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How to hide your naughty purchases made on your credit card

Information verified correct on May 23rd, 2017

The tips you need to keep your purchases private.

Whether you have some purchases you’d rather not share or you’re trying to surprise your spouse, many of us have transactions on our credit card statement that we’d rather keep private. But is it actually possible to hide your credit card transactions once you’ve made the purchase? The short answer is no. For regulatory and compliance reasons, bank statements record all credit card transactions to protect you from fraud. For better or for worse, this means that it’s impossible to hide or delete transactions from your history once they’re processed.

However, there are some simple tricks to help protect the privacy of your future purchases. Read on to find out how.

What shows up on my credit card statement?

Firstly, you may be needlessly worried if you think that someone who sees your monthly statement will know exactly what you’ve bought. What shows up on your statement is in fact only the merchant’s name, not a description of the transaction. For instance, if you buy an embarrassing combination of items at the grocery store, no one will be able to differentiate the individual products by looking at your credit card statement.

Check out our guide on how to read your credit card statement for more info.

Will the bank judge my purchases?

No, you have nothing to worry about as long as your purchases are legal.

Tips to protect the privacy of future purchases

While you can’t remove or conceal credit card transactions, here are some ways you can shop with more privacy in the future:

  • Use PayPal. PayPal is an internet payment solutions provider that processes online payments for consumers free of charge. By signing up for an account and keeping your credit card details on PayPal, you can make online payments via PayPal without giving out those credit card details to merchants. Aside from the convenience and ease of a quicker checkout, PayPal also offers some degree of anonymity on your credit card bill. All transactions processed via PayPal will show up simply as “PayPal”. Be aware though that your PayPal account will show up the list of merchants you have transacted with, so you may want to keep your PayPal password extra secure.      
  • Use Google Wallet. Similar to PayPal, Google Wallet lets you make purchases by logging into your Google account. This eliminates the need to provide merchants with your credit card details, and all transactions paid in this manner will show up on your statement as “Google”. If you were to delete your Google Wallet account, your transaction history would also be deleted with it. That said, Google Wallet is currently only available to people with a debit card or bank account in the United States.
  • Use cash. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s effective. Next time you want to hide a purchase, pay with cash instead for totally traceless anonymity.
  • Use a gift card. Getting a gift card could also obscure your purchasing patterns. You’ll load the card with funds at the time of purchase and no one can track how you’re using it thereafter. Note however that buying a gift card with your credit card may constitute a “cash advance”, which would incur a cash advance fee and attract a higher cash advance interest rate without any interest-free days.
  • Opt out of paper statements. If you’re worried about leaving a paper trail because someone can open your mail and read your credit card statements, contact your card provider about receiving electronic statements instead. Apart from enhancing personal privacy, this move is also environmentally friendly and can sometimes help you avoid fees.

If you’re looking to hide a past transaction, this is unfortunately impossible. You’d be better off physically intercepting and destroying the statement if you want to make sure that no one sees it. If you’re trying to cover up expenditures due to embarrassingly mounting debt, you might wish to then consider saving on interest payments with a 0% purchase credit card or consolidating and paying off your debts with a balance transfer credit card.

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