Virtual Visa Card Essentials—Benefits and Application Process
Visa® is one of the largest card providers in the U.S. and beyond. In 2022, Visa accounted for 38.78% of all worldwide card transactions, according to Payments Journal.
Virtual Visa cards have become popular due to their widespread accessibility, cost-effectiveness, advanced security, and the many other perks they offer.
This article breaks down the basics of a virtual Visa card, explaining:
- The main features and benefits
- Where and how you can use the card
- How to apply for a virtual Visa card
Keep in mind that this information is valid as of June 2023 and is subject to change.
Virtual Visa Card Features
Virtual Visa cards only exist in digital form and have their own unique number, security code, and expiration date. These cards may be connected to your bank or preloaded with funds.
A virtual Visa card serves to mask your real card information when you’re transacting online and protect your actual card data from being compromised in case of a data breach on a merchant’s website. You use it to shop online like you would with a plastic Visa card, and the card number appears like a standard Visa credit or debit card number to the merchant.
Although Visa doesn’t offer virtual Visa cards on their own, some card issuers offer them as a feature attached to a credit card or debit card account. Alternatively, you can connect a bank or debit card account to a virtual Visa card service provider to then generate virtual Visa cards. You can also choose a prepaid virtual Visa card that you need to load with funds before using it.
Virtual Visa cards typically have numerous features. The exact list of features varies depending on the virtual card provider and the card you choose, but you are usually allowed to:
- Create multiple virtual cards for different merchants or transactions
- Set spending limits for each card or transaction
- Freeze and unfreeze cards
- Track your expenses online
- Use in-app card management tools
- Get rewards, such as points, discounts, and cashback
Virtual Visa Card Benefits
A virtual Visa card has several advantages over traditional plastic cards:
Virtual Visa Card Uses
A virtual Visa card can be used for many different purposes, such as:
- Online shopping on new or suspicious websites—Visa cards are widely recognized and accepted. Virtual cards are beneficial when you want to purchase from a new merchant whose trustworthiness you’re unsure of.
- Subscriptions and memberships—Most subscription-based services accept Visa cards. For example, if you subscribe for a service but do not wish to continue with the membership, you can typically halt further charges by closing the card and proceed to cancel the subscription with the merchant without incurring additional expenses.
- International transactions—Visa cards are accepted around the world, so you’re not constrained to U.S. merchants, though international transactions may incur a foreign transaction fee depending on the card.
When making online payments, you need to copy the virtual card details and paste them on the merchant’s website at checkout. You may need to verify your identity using a one-time password, biometric authentication, or another method.
You can also pay with your virtual Visa card in-store using your phone. For in-person purchases, your virtual card needs to be compatible with e-wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay. Make sure to check with the merchant beforehand as not all stores accept this payment method.
Source: Kampus Production
Where To Apply for a Virtual Visa Card
Some of the companies and institutions offering virtual Visa cards include:
- Major banks
- Payment service providers
- Online card issuers
- Digital wallet providers
- Other fintech companies
When exploring your options, consider the features, fees, security, potential rewards, and digital wallet compatibility.
How To Apply for a Virtual Visa Card
Source: Mohamed Hassan
Once you’ve decided on a card issuer and card, it’s time to apply. Most banks will require you to open an account first, and you may have to pay a fee to access the virtual card feature. Independent virtual card providers typically allow you to apply for virtual cards with your existing bank, debit, or credit account. Before applying, read all the documentation to ensure you’re informed about the features and eligible to apply for a virtual card.
The application process will depend on the card issuer, but the steps typically include the following:
- Initiate the application—Go to the issuer’s website or banking platform and look for the Apply for Card, Open an Account, or similar option.
- Fill out the form—Enter all the KYC information.
- Verify your identity—Some issuers require additional verification, typically in the form of an ID documentation upload or security codes sent to your email or phone.
- Add a funding source—Link your existing account to fund the card. If you opt for a virtual prepaid card, load it with funds.
- Submit the application—Finalize your application by reading and agreeing to the terms and conditions, covering potential transaction fees, or setting an authorization method.
You can usually access your virtual Visa card details instantly through your online banking platform or app.
While many companies offer virtual Visa cards, Privacy is known for providing increased flexibility, safety, and spend control to its users.
Enhance Your Security With a Privacy Virtual Card
Source: Cottonbro Studio
Privacy adds an extra layer of protection to your online transactions.
With Privacy, you can:
- Set spending limits on your virtual cards—You can set limits per transaction, month, or year and adjust them as necessary. If you utilize the card sharing feature, you’ll be able to share your virtual card details with trusted family members and ensure they don't spend more than allowed as you retain complete control of the card’s settings. This feature can help you budget, avoid overcharges, and protect you against hidden fees.
- Create Merchant-Locked Cards—These cards can be used multiple times at a single merchant. This feature increases the security of your transactions as a third party that potentially gets ahold of your virtual card data won’t be able to use it anywhere else.
- Generate Single-Use Cards—You can set your virtual card to close automatically after a single transaction, preventing a potential hacker from using it altogether.
- Pause, unpause, and close virtual cards effortlessly—In case of any suspicious activity, you can immediately pause or close your virtual cards without affecting your real card or bank account. This feature can also help with subscription cancellation as Privacy will decline further charges to a paused or closed card. Keep in mind that you still need to cancel the service directly with the merchant.
Privacy is bank-agnostic and compatible with most U.S. banks. U.S. residents aged 18 years and above with a checking account at a U.S. bank or credit union are eligible to apply for a Privacy Virtual Card.
Privacy is BBB®-accredited, demonstrating compliance with customer service standards and ethical business practices. It’s equipped with numerous security measures, such as firewalls, encryption, key rotation, and strict access controls.
Additional Benefits of Using Privacy Cards
Below are some of the other benefits of using Privacy:
How To Start Using Privacy
Signing up with Privacy is simple. You only need to:
- Create an account
- Provide the required KYC information
- Link a funding source, such as a bank account or debit card
- Request and generate your first Privacy Card
With the Personal plan, you can generate up to 12 virtual cards a month that are free to use for domestic transactions, set limits, and pause and close cards. You also get access to the web app, mobile app, and browser extension.
If you choose the Pro ($10/month) or Premium ($25/month) plans, you can get:
- Additional cards (up to 36 with Pro and 60 with Premium)
- 1% cashback on eligible purchases totaling up to $4,500
- Priority support
- Dedicated account management (Premium plan)