How to Use a Virtual Credit Card

Credit card fraud activities are common types of fraudulent activities online globally. However, there are several measures set up by credit card issuers to protect their customers from fraudulent purchases. One of the most common ways is by issuing cardholders virtual credit cards, especially for online purchases.

Therefore, a virtual credit card is a digital version of your credit card which you use for making transactions.

The virtual credit card has a unique 16-digit number that differs from the one on your credit card account number. Therefore, it will protect your credit card information while making transactions, preventing data breaches by online scammers. Usually, you will receive instant approval for a virtual credit card, depending on your credit card issuer.

Some financial platforms can generate single or multiple virtual credit cards for single or multiple uses.

Key Takeaways

·         You can only use virtual credit cards when making transactions and purchases online

·         You can pay an online merchant for their goods or services through websites using your virtual credit card

·         You can use virtual credit cards on online shops or websites that allow virtual credit cards as a payment method

How You Can Use a Virtual Credit Card

virtual credit card

A virtual credit card is used in place of a person’s physical credit card when conducting online transactions. The credit card issuer offers virtual credit cards after request even before your physical card arrives. Then, your credit card issuer will generate virtual credit card numbers that will be unique for every transaction.

Some card issuers allow the cardholder to store the virtual card numbers for the same merchants.

Your virtual credit card directly links to your credit card account since it is a digital version. Therefore, you will continue to enjoy the reward systems, cashback, and other programs on your credit card during transactions. Credit card issuers with a virtual assistant offer a downloadable program on a browser extension, like Microsoft Edge, for virtual account activation.

Thus, it will be easy for the card issuer to generate, store and track virtual credit cards for the user.

Some credit card companies allow you to activate the rewards program from your virtual credit card account. Thus, your online account will work similarly to your actual account number belonging to your credit account. The virtual credit card will have credit card limits, just like your physical credit card account.

It is necessary to know your credit card limit and stay within the limit even when using your virtual card. Virtual credit cards are only limited to making purchases online since they are digital versions.

How do Virtual Credit Card Work?

credit card information security

The main use of virtual credit cards for online transactions is to protect the user’s credit card information. Unique virtual credit card numbers will be generated for each transaction when you use a virtual credit card. Therefore, any credit account information will not be traced back to you in case of hacking as you shop online.

The virtual credit card will mask your credit card information, making it fraud proof against fraudulent purchases on your credit card.

You can create and store credit card information, including virtual credit cards, in your digital wallets, such as Google Pay. Digital wallets will securely carry your credit or debit card information, including your virtual card numbers. Therefore, you can retrieve a virtual card number for online transactions from your mobile wallet.

Storing your virtual card numbers in your mobile wallet makes it safer due to digital encryption for your data protection.

Some credit card companies allow users to activate the virtual credit card feature that allows users to track virtual numbers. Therefore, users will see transactions made by different virtual credit card numbers that the card issuer generates. However, a transaction made by a virtual credit card will not reflect on your physical credit card statement.

You will have more anonymity when using virtual credit cards due to your unique virtual card numbers.

How to Pay with a Virtual Credit Card

online shopping

You will need an existing credit card account and a physical card to know how to pay with a virtual card. However, major credit card issuers can generate virtual card numbers before the physical card arrives. Also, you should enquire with the online merchant if they accept a credit or debit card as a means of payment before purchase.

You cannot make in store purchases using a virtual credit card due to its digital form for online transactions.

Your virtual credit card must link to your credit card account when shopping online. Ensure you are within your spending limits on your credit card before making any transaction. When purchasing online, ensure that your credit card issuer generates a virtual account number for the transaction.

Once you make the transaction, ensure you key in the correct virtual credit card number to complete the transaction.

If you are worried about any data breach, a virtual credit card always guarantees the protection of credit card information. Data encryption is a common security feature for virtual credit cards to mask the user’s card information to avoid any data breach. Also, before making any transaction, you must go through authentication processes while using your virtual card.

Therefore, hackers will not connect your credit card to the virtual card numbers used for your transactions.

How to Use the Virtual Card Online

protection from online fraud

Online purchases with a virtual credit card are similar to purchasing with a traditional credit card. However, you will key in the unique virtual number when you need to enter your credit card number. Thus, ensure your credit card issue generates a virtual credit card number before starting any transaction.

You must request a virtual credit card before proceeding with any online purchase.

