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Where To Get an Online Bank Account With an Instant Virtual Debit Card

Ashley Ferraro, Product
Oct 17, 2023
 Min Read

Virtual cards have experienced a surge in popularity lately, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. The global virtual cards market, valued at $13.31 billion in 2022, is projected to expand significantly by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.9%.

Virtual cards offer security and convenience for the user, contributing to their growth in recent years. Having recognized the many benefits of virtual cards and their favorability among consumers and businesses, more and more banks and fintech companies are starting to issue them. 

To navigate all the available choices more confidently and find an online bank account with an instant virtual debit card that works for you, read this comprehensive guide. It will explore:

  • The basics of virtual cards
  • Factors to consider when choosing a virtual card provider
  • The most prominent virtual card options today

What Are Virtual Cards?

A virtual card is a payment card in digital form with a unique card number, expiration date, and a security code. It’s connected to a real funding source, but it masks your actual card or bank details with randomly generated numbers to protect them during transactions. In case a hacker breaches the servers of a merchant you shopped at, they can only access the virtual card number.

How To Pick a Virtual Card Provider

To find the right virtual card provider for yourself, look out for these four factors:

  1. Reputation and security—You should ensure the virtual card provider is trustworthy by reading verified user reviews. It is also important to check whether the provider offers robust security features, including two-factor authentication (2FA) and fraud protection.
  2. Card controls—The virtual card provider should enable you to generate different types of cards, such as single-use and multi-use cards. Ideally, you should be able to pause or close the cards and adjust their settings, including spending limits.
  3. Ease of use—The service should be user-friendly, allowing both new and experienced users to create and use virtual cards effortlessly. It should also be accessible on various devices.
  4. Pricing and fees—The provider’s pricing model should be transparent and compatible with your budget.

Virtual Card Providers—Five Options To Consider

Source: Mohamed_hassan

Based on the above-listed criteria, these are some of the most reliable virtual card providers today:

  1. Wise®
  2. Revolut®
  3. American Express®
  4. Zil®
  5. PrivacyTM

The provided information is current as of September 2023. Visit the issuers’ official websites or contact them directly for the latest updates.

Wise—The Instant Wise Digital Card

Wise is a U.K.-based fintech company specializing in international payment transfer. It currently supports 40 currencies across 160 countries[1]. With a Wise account, users can:

  • Send money abroad without paying a hefty fee, as well as receive it fee-free[1]
  • Hold and manage funds in multiple currencies[2] 
  • Convert currency at a favorable mid-market rate[1] and with low conversion fees[3]

Those with a Wise business account get access to additional features such as batch pay, administration controls, and integration with popular accounting software[4].

Wise also offers users the possibility of using an instant virtual debit card, which the company calls the Wise digital card[5]. At the moment, the feature is not available for U.S.-based personal accounts, but users who live in the UK, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Switzerland, Canada, Brazil or EEA can get a Wise digital card with a personal Wise account.[6] 

Features and Security

The Wise digital card gives users the same features as the physical Wise card, but it exists only in digital form, allowing access via computer or mobile. Users can set default or maximum spending limits for the card in their Wise account settings[7].

Each user can have up to three Wise digital cards at a time[5], which can be used for online payments or added to one of the following digital wallets for contactless in-store payments[5]:

  • Apple Pay®
  • Google Pay™
  • Samsung Pay
  • Fitbit Pay™
  • Garmin Pay™

Some of the most notable security features include the ability to freeze virtual cards after each purchase[5], two-factor authentication[8], and a 24/7 fraud team support[8].


Setup and Pricing

To get the Wise digital cards, the user first needs to create a Wise account and order the Wise card, which is a prepaid debit card. They don’t have to wait for it to arrive in the mail, though—they can start using the virtual cards instantly[5].

After ordering the physical card, the user can request the digital card through their Wise account via the app or the website[6]. No activation or PIN is required[9], but the user must add funds to the card by transferring it through the bank[5].

The digital card feature is free to use for personal or business Wise account owners (except for users from Japan or the U.S.—they are not eligible for the feature)[5].

Pros and Cons

The following table sums up the advantages and disadvantages of the Wise digital card:

Pros Cons
- Instant access after ordering the physical Wise card
- Free and available for existing accounts, unless U.S. or Japan-based
- Five digital wallet options 
- Multi-currency support and low conversion fees
- U.S.-based personal account owners don’t have access to the feature
- Users are limited to three cards at a time

Revolut—Single-Use and Multi-Use Virtual Cards

Revolut is a global financial technology company based in the U.K. It’s also an all-in-one money management app that allows users to transfer, spend, and save money, transact internationally, and trade stocks and cryptocurrencies.

