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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 card
QuadPay Visa CardRead more
Which credit card issuers offer virtual credit cards?
|Card issuer||Offers virtual card|
|Bank of America|
How to use a virtual credit card
Using your virtual credit card depends on the issuer. Here’s how it works with Citi credit cards:
- Visit cardbenefits.citi.com/Products/Virtual-Account-Numbers.
- Click Enroll In / Get.
- Sign in to your online Citi account.
- Select web-based virtual credit card numbers generator or download the PC version.
- Select the credit card you want to connect with the virtual card.
- Click Generate.
Capital One has a different approach:
- Add Eno® from Capital One® extension for Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Firefox browsers.
- Click the extension and log in with your Capital One account username and password.
- Verify your identity and credit card account if required.
- Visit any shopping website. At checkout, Eno will automatically pop up and create a virtual credit card number.
- Add a nickname to that virtual card, such as “Walmart” or “Target”.
- Use the virtual card information at check out.
Compare virtual card options
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.
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