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Virtual debit cards: What are they and where to get one
Virtual debit cards let you shop via online, phone or digital wallet without needing a card in hand.
Debit cards give you convenient access to funds in your checking account. And virtual debit cards let you do that without a physical card online or by using your smartphone at the checkout.
What is a virtual debit card?
A virtual debit card is essentially a digital version of a plastic debit or prepaid card. Like a physical card, your virtual debit card will have a 16-digit card number, expiration date and CVC code. If your bank offers a virtual debit card, it will send you the card via email or through your online account. From there, you can add the card to your digital wallet or use the virtual card’s number to pay for purchases online or over the phone. Banks don’t charge for virtual or physical debit cards — they come with the account.
Many virtual cards have randomly generated numbers for added security when shopping. If the number is compromised, you can quickly cancel the virtual card and generate a new number without losing access to your entire account.
Compare bank accounts with a virtual debit card
See banks with online checking accounts that offer virtual debit cards. Compare based on their opening deposits and ATM network for the most access.
Banks and accounts with virtual debit cards
These banks either give you a free digital debit card to use for purchases, or they allow you to control your debit card via their app.
|Bank||How does the virtual card work?||How to control your card virtually||Get a card / account|
|Chase||Add your Chase debit card to a digital wallet like Paypal, Google Pay or Apple Pay from your Chase app.|
Using the Jassby app, choose View card from the overview.
Use the card’s information for online or phone purchases or add to your digital wallet.
|Go to Site|
|Bank of America||Request to replace your physical card with a digital debit card via the app’s Manage Cards section|
Add the Eno browser extension to your browser, then register your Capital One cards.
The Eno extension generates virtual card numbers linked to your physical card. Each merchant gets its own virtual card number, stored automatically with Eno for quick future purchases.
Go to More / My Cards section in the app and Create a card.
Once saved, the card appears automatically in the app. You can tap to view the card’s details.
Access your digital debit Mastercard from the app as soon as you sign up for the account.
This virtual prepaid card is tied to a digital bank account.
|NetSpend®||Create up to six virtual cards to use for shopping online or by phone.|
Not technically a virtual card, all new PNC cards come with contactless technology, including cards issued with a PNC Virtual Wallet account. Simply tap the card to card readers with the EMVCo Contactless symbol.
Create up to 20 virtual cards and one disposable card by going to Cards > Add card > Virtual debit card.
Then, get the card information by going to Cards and tapping the eye icon.
How to get a virtual debit card
Get a virtual debit card in four steps:
1. Sign up for your prepaid card or bank account. Once you’ve chosen your prepaid card or bank account, follow the account’s prompts to apply for the account and sign up.
2. Receive the virtual debit card number. You should receive your card number via email or through your online account once the process is complete. The bank may also give you a virtual debit card in your bank app before it sends you the physical card.
3. Fund your prepaid card account. If you chose a prepaid card, you’ll need to load funds by linking the prepaid card account with another bank account or by depositing checks or cash, whatever the prepaid card account allows.
3. Add the card to your digital wallet or Paypal account, if you prefer. If you haven’t already, download the app for the digital wallet that you choose like Apple Pay, Google Pay or Paypal. Navigate to the Add payment method section and enter your card’s number and billing address. Some banks also let you add a card to your digital wallet and tap to use their ATMs, which is a feature called cardless ATMs.
4. Use your virtual debit card. Use the card by unlocking your phone and tapping to pay through your digital wallet, or by entering the virtual debit card number online or over the phone.
Benefits of a virtual debit card
Using a virtual debit card has a number of advantages, including:
- Security. If you’re using a virtual debit card that generates a random card number, this will help keep your funds secure when shopping online.
- Convenience. You won’t need to bring a physical debit card with you to complete transactions in-store. You can pay with your smartphone.
- Speed. You won’t need to wait for a card to be delivered when you sign up for a new account or if your card expires. With the new digital banks, you may be able to use your virtual card as soon as your account is active.
- Card options. There are single- and multi-use virtual debit cards available to suit your online payment needs, and you can use a prepaid card or link it to your bank account or credit provider.
- Currency options. Some providers also offer multi-currency prepaid debit cards, allowing you to save on currency conversion fees when buying from overseas retailers.
Drawbacks to a virtual debit card
Keep in mind virtual debit cards may not suit everyone.
- May not work in person. Some physical stores don’t accept contactless payments yet, so there may be restrictions on where you can use a virtual debit card.
- Card limits. Financial institutions commonly set limits for how much you can put on a contactless card in a single purchase, so keep this in mind when comparing your options.
- Bypasses EMV chip technology. Using the virtual version of a debit card bypasses the chip technology that many physical debit cards provide for in-store purchases. However, digital wallets do assign your card with a different number than your actual debit card number for security purposes.
You can get a virtual debit card if your bank offers one or if you sign up for a prepaid card account that offers virtual cards. You can also use a virtual version of your debit card by adding the card details to a digital wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay. These options are similar to virtual credit cards, which offer a different digital number than your real credit card for security purposes.
If you’re interested in using a virtual card, compare bank accounts to find one either with virtual or contactless payment options, or simply fill up your digital wallet on your phone and leave your physical card at home.
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