Although there are more and more streaming platforms today than there have ever been, it seems like this is actually worse than having a single option – like back when Netflix was controlling the market.
The problem is that all of these streaming services have to compete with one another in terms of content, which means that they are actively trying to secure the rights for popular TV shows and movies. This makes it very difficult for someone to get all of their shows in one place, which means that you most likely have to buy multiple subscriptions just to be able to keep up with your favorite flicks.
While this is certainly annoying, it doesn’t sound too horrible at first. Some people even go as far as to constantly cancel and renew various subscriptions depending on what those platforms offer at any given moment. Hence, if the show you are most interested in is currently available on Netflix, you are going to pay for a Netflix subscription and nothing else. Once something you want to watch is released on Disney+, the Netflix subscription gets canceled in its favor, and so on.
Unfortunately, things are not always quite as simple as that.
The first major issue is the fact that your geographical location can play a role when it comes to what shows are available to you. Hence, even if you pay for a subscription just like everyone else, you may not be able to watch certain movies or TV shows because Netflix does not have the rights for broadcasting them in your country due to licensing issues.
Thankfully, this problem can be easily solved with the use of a good VPN, since it’s really not that difficult to bypass geo-restrictions nowadays. Not only that, but a single VPN subscription can help with multiple streaming platforms, so you do not have to pay for different ones just to unblock other services as well.
The other major issue is that the service itself may not be available in your country. This is much harder to deal with, mainly because it’s not as simple as using a VPN.
Hulu is one of the best examples in this category since the service is only available to US residents. If you are not in the US and you try to buy a subscription, your payment method will be rejected, so you can’t even create an account, let alone watch content.
So what can one do in order to gain access to Hulu from outside the US? Well, there are not that many options at your disposal, since the only viable solution seems to be the use of a virtual credit card registered in the US.
What Is a Virtual Credit Card?
Virtual credit cards are definitely not new, but they have certainly become more useful in the past few years.
In short, a virtual credit card is a temporary credit card number that can be used as a payment method on pretty much any website. Its main goal used to be anonymity since it’s really hard to track a virtual credit card. Not only that, but it also allows you to keep your actual credit card details private while shopping online, which protects you against leaks and hackers.
The basic idea is that you create one of these for a purpose, use it to pay for whatever you want to buy, then it just automatically goes away. If you want to buy something else later on, you have to repeat this process and create a new virtual credit card. This can be a bit time consuming, but it’s definitely worth the trouble if you care about privacy and security.
What Are the Risks Associated With Virtual Credit Cards?
Like with everything else you do on the Internet, it’s important to be cautious and do your research before jumping in. Virtual credit card services need access to your real credit card, bank account, or PayPal account in order to work, so you really need to be careful when sharing this info.
There are plenty of scams out there, and some of them may not be that obvious. We are not talking about websites that outright steal your money (although those exist as well). Instead, there are much more clever ways to scam you if you are not careful.
As such, there might be hidden fees that apply whenever you create a virtual credit card, as well as outrageous minimum deposits that force you to put way too much money into your virtual account. Sometimes the websites clearly state these minimum limits on the sign-up page, but not everyone is that honest.
The other obvious risk is that these virtual credit cards may not even work for the purpose you are interested in. Hence, even if you do manage to get a working virtual credit card with the desired amount of money deposited into it, it may not be accepted by the website you are trying to buy from.
Finally, there’s also the fact that you may be paying a fee for every transaction in some cases, which is obviously not something you want to deal with. This also makes it more difficult to figure out how much money you need on the card in order to afford the product you are interested in, since the fees may interfere with your budget.
The Different Types of Virtual Credit Cards
An important aspect that must be mentioned is the fact that “virtual credit cards” can refer to a couple of different things.
Your bank may actually offer this type of service already, but they are not the same thing as the virtual credit cards used to be able to make purchases on geo-restricted websites. In essence, the cards issued by banks are designed to help you with privacy, but they are still linked to your actual bank account.
In contrast, the virtual cards we are talking about function more like prepaid cards that don’t rely on a connection to your actual bank account while making a purchase. In addition, these cards also allow you to have a fixed balance, so you cannot go over that limit by mistake.
Furthermore, these cards are also usually registered with an address in a different country, which allows you to bypass restrictions on shops that only accept customers from specific countries. A good example of this would be Amazon US, where many products are only available to United States residents.
Other good examples include subscription-based services that are only available in certain parts of the world, as is the case with Hulu. Since Hulu does not accept any credit card that is not registered in the US, such a service can allow you to bypass this restriction, although you still need to use a VPN in order to watch content.
How Do Virtual Credit Cards Work?
The process is a bit different depending on the service you go with, but there are a few general steps you have to take in order to get your virtual credit card.