The Revolut app enables its users to create virtual cards effortlessly and use them immediately, with no activation needed[10].

Features and Security

Revolut account owners can generate two types of virtual cards:

  1. Single-use—A disposable virtual card whose numbers re-generate after each use
  2. Multi-use—A virtual card that can be used more than once

Each user can have a maximum of one single-use card, and they can generate five card details per day[11]. When it comes to multi-use cards, users can create five new cards every 30 days if they’re from the U.S.[12]. To use the cards in physical stores and other locations, the cardholder can connect them to Apple Pay or Google Pay[13]. The cards can also be frozen and unfrozen for safety reasons[14].

Revolut employs various security measures to protect users’ accounts from unauthorized access and use, some of which include:

  • Multi-factor authentication via a PIN, biometrics, or SMS one-time passcode when logging in[14]
  • Transaction verification through the app[14]
  • Confirmation requests when attempting to send money to a new recipient and warnings in case Revolut identifies the recipient as a potential threat[14]

Setup and Pricing

After opening a Revolut account, the user can access the virtual card order form in the app by going to the “Cards” tab and then selecting “Get card” and “Virtual card”[10]. Unlike with Wise, the virtual cards are not tied to physical cards, so the user can request them independently.

Virtual cards are included in the Standard free plan. For U.S. accounts, the first virtual card is free, while the additional cards cost $4.99 each[15].

Pros and Cons

Take a look at the Revolut virtual cards’ pros and cons:

Pros Cons
- Instant virtual card creation independent from physical cards
- Single-use and multi-use cards
- Various authentication methods
- Free first virtual card for U.S. accounts
- Card quantity restrictions
- Pay-per-card pricing model
- Supports only Google Pay and Apple Pay digital wallet integrations

American Express—The Amex Virtual Card Number

American Express is a renowned card issuer and online-only bank offering a wide range of personal, banking, and corporate cards and programs, including a virtual card service.

With the Amex virtual card number, cardholders can create a digital version of their payment card that masks the original card number during transactions and add it to their Google accounts[16].

Features and Security

Provided that the vendor accepts Amex payments, users can shop online with their Amex virtual card numbers:

  • On desktop using Google Chrome[16]
  • On Android mobile devices[16]
  • In select Android apps[16]

For each payment, Amex will auto-populate the virtual card information at checkout[16]. The card can be used only for one-time payments[16].

Within their account, the cardholder can suspend, resume, or delete their virtual cards, as well as disenroll their physical cards to disable the service[16]

Amex’s general security measures include a fraud monitoring system with alerts[17] and SafeKey®, a one-time code sent to the user’s mobile device or email to confirm their identity when making a purchase[18].

Setup and Pricing

To obtain the Amex virtual card, the user must enroll an existing physical card, save it in their Google account, and then toggle on the virtual card feature[16]. They can do so via their desktop or mobile device at checkout, in the Google Chrome settings, or by adding the card to Google Pay[16]. At checkout, the user should select the virtual card as their payment method from the drop-down menu.

The user can enroll their physical card only if it’s eligible and in good standing. Most Amex cards are compatible with this service, with a few exceptions like prepaid cards, Buyer-Initiated Payment, and Business Travel Account programs[16]

Source: Thomas Lefebvre

Pros and Cons

Some of the pros and cons of the Amex virtual card include:

Pros Cons
- Autofilling of card information at checkout
- Ability to suspend and resume cards
- SafeKey transaction verification 
- Physical Amex card required to enroll for the virtual card service
- Not suitable for recurring payments
- Supports Google Pay integration only

Zil—Instant Virtual Card for Businesses

Zil is a cloud-based online platform offering banking and financial management services. While the services cover both personal and business needs, Zil offers an array of features tailored to businesses.

Zil’s virtual cards are primarily oriented toward businesses[19]. Employers can create virtual cards instantly[20] and distribute them to employees, allowing them to pay vendors and suppliers safely[19].

Features and Security

With Zil, employers can create multiple virtual cards for various purposes and manage them within a single account. They can customize the spending limits for each card with interval controls for daily, weekly, and monthly use[19] to control each employee’s budget, as well as set merchant categories[19]. The virtual cards can also be temporarily locked[20] or closed[19]

For contactless in-person payments, the employer can link the virtual cards to Google Pay or Apple Pay[21]. They can also use Zil’s virtual card API to integrate the feature into their payment software and use it without logging into Zil each time[19].

