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Is there a way to get an anonymized credit card for hotel stays? The reason I ask is that recently I have noticed hotels getting more and more invasive about my private life. This is no paranoid fantasy, it is reality. Hotels are actually digging through their guests trash and recording the information found on the guests "profile". I know that celebrities have assistants check in for them to avoid this kind of snooping, but I don't have an assistant to block for me. I have heard there are "prepaid" cards and stuff like that, but have not tried one. Do they work at hotels?

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    Would it help? I usually get asked for a photo ID when checking in, regardless of how the room was paid for. It's a pretty big risk for a hotel to give you access to a room, where you could cause thousands of dollars in damage, if they don't know who you are or how to find you if you cause trouble. – Nate Eldredge Mar 31 '18 at 1:16
  • Have someone else book and pay for the room, then pick up the keys from them :) – JonathanReez Mar 31 '18 at 1:37
  • Somewhat related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/60140/… – JonathanReez Mar 31 '18 at 1:41
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    Effort is greater than reward here. You'll need to show id at check in most places anyway. The hotel is being, at worst, creepy but not hostile. Acceptance of pre paid cards will vary from one hotel to another. – user16259 Mar 31 '18 at 4:50
  • You can have your credit cards re-issued as FirstInitial Lastname. US retail establishments are allowed to scrape your name from your card, but initial-only adds some additional obscurity. Every little thing helps. – pseudon Mar 31 '18 at 14:32
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I have heard there are "prepaid" cards and stuff like that, but have not tried one. Do they work at hotels?

Pre-paid cards do work at hotels, but I am not sure how using one would help with anonymity. As @nate-eldredge noted in their comment, you need to provide some form of identification along with the method of payment when you check-in.

I guess the underlying question here is how do I minimize my "footprint" when staying at a hotel?

The very first thing you should do is subscribe to a VPN service (or use one that is offered by your workplace).

A VPN is a private network that provides a level of security and anonymity over a public network (such as the Internet). There are numerous services that offer this online; some offer lifetime subscriptions for a nominal upfront payment.

The point of this service is to make sure your online activity is not tracked, and if the public access network at the hotel is compromised (for example, someone is monitoring the activity on this network), your devices are somewhat protected as they are using a private encrypted channel when browsing the Internet.

Its not fail safe though; you should exercise responsible computing by making sure your operating system and applications are updated and you are well aware of any software installed on your device.

The next thing is hotel receipts or other paperwork. You can use a device like this:

enter image description here

(Amazon Link)

To mask any sensitive data. There are many such devices available on the market. A search for identify theft stamp should give you some options.

Payment and the check-in process is the least of your worries when it comes to identity theft or privacy. As a cost of doing business you have to provide at least matching names on identification and payment. Even if you elect to pay by cash, the front desk will still ask for your identification (in some hotels, they still insist on blocking an amount on card for incidentals, even if you will be paying by cash).

Even if you were to stay at informal properties (like an airbnb, timeshare, etc.) you may still be subject to identify theft. Once can argue since these places are loosely regulated (if at all), you have even less guarantees of any privacy or recourse should something happen.

Unfortunately in today's digital age, the primary responsibility is yours when it comes to your identity and the protection of it. Data breaches happen all the time and in the end no matter what the PR machines of these compromised companies tell you, you are the first person to suffer should someone compromise your identity.

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    And don't forget to burn off your fingerprints using acid. If you don't, you'll end up leaving prints everywhere!! Also, be sure to burn all of the sheets/pillowcases/towels you use before leaving the room. – Doc Mar 31 '18 at 9:48
  • That sounds like the trailer for a movie - The Anonymizer .... starring Liam Neeson – Burhan Khalid Mar 31 '18 at 9:52
  • @Doc Just nuke the hotel from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. – jpatokal Mar 31 '18 at 10:57
  • It's one thing to 'show' ID, it's another completely to hand over the ID and let them scan it or enter personal info from it. Push back on such requests, and ask what exact information they need and how they use it, even ask for a privacy policy. Patronize hotels that don't record your personal information from your ID. Depending what information you consider most personal, you can use different IDs... e.g., passport does not have a home address. – pseudon Mar 31 '18 at 14:20
  • @pseudon Note that, depending on nationality and jurisdiction, the hotel may be forced legally to record that ID information. – origimbo Mar 31 '18 at 17:07

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