN supports it, in order to conceal the fact that you are using a VPN. It should look like a regular HTTPS connection instead.
Install the Tails operating system
This is a better solution than the previous two. Tails is a live operating system specially designed to protect your online privacy and anonymity, as well as to circumvent various Internet barriers.
It is a standalone operating system just like Windows or Linux, which can be installed on an external device like a USB flash drive or a DVD. Alternatively, you can set it up on a virtual machine that runs on your current operating system but isolated from it. More importantly, the live OS is completely free to use.
Tails forces all inbound and outbound connections through Tor, automatically blocking any non-anonymous connections. It includes a wide range of privacy-oriented software applications installed by default, including a web browser (Tor Browser).
Therefore, you could use it to go online and buy a VPN subscription plan while remaining anonymous, knowing that your true IP address and location remain unknown.
Do not sign up for a VPN service from your network
If you really need a foolproof method for fending off virtual private network providers when buying a VPN subscription, then you should simply escape your network. It is not that simple, though.
For best effects, you should wait until you have a trip scheduled to a different country. Then, you can connect to a public computer (not your laptop), take a visit to the VPN’s website, and place an order.
There is no trick here since your IP address and location are accurate. But they do not belong to your home network, either. So, after the sign-up is complete, you can return home and start using your VPN.
It should have the original IP address on file unless it captures your current IP when establishing a connection. In that case, you should only connect to your VPN from Tails.
If you do not plan to leave the country soon, then you should do whatever it takes to put some distance between your home network and a public PC that you will use to register for a VPN subscription plan.
Go to a different city and, if that is not possible either, at least switch to a different ISP in your town if you want to remain anonymous while registering for a VPN.
2. Secure your email address with anonymous information
Except for Mullvad VPN, all VPN providers we evaluated since we started the FindYourVPN.com project request your email address when you sign up and pay for a premium VPN service. Sometimes, your email is required just to be able to download the software application and test the trial.
The reasons for this are understandable: your email is used to manage your VPN subscription, inform you about the latest offers and product updates, or troubleshoot errors when you contact customer support.
More importantly, your email address is a unique identifier, required to log you into your VPN account and make sure that unauthorized parties cannot do this. It is also used to help recover your password in case you forgot it.
However, since your email address includes real information about yourself, you risk compromising your identity, especially since online services swap customer information all the time.
But there are ways in which you can secure your email address and provide anonymous information. Just keep in mind that some virtual private network providers discourage this when you want to buy a VPN service and remain anonymous.
Create a separate email account
The best thing you can do is distance yourself from your primary email address, the one you use for personal and/or business purposes. Therefore, you should consider building a separate email account from scratch, one that will be only used to manage your VPN subscription plan.
The email provider you choose for your new account is important, though, since you must provide it with personal information. For example, Google requires phone verification. It might be easy to come up with a new identity, but it is harder to get a disposable phone number.
Therefore, we do not recommend Gmail for the job. Instead, you can turn to ProtonMail. It is a secure email service that only requires an email address and password, without your first name, last name, or date of birth.
Even the email recovery field is optional. Other anonymous email services are Mailfence, Tutanota, Posteo, and Kolab Now. Using these services is a great way to remain anonymous when you sign up and buy a VPN.
Use a temporary email address
If you do not want to go through the trouble of setting up a separate email account for your VPN provider and keeping track of it, then you have the option to use a disposable email address.
There are online services that supply you with this feature for free, such as Temp Mail. It automatically generates a random email address, which is real, and keeps it alive for as long as you keep the page opened. Below is an area that monitors your inbox in real-time so that you can confirm your email address and finalize the VPN subscription.
However, keep in mind that some VPN providers silently reject disposable email addresses at registration. Furthermore, you will not be able to re-access the email account after leaving the site.
The method does not work if you want to set up recurring payments or if you wish to benefit from discounts exclusive to loyal customers in the future. You should also keep in mind that you might stumble upon various errors, especially when buying a long subscription plan.
