Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser Disclosure

What is a virtual credit card and how do they work

Gain an extra layer of protection for when you shop online.

A virtual credit card is a security feature offered by some card providers that masks your real credit card numbers when shopping online. Using a virtual credit card can help keep your information safe, though not all providers offer the feature. Here’s how they work and how you can use them.

How does a virtual credit card work?

Virtual credit card’s are actually a program you receive from your provider. This program allows you to generate random credit card numbers that are connected with your real credit card. You can set dollar limits, expiration dates or even make one virtual card usable only at one merchant online. When you buy online, you use your virtual card number while keeping your real credit card number safe.

Which credit card issuers offer virtual credit cards?

As of this writing, Citi virtual cards and Capital One virtual cards are the most dominant — Capital One offers this feature on all of its cards and Citi on eligible credit cards.

Card issuerOffers virtual card
Capital Onecheckmark

Does American Express have a virtual credit card?

American Express doesn’t have a virtual credit card for consumer use, but it does have it for corporate use with Amex Go. The latter lets midsize and large companies issue virtual credit cards to their employees for company spending.

Does Chase have a virtual credit card?

Chase doesn’t offer virtual credit card numbers for online purchases.

Does Discover have a virtual credit card?

As of 2014, Discover has discontinued offering virtual credit card numbers to cardholders. Instead, Discover is focused on supporting digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Does USAA have a virtual credit card?

No, USAA doesn’t offer virtual credit card numbers to its cardholders. Instead, USAA supports mobile digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, which serve a similar purpose. The only downside is that digital wallets aren’t accepted everywhere, unlike virtual credit cards.

Does Mastercard have a virtual credit card?

Mastercard doesn’t have its own proprietary virtual credit card feature. Instead, you can use virtual credit card numbers for your Mastercard issued by Citi or Capital One, the only providers that offer this perk.

Does Mastercard have a virtual credit card alternative?

Mastercard has an alternative to a virtual credit card as it offers its own digital wallet called Masterpass. Similar to virtual credit cards, Masterpass helps you hide your credit card information from online merchants. But unlike virtual credit cards that have wide online acceptance, you can only use Masterpass at participating retailers.

Compare virtual card options

Compare virtual credit cards based on factors like benefits, annual fees, and APR intro offers, and find the option that best fits your financial needs.

1 - 3 of 4
Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit
Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit
Up to 5x miles
29.74% variable
The same rewards and $0 annual fee as the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, but for those with good credit.
Brex 30 Card
Up to 8x points
The first corporate card for startups. Ideal for ecommerce companies, there's no personal guarantee or security deposit needed, meaning your personal credit score won't be affected.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Up to 1.25x miles
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 19.24% - 29.24% variable)
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

Pros and Cons of virtual credit cards


  • Secure online shopping
  • No need to get a new credit card if your virtual card is compromised
  • Can set up dollar limits and expiration date of virtual cards
  • Can make one virtual card usable only at one online store
  • Can lock or delete a virtual card number whenever you want


  • Virtual cards can only be used online or by phone
  • If you’re not tech-savvy, it may feel overwhelming to figure out
  • It’s hard to make returns if your virtual card expires
  • Not recommended to use at merchants that require a physical credit card as proof

Bottom line

Virtual credit cards are a nice security feature if you often make purchases online. This helps you keep your real credit card information safe while exposing random credit card numbers that you create. Unfortunately, just a few issuers offer this feature at this time.

If you’re looking for a similar level of digital credit card security, take a look at digital wallets. Most credit cards support this feature, meaning you have your pick of all credit card options.

Frequently asked questions

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site