At a Glance
Virtual credit cards have gained significant popularity as a secure and convenient payment option. Here’s everything you need to know about virtual credit cards, including how they work, how to use them, their pros and cons, who should consider getting one, where to obtain them, and their impact on identity protection.
In this article, you’ll learn:
The proportion of people in the U.S. that use a virtual credit card for purchases.
What is a virtual credit card, and how does it work?
A virtual credit card is a type of digital payment method where you can make online purchases without having to reveal your credit card information. Essentially it works like a temporary credit card that is usually linked to an existing credit card or bank account. After the virtual card is used the card number, expiration date, and CVV are generated, producing a completely unique set of details for that specific transaction. This is how a virtual card can protect the user’s financial information from potential fraud or data breach situations.
How to use a virtual credit card?
Using a virtual credit card is relatively straightforward. Here are the general steps involved:
- Choose a virtual credit card provider or issuer.
- Apply for a virtual credit card through the provider’s website or mobile app.
- Upon approval, receive the virtual card details, including the card number, expiration date, and CVV.
- When making an online purchase, enter the virtual card details into the payment form.
Pros and cons of virtual cards
Limited acceptance in physical stores
Protection against fraud
Incompatibility with certain subscription services
Privacy and identity protection
Dependency on an existing credit card
Easy control of spending
Inability to earn rewards or cashback
Convenient for online purchases
Lack of physical card for offline transactions
Who should get a virtual credit card?
Virtual credit cards can be beneficial for a variety of individuals, including:
- Online shoppers who prioritize security and privacy
- Frequent travelers who rely on digital transactions
- Small business owners who want to manage employee spending
- Individuals seeking better control over their online spending habits
- Those concerned about the risk of identity theft and fraud
Where to get a virtual credit card?
1. Capital One
Capital One offers virtual credit cards to its customers through its mobile app and online banking platform. Here is how to get a virtual card from Capital One:
- Download the Capital One mobile app or log in to your online banking account.
- Navigate to the “Manage Cards” section or a similar option.
- Look for the option to generate a virtual credit card.
- Follow the prompts to create a virtual card with a unique card number, expiration date, and CVV.
- Link the virtual card to your preferred funding source, like your Capital One credit card or bank account.
Citi also provides virtual credit card services to its customers, ensuring secure online transactions. To obtain a virtual credit card from Citi, follow these steps:
- Log in to your Citi online banking account.
- Locate the “Card Services” or “Virtual Card” section.
- Follow the instructions to create a virtual credit card.
- Customize the spending limit and expiration date for your virtual card.
- Connect the virtual card to your primary Citi credit card or bank account for funding.
3. American Express
American Express offers virtual credit card functionality to its cardholders, allowing them to make secure online purchases. Here’s how to get a virtual credit card from American Express:
- Log in to your American Express online account or mobile app.
- Navigate to the “Account Services” or “Virtual Account Numbers” section.
- Generate a virtual credit card with a unique card number, expiration date, and CVV.
- Specify the spending limit and validity period for your virtual card.
- Associate the virtual card with your primary American Express card for billing and monitoring.
4. J.P. Morgan
J.P. Morgan provides virtual credit card solutions through their commercial card program. If you have a corporate or business account with J.P. Morgan, follow these steps to get a virtual credit card:
- Contact your J.P. Morgan representative or account manager.
- Inquire about their virtual credit card offering and eligibility criteria.
- Complete any required documentation or agreements.
- Once approved, you’ll receive instructions on how to generate virtual credit cards for your business needs.
- Follow the provided guidelines to set spending limits and track expenses associated with virtual cards.
5. U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank offers virtual credit card services to its customers, providing a safe and convenient way to make online purchases. To get a virtual credit card from U.S. Bank, here’s what you need to do:
- Log in to your U.S. Bank online banking account.
- Navigate to the “Card Services” or “Virtual Card” section.
- Select the option to create a virtual credit card.
- Customize the virtual card settings, such as spending limits and expiration dates.
- Link the virtual card to your primary U.S. Bank credit card or checking account.
Brex is a financial technology company that offers virtual credit cards tailored explicitly for startups and small businesses. To obtain a virtual credit card from Brex, follow these steps:
- Visit the Brex website and sign up for an account.
- Provide the required information about your business.
- Once your account is approved, navigate to the virtual card section.
- Generate virtual credit cards with unique card numbers and security codes.
- Set spending limits and manage expenses through the Brex dashboard.
Divvy is a financial platform that provides businesses with virtual credit cards and expense management tools. Here’s how to get a virtual credit card from Divvy:
- Sign up for a Divvy account through their website.
- Verify your identity and provide relevant business information.
- Once your account is approved, access the virtual card feature.
- Generate virtual credit cards with individual card numbers and spending limits.
- Integrate the virtual cards into your expense management system for easy tracking and reconciliation.
Can virtual cards help protect your identity?
Yes, virtual cards can significantly contribute to protecting your identity. Since virtual credit cards use disposable card numbers for each transaction, they prevent the exposure of your actual credit card details. This safeguards your financial information from potential data breaches or unauthorized access. By minimizing the risk of fraud, virtual cards offer an added layer of security for online transactions.
A virtual card is a digital representation of a credit card that provides temporary and disposable card numbers for online transactions. In contrast, a physical credit card is a tangible card issued by a financial institution that can be used for online and offline purchases.
Virtual credit cards are designed with security in mind. Generating unique card numbers for each transaction reduces the risk of fraud and protects your sensitive financial information.
While virtual cards are widely accepted for online transactions, they may have limited acceptance in physical stores. They are primarily designed for use in e-commerce environments.
Virtual card numbers are temporary and disposable, generated for individual transactions. In contrast, mobile wallets and payment apps securely store your credit card information and allow you to pay through your smartphone or other devices.
The time to obtain a virtual credit card varies depending on the provider. Some issuers may offer instant virtual cards upon approval, while others may require a few business days to process the application and provide the virtual card details.