Top virtual credit cards UK

With fraud on the rise, find out how a virtual credit card could protect your financial details when you shop online.

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If you regularly shop online, using a virtual credit card can offer a safer shopping experience and reduce the risk of you becoming a victim of fraud. This guide explains how virtual credit cards work, who offers them and whether they are worth it.

Compare virtual credit cards

1 - 5 of 105
Name Product Finder Score Finder score Annual / Monthly fees One-time virtual card Virtual card available Representative APR Incentive Link
Amex® Cashback Everyday Credit Card
3.8
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
31% APR (variable)
Welcome offer: Get 5% cashback on your purchases (up to £100) for the first 3 months of Cardmembership. Terms and minimum spend apply. 18+, subject to status.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 31% APR (variable).
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The Platinum Card® by American Express
4.0
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£650 per annum
704.6% APR (variable)
New Cardmembers earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points when you spend £6,000 in the first 3 months of Cardmembership. T&Cs Apply. UK 18+, subject to status.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31.0% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £650 per annum, your representative rate is 704.6% APR (variable).
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American Express® Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card
4.0
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £195 per annum
88.8% APR (variable)
Limited time offer: New Cardmembers earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend £3,000 in your first 3 months of Cardmembership. Plus, spend anything in month 15 and get 5,000 Membership Rewards® points. Offer ends 16 July. Terms Apply. 18+, subject to status.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a. with a fee of Year 1 - £0, Year 2 onwards - £195 per annum, your representative rate is 88.8% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
British Airways American Express® Credit Card
4.0
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
31% APR (variable)
Earn 5,000 points when you spend £1,000 within 3 months of account opening. Terms apply. UK 18+, subject to status. Earn 1 Avios for virtually every £1 spent.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 31% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 31% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Santander Everyday No Balance Transfer Fee Credit Card
3.5
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
23.9% APR (variable)
Sign up for Santander Boosts to receive cashback, vouchers, offers and prize draws from selected retailers.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 23.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
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Name Product Finder Score Finder score Annual / Monthly fees One-time virtual card Virtual card available Representative APR Incentive Link
CASHBACK
Capital on Tap Business Credit Card
4.2
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
35.2% APR (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 of card spend. Redeem 1 point for 1p (1% cashback)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 35.15% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 35.2% APR (variable).
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CASHBACK
Capital on Tap Business Credit Card (+optional Business Rewards)
4.2
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£99 per annum
35.2% APR (variable)
Earn points on all card spend. Points can be redeemed for Avios or 1% cashback. 10,000 bonus points when £5,000 is spent on card in first 3 months.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 35.15% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 35.2% APR (variable). Optional upgrade to Business Rewards (£99 per year).
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Payhawk Corporate Visa Card
4.2
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
Subject to subscription
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Earn up to 1% cashback on all eligible card spend up to the amount of your subscription.

Debite corporate card
3.8
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
£0
N/A (this product is a charge card).
Earn 4% cashback for the first 3 months on card spending. Cashback is credited to your account after 30 days. Cashback is capped at £1,000 a month.

Moss Business Card
3.5
★★★★★
★★★★★
Expert analysis
Subject to plan
N/A (this product is a charge card).

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Approval for any credit card depends on your status. The representative APRs shown represent the interest rate offered to most successful applicants. Depending on your personal circumstances, the APR you're offered may be higher, or you may not be offered credit at all. Fees and rates are subject to change without notice. It's always wise to check the terms of any deal before you borrow. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables is provided by Moneyfacts.

What is a virtual credit card and how does it work?

A virtual credit card is a temporary credit card number that you can use when shopping online. It does not exist as a physical card and you cannot use it to withdraw cash at an ATM.

Just like a standard credit card, your virtual card will have a randomly generated 16-digit card number, a CVV code and an expiry date.

Once you’re ready to pay for your items online, you simply enter your virtual credit card details and pay as normal. Your card will be linked to your physical credit card or your bank account so the payment will show up on your account statement as usual.

Virtual credit cards are designed to protect you from having your credit card information stolen. No financial data is disclosed to the merchant, which means your bank account or credit card details won’t be stored by the online retailer. This means that should the retailer become a victim of a cyber attack, for example, fraudsters will not be able to access your personal or financial information.

Some virtual cards give you the option of being able to lock them after each use to prevent any further transactions. Others are designed for one use only so the card will no longer be valid once you’ve made a purchase.

Depending on your lender’s definition, virtual cards are sometimes classed as cards that you can add to your phone’s wallet or cards that you can use to pay directly through an app.

