Making online purchases or payments for your small business is convenient and sometimes — for example, during the COVID-19 pandemic — necessary. However, between data leaks and website hackings, having your sensitive payment information on the web can be risky.The solution? Getting a virtual credit card for your small business. Here’s why you should get one and our choices for the top virtual cards for your business. We’ll also go through how to land instant approval for a virtual credit card and how to get a free online credit card.
What Is a Virtual Credit Card?
This is a disposable, online version of your regular debit or credit card. Instead of a physical card with a magnetic stripe or chip, you’ll get a 16-digit number and an expiration date. A virtual credit card is linked to your main credit card account, but it generates card numbers that can be used for a single transaction and then electronically trashed. Or it can create a number that can be used multiple times for the same merchant. This makes a business virtual card safer than using your existing card, which can be used fraudulently if the numbers are recorded anywhere by someone unauthorized.
An online virtual credit card offers added security for online commerce transactions, combining aspects of a typical credit card with digital banking options.
What Are the Benefits of an Online Virtual Credit Card?
When you use an online virtual credit card to make purchases, you reduce your risk of being a victim of fraud. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received more than 2.1 million fraud reports in 2020, with online shopping in the second-most commonly reported fraud category. There were also 1,001 data breaches in the U.S. in 2020, according to Statista, and more than 155.8 million people experienced data exposures.
A virtual credit card’s impermanence is the key to its security success. A single-use number ensures the verification data sent to a seller is unique. A multi-use virtual card number can be dedicated to a particular vendor or other entity. The technology is similar to an electronic chip on a modern credit card: It creates a new token each time the card is used. Because the token can only be used once, it’s useless for anyone to steal it.
A virtual credit card is more convenient because you don’t have to have a physical card to complete an online purchase. You access virtual cards for your business from a protected format on an electronic device.
In addition, you can:
- Try out new technology options: An online virtual credit card enables you to try new buying technology without taking on much risk.
- Safe to share: You no longer need to reimburse your employees for purchases they make using their own funds on the company’s behalf, which saves time, paperwork and accounting issues.
- Simplified returns: Paying taxes is easier because you can record purchases based on custom rules you put in place.
- Safe subscription options: You can use a virtual credit card for recurring payments such as a monthly subscription. While some virtual cards for business are geared for single-use, others can be used repeatedly. You simply set the card to be valid until a specific date.
Manage spending limits: The account holder can set a spending limit on a virtual credit card. If it gets stolen, it can’t be used for more than the set amount. This also prevents accidental overspending by your employees.
3. Simple to Close
With a virtual card, you can easily close the account in the event of a data breach. Most card providers allow you to lock or delete a virtual account number if it’s compromised, which prevents anyone from making fraudulent purchases — without affecting your main credit card account. You can also then create a new card number.
In contrast, if your regular credit card is compromised, closing an account means having to get your main credit card account number reissued, and then you can continue using it. Getting a new number can be inconvenient and time-consuming, especially if you’ve set it up with several vendors to cover recurring payments.
4. You Can Get an Instant Virtual Credit Card
Major credit card companies offer instant approval for virtual cards. Companies such as Capital One and Chase enable you to create a virtual credit card for each merchant you do business with using an online tool connected to your bank account.
Virtual credit card details take the place of the real account information when you check out, but the purchase is still applied against your regular account. Essentially, you’re not getting approval for credit, because you already have that, so it’s simple to offer instant virtual credit card approval.
Related: The Smartest Way to Use a Business Credit Card
Best Virtual Credit Card Options
There are several apps and credit card providers that can supply virtual card numbers. Here are some of our top choices:
This cloud-based platform manages your accounts payable. You can pay invoices with single-use virtual credit card accounts and add security by setting dollar amounts and expiration dates to each payment.
Capital One boasts that the Virtual Card Relay can also integrate with your current payment system. Business owners can also earn rewards on payments.
While Capital One Virtual Card Relay is specifically for corporate customers, Eno covers consumer credit card users. If you’re a Capital One customer, you can add the Eno extension to your browser to generate virtual credit card numbers for your purchases and payments. The Eno extension also tracks spending, provides suspected fraud alerts and offers 24/7 assistance.
