Temporary Debit Card—A Convenient Short-Term Payment Solution

Ashley Ferraro, Consumer Operations
Aug 27, 2023
 Min Read

Debit cards remain one of the most sought-after payment methods worldwide. In 2022, the global debit card market share was $93.23 billion—a 3% growth from the previous year.

To make this payment method even more convenient, some issuers let you use your debit card before your physical card arrives, which typically takes from a few days to two weeks. These temporary debit cards can be activated immediately after the approval of the actual account or debit card and used for most in-person and online payments.

This article breaks down temporary debit card benefits and limitations by answering the following questions:

  • What is a temporary debit card?
  • How can you get and use one?
  • What banks offer this product?

Keep in mind that the provided data is valid as of July 2023. Refer to official bank websites for the latest updates.

What Is a Temporary Debit Card?

Source: Mohamen Hassan

A temporary debit card is a digital card that can be used while waiting for a physical debit card to arrive (which may take up to two weeks in some cases). The temporary card has a card number, expiration date, security code, and sometimes a PIN. While some banks offer it in physical form, it’s usually digital.

You should be able to use your temporary debit card for online and in-person shopping, booking hotels and flights, or other transactions which support card payments. Still, the card may be subject to restrictions, such as allowing purchases from select merchants only.

You might hear the term “temporary cards” in the context of virtual cards or prepaid cards. However, despite sharing some similar features, these are separate financial products. Temporary cards are stand-ins for actual debit cards, while virtual cards offer additional benefits and do not come in physical form. On the other hand, prepaid cards are preloaded and can be used for transactions until the balance is depleted.

The Pros and Cons of a Temporary Debit Card

Familiarize yourself with the advantages and disadvantages of temporary debit cards in the following table:

table 1

How To Get a Temporary Debit Card

You can apply for a temporary debit card online, over the phone, or in person at your bank. Temporary debit cards are generally issued after the issuer approves your application for a new debit card or while you're waiting to replace a stolen or lost debit card.

You’ll likely receive the card details via email or the banking app. Depending on the issuer, you may need to verify your identity or take other extra steps. 

Some issuers may automatically provide a temporary card number while you’re waiting for your standard card, and others will require you to request it. Certain banks may not advertise it as a separate product but will allow you to copy or import the new card details into a digital wallet.

Eligibility Criteria for a Temporary Debit Card

Source: Tech Daily

To get a temporary debit card, you must first open a checking account at the bank of your choice. The eligibility criteria for opening a bank account are typically the following:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Be a U.S. resident
  • Provide specific information (such as your Social Security number) and documentation (such as a valid government-issued photo ID)

The other requirements for getting a temporary debit card vary depending on the issuer and card, so visit the website of your bank or financial institution for specific info.

Some providers may require you to load the temporary card into a digital wallet or e-wallet, such as Apple Pay®, Google Pay™, or Samsung Pay®. A digital wallet is an app that securely stores your payment information and may offer NFC (Near Field Communication) technology. 

In such cases, you will need to install relevant apps.

What Banks Give You a Temporary Debit Card?

Some of the banks that offer temporary debit cards include:

Temporary Debit Card and How It Works
Bank of America
Bank of America® allows you to request a digital version of the debit card you’re waiting for via the mobile app. Connect it to a digital wallet to use it across stores and BofA ATMs that accept cardless payments.
Chase Spend Instantly lets you use your new Chase card immediately after approval by connecting it to your digital wallet through the Chase banking mobile app.
SoFi Instead of waiting for your physical SoFi Money Mastercard® Debit Card to arrive, you can add it to a digital wallet for immediate use.

*The information is current as of August 2023.

Note that this list is not comprehensive. Many issuers offer this product in some form, be it a separate card with a unique number or an e-wallet integration option.

Source: CardMapr.nl

Is the Number on the Debit Card the Same as the Temporary Card?

It depends on the issuer. Sometimes, the temporary card numbers will match those printed on the card. In other cases, you’ll get a unique set of card details. 

Can Temporary Cards Receive Money?

Debit cards don't 'receive money' directly, but they are linked to your checking account, and money sent to that account can be accessed by the temporary card.

For others to pay you or send you funds, they don’t need your debit card details but the account and routing numbers. You can find these:

  • In the banking platform or app
  • In the account agreement
  • During the online account setup process
  • By contacting the bank

It’s important to note that your account number is confidential and should only be shared with trusted institutions or individuals.

If you connect the card to a digital wallet or a money transfer service like PayPal, you may be able to receive money that way instead.

Can You Use Temporary Debit Cards at an ATM?

A physical card with a chip, magnetic stripe, or other technology enables ATM usage, while a digital temporary card lacks this capability.

