Virtual credit cards are temporary credit card numbers generated during online transactions to help mask the original credit card info. They aren’t real cards literally speaking, just a mask of the real credit card. There are limited number of companies that provide the virtual credit card service. This is because it’s not a widely spread online security measure but its an active one. That is to say that most consumers are completely unaware of the virtual credit card service.
The numbers associated with a virtual credit card that allows for masked credit card details are generated randomly. Though it is still associated with the original credit card, it serves more as a protective detail.
One thing to look out for about the virtual credit cards is that they only work online. Considering online transactions are usually the most unsafe place to leave credit card info lying around. Depending on the issuer of the card, virtual credit cards can be set with an expiration date. This authentication step can last up to a year and it helps to reduce insecurity and fraud.
Virtual Credit Card Suppliers
Virtual credit card suppliers or companies are institutions dedicated to supplying consumers with the 16-digit full account number. Plus the necessary secure code for their original credit card.
These financial institutions include the major credit card networks known as Visa & Mastercard. Other major suppliers include Bank of America and