Click To Pay
This is a checkout option for thousands of online retailers. Click To Pay covers American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Discover transactions across multiple devices. When you make a purchase through Click To Pay, it generates a token to shield your data.
Certain Citi card users can obtain virtual account numbers to create single-use card details to be used at any merchant’s online checkout. This service is available on only some Citi cards.
This option from American Express is for corporate card users. vPayment creates a single-use online virtual credit card account number to complete your payments. You can add pre-authorization data for verification purposes; this includes payment amounts and date ranges.
American Express Go is another option you can use if you already have physical and virtual cards for business through American Express. This is among the best virtual credit card programs for employee and contractor expenses. These virtual credit cards can be accessed through a mobile app, with the option of adding them to mobile wallets.
How to Get a Free Virtual Card
Often a big bank will offer a free online card as a benefit. Log in to your credit card account and look in the “benefits” section to see if virtual account numbers are a choice. Artificial intelligence-driven apps, such as Eno and checkout options such as Click To Pay, immediately create virtual numbers and tokens.
How to Apply for One
Individual credit card issuers usually offer virtual card programs only for their customers and the way you apply for a free virtual card depends on the issuer. This guide can help you learn how to research and apply for a business credit card.
Keep in Mind
It’s important to remember that applying for a virtual credit card isn’t the same as applying for credit. To be clear, you are applying to use your existing credit account securely for online purchasing.
Log in to your online banking or credit card account to see whether your institution offers virtual cards and review the requirements to obtain one. If you don’t have a credit card account, apply for one online.
A virtual card is a unique credit card number that's generated on-demand. It's linked to your physical card and can be used online or over the phone with a merchant.What is a virtual business credit card? ›
A virtual card is a unique credit card number that's generated on-demand. It's linked to your physical card and can be used online or over the phone with a merchant.Which credit card company offers virtual card? ›
Currently, 2 major issuers offer a complete virtual credit card solution for personal cards: Citi and Capital One (via Eno). Other issuers, including American Express, Chase, and Discover, may offer similar solutions, but these aren't exactly the same as virtual credit cards.Is it legal to have a virtual credit card? ›
Major credit card companies like Mastercard, Visa, Capital One, and American Express issue virtual credit card numbers as a way to provide an additional layer of security for online purchases or to limit spend to an account. Virtual credit cards are completely legal and available for mainstream use.Are virtual business cards worth it? ›
In the end, we can say that both paper-based and digital business cards are excellent for making an impression and brand exposure. Both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. But whether you opt for digital or paper business cards, you must design them professionally for an impact.What are the disadvantages of virtual credit cards? ›
Disadvantages of virtual credit card
On the consumer side, when you buy office supplies or a plane ticket, you must show your credit card when you physically need to pick the item. As a result, the virtual card number you used online will not match the credit card number you have.
- Go to pay.google.com.
- At the top left, tap Menu. Payment methods.
- Find the card that you want.
- Tap Turn on virtual card. Only cards that support virtual card numbers have this option.
- Tap Turn on. Got it. Under your card, you'll find “Manage virtual card.”
Virtual Visa and MasterCards are generally valid for use online or over the phone worldwide wherever Visa or MasterCard Debit is accepted, but are only intended for use online or over the phone (like for a catalog order or to make a one time payment on a bill via phone).What is the name for a virtual credit card? ›
A virtual card, sometimes called a temporary card number or anonymous card number, is a credit or debit card number that can be created through a website or mobile app, and does not come with a physical card.How much does it cost to create a virtual card? ›
There is no cost to create a virtual card, however there is a small service fee applied when using a virtual card to make a purchase. Each transaction fee costs 2.99% of the purchase price + $0.31. A merchant such as Amazon might split your purchase into multiple shipments and only charge when each item is shipped.
