Thanks to the global availability of Netflix, everyone is all too aware of the perceived lifestyle of people in other countries. In most cases, it is easy to gain access to the same products, services and goods we see on our screens. For some however, many products and services are region locked for outsiders. Such restrictions can be resolved by using payment cards issued in the region a service or product resides.
US Unlocked solves the dilemma for the USA region. It’s a versatile financial service that provides a virtual account connected to multiple virtual prepaid cards. It is also connected to a distinct USA billing and shipping address for shopping of both digital and physical goods.
Benefits of Using US Unlocked
There are many benefits of using a US Unlocked US virtual card over other virtual credit cards or virtual debit cards. These are as below:
- You can purchase from digital and physical merchants/stores such as Target, Apple, Microsoft, Ulta etc even if you’re not in the United States. These stores are region locked to a physical US address as well as a US issued credit card or debit card number. This card gives you access to both by opening online shopping from abroad.
- You can purchase USA specific subscription services such as Spotify, Xbox, PSN, Nintendo, Hulu, etc. These services require a US issued card and it doesn’t matter whether its a virtual US credit card or a regular credit or debit card. A US Unlocked card will work in all such cases.
- US Unlocked technology offers peace of mind by giving you full control over your spending limits. You can cancel cards, subscription etc. on your own terms and keep safe from online fraud.
- Save money on frequent currency fluctuations.
- Reduce cross border payments when you shop online.
- Create multiple cards without any fee.
Signup Process & Card Activation
Signing up for a US Unlocked account is easy.
You need to provide an email address and fill out your personal information. Once you’ve verified your email address, you can complete your signup process by pressing the ‘Complete Profile’ button on step 3 and you’ll be inside your brand new US Unlocked account.
US Unlocked does not require verification until you load at least $500 into your account. Any amount greater than $500 requires identity verification.
Card activation is another matter. There is a one time enrollment fee of $15 which they charge you the first time you load your account for use. US Unlocked shows you the breakdown of all fees and charges before you load any amount into your account. Depending on your location, there are myriad options available to you for card loading and the loading fees depend on this.
You can load your account via Bank Transfer, Sofort, AliPay, WeChat Pay, iDEAL, Yandex and Boleto (coming soon).
US Unlocked is actively seeking additional payment methods per region and hope to get the green light on additional methods later this year.
You can view the full list of countries they support as well as the available payment methods & USA address services available for each.
The cards are issued via Tier One Processor and backed by an FDIC Insured Bank so you know your money is safe.
Types of Virtual Payment Cards
US Unlocked offers two types of online virtual cards for the shopping of digital and physical goods.
By default, there is an active virtual prepaid card in your account present for one-time use. This one time use virtual payment card issue is for online merchants where you won’t be shopping again. The online virtual payment card expires after the first use and cannot be used for subscription services that need recurring payments.
The other type of card they issue is merchant-specific. Merchant specific virtual prepaid cards are designed specifically for use on online stores where recurring payments are the norm. When creating a merchant-specific card, you can specify the limits on per charge, per month, per year and max spend to keep a tighter hold on your budget.
You can change these limits later as well.
This level of granular control on card limits is worth the fees they charge you every month. There are too many instances when people are blindsided by duplicate charges. Some sign up for a $0.99 trial for a month, and are charged the full amount a few days later – common problem in Google Play and Apple store subscriptions.
Here, the US virtual credit card plays the part of safeguarding your money, while giving you the flexibility of using it on stores where Visa and MasterCard are accepted.
Using your Card & Account
Before using any of your newly created cards, you need to sign up with one of US Unlocked’s certified freight forwarders in the US. US Unlocked works with a number of partners to give you this information. Shipito, OPAS, Shop & Ship, Planet Express, USGoBuy, PostaPlus and TransExpress are on their partner list.
These partners assist with providing a U.S. Billing and Shipping address so that on certain websites the transactions are not declined. They also handle the international package forwarding services to ensure purchased U.S. physical goods are delivered to your home address.
TechVise has reviewed many of these services which you can read in our article here.
To use the card, you need to first unlock the card to view its information. Since all the issued cards are virtual, you can view the information anytime by unlocking it. You can choose whether to receive the card’s unlock security code via voice message or SMS/Text. Once you have entered the security code, you can view your card information and use it online.
Account History & Fees
The dashboard is easy to navigate with a coloured breakdown of your spending habits. You can also view your transaction history for all cards with date & time stamp. You can do this for both approved and declined transactions.
All wonderful features aside, this is by no means a budget card to have. Like other virtual credit card providers out there, they charge fees. You are charged a per-transaction fee and an account maintenance fee. You can check their fees as well as other charges here.
After suffering through payment problems at US stores that require a US-issued credit card number, we are happy with their solution. US Unlocked solves our card issues easily by giving access to instant virtual card credit via their account. Unlike plastic cards, they are more secure since they are fully in your control.
Again, this service is by no means the cheapest option. However, it does save money over the long run and offers a comprehensive toolkit for unlocked shopping. This is particularly true if you find yourself frequently shopping on USA stores and need to keep a closer eye on your spending habits.