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American Express Virtual Credit Card—Features, Eligibility, and Setup

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Oct 23, 2023
 Min Read

The rising frequency of payment card fraud is one of the major factors causing an increased interest in and need for virtual cards. These cards are an effective solution against cybercriminals, masking your real financial information during online transactions and protecting it from getting stolen in case of a breach on a merchant's server. 

Nowadays, many banks and fintech companies provide virtual card services. One such example is American Express®, a renowned online-only bank that allows its eligible cardholders to generate and use virtual cards with their Google accounts[1].

In this article, you can learn about the American Express virtual credit card and find out:

  • What it is
  • How to use it
  • Who qualifies for it
  • How to apply

The provided information is valid as of September 2023. Visit the official American Express website or contact the bank directly for the latest updates.

Source: Frugal Flyer

What Is the Amex Virtual Card Number?

The American Express virtual credit card, which the company named the Amex virtual card number, is a digital payment solution that substitutes the user’s physical card, ensuring their real financial information is never shared with merchants[1].

The user can acquire an Amex virtual card number by connecting the eligible Amex card to their Google account[1]. They can then use the virtual card to shop wherever Amex cards are accepted[1]. Currently, users can shop with the virtual card number:

  • From their desktop or mobile device via Google Chrome[1]
  • In Android apps, where available[1]

The Amex virtual card number is suitable for one-time purchases only and shouldn’t be used for recurring payments[1]. Purchases made with the virtual card will appear on the user’s bank statements the same way as transactions made with their standard credit card[1].

The virtual card number lets users enjoy most benefits that regular Amex credit cards provide, such as Membership Rewards® points, Amex Offers discounts or bonuses, and security features[1]. However, the virtual card is not eligible for use with the Membership Rewards® Pay with Points at Checkout feature[1].

Amex Virtual Card Number vs. Instant Card Number vs. vPayment

It is important to note that Amex offers two additional features similar to the virtual card number—the Instant Card Number and vPayment. Although they share some common traits, these payment options have distinct use cases. To avoid confusion, understand the differences between these two services:

  • Instant Card Number–This is a feature that gives eligible users the ability to access their newly approved card digitally while they’re waiting for the physical version to arrive in the mail. The users can also add the new card to one of five digital wallet options.
  • vPayment–This is a virtual payment solution designed for businesses. It creates a single-use card number for each purchase and allows the cardholder to set payment amounts, date ranges, and other transaction details.

How To Use the Amex Virtual Card Number

To pay with an Amex virtual credit card number, the user should:

  1. Log into their Google account[1]
  2. Use Google Chrome (on desktop or mobile) or one of the select Android apps to shop[1]
  3. Choose the Amex virtual card number as the payment option from the drop-down menu at checkout[1]

Chrome will auto-complete all the required card details for every transaction[1]. The user only needs to confirm the action and enter the one-time verification code sent to their mobile phone via text[1].

For card settings, the user should visit the Manage Digital Wallets page on Amex’s website and sign in[1]. There, they can suspend, resume, or delete the virtual card[1]. After deleting the card, the user can generate a new one[1].

To disable the feature altogether, the user needs to unenroll the physical card by turning it off in Chrome’s payment settings[1].

Who’s Eligible for the Amex Virtual Card Number?

The Amex virtual card number feature is available for most credit cards issued by a U.S. banking subsidiary of American Express. However, the card must be valid and not associated with debt[1]

Ineligible cards include:

  • Prepaid cards, such as American Express Serve® Cards or gift cards[1]
  • vPayment card numbers, i.e., single-use virtual account numbers[1]
  • Buyer-Initiated Payment and Business Travel Account programs[1]

If their card was issued by a licensed third-party financial institution, the cardholder can check their eligibility by contacting the issuer via the phone number printed on the back of the card[1].

Customers who have multiple eligible credit cards can choose to enroll them all for the virtual card service[1]. In that case, all virtual cards will be associated with the same Google account—the one the user was logged into at the time of creating the virtual cards[1].

How To Get the Amex Virtual Card Number

The following table will explain the three methods for obtaining the Amex virtual credit card:

Method 1 Method 2 Method 3
Location Chrome, at checkout
Chrome, in the settings
On Amex’s website
Steps 1. After completing an online purchase with their credit card, the cardholder will be automatically prompted to enroll the card for the virtual number[1]

1. If the cardholder hasn’t added the credit card to their Google account yet, they’ll be instructed to do that first[1].

3. Once the process is finished, the cardholder should receive an email confirming that the virtual card is ready for use[2].
1. The user should go to the payment settings within their Google account[1].