- Find a trustworthy virtual credit card service and create an account. This step requires a bit of research on your part since it’s up to you when it comes to who you trust with your money. The account creation process usually requires you to add your payment info as well, so keep that in mind.
- Create one or more virtual credit cards and deposit the desired amount into them. Many services allow you to create more than one card, which is especially useful if you want to pay for multiple products that have different requirements. As for depositing the money, the process depends on how you want to do it. Most websites allow you to use bank transfers, PayPal, as well as a few other methods in order to charge your virtual credit cards.
- Use the created virtual credit card as you would a regular card. It’s really pretty simple to make use of a card once you create it since it’s pretty much the same process you go through when paying with your real card. The only difference is that you will be using the virtual card credentials instead.
Are There Any Limits When It Comes to Virtual Credit Cards?
Obviously yes. These limits depend on the service you choose, and they usually include things like capping the amount of money you can transfer in a single transaction. Hence, in most cases, you are not able to exceed a few hundred dollars per transaction, which is a bit of a bummer if you are trying to purchase something expensive.
In addition, there are also limits when it comes to how much you can deposit into your virtual credit card. This is not such a bad thing, on the other hand, since it protects you from losing too much cash in case you lose your account credentials.
Another key aspect is the fact that you may not be able to use these cards on certain websites, even though they are designed to function as regular credit cards. Thus, you may be limited in terms of what merchants you can buy from.
Lastly, not all of these services are available worldwide, so make sure you check whether your country is on the list before creating an account. These restrictions also vary from service to service, so it’s really difficult to generalize.
What About Recurring Monthly Subscriptions? Can Virtual Cards Be Used For That?
The short answer is yes, but there are a few caveats. In some cases, these virtual credit cards are designed for single transactions, which means that they expire after you use them once. While this may not be a problem if all you want to do is buy something from an online vendor, this is not great in the case of a Hulu or Netflix subscription, because you have to keep paying for the service every month.
Thankfully, some virtual credit card services allow you to continue using the same credentials for as long as you wish, as well as deposit money into the card more than once. As such, this allows you to use these cards for monthly subscriptions as well, although you still have to remember to put in more money every now and again.
On the other hand, it must be mentioned that virtual credit card services are not quite as long-lived as banks are. Hence, while it’s highly unlikely that your bank will go out of business without prior notice, such services can disappear very quickly from the Internet.
If that happens, you will have to register with a new service and change your payment info on your Hulu or Netflix account, which can sometimes be a bit of a hassle.
Do Companies Like Netflix and Hulu Accept Virtual Credit Cards?
Not really, no. The main issue is not that people are creating accounts in countries where these streaming services are not available, but rather that many individuals have used virtual cards to scam Netflix and others.
As you may already know, Netflix offers a 30-day free trial if it’s your first time registering for the service. Hence, although you have to provide payment info in order to start your subscription, you won’t be charged for the first 30 days. Naturally, people kept registering new accounts using virtual credit cards and VPNs, which allowed them to keep getting the free trial over and over again, effectively watching Netflix for free.
The company took notice of this and tried to ban all virtual credit cards from their platform.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be able to work around this issue. It is pretty hard to ban every service of this kind, so some of them still work.
In addition, Hulu also accepts PayPal as a payment method, and you can create a US PayPal account using a VPN, after which you can deposit money into that account using a virtual credit card. Hence, you don’t have to worry about whether such cards are allowed or not.
Using a US Postcode to Circumvent Restrictions
One interesting trick you can do that does not require you to create a virtual credit card is to try using your regular payment method and input a random (but valid) US postcode when asked. This won’t work most of the time, but there are websites that actually do not care about where your CC is registered, so the transaction will go through without a problem.
This is obviously not the case for a service like Hulu, because the subscription must be renewed every month. In fact, this method is most likely going to work on one-time transactions, such as when you are trying to order something from an online shop, or if you want to buy a software license.
Keep in mind that if you do use a random postcode you are probably not going to be eligible for customer support since that is the reason most companies do not sell to people from outside the US. Hence, that is a risk you have to take, and you can’t complain about it afterward.
What Are Some of the Most Trustworthy Virtual Credit Card Services?
As always, it’s very important to do your research whenever you are handling your personal finances. Randomly googling for virtual credit card services and picking the first result might not be a good idea, so it’s better to search for reviews beforehand.
With that in mind, there are some services that have been around for long enough to win the public’s trust, so it’s obviously better to go with one of them instead of something less well-known.
Here are some of the best and most popular virtual credit card services out there:
US Unlocked is a virtual credit card service that can be used in almost any country, and it’s designed to help you bypass geo-restrictions when it comes to shopping online. In essence, the service allows you to create a credit card and use it instead of your real one whenever you want to purchase something from a shop that only accepts US-based credit cards.
