Coupons, promo codes, and affiliate links are well-known ways to save money when shopping. But
there’s another hidden way that works well, too. It’s hiding your IP address.
What’s an IP Address?
An IP address works like your ID in real life. Whenever you visit a website online, you communicate with
a server. The server needs to know your IP address to give you the information you’re looking for.
You can find a device’s location if you do an IP address lookup online. Whenever you think it’s suspicious
how some ads keep following you around on Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, it’s all thanks to your IP and
other tracking techniques.
Businesses can use your IP, like cookies and other trackers, to spy on all your internet moves. That’s a
massive downside if you’re shopping online. Here’s why.
Buying a loaf of bread doesn’t cost the same in the United States and Venezuela. The standard of living
isn’t the same, the GDP isn’t the same, and the income per citizen isn’t the same.
This applies to most products, services, and online prices. Marketers change prices based on a shopper’s
location. So, if you need to buy an ebook on Amazon and you’re on vacation in a third-world country,
you’ll get it cheaper than at home.
You can notice this when booking planes, hotels, car rentals, or buying a streaming service subscription.
The strategy applies to almost every online business. You pay more or less for the same product but get a
different price than someone from another country. That’s why it’s called price discrimination.
Price discrimination works because it’s easy to find someone’s location that way. Price steering works
similarly, but it uses a different tactic. And you’ve probably noticed it yourself.
Let’s say you need to book a plane ticket from Italy to Spain. You check the prices and see that a return
ticket costs $100. When you recheck the price for the exact dates with the same company, you see that it
costs $150. That’s price steering.
Instead of going by location, price steering personalizes prices based on your search history. The more
you search for a thing, the higher the price.
These are silent discounts. They can be higher or lower depending on whether you’re using a browser, a
mobile app, an Android, or an iOS device.
How to Hide Your IP Address
There are two ways to hide your IP address to prevent price discrimination.
1. Using a virtual private network. VPNs hide your IP address by masking it with one of their own.
They have loads of servers, and all your data passes through them before it goes to another
destination. As it passes, the data gets encrypted, which makes it secure and unreadable to
others except the person or website you’re sending it to.
2. Using a proxy server. It works similarly to a VPN because it redirects your internet activity. The
downside is that you have no data protection (encryption).
What Other Benefits Do You Get?
Hiding your IP address comes with a lot of benefits. Here are a few examples:
● Zero risk when using public Wi-Fi: Connecting to a free network is like deciding to walk through
a warzone without equipment. Hackers are always lurking. You don’t want to be their next
● Bypass company restrictions: Your workplace can limit the websites you visit based on your IP
address. The easiest way to bypass the limit is to change it.
● Stay safe from hackers: Hackers are better at tracking you than marketers. So, if you’re scared of
the ad following you around, think of how much worse it can be if it’s a hacker instead.
● Hide your browsing from your ISP: By law, internet service providers must keep logs of your
activity. But they can’t do so if you change your IP and encrypt your data.
● Search engines will stop tracking you: We all know that Google is intrusive. Just check your
monthly Maps recap, and you’ll see every place you visited and where you moved. Remove
cookies and use a VPN to stop search engines from tracking you.
● Watch Netflix from everywhere: Companies change prices based on your location, but
streaming sites change their content, too! If you’re traveling and want to keep watching the
same shows, you must change your IP.
● Remove censorship: Governments can censor your internet usage. Russia, China, and Iran are
infamous examples, but the same can happen anywhere. A proxy or a VPN is the best solution to
bypass this problem.