If you need to contact customer support to ask for help, it might ask you to confirm some actions via email to prove that you are the subscription owner. Therefore, using a temporary email address is risky for remaining anonymous when you sign up and buy a VPN service. You are better off using a distinct email account with anonymous info.
3. Use a disposable or anonymous phone number
SMS verification is also necessary when creating email accounts on certain services like Gmail. The idea behind it is to prevent spam. However, it’s clearly a privacy breach because most people prefer to keep their phone numbers private – that goes double for VPN users concerned with their online privacy.
Masking your true phone number can be troublesome, but you can try these two methods to remain anonymous when you pay for a VPN service.
Use an online service with public phone numbers
There are many free websites offering public phone numbers from various countries, such as Receive SMS Online, Free Phone Number or quackr. All you have to do is pick a country code, select a public phone number from the list, and use it at VPN registration.
It’s also helpful when you must create a new email address with non-personal information. Make sure not to use the sites for receiving private information, though, because anyone can see the public-inbox of any phone number.
The downside of these online services is that, because the phone numbers are public, you might not be able to use them simply because they have been used too many times.
For example, Gmail has a spam prevention mode for this. Therefore, you might end up wasting a lot of time on a disposable phone number that helps you protect your identity when you start paying for a VPN service.
Get a prepaid mobile phone number
If you purchase a prepaid mobile card, you ensure that your phone number is unique. Therefore, it guarantees that you will get past verified phone number stages, whether you are trying to purchase a VPN service or attempting to create a new email account with anonymous information.
Evidently, this is more expensive than using an online service with public phone numbers. It is also a bit inconvenient since you have to go to a store and purchase a prepaid mobile card in cash (to make the payment untraceable).
As a tip, you should consider using the prepaid mobile phone number only for anonymous transactions. You should not use it to call your friends or family, set up your social media accounts, install banking apps, or do anything that involves personal information about yourself. Remember: the idea is to remain anonymous when you sign up and buy a VPN service, so use it wisely.
4. Buy a VPN service with an anonymous payment method
Paying for a VPN service while retaining your anonymity comes down to two aspects. Firstly, it depends on the payment options provided by the virtual private network service.
If the company is lenient toward anonymous payment methods, then it should offer checkout options using cash or money orders, prepaid or gift cards, and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Secondly, it depends on your circumstances. Many people are skeptical about crypto, especially since the market is still young. Cash payments are not available to all countries, and you might not be able to go to a store to buy prepaid cards with cash, depending on where you live.
Cash or money orders
When it comes to cash and money orders, you have to go through some trouble and visit the postal office to put money in an envelope. The VPN provider asks you to write an email address inside the envelope in order to manage your subscription.
Since it can be prepared in advance with non-personal information, you can rest assured that nothing be traced back to you. Therefore, you retain your online identity.
However, there are some downsides to this, too. It can take weeks if the VPN provider is in another part of the world, and some cash payments might be restricted to some countries.
Besides waiting until the transaction is complete, you have to hope the money reaches its destination, because the postal office is responsible, not the VPN provider.
Prepaid or gift cards
Prepaid and gift cards are a great way to remain anonymous when you sign up and buy a VPN service. On the downside, they are not available in all countries, you can’t opt for a recurring VPN subscription plan, and you won’t be able to take advantage of a money-back guarantee.
You can buy prepaid debit cards in various retailers such as 7-Eleven, Walmart, or Target. Just make sure they are non-reloadable because those do not require your personal details when you purchase them.
The biggest inconvenience here is that, when your credit balance reaches zero, you have to buy a new prepaid card. But your cash payment remains untraceable.
Here are the VPN providers that accept prepaid or gift cards: ExpressVPN, Mullvad VPN, Private Internet Access, VPNSecure, Perfect Privacy VPN, PureVPN, GOOSE VPN, VPN Unlimited, TorGuard, IronSocket, Ivacy, tigerVPN.