The good news is that the cards you create are reusable, which means that they do not disappear after using them once. Naturally, this makes them the perfect choice for subscriptions, since they can be used every month to pay for a Hulu or a Netflix subscription.
As usual, there is a one-time sign-up fee that you must pay in order to create a virtual credit card, but that shouldn’t be too big of an issue if your goal is to keep using the card for a long time. However, you should know that the service charges a fee whenever you want to add more funds to your card.
This fee depends on how the method you use to deposit the funds, and it varies quite a bit. As always, it’s better to deposit more money at once than it is to go through smaller but more frequent transactions, because the fees add up.
Lastly, US Unlocked is available to users from all over the globe, so you do not have to worry about not being able to create an account. The same is true when it comes to depositing money, since the service accepts all sorts of currencies.
ecoPayz offers a virtual credit card service as well, even though the platform is mostly designed as a way for people to transfer funds between them across different countries. In essence, the main service functions a lot like PayPal, in the sense that you can use your account to send or receive money, while also being able to use it for online purchases.
The ecoVirtualcard is actually a single-use virtual card that allows you to make one-time payments, which means that it’s probably not your best bet for monthly subscriptions. In fact, it probably won’t work very well with a service like Hulu or Netflix, but there are definitely ways to work around this issue.
There are also some upsides to this since it’s basically impossible for anyone to steal your virtual card credentials. Since you can only use it once, the credentials are automatically destroyed after one purchase, so your account is never at risk.
In addition, you can also use the cards with three different currencies: US dollars, Euros, and British Pounds. This opens up a few extra possibilities that may not be available in other similar services.
Payoneer is a PayPal alternative that allows you to transfer funds online and use your account as a payment method on a multitude of shops. In fact, this service is also a great tool for freelancers when it comes to getting paid for their services, which is why the service is very well-known around the world.
Although you can use your account to pay for things, not every website accepts Payoneer, which is where the prepaid debit cards come into play. You can create a US-registered card that functions as a regular card, which is also extremely useful for shopping at US retailers.
This is not a single-use credit card either, which means that it can be safely used for recurring subscriptions, such is the case with Hulu, HBO, or Netflix. The only issue is that you have to pay a yearly fee in order to create a card, which can be a pretty big commitment for some people.
However, it’s also possible to create virtual credit cards that are registered in other countries as well, which means that you are not limited to the United States. This is not something that you can get from many other services of this kind, so it’s definitely the way to go if you want a more flexible and versatile platform.
iCard is a major e-money platform that has been around for over a decade, and it specializes in all sorts of online financial services. The company is an official MasterCard and VISA member, and they also operate under strict EU guidelines.
The most exciting thing about iCard is that you can create up to 20 different virtual credit cards, depending on your needs. This can help you keep track of different subscriptions, or you can share them with family members and easily provide them with fixed allowances.
Since the app can be used on mobile, it’s very easy to keep track of your finances, and it’s also fairly easy to pay using your virtual cards. Most US vendors accept these cards as well, which means that you can maintain subscriptions for Hulu, HBO, and a variety of other streaming platforms that may not be available in your country.
The other good news is that you do not have to pay monthly fees in order to use the platform, at least if you are not interested in slightly more advanced features. The sign-up process is also very easy, even though you have to go through a verification process in order for your account to be activated.
Is It Legal to Use Virtual Credit Cards to Unblock Streaming Services?
This is a pretty complex question that does not have a clear-cut answer, but in general, the answer is yes. You are still paying for the service, so it’s not like you are stealing from Netflix or Hulu by using a virtual credit card.
The fact that the service is not available in your country does not mean it’s illegal to buy a subscription anyway. Not only that, but there are also cases where you may actually be a US resident traveling to another country, and it’s your right to still be able to watch your shows, given the fact that you are paying for a subscription fair and square.
This is pretty much the same issue that VPNs have, and those are definitely not illegal in most countries. On top of that, we have already mentioned the fact that many banks already offer virtual credit card services, so it’s definitely not a gray legal area.
With all that being said, there’s still the risk of losing your subscription because of this. Hulu, Netflix, and others can easily suspend your account because you are using a virtual credit card, and that has already happened a few times in the past few years. If that happens, there’s really nothing you can do to reverse the decision, so keep that in mind.
All in all, there are definitely quite a few options at your disposal if you are looking for a virtual credit card service, and it really depends on what you want to use it for.
In the case of unblocking Hulu and other streaming services, the trick may not always work, especially since these platforms have taken a stance against virtual credit cards. However, you can still work around the issue if you are patient enough, and you manage to find a service that works.
Lastly, don’t forget to pay close attention to the fine print, and it’s also wise to do a lot of research before signing up for a virtual credit card. It’s very easy to fall for scams when it comes to bank accounts and credit cards, so you really can’t be too careful.