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Temporary credit cards

A real subsitute for cash.
  [vote for,

Credit cards are convenient and useful. They enable web purchases, phone purchases and obviate the need for loads of cash. They are also dangerous - if someone gets your number they can spend your money, and they make it tempting to spend money you do not have. Also, purchases can be tracked by credit card number - no good for fugitives on the lam or person with secret hobbies.

I propose that credit cards be sold like phone cards, from a vending machine. In exchange for cash, you would get a card with a certain value. When the money was spent, you discard. This has the advantage of a debit card (you cant spend money you dont have), with theft protection (you can lose only the value of the card). The tempcard is also anonymous, trackable to the machine that sold it but no further.

This seems so obvious to me there must be some reason it is not widely done.

bungston, May 15 2004

Dutch (Amsterdam) based e-money system http://www.fd.unima...knip_toekomst_e.htm
[engineer1, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 06 2004]


       I have a debit card and that works fine, but if I lived in an area where crime was high, I would probably get one. This would be great for children and allowances. Either way +
swimr, May 15 2004

       This was trialled using "smart-cards," - cards with a little chip on them. One problem was that not enough vendors were interested in buying the card readers. The major problem, though, was that when people have a choice between carrying cash, and a piece of plastic representing that cash (with little additional benefit), they prefer cash.
Detly, May 15 2004

       Gift cards are like this, except they can only be used in that one store (or chain).   

       What benefit does this have over straight cash? I don't get it. I can only spend the cash I have, and if I lose the cash, I lose only that value. How does transferring it to a card benefit me, aside from taking up less wallet space?
waugsqueke, May 15 2004

       [waugs] I think bungy is saying that you could use the temporary credit card number to do things like purchase over the net or phone. Otherwise yes, it would be no different to cash money.   

       Why hasn't it been taken up? I can think of several reasons - but mainly, there would have to be a mechanism that allows the merchant to know if your proposed transaction will fit in the value that is left on your card - if the card is 'temporary and anonymous' there is no way they will process your purchase without this knowledge and the trust in the capacity of the card issuer to pay money to them. With a normal credit card, the merchant only checks when your purchase is over their 'floor limit' and they have a binding contract with the card issuers that the issuers will pay them even if the cardholder has gone over their limit.
ConsulFlaminicus, May 15 2004

       It's baked in the sense that gift certificates work exactly like this and that credit card offer online single purchase numbers
theircompetitor, May 15 2004

       I thought only Amex did that?
Detly, May 15 2004

       [marked-for-deletion] Widely known to exist. Pre-paid visa cards are big business.
zigness, May 15 2004

       [waugsqueke], How do you type cash into a web page?
zigness, May 15 2004

       This credit card will self destruct in 5 seconds...
silverstormer, May 15 2004

       [zigness] - right you are. The Visa version of this is called Buxx.
bungston, May 15 2004

       Not so fast [Bungston] - the cards in the market are still not the truly untrackable ones in your idea.
ConsulFlaminicus, May 16 2004

       I was not clear on the purpose of these being used online or for phone transactions. I see the idea has been edited to point out those benefits.
waugsqueke, May 16 2004

       How do the credit agencies keep track of these?
RayfordSteele, May 16 2004

       [waugs] - I try not to edit ideas once they are up. It makes the earlier discussion lose its context. [Ray] - no reason for credit agencies to track them, since there is no possibility of bad debt.   

       [Consul] - Given that my credit card is sometimes refused because the company noted atypical purchases earlier in the day (theft protection), I bet that there could be considerable data transferred back and forth when the tempcard user makes a purchase.   

       This would really be like a mini bank account. The machine generates a number and prints a card, and a bank account with the company is created containing $10, $100 or whatever.   

       It occurs to me that these prepaid cards would also be very popular with folks who need to launder money.
bungston, May 16 2004

       I'll take 30,000. They're for my mum.
Detly, May 16 2004


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