If the question “how do I use a virtual credit card” arises during online transactions, use the following steps:

(i)                 Select virtual credit card from the payment options

(ii)               Choose your virtual credit card number from your digital wallet, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, or through your browser extension

(iii)             The browser extension will fill in your virtual credit card information automatically

(iv)             You will require to take further authentication measures for identity verification

(v)               Alternatively, you can fill in the virtual card numbers manually by selecting the View Card option

(vi)             Then, key in the virtual account numbers instead of your actual credit card number

(vii)           Also, key in the expiration date and card verification value (CVV) of your temporary account number

(viii)         Complete checking out your transaction

You will receive your account statement after shopping online, separate from your actual credit card account. In case of any issue from an online merchant, you can produce the statement for use during the dispute process. However, any in store purchases will not go through when using virtual card numbers.

Additionally, virtual credit cards guarantee online fraud protection as you shop online.

Where Can I Use My Virtual Card?

online booking

You may find yourself wondering, “where and how do I use a virtual card” then you have come to the right place. A virtual credit card can work on any online website or store where participating merchants allow the use of virtual cards. Also, you can use virtual cards if you have stores that accept store credit cards with an online shopping platform.

Many websites will indicate the type of virtual credit and debit cards they prefer their customers to use.

It is important to check with the official website to know what type of virtual credit card the platform accepts. The table below shows some of the participating retailers that allow card not present transactions online:

Type of Retailers


1.      Convenience stores



(On their official shopping websites)

2.      Food delivery apps

Uber Eats




3.      Streaming platforms


Disney Plus



4.      Casino games and gambling platforms




5.      Booking a rental car and making reservations

6.      Other streaming platforms


What are the Pros and Cons of Using a Virtual Credit Card

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Pros of using virtual credit card

·         Virtual credit cards are very secure

Virtual credit cards offer an extra layer of data protection since you cannot use your actual card number for transactions. The card issuer will generate a temporary account number as your virtual credit card number. Also, many online shopping websites offer further verification and authentication of one’s identity during transactions, improving online security.

Your virtual credit card statements will differ from the statements you receive when using your physical cards.

·         You can use virtual credit cards more than once

Major credit card issues allow users to use virtual credit cards multiple times for transactions. Therefore, you can store a virtual card number you use multiple times for a specific online merchant. Additionally, you can cancel a virtual card and generate a new one in case of any data breaches or hacking.

Even though you can discard virtual credit card numbers after a transaction, you can store them securely in a digital wallet.

·         Virtual credit cards are convenient to use

Aside from being safe to use online, virtual credit cards are also very convenient for online transactions. They are readily available since the user can request a virtual card anywhere at any time. Using a virtual credit card to conduct online transactions is easy since it works similarly to a traditional card.

You can also store your virtual credit card information in your digital wallet for future use and transactions.

Cons of using virtual credit card

·         A dispute process involving a virtual card may take longer

If a consumer needs a refund, they must produce the virtual card they used during the transaction. If the virtual card expires, it will be hard for the buyer to produce actual proof of the transaction. Thus, the buyer may settle for store credit or exchanging for another product, depending on the merchant’s view.

Ensure you link your virtual credit card to your main account or digital wallet to track all your transactions.

·         Virtual credit cards have a limited use

Virtual cards are a digital version of your physical credit cards, thus, existing only in a digital space. Therefore, you cannot use them in store or even in other online spaces and websites. Only participating retailers can allow their users to make transactions with a virtual credit card.

Unlike mail order transactions, most places require the buyer to use their physical wallet for transactions.

·         Making reservations with a virtual credit card may be difficult

Many booking companies will require you to use a physical card to check in with hotel or flight reservations. You will need to verify transactions made through your virtual credit card, which may expire before your reservations. Therefore, it is important always to keep a clear record of all your transactions made by a virtual credit card.


A virtual credit card is a convenient way of making online purchases and transactions. Not only are they safe, but they are also affordable, easy to use, and offer fraud protection. Applying and requesting a virtual credit card from your credit card issuer offers instant approval in most cases.

Therefore, having a virtual credit card has many benefits for the user for making online purchases and transactions. Talk to your credit card issuer for further assistance in choosing a virtual credit card that suits your needs.


How to get a virtual credit card approved instantly

In most instances, many credit card companies offer instant virtual credit cards for their users. Virtual credit cards do not require too many steps to generate and use the cards for online transactions.

However, you may need to talk to your credit card issuer, especially if they offer several types of virtual credit cards.

How to get virtual credit cards with no deposit

Virtual credit cards are usually free of charge; thus, you will not require to purchase the card before use. Some credit card issuers offer a one-time charge on their virtual credit cards when they generate your virtual card. Virtual credit cards do not require a deposit before you use them, but you can set a spending limit.

Are virtual credit cards safer to use?

Virtual credit cards have a unique virtual card number different from your physical card number for data protection. Thus, you will not reveal your credit card information when making online purchases. Also, the virtual credit card numbers you use for transactions will not trace back to your credit card account.

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