Are virtual credit cards available in the UK?

A number of digital-only banks now offer virtual cards, but note that these are debit rather than credit cards. These include Revolut, Monese, Monzo and Starling Bank. We also have an in-depth guide on virtual debit cards.

With Revolut, you can choose between a standard and a disposable virtual card. The Revolut virtual card works in the same way as your regular Revolut card and you can freeze or unfreeze it as you wish. The Revolut disposable virtual card is for single use only.

At Monese, every customer can set up 1 virtual card per currency account which you can lock immediately after each transaction and unlock again when you need it. You can also link your virtual card to Apple Pay and Google Pay for ease of use.

Starling Bank also lets customers add digital (or virtual) cards to their digital wallet through the Starling app.

Another option you could consider is Bits. This is a virtual credit card, but you can only use it to make purchases in the Bits store. Each month, you’ll be charged a subscription fee to your card and your card will then automatically pay off the fee. This payment will be reported to credit reference agencies with the aim of helping you build up a credit history. You can find out more in our Bits review.

How do I get a virtual credit card?

Because virtual cards are only offered by digital banks in the UK, you will typically need to create one in your provider’s app.

There will usually be a “cards” section within the app where you may instantly create at least 1 virtual card. It’s here that you can also freeze and unfreeze your card whenever you need to.

How does PayPal Credit work?

PayPal Credit is a credit limit attached to your Paypal account that lets you spread the cost of online purchases in monthly instalments. It works like a virtual credit card as you won’t receive any plastic in the post.

With PayPal Credit, you’ll benefit from a 4-month interest-free period on each eligible purchase – simply select PayPal Credit as your funding source at the checkout. Provided you have sufficient available credit, you’ll get the 0% for 4 months each time you make a purchase. However, the big catch is that you will need to spend £99 or more either in 1 transaction or on your checkout basket total. Any purchases under this amount will be charged interest.

What are the drawbacks of a virtual credit card?

Perhaps the biggest drawback to using a virtual credit card is that it can only be used online, not in-store. You also won’t be able to use a virtual card for cash withdrawals, although this isn’t generally recommended for standard credit cards either.

Virtual credit cards can also be problematic if you are using them to book a hotel room or flights as you might be asked to show the purchasing card as proof of identification when you arrive.

Similarly, if you need to return an item you’ve bought online, it can be difficult to get a refund as some retailers will only put the funds back on the card used to make the original purchase. This will be impossible if the card has expired or you used a single-use virtual card and you may need to accept store credit instead.

What are the benefits of a virtual credit card?

One of the main benefits of using a virtual credit card is that it adds a layer of security between yourself and identity thieves when shopping online.

When you use a virtual credit card, your financial details are invisible to the merchant, which means there’s little risk of a fraudster being able to access them. If a hacker gets hold of your virtual card details, you simply close the card without it affecting your entire account.

Virtual credit cards are not connected to your personal information either, such as your email address, address or phone number, making them better from a data protection point of view.

In addition, most virtual cards allow you to set a spending limit so it can be easier to budget.

Pros and cons of virtual credit cards

Pros

  • Adds a layer of security between yourself and identity thieves
  • You can often set a spending limit, making them ideal for budgeting
  • Your personal data is better protected
  • Designed to be convenient
  • Can be deactivated instantly via your card’s app

Cons

  • You can only use them for online purchases
  • It can be difficult to provide proof of purchase
  • If the card has expired or you’ve used a single-use card, it can be hard to get a refund
  • Not many one-time virtual card options in the UK

Would a standard credit card be better?

This will depend on personal preference and what you’re planning to use your credit card for. But there is nothing stopping you from having both a virtual card and a standard credit card.

If you need to make purchases in-store or you’re booking accommodation or flights, using a physical credit card will likely be the better choice.

However, if you’re shopping online, you want to keep an eye on your budget and if you’re concerned about online fraud, a virtual credit card might be a worthy addition to your virtual wallet.

Bottom line

Virtual credit cards have an important part to play in the world of online shopping. As well as reducing the risk of fraud, they are also safer from a data protection point of view. However, at the moment, they are still a relatively new concept and will not be suitable for all types of transactions. For this reason, it can be a good idea to have both a virtual and a physical card.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.
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Written by

Rachel Wait

Rachel Wait is a freelance journalist and has been writing about personal finance for more than a decade, covering everything from insurance to mortgages. She has written for a range of personal finance websites and national newspapers, including The Observer, The Mail on Sunday, The Sun and the Evening Standard. Rachel is a keen baker in her spare time. See full profile

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