2. They should then locate the card they want to enroll and click or tap on the three dots next to it to access the menu with additional settings[1].

3. Finally, they can toggle on the virtual card feature[1].
1. The user should sign into their account on the Amex website[1]

2. Next, they should navigate to Account Services > Card Management > Manage Digital Wallets & Payment Features[1].

3. They should find the Add Card to Google Pay option in the banner at the top of the page[1].

For those who already own a qualifying American Express credit card, the Amex virtual account number is a valuable asset. Those who don’t or seek more flexibility and customization when it comes to their virtual cards may want to consider an independent provider like Privacy

Privacy lets users connect an existing debit card or bank account to create virtual cards. The provider is compatible with most U.S. financial institutions and adheres to the same robust security standards as any reliable bank.

Source: FLY:D

Privacy Virtual Cards—A Safer and Simpler Way To Shop

Ever since its launch nearly a decade ago, Privacy has built a reputation as one of the leading virtual card providers, which is best demonstrated by its BBB® accreditation, excellent Trustpilot reviews, and sheer number of users (currently over 250,000).

With Privacy, you can generate virtual cards effortlessly and enjoy heightened security wherever you shop. Privacy Virtual Cards are issued by Mastercard® and Visa®, so they can be used with most vendors that accept these payment methods. 

Besides keeping you safe, Privacy Cards streamline your shopping experience thanks to the browser extension (available for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari). By downloading the extension, you can have your virtual card details autofilled at checkout and make purchases quickly and seamlessly without reaching for your wallet or manually typing in card numbers. To enjoy fast checkouts while shopping on your iPod or iPhone, take advantage of the Safari extension for iOS devices.

Privacy also has a mobile app for iOS and Android, which allows you to create, customize, and use virtual cards on the go. With push notifications, you’ll know when your card is used or declined and keep track of your account activity in real time.

One-Time and Recurring Payments

While Amex allows for only one type of virtual card, Privacy lets you create cards for different purposes:

  1. Single-Use Card—You can use this type of card for one-time purchases. The Single-Use card closes shortly after the first transaction, making it useless to potential hackers who may manage to steal the virtual card number from the merchant’s website. This card is especially beneficial when shopping on unfamiliar websites.
  2. Merchant-Locked Card—This type of card can be used multiple times, and it’s ideal for subscriptions and other recurring payments. The Merchant-Locked Card locks to the first merchant you use it at, which means potential hackers can’t use it to make purchases anywhere else.

Additional Card Controls

Privacy enables you to set spending limits on your cards or account and control how much merchants debit you. Limits can also help you establish and maintain a budget.

If you suspect a merchant or subscription service may attempt to perform an unauthorized charge, you can pause or close your virtual card without affecting your real card or bank account. Privacy will block all charge attempts on the paused or closed card.

Source: NordWood Themes

Privacy Virtual Cards—Pricing and Setup

Privacy offers three pricing plans to suit different budgets and needs. You can compare them in the table below:

Personal Plan
Pro Plan
Premium Plan
Price Free for domestic purchases
$10/month $25/month
Number of new virtual cards per month
Up to 12
Up to 36
Up to 60
Access to the app and browser extension
Yes Yes Yes
Card spending limits
Yes Yes Yes
Pausing and closing cards
Yes Yes Yes
Priority support
No Yes Yes
1% cashback on eligible purchases (up to $4,500/month)
No Yes Yes
Ability to mask transaction details on bank statements
No Yes Yes
Zero fees for international transactions
No Yes Yes
Dedicated account management
No No Yes

To become a Privacy user, you have to be a U.S. resident over 18 and have a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union.

If you’re interested in trying Privacy, follow these four simple steps:

  1. Create an account
  2. Fill out the information needed to verify your identity
  3. Add a funding source (debit card or bank account)
  4. Request a Privacy Virtual Card


[1]American Express., sourced September 2023
[2] American Express., sourced September 2023 
[3] American Express., sourced September 2023 
[4] American Express., sourced September 2023
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
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Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
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Privacy virtual cards
Spending Limits

Set a spending limit, and Privacy will block all charges that go over the limit

Merchant-Locked Cards

Lock your Privacy card to one merchant you frequently shop from

Single-Use Cards

Secure your one-time payments to websites whose trust worthiness you're unsure of

Pause/Close Cards

By pausing or closing a card, Privacy will block all future transactions

Get a Privacy Card Now
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Checkout securely online by creating unique virtual card numbers for every purchase. Avoid data breaches, unwanted charges, and stolen credit card numbers.
Sign Up
Privacy — Seamless & Secure Online Card Payments
Sign Up