Just now (2006 Nov) I have managed to make BofA’s ShopSafe thing work for me. It seems to be a newly acquired unit of Bank of America. (I think it was once MBNA Corp.) BofA’s pages link directly to it. In a few clicks one gets a “Temporary Authorization” which seems to be in effect a separate credit card with its own 16 digit card number plus a three digit security code. It also has an expiration date. I already had a BofA Visa card so it was especially easy for me. I got some background here.


Sometimes you will need the three digit security code on your real plastic card. The rest is fairly obvious and quick. To use your new ‘card’ to pay someone you will need: These can be retrieved later thus:
> Activity > View Active … > click on some line > Use Number

Use the ‘Activity’ tab to see what Temporary Authorizations are in effect and their status. You can delete them or extend their limit. I didn’t need to agree to any new terms.

I used this new number to pay SecondLife. I discovered that I had to enter my name there with normal capitalization instead of how it appears on the card in all caps. SecondLife took their money which I verified soon thereafter at the BofA site. My SecondLife stipend showed up promptly. So-far, so-good. I will report problems here.

(2007 Apr) As of now I have used this service several times with no problems.

(2007 October) I stumbled on the (reasonable) restriction that one such CC number can be used with only one merchant. It says this in the FAQ. Perhaps you should read the short FAQ. I didn’t. I would like an option to make a particular virtual card not restricted to one merchant.

(2008 Dec)No news; no news is good news. Except that the web page uses Flash Player which is a browser plugin and just now the latest version is 10. ShopSafe doesn’t work with v10. This page tells you what version of Flash Player you are using. (2010 Aug)This problem seems to have been fixed.

(2009 Jan)There is a workaround if you do not have access to a machine with a Flash version earlier than 10. Despite the stubborn warning text that overlays vital parts of the information you can select one of the CC numbers that you previously created. After such a selection, click “Use Number”. This works for me at least. More suggestions here.

I think there are other services like this. Other rumored names are

(2010 March 29) I still use the service for several payees. The interface described above has changed some. It works well.

(2010 Nov)The ‘only one merchant rule’ described above interacts badly with Amazon at least when you place a book order which include books sold directly by Amazon, and also books supplied by Amazon partners. To BofA’s computers these requests appear as two different merchants for which you need two different temporary credit cards. The normal flow at Amazon is to enter just one CC number but you will need two in this case. Even when there is more than one partner, a single CC seems to suffice for the partners collectively as it seems that Amazon runs the card rather than sending the card information to the partner. This is all empirical conjecture on my part. Subsequent orders from Amazon can use the same pair of CC numbers (subject to card expiry) but remembering which is for Amazon proper and which is for their partners. Amazon says that it is trying to improve on this situation. (2012 Nov) It has not improved. (2016 June) Still using ShopSafe. I buy most books digitally now (soft copy) so I am not recently stung by multiple Amazon merchants.