Using Single Vendor Credit Card Numbers with Amazon

Posted by Thoughts and Ramblings on Sunday, March 10, 2013

I often use single vendor credit card numbers for my online transactions because in the event of a breach or theft, the numbers cannot be used elsewhere. Many credit card companies offer these under other names, such as Discover who calls these “Secure Online Account Numbers.” These work really well, except for the fact that these do not work well with Amazon purchases. There are a few other cases they fail, but Amazon is the biggest nuisance for me.

The Problem

Why do these fail with Amazon? Amazon has separate vendor IDs for purchases. Purchase made from Amazon are under one vendor where as purchases made from third-parties where Amazon handles the processing is another vendor. While I’ve not seen it myself, I’ve read that Kindle purchases are again another vendor. This means that a single vendor number cannot be used for orders which contain purchases which will be charged by more than one vendor. Furthermore, Amazon likes to save these numbers and if one were to use separate numbers for each vendor, they can easily become confused with one another.

The Solution

I’ve found a relatively simple solution that in my experience seems to solve the problem. Place and pay for orders which would be charged by multiple vendors while retaining the security of not giving Amazon a credit card number that can be used by anyone else.

  1. Put items in your cart and build your order to what you want to buy.
  2. Do not proceed to the checkout but instead view your cart and click on the link to “Estimate your shipping and tax.”
  3. Open a new tab to Amazon’s gift cards, select email, and fill in the amount which will cover your order size. It’d be prudent to add a buck or two extra in case.
  4. Put in your own email address and purchase your gift card.
  5. When you receive your gift card email, go back to your original purchase and proceed to the checkout. When you reach the payment page, copy and paste the gift card number into the appropriate section.

I’ve placed one order this way and it worked well. Though there was a random fluke where Amazon didn’t ship it for over a week, but they assured me it had nothing at all to do with the use of gift card. In fact, the guy on the phone couldn’t figure out any reason why it was delayed, strange.

I do this because it is an active protection mechanism against theft. Even though I do this most of the time, I did have my credit card number stolen recently and attempted use in Michigan. So, I’ve stepped up my use of single vendor numbers and decided that I will not purchase from Amazon anymore unless I can use them. Does anyone else take these proactive measures to protect their credit card number?

Now, if only this worked with AWS…