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Accessing US based services from Zimbabwe

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Why is it all the good stuff is not available here?
Why is it all the good stuff is not available here?

In a previous article we looked at how Amazon was reportedly piloting a library like feature where customers could access books for a fixed monthly charge. We went on to look at other similar services like Oyster Books and Scribd which are currently on the market.

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All to often most of these services and pilots are restricted to the US market and in a lot of cases even if they are unveiled the Zimbabwean market is not a priority for most merchants and service providers.

This is true even in cases where the service does not expressly prohibit access by Zimbabweans. For example Netflix’s terms of use do not expressly or implicitly prohibit access by Zimbabweans. You only need to be 18 years and above and have access to a good internet connection with a US based IP address and a US based credit card or PayPal account.

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Using such services is sort of a grey area and most certainly preferable to blatant piracy in the form of torrents. Please take note of the disclaimer at the end of this article.

In this article and ones that will follow I will give you hints and tips on how to access a number of US based services from Zimbabwe including Hulu (and Hulu+), Netflix, Oyster Books and Amazon services.

Even when and where services are available from Zimbabwe it is usually advantageous to access them from the US since this market usually gets a lot of perks like discounts and early access to new features.

It would require a series of articles to cover each service but as a preamble I am going to give you a general condensed version of things that are required.

  1. A good internet connection– Depending with the type of service that you intend to access, a good internet connection is always a must except maybe when you want to access books or are just shopping. As a general guideline you will need a 3 Mbps connection to be able to access streaming content in SD (usually 480p) and a 5 Mbps connection to access HD content ( from 720p-1080p). Unless Strive Masiyiwa is your uncle you can forget about accessing UHD content (anything above 1080p) because you will need at least a 25 Mbps connection. It is still possible to use slower connections but by the time you are done you will be bald headed.
  2. A US address- Although not required in some instances it is usual for these services to ask you for a physical address. USABox.com offers free US based address that are fully functional. Please note they charge various fees for extra services so be sure to familiarise yourself with these charges.
  3. A US based VPN- Most of these services have a geo-based filter. You will need a VPN service to access the sites. Although there are a lot of free VPN services out there a premium based service is preferable as it is faster. I suggest unblock-us.com and Hola.org which both cost $5/month.
  4. A US based Credit Card- A lot of services (like Netflix) do not check to verify the origin of your Visa/ MasterCard some like Oyster books and Amazon Instant do check however. You can always use Payoneer. Just make sure that you change the address in your Payoneer card account to the USABox.com account. You can load funds to the card by creating a new US based PayPal account linking the Payoneer card to this account. Send money from your Zimbabwean PayPal account to the US based account and then withdraw these funds to your Payoneer card. Please note you may be charged various fees along the way. You can also purchase a US based virtual card from various sellers e.g. USunlocked. Make sure you understand the applicable fees.
  5. A US based PayPal account– some services like Netflix also accept a US based PayPal account. You can simply create a US based account using a USABox.com account, verify the account using a Payoneer card or a virtual card, send funds to it using your normal Zimbabwean account and making your payment.
  6. Bucket loads of money

N.B. Sometimes PayPal frowns on such “weird” activity and blocks or limits your accounts. So you have been warned. You can always tell them you travel a lot: which is sort of true in cyber-speak.

To access any of the US based services you only need to set up geo-unblocking, visit the relevant website, signup using a US based address, pay using a US based card/US PayPal account and voilà!

Disclaimer

Nothing in the foregoing shall be construed as supporting piracy, violating the terms and conditions of the appropriate services.

Image Credit: Vivaveltoro


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13 thoughts on “Accessing US based services from Zimbabwe

  1. I agree first and foremost you need a good connection.
    however, there are some simple fixes to some of the things you posted:
    Netflix works on any visa card, I use my Stanchart (Zimbabwe) card for that.
    Hola is free. just get the plugin for firefox or google chrome
    For the address a simple and free solution is to put your address as a university campus address, any will do, as long as it has a residence.

    You can also watch hulu and espn3 for free and no need to sign up.

  2. Thanx for the contribution man. I am aware of some of the easy fixes you have mentioned. Hola free is a bit slow compared to the premium offering which makes use of premium vpn servers which might become a concern when dealing with HD content. Although netflix works with most cards as I have noted, some services like Amazon Instant require a US card. Hulu is free but it sucks you will find it worthwhile to use Hulu+. The whole point of the article was to create a Swiss knife of accessing these services. A more or less fool proof method that will work with all-well almost all- US services.

  3. Thanks man for the article.
    I have been going around in circles, trying to ‘solve’ my dilemma of using US based services.

    I have recently installed fibre (thanks to Zol for the free installation) so good internet box is ticked.
    The other issue is being able to pay for such service, and thanks to Econet and the ‘just in time’ Ecocash Debit card i can now pay for stuff online (the jury is still out on what and were you can actually use the card. 50% of the site i have tried have rejected the card)

    The other hiccup was getting the access to Hulu and Netflix. So to get access before i can subscribe. instead of playing around with hide IP and VPN softwares i found this great little extension for firefox and chrome browsers called Media Hint. just install it and its ready to roll and it works in the background
    So now have access to Hulu and Netfix sites and this is were i got stuck.
    First they won’t accept the debit card because its not a U.S card. You can pay with paypal but you have to have a U.S based Paypal account, unfortunately i haven’t had a chance to get around to creating a U.S based paypal account to try and pay or the services.
    This is not all bad news becuase with Hulu i can still watch all the shows for free except i have to suffer with a few ads and the quality is not Full HD and its your normal DSTV quality so that’s okay.

  4. If Americans don’t want our money the legal way, should we try to “hack” their systems to pay them our hard earned cash?

    I say Mr Author, torrents till they see us as equal human beings not second, if not 3rd class inhabitants of earth!

  5. forgot one more point, Netflix requires your card to be valid for more than one month and unfortunately the Virtual Ecocash one is only valid for 14days

      1. A credit card expire date is not based on a specific day but the month. So if requested the card with say 14days left of the month, the expiry date will show the next month thus allowing the 30days required will be fulfilled

  6. I have a 2MB line and use unotelly (free 1st month then $8/mth). Yes it stutters at first but once it starts playing, no interruptions at all.

    BTW, point 6 says buckets load of money? Why?

  7. SUCCESS! It’s actually very simple to get Hulu Plus.
    You don’t need a PayPal account just your normal visa debit card a zip code I used 00000.
    Go to Hulu and request a gift card Hulu will allow any card even the ecocash debit card can be used to pay for the gift card. After getting the code go to the link provided in the gift card, redeem your card and voila! You now have Hulu plus.

  8. i have been goignt through all the tips and am trying to tget netflix and nba pass . can i get some help , you can even send tips oto my whatsapp on 0773724777

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