When it comes to fraud prevention, Zil takes the following precautions:

  • One to One verification of each customer before approval[22]
  • Monitoring of ACH transactions and restriction of those with insufficient documentation[22]
  • Fraud scores for accounts and blocking of those with low scores[22]

Setup and Pricing

New Zil users can enjoy the convenience of opening an online bank account with an instant virtual debit card[23]. Upon account creation, they can add and manage virtual cards from their account settings[19]. When requesting a new card, the user has to fill in the card label and billing address, select the spending limit, and determine the time span of the card[19]. After confirming the details, the card should be instantly ready for use[19].

Like all other Zil cards, the virtual cards don’t require a minimum deposit, an initial fee, or a maintenance fee[24].

Source: Mohamed_hassan

Pros and Cons

The following table sums up the pros and cons of Zil’s virtual cards:

Pros Cons
- Highly suitable for businesses
- No minimum deposit, initial, or maintenance fee
- Only supports Google Pay and Apple Pay integration

Privacy—Free Virtual Cards With Advanced Controls

Unlike the previous companies, Privacy’s sole focus is on virtual cards. With Privacy, you can link your existing debit card or bank account and generate up to 12 virtual cards a month, free for domestic purchases.

Privacy Virtual Cards are generated as either Visa® or Mastercard®, and can be used at most vendors that accept U.S. credit or debit card payments. 

Features and Security

Privacy lets you choose between two virtual card types:

  1. Single-Use—This card closes automatically a few minutes after the first purchase, making the card numbers useless to hackers if they manage to steal them.
  2. Merchant-Locked—This card locks to the first vendor it’s used at and prevents hackers from using the card numbers elsewhere.

Privacy provides a browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Edge to speed up checkouts. The extension autofills virtual card details into the checkout fields, enabling fast and seamless purchases. IPhone and iPod users can also leverage the Safari browser extension for iOS devices.

Privacy Virtual Cards give you full control over your funds. You can set spending limits to avoid overcharging by sneaky merchants and ensure efficient budget management. If you pause or close your virtual card, Privacy will disable all transaction attempts on that card, which is especially beneficial for preventing unwarranted charges from subscription services.

Source: TBIT

The Privacy mobile app, available for Android and iOS, lets you manage virtual cards on the go. You’ll also receive real-time notifications when your cards are being used or declined.

Besides the transaction alerts, Privacy employs numerous safety measures to protect its users from fraud, such as:

  • Two-factor authentication (2FA)
  • A robust transaction monitoring system 
  • Regular third-party security audits

Privacy is accredited by the Better Business Bureau® and upholds the same business and security standards as any reliable bank.

Setup and Pricing

Getting started with Privacy is simple and only requires you to:

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

Besides the 12 cards a month, the Personal plan will give you access to the browser extensions, apps, and features such as card pausing/closing and spending limits. If you need additional cards and features, opt for one of the paid plans:

  1. Pro—Everything in Personal, plus up to 36 cards monthly, no foreign transaction fee, priority support, ability to mask transaction info on bank statements, and 1% cashback on eligible purchases (totaling up to $4,500 a month)
  2. Premium—Everything in Pro, plus up to 60 cards monthly and dedicated account management

Privacy is available to U.S. residents over 18 with a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union, as well as U.S.-based businesses. 

Pros and Cons

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of Privacy include:

Pros Cons
- Up to 12 free virtual cards a month on the basic plan, and up to 60 with paid plans
- Various card customization options
- Fast and seamless checkouts with the browser extensions
- Bank-level security
- Can't be connected to credit cards
- Available only to U.S. residents


[1] Wise., sourced September 2023
[2] Wise., sourced September 2023 
[3] Wise., sourced September 2023 
[4] Wise., sourced September 2023 
[5] Wise., sourced September 2023 
[6] Wise., sourced September 2023 
[7] Wise., sourced September 2023
[8] Wise., sourced September 2023 
[9] Wise., sourced September 2023 
[10] Revolut., sourced September 2023 
[11] Revolut., sourced September 2023 
[12] Revolut., sourced September 2023
[13] Revolut., sourced September 2023 
[14] Revolut., sourced September 2023 
[15] Revolut., sourced September 2023 
[16] American Express., sourced September 2023 
[17] American Express., sourced September 2023
[18] American Express., sourced September 2023 
[19] Zil., sourced September 2023 
[20] Zil., sourced September 2023 
[21] Zil., sourced September 2023
[22] Zil., sourced September 2023 
[23] Zil., sourced September 2023 
[24] Zil., 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.
Sign Up
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 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
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