In 5 Easy Steps!
Step 1: Create a PayPal account using a temporary e-mail address. College e-mail addresses work particularly well.
Step 2: Add your only credit card to your account. Any time you want to use this card on sites that use PayPal, you will need to log into your account. This includes eBay, Etsy, and those great little sites that only accept PayPal payments because they're easy and secure.
Step 3: Forget your password. This is the easy part.
Step 4: Wait until the e-mail address that you used to create the account no longer exists. This means that PayPal is completely unable to e-mail you a link to reset your password! It also means that, even if you create a new account, you cannot add your credit card because it is already listed on another account!
Step 5: Use the "phone confirmation" option in your parents' basement, which typically gets one bar on a good day. This means that instead of receiving a phone call and inputting the password reset code, you will receive a voicemail half an hour later, and still be unable to reset your password.
The good news is that, apparently, my old account must have been inactive long enough that I was finally able to add my card to the new account I created (with my personal e-mail address, thank you very much). My theory is that the period of inactivity must have just ended, because I tried adding my card when I renewed it earlier this year, but PayPal still would not accept it. I was all set to try the phone recovery option again, but it turned out I didn't need to. Yay! I celebrated by starting on my Christmas shopping.