Cryptocurrencies are also an excellent solution to secure your online identity during VPN registration. However, you should know they are not completely anonymous since transactions are publicly disclosed on the Blockchain. Also, some exchange services require proof of identity.
Nevertheless, there are ways to improve your identity when buying crypto and making transactions. The fact of the matter is that cryptocurrencies give you more privacy than credit cards. To help improve your anonymity when buying Bitcoin, for example, you can pay for the cryptocurrency in cash or in person.
A wide range of VPN providers accepts cryptocurrencies. These are: ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IVPN, CyberGhost VPN, Mullvad VPN, Surfshark, Private Internet Access, VPNArea, Ivacy, SaferVPN, VPNSecure, PrivateVPN, CactusVPN, FrootVPN, tigerVPN, TunnelBear, VeePN, TorGuard, Perfect Privacy VPN, PureVPN, SwitchVPN, IronSocket, Astrill VPN, RUSVPN, VPN Unlimited, BeeVPN, EarthVPN.
What are the best VPNs to sign up and pay anonymously?
There are multiple virtual private network services that accept anonymous payments. However, that is not always enough to give you peace of mind. Some VPNs go to great lengths to provide you with additional ways to help you retain and protect your anonymity. Even if you want to keep your online identity safe from the VPN provider itself.
By taking these aspects into consideration, here are what we believe to be the best VPNs to sign up and pay anonymously.
1. Mullvad VPN
Mullvad VPN has a unique registration mode by assigning a random account number instead of asking for your email address (no password necessary). The service accepts Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, cash, and voucher anonymous payments. In fact, you can buy Mullvad VPN right now and save 10% when signing up with Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash – proof that it encourages you to remain anonymous.
What NordVPN has and others do not is a unique payment mode: you can purchase the NordVPN security box in cash at retail stores, making your payment untraceable. In addition to this, the VPN provider accepts Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Based in Panama, NordVPN has a safe jurisdiction and a zero-logging policy. Furthermore, when the VPN tool was hacked in 2019, no customer data was affected because there were no logs. You can buy NordVPN right now to save %70.
We consider ExpressVPN to be the best overall VPN service, and one of the reasons is that it accepts anonymous payment modes: Bitcoin, Mint prepaid cards, and Qiwi Wallet prepaid cards. Plus, the company has a safe jurisdiction since it resides in the British Virgin Islands, coupled with a no-logging policy.
When its name popped up during a high-profile assassination investigation, ExpressVPN could not help authorities because it did have any logs about its customers. You can buy ExpressVPN right now to save %49.
IVPN also supports anonymous payments made with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Aside from collecting minimal user info at registration, the service is trying new ways to reduce personal footprint. The company operates in Gibraltar, which has a safe jurisdiction and follows a no-logging policy.
Surfshark helps you protect your online privacy by accepting cryptocurrency payments. Located in the British Virgin Islands, the VPN provider has a safe jurisdiction and adopts a zero-logging policy. If you buy it right now, you can buy Surfshark right now and save 83%.
More and more people are beginning to understand the value of their online identity. Web services take advantage of this free information to design targeted ads that you are likely to find more appealing, therefore charging you extra for your favorite products or services.
A VPN helps people conceal their online identity to safely navigate the Internet, access websites that are not normally available to their country, and perform various tasks that require masking true IP addresses.
But no one risks more with exposing themselves over the web than journalists, whistleblowers, political activists, and people living in countries with a totalitarian regime that restricts free speech. Using a VPN service is a must in these scenarios.
Unfortunately, governments are known to be resourceful. If they place their mark on you, they will find out who is really hiding behind Internet circumvention tools sooner or later. This is why it is paramount to do your best at making yourself untraceable online, which includes signing up and paying for a VPN provider anonymously.
What other methods can be used to become anonymous on the Internet? We would love to know what you think, so please do not hesitate to drop us a line in the comment section below.