How To Pay With a Temporary Debit Card

You can use a temporary debit card for online and in-store purchases. Depending on the issuer and merchant, some limitations may apply. Your bank will explain potential restrictions when issuing the temporary card.

Online Purchases

You can make a purchase online with your temporary debit card in two ways:

  1. Directly, by providing your payment information
  2. Via a digital wallet

To buy directly online, input the temporary card number, expiration date, and security code at checkout. You may need to verify the transaction with a PIN, fingerprint, or other selected security method.

To pay with the digital wallet, you need to:

  1. Install a compatible app on your mobile device. 
  2. Input the information required to connect the card.
  3. Select the appropriate e-wallet at checkout.
  4. Authenticate the payment via fingerprint, PIN, or other method.
  5. Verify the payment was successful.

In-Store Purchases

A photo showing a person holding up a phone against a payment terminal, depicting an in-store digital wallet transaction

Source: naipo.de

It is possible to pay with your temporary debit card in a physical store if your phone and card issuer support using a digital wallet and if the merchant accepts digital wallet payments.

Assuming you’ve met all the criteria and set up your digital wallet, the next step is to hold your mobile device against the terminal. Your device will use NFC technology, or “Tap to Pay” to transmit the payment details to the terminal and complete the transaction.

Temporary Debit Card vs. Virtual Card

The terms 'temporary card' and 'virtual card' are often confused due to their overlapping usage and similar meanings. 

A temporary debit card is a digital version of a standard debit card, and it typically expires soon or immediately after the physical card arrives. 

A virtual card is also digital but serves to enhance the security of your online transactions while providing additional benefits. It has a unique card number, expiration date, and security code. You can connect a virtual card to your regular debit card or bank account and use it for various transactions without revealing your actual financial details. 

Virtual cards are an excellent solution for online purchases because they don’t jeopardize your banking information in the case of a data breach. They are designed to mask your real card or bank data during online transactions and enable you to shop on most websites knowing that your sensitive payment data remains protected from threats. 

The consequences of exposing your debit or temporary debit card number online can be devastating. Using a virtual card can prevent hackers from obtaining your information because your real card or bank details remain hidden.

While most banks or card issuers offer virtual cards, they typically lack the convenience and control features you get from independent providers like Privacy.

Privacy Virtual Cards—Safety Comes First

Source: cottonbro studio

Privacy specializes in virtual card services, focusing on payment security and ease of use. It lets you create multiple customizable cards for effortless and safe online purchases. As a BBB®-accredited and PCI-compliant company, Privacy employs robust security protocols to protect its customers’ sensitive data.

You can choose between creating Single-Use and Merchant-Locked Cards, depending on your needs. Both enhance the security of your online transactions in the following ways:

  1. A Single-Use Card automatically closes after the first purchase. Hackers can’t use it even if they breach the merchant’s website and obtain the card details. This card type is ideal when you’re unsure of the merchant’s credibility.
  2. You can use Merchant-Locked Cards multiple times, but only at a particular vendor. If hackers get hold of the number, they won’t be able to use it anywhere else, as Privacy will decline the transaction. This card is excellent for subscriptions and other recurring payments. 

Additional Benefits Privacy Offers

With Privacy, you will enjoy additional benefits besides robust security:

  1. Browser extension—Privacy browser extensions, available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, make checkouts faster. You can have your card details auto-filled or generate a new virtual card in a few clicks, enabling you to complete fast and spontaneous purchases effortlessly.
  2. Spending limits and budget control—You can set spending limits on every Privacy Virtual Card to gain control over your budget and prevent overcharging. Privacy will decline all payments that go over the designated budget. You can also close, pause, and unpause your cards anytime, a convenient feature to prevent unexpected charges.
  3. iOS or Android app—Generate virtual cards, monitor account activity, and always have a current overview of your expenditures and balance. Receive push notifications whenever a card is used or declined to detect suspicious activity and proactively protect your finances.
  4. 1Password integration—A free integration with 1Password helps you safely store and manage your passwords and financial info from a simple centralized platform.

How To Get Your Privacy Virtual Cards

U.S. residents over 18 or businesses with a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union can request Privacy cards. The process is short and straightforward:

  1. Sign up
  2. Enter the info required to verify your identity
  3. Connect your bank account or debit card
  4. Request your Privacy Virtual Card

The Personal plan allows you to generate up to 12 cards monthly. You can also set spending limits, pause or close the cards, and use the app and browser extension. Paid plans, Pro ($10/month) and Premium ($25/month), entail other benefits:

  • Up to 60 virtual cards per month
  • 1% cashback on eligible purchases totaling up to $4,500/month
  • Priority support
  • Dedicated account management

Privacy Virtual Cards can be used at local and global vendors that accept U.S. credit or debit card payments.

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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