Hack 12 Use Your PayPal Funds Anywhere

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Use the PayPal Virtual Debit Bar to pay for goods or services at web sites that don't normally accept PayPal.

It's possible for you to pay someone via PayPal even if the recipient doesn't have a PayPal account [Hack #15], but only if you know the email address of the person or business to whom you wish to send money and only if the recipient is willing to sign up and accept your payment. But what do you do if you want to buy something from an online retailer that doesn't accept PayPal?

There is, as it turns out, a way to pay with PayPal as though your account were a debit or credit card. There's a hard-to-find page at PayPal that allows you to set up and use the virtual Debit Bar to turn your PayPal email address into a virtual MasterCard debit card number. To get a virtual debit card number, you'll need to do all of the following:

  • Have a PayPal balance of at least one U.S. dollar

  • Add and confirm control of a checking account [Hack #2]

  • Add a credit card to your PayPal account and complete your Expanded Use Enrollment [Hack #3]

To use the virtual debit card, start by opening the virtual Debit Bar:

  1. Log in to your PayPal account.

  2. Visit the PayPal virtual Debit Bar web page (shown in Figure 2-3) at https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/shop/vdebit.

    PayPal has removed most links to the virtual debit card from its web site, but you might still find it at this URL.

    Figure 2-3. Choosing an online retailer at which to shop with PayPal's virtual Debit Bar

  3. From the drop-down list, pick an online store from which you want to make a purchase; or, in the second box, enter the URL of the store (as shown in Figure 2-3). Either way, you can switch web sites at any time without affecting your virtual debit card.

  4. Click the appropriate Go button. The online store you specified then opens in a new browser window and the virtual Debit Bar appears at the bottom of your screen in another browser window (as shown in Figure 2-4) and remains visible while you shop.

    Figure 2-4. The virtual Debit Bar

  5. When you're ready to make a purchase, use the debit card information in the virtual Debit Bar just as you would any MasterCard debit card.

  6. You will find all the debit card information on the Debit Bar. Fill out the billing information (name, billing address, debit card type, debit cart number, and expiration date) on the web site, just as you would with any other debit card. You can copy and paste the debit card information in the virtual Debit Bar to save time.

  7. For the security of your PayPal Account, close the PayPal virtual Debit Bar browser window when you are finished shopping. Close the bar the same way you would any other web browser.

Keep the following in mind while using the virtual Debit Bar:

  • You'll need at least one U.S. dollar in your PayPal account to activate the virtual Debit Bar, and you'll need sufficient funds in your account to cover any purchase you make. If you try to spend more than your current balance, your card will be declined.

  • The spending limit for the virtual debit card is $150 per day.

  • The virtual debit card does not have a three-digit Card Verification Value (CVV), so it won't be accepted by online retailers that require one.

  • For those retailers that will ship only to your credit card billing address, your virtual debit card billing address is the same as the address listed with the primary credit card registered to your PayPal Account.

  • The expiration date for your virtual debit card (displayed on the upper-right corner of the virtual Debit Bar window) is set for two years from the date the card number was issued.

If you need a plastic debit card that is linked to your PayPal account, you can apply for a PayPal ATM/debit card [Hack #20] . You can also apply for a PayPal Providian credit card (http://www.paypalcreditcard.com), although it won't be linked to your PayPal account balance. Both plastic cards are available only to U.S. members.