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Virtual Credit Cards: How They Work and How to Get Them
An extra layer of protection for when you online shop.
When you use your credit card to make online purchases, your information can potentially be exposed to fraudsters and hackers. Using a virtual credit card, however, will keep your information safe. It also helps ensure you won’t get locked into certain hard-to-cancel online subscriptions.
What is a virtual credit card and how does it work?
A virtual credit card is a security feature offered by some card providers that masks your real credit card numbers when shopping online.
It works like this: you get a virtual credit card generator from your provider. This allows you to generate random credit card numbers that are connected with your real credit card. You can set dollar limits, expiry date or even make one virtual card usable only at one merchant online. So when you buy online, you use your virtual card number, while keeping your real credit card number safe. This is one of the latest credit card security techniques meant to fight identity theft and fraud.
Our pick for a virtual credit card number
Citi® Double Cash CardRead more
Which credit card issuers offer virtual credit cards?
|Card issuer||Offers virtual card|
|Bank of America|
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 mid-size and large companies issue virtual credit cards to their employees for company spending.
Does Chase have a virtual credit card?
Unfortunately, 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.
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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 expiry 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 who require a physical credit card as proof
Virtual credit cards are an awesome 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.
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