Free – Your first virtual card is free of charge, and there are no fees attached to your online transactions.Do people use virtual business cards? ›
Yes, digital business cards are absolutely worth it. These virtual networking tools can help you maximize your networking efforts in a contactless, cost-effective, and eco-friendly manner.Can I create virtual credit card free? ›
That information can't be used anywhere else and the cardholder's real card information is safe. So, credit card issuers that offer instant virtual credit cards typically let you create one for each merchant you use, for free.What are the risks of virtual cards? ›
Doesn't eliminate fraud risk: While virtual credit cards can increase security in many ways, they also introduce new fraud risk. If a cybercriminal accesses your credit card account, for example, they could generate multiple virtual credit card numbers to potentially bypass fraud alerts.Can a virtual credit card be traced? ›
Virtual credit cards can't prevent fraud from happening, but someone does try to steal your information, they provide peace of mind in two important ways: the virtual card cannot be traced back to your original credit card number and you have the ability to cancel the virtual card immediately without closing your ...Are virtual business cards safe? ›
With digital business cards, you can safely share your contact details with anyone, anywhere. By sharing your digital business cards as an Apple or Google Wallet pass, you can get done with physical business cards to ensure a safe transfer of your contact information.How do I create a digital business card on my iPhone? ›
- Download HiHello. You can download HiHello for free from the App Store. ...
- Create a free account. ...
- Enter your information. ...
- Add a photo. ...
- Tap the card you want to edit. ...
- Tap Edit. ...
- Pick a color a logo, and more. ...
- Preview and save your card.
The credit card limit given is 100% of the deposit amount. Up to ₹5,000 per transaction in contactless payments are accepted without a PIN.How long does a virtual credit card last? ›
A virtual credit card number is a randomly-generated card number associated with your actual credit card. Depending on the issuer, you may be able to set a maximum charge for the virtual number, further protecting your transaction. And typically you can set it to expire in anywhere up to a year from its creation date.Why my virtual credit card is declined? ›
You have insufficient funds available in your funding source at the time that you attempted the transaction with the merchant using your virtual card. This is because we charge your funding source at the time that you perform the transaction with the merchant.
Get a virtual debit card instantly from Zil, a cloud-based banking platform, and start using it as soon as you apply for it. Zil virtual cards are an easy way to spend more securely and safely.Does PayPal offer a virtual credit card? ›
This virtual card information is single online use which is valid for 24 hours only. PayPal is not able to duplicate the virtual credit card information if it is not copied. If you misplaced the virtual credit card information, you would need to apply again.Can someone use my credit card with just the number and CVV? ›
Is it possible for someone to use your debit or credit card with just the card number and the CVV? Yes, this type of fraud is known as "card-not-present" fraud, as the thief does not have possession of the physical card. This type of fraud is becoming more common with the rise of online shopping and e-commerce.What is the difference between a virtual card and a digital card? ›
The virtual card is a 100% electronic card and enables you to use your smartphone to make payments, shop online, send/receive money, and make money transfers. On the contrary, digital cards have a physical presence but do not allow the receipt of funds.Can I withdraw money from ATM with virtual card? ›
4. Can I withdraw cash from ATMs with a virtual card? Yes, the virtual card allows you to withdraw cash from ATMs that support contactless use.How do I get a virtual credit card number? ›
Where and How To Get a Virtual Card. If you have a credit card, you may already have access to a virtual card number. To find out, simply log into your online bank or card account and search for “Virtual Card Number” or “Virtual Account Number.”How do I process a virtual credit card? ›
- Get a credit card. ...
- Log into your online credit card account and go to your account settings. ...
- Download the virtual card issuer's app to access the card number, if need be. ...
- Accept the 16-digit virtual credit card number that's generated for you.
Log in to the Capital One Mobile app or sign in to your Capital One account online. Under your credit card balance, tap Get Your Virtual Card. Not seeing this button? Tap on your credit card account and under Recent Transactions, tap Virtual Card.What is a burner credit card? ›
Burner cards are single-use virtual payment cards that can help you reduce the risk of online shopping fraud. In other words, it's a virtual card that expires automatically after the transaction, which makes it ideal for one-time expenses. A burner card can be a virtual credit card or virtual debit card.How to create free virtual Visa card? ›
- Step 1) Get a Credit card.
- Step 2) Log into your credit card account online and go to its settings.
- Step 3) Download the virtual card issuer's app if needed and log into the app.
- Step 4) Search for a Virtual credit card and access the card number.
A Visa Virtual Card is a payment card you can easily create yourself on your phone using the Ecobank mobile app. Create one on the go and load it with cash. It's a secure way to use funds electronically and means you don't have to carry actual cards with you.What is the best use for virtual cards? ›
Virtual cards are ideal for online shopping as they provide a secure and convenient way to make purchases without the need for a physical credit card. They can also be used for recurring payments, such as subscription services, which can help users better manage their expenses.What banks offer free virtual cards? ›
Some notable examples of banks offering virtual cards are HDFC, SBI, SBI, ICICI, and many others.Do virtual cards need billing address? ›
This address is used as part of the payment verification process when checking out at a merchant's site making a purchase. The address can be any address, however it should be a real address. You will need to use this same address in the billing address field on a merchant's site when making a purchase.What is an instant virtual card? ›
A virtual card is not a physical, plastic card. Instead, it is a set of sixteen digits similar to a credit card number together with a CVV code that is randomly generated using software. Virtual cards can be either credit or debit cards.Can I use my phone as a business card? ›
You can create these cards online or via a Digital Business Card App. Allowing you to carry virtual business cards on your favorite devices. Smartphones, smartwatches, tablets and laptops can all be used to share your contact details on the go.What is the benefit of virtual business card? ›
- It is Easy to Share. A digital business card can easily be shared with clients and other people, and it can be sent to them in a number of ways. ...
- You can Stand Out from the Rest. ...
- You can Store Information Conveniently. ...
- You can Update Easily. ...
- It is Eco-friendly.
May 5, 2023
A digital business card allows you to share your contact information easily and quickly with new connections, and helps to set you apart from the competition. Let's dive into this new way to share your info and expand your network.
You do not necessarily need to have a bank account before you can create a virtual card. The essential requirements to begin the process of using a free virtual card are a personal computer, smartphone, or tablet with a good connection to the internet.Does venmo have a virtual card? ›
A virtual card number is available to you in the Venmo app as soon as you are approved for the Venmo Credit Card. That number can be used for online purchases and you can also request a new virtual number in the Venmo app (which deactivates your previous virtual card number).
Virtual credit card numbers can be provided for one-time use but can also be used multiple times — it's up to you as the cardholder.How many times can a virtual card be used? ›
A virtual credit card is a one-time, randomly generated 16-digit credit card number you can use for purchases.Can a virtual card be stolen? ›
After a transaction, an EMV chip card still exists as a physical object. A virtual credit card, on the other hand, ceases to exist entirely. So, even if a fraudster manages to steal your card data, that data is useless once the card number expires.Do virtual credit cards have CVV? ›
Virtual cards are similar to physical debit cards - they have their own card number, CVV and expiry date, but they don't arrive in the post.How do I transfer money from my virtual card to my bank account? ›
By connecting to your online account, you should be able to make transfers to bank accounts. Another way to transfer money from a virtual card to a bank account is to link your virtual card to PayPal account. PayPal has an option to transfer money to a bank account and you are good to go!How does a virtual credit card number work? ›
A virtual credit card number is a limited-use code tied to a credit card you already have. You can request a one-time virtual credit card number from your card issuer, if it offers this feature, to use for an online purchase.How do virtual business cards work? ›
Digital or electronic business cards—powered by dynamic QR Codes—safely store your contact information in an online format known as . vcf (virtual contact file). This contact information card can be conveniently shared in numerous ways—via your Apple or Google Wallet, email signature, social media, etc.What is the difference between a credit card and a virtual credit card? ›
Virtual and physical credit cards serve the same purpose of making payments, with one basic distinction between them - virtual cards are only available for online purchases, while physical cards can be used in person as well. That just might be the only advantage physical cards have over virtual ones.What is the point of a virtual credit card number? ›
Virtual credit card numbers are a convenient way to make credit card purchases online. You may see them called virtual credit cards or virtual card numbers, and they allow you to shop online without giving merchants your actual card number.How long does a virtual card last? ›
A virtual credit card number is a randomly-generated card number associated with your actual credit card. Depending on the issuer, you may be able to set a maximum charge for the virtual number, further protecting your transaction. And typically you can set it to expire in anywhere up to a year from its creation date.
Where can I use a virtual card? A virtual debit card can be used just like you would use a physical bank card. In addition to online purchases, you can use a virtual card for contactless payments in stores by adding it to Apple Pay or Google Pay. Some even allow you to withdraw money from ATMs.