What is a virtual card and how do I get one?

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eduardo SEO Specialist and content production, I have worked in several renowned companies in Brazil and abroad. I write about money, technology and more!
virtual card

While you plan a purchase, many payment options are available, such as cash, check, credit card, and debit card. However, those are not the only choices in your hands. Less conventional than the alternatives above, a virtual card can do almost everything as a traditional card — except for not having a physical form and a permanent number — which can be handy for many things.

In this article, let’s see what a virtual card is, how to get one if it’s safe, and other amenities. Are you curious? Here is everything you need to know about it!

What is a virtual card?

Think of a virtual card as a digital version of your credit or debit card linked to your bank account. It works the same way as your physical bank card — purchasing goods or services. Since its purpose is for one-time use, you get a different virtual number each time, secured by encryption. This flexibility keeps your account data safe, so it can’t be used by anyone or anywhere else.

If a physical credit or debit card goes into your wallet, a virtual card, in turn, is stored on your phone. You can set spending limits and expiration dates for each number.

It can be used for online and in-app purchases, besides in-store pick-ups whenever the physical store enables the contactless mode — by mobile payment services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Otherwise, a virtual card applies only to online shopping.

How do I get a virtual card?

Most card issuers (e.g., American Express, Citi, MasterCard, Visa) offer the option to generate a virtual card as a way to protect your account against fraud whenever you shop online. After all, the number changes randomly for each different purchase.

So if you want one, the first step includes having a physical card, and then you can ask the company for a virtual card. You may request it by logging into your account online via web or app or by direct contact through a phone call (whichever is best for you). In some cases, downloading a specific app for the virtual card is required.

How do I use a virtual card?

Since a virtual card is similar to a physical bank card, using it to pay for a product or service is simple. It starts with shopping online and goes to the check-out process, where you provide your virtual card number to complete the purchase.

Any website that accepts credit card payments enables the use of virtual cards to proceed with your shopping. For physical stores, check if they support contactless payments by Apple Pay or Google Pay before making any purchase.

Can I use a virtual card at an ATM?

Sometimes. You can’t use a virtual card unless it’s a cardless ATM. Top banks are offering this option to simplify access to your cash whenever you need it in your hands. It requires specific apps installed on your phone, where you can access your digital wallet (Apple Pay or Google Pay) or scan a QR code to withdraw money from a cardless ATM.

However, this ATM totem must include your bank, and there is a limit to the amount available for withdrawal daily.

Is a virtual card safe?

Your virtual card will be linked to your bank account, the same as your credit and debit cards, although the number will change. Besides, every time you shop online, you have access to a randomly generated number, which is encrypted.

It adds an extra layer of security, leaving behind any worries about unauthorized charges once you spend online. Without a fixed number, a virtual card reduces the risk of fraudulent purchases and exposure in a breach.

How do I withdraw from a virtual card?

By traditional means, you can’t withdraw money from a virtual card due to its digital nature. Because when you do so using a physical card, you must insert it into the machine to start the process. However, it’s possible with enough funds in your bank account and through cardless ATM stations. It can be done by using a few apps from your phones, such as a specific app for your virtual card (if applied), Apple Pay, or Google Pay.

Does PayPal have virtual cards?

PayPal used to offer the PayPal Key, which provided a virtual card number to shop anywhere online — as long as the store accepted the MasterCard network — or to pay bills. The payment was charged directly from your PayPal account using the funds available. However, the platform no longer has it since April 20, 2022. Now the only option is a prepaid card that needs credit before you start managing any payment.

How was the reading so far? If you came all the way here, you know a virtual card is another option to consider when making purchases online with flexibility and safety. Using different numbers for every store reduces the risk of scams, but it’s not fraud-proof. Plus, it’s worth noting that card issuers give you protection against any fraudulent activity towards your virtual or physical card.

Cash, checks, credit and debit cards, or even a virtual card are not the only options you have in your hands. When it comes to a multi-currency account, Husky simplifies the whole process whenever you need a safe hand to send or receive money from one country to another.

Whether managing a single transfer or high volumes, companies can automate their financial routines to pay their employees no matter where they are. The same goes if you need to send money to friends or family.

Do you want to know more about Husky and how we help connect your payment flow? Check what we do!

eduardo SEO Specialist and content production, I have worked in several renowned companies in Brazil and abroad. I write about money, technology and more!