How to Make Unique Virtual Card Numbers

With cybersecurity attacks continuously on the rise, online credit card fraud remains a large issue for consumers. According to the Identify Theft Resource Center, there were over 1,800 data breaches last year, which is up more than 68% from 2020. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission reported that more than 2.8 million consumers in the U.S. experienced fraud in 2021, equating to nearly $6 billion in losses.

Using virtual card numbers to bolster online payment security and protect against card fraud

One way to fight back against hackers and protect yourself against this surge in data breaches is to generate unique card numbers for all of your online purchases. These unique card numbers give you more control over your online security and can be turned off or limited in real time with just a few clicks. Virtual card numbers can be an invaluable part of your online security toolkit.

Why you might want to use virtual card numbers for purchases

Consumers use unique card numbers for several reasons. Unique card numbers can prevent card theft and fraudulent charges should card numbers be stolen in a data breach. For example, Privacy Cards lock to the first merchant that they are used at; in the event that a Privacy card number is compromised in a data breach, that card number can't be used anywhere else. Consumers can simply close the compromised card to prevent fraudulent charges, and create a replacement Privacy Card to use immediately. Unique card numbers also give consumers greater control over their spending - you can easily pause, unpause, and close Privacy Cards at any time to manage subscriptions. And finally, unique card numbers make it easy to share secure payment information with trusted friends, family, and employees. Privacy's card sharing feature is convenient for parents setting an allowance card for their children, or small business owners distributing employee expense cards.

How can I generate virtual card numbers and where can I use virtual cards for making purchases? provides a solution that allows you to generate unique virtual card numbers for your online purchases. Our Chrome and Firefox extensions will instantly create a new, secure virtual card for you in two clicks and autofill the card details--number, CVV, and expiration date--when you're checking out. You can also generate a virtual card using our web or mobile app and copy/paste the unique card number when checking out or saving payment information. There are no monthly fees or transaction fees for using Privacy’s basic plan. We only make money off interchange (the fee that the merchant pays for accepting a debit or credit card), and we will never sell your personal data. These unique Privacy card numbers don’t come with a physical card, but can be used just like a traditional credit card or debit card for online shopping, over the phone transactions, or any transaction requiring a card number.

How can I apply for a Privacy account to make virtual card numbers?

Privacy is currently available to US citizens or legal residents with a checking account at a US bank or credit union, and who are 18+ years of age. To start using Privacy's virtual cards, go to the homepage and click "Sign Up" on the top right. After you create an account, you will be asked to fill out additional information such as your address and phone number. This personal information is required for a mandatory bank verification procedure called Know Your Customer (KYC) and is required to comply with anti-money laundering laws and helps protect against fraud. As soon as your account has been reviewed and verified, you can start using Privacy's virtual cards to shop securely online.

How are Privacy’s virtual cards different from other providers?

Privacy’s virtual cards have been designed to be security-first without sacrificing convenience. Here are a few ways that Privacy Cards are different from other virtual card providers:

1. More security options. When you create a Privacy Card, you can choose between a one-time use card that automatically closes itself, or a card that is locked to a single merchant and can’t be used anywhere else. Both options enable you to shop more safely online, whether you’re protecting yourself from a sketchy website or blocking suspicious overcharges.

2. More control. Each Privacy Card includes easy-to-use features that give users more control over their finances. Set spend limits. Pause and close cards anytime. Organize and manage subscription payments in one place. And receive real-time notifications to your phone and/or email any time a transaction is made to catch fraudulent purchases.

3. More convenience. Privacy offers a browser extension, mobile app, and web app for generating secure virtual cards. When making a purchase online, skip tracking down your wallet or purse. Instead, use our extension to auto-fill secure card numbers in just two clicks. Leverage our mobile or web app to instantly generate virtual cards that can be used anywhere that accepts regular credit or debit card numbers.

4. More flexibility. Several major credit card providers offer their own virtual card services, but you must be one of their cardholders to use them. With Privacy, you can sign up for our virtual card service without worrying about another bank or credit card application - we don’t perform a credit pull, we require no minimums, and you never have to worry about debt or interest rates. Our product works with your existing bank account. And unlike some virtual card services, which may require a fee, Privacy's core product is free to use on domestic transactions.*

5. More support. Our customers’ experiences are core to our business. In fact, we were recently named among Forbes’ “Top 100 Most Consumer Centric Companies”. Have a question about your Privacy account? Our customer experience team will promptly answer you instead of an automated answering machine. See a transaction you don’t recognize? Our support team are experts in handling disputes and will immediately pick up the case and manage it on your behalf. Have ideas on how to improve our product? Send us a note. Privacy builds for you and we prioritize our product roadmap based on customer feedback.

Read more about Privacy’s virtual cards here.

Get Started in as Little as Three Minutes

Our basic plan is free to use* on domestic transactions because, like other card companies, we collect transaction fees from merchants.