Virtual Credit Cards

What they are and how to use them.

Tech Term

Virtual Credit Card

What is a virtual credit card?

A virtual credit card is a temporary credit card issued through the carrier for your existing physical credit card. Not all banks support virtual credit cards, but many of the major institutions do. You can restrict the dates it is valid and the spending limit as you see fit—as well as whether you are authorizing the card for single use or multiple transactions.

A virtual card is most often used online, but in some cases may also used for payments made by phone. It allows you to issue payments to vendors without giving them your full account information so if the virtual card is compromised, you do not need to get your original card reissued and your PII is not at risk. In this case, you will only need to discontinue that virtual credit card number.

When should I use a virtual card?

It is a good idea to use a virtual card anytime you are online, but especially at vendors you do not completely trust. Virtual cards can also be helpful in family spending scenarios to keep spending within limits and easy to monitor. They can be applied within an organization with the same limits and ease of management in mind.

How do I get a virtual credit card number?

Sign into the online portal for your existing credit card account. First, check whether virtual card numbers are available. If it is not immediately apparent, typing “virtual credit card” into the search bar may be of help. Navigate to “Create a virtual credit card,” or your bank’s comparable tab. Add any advanced settings you may want such as expiry, spending limit, and whether it is for single or multi-use. Once you confirm your options, a virtual card number with its own expiration date will be generated. You may use it immediately.

How do I use a virtual credit card?

Simply put the virtual card number and specifics in when you are checking out at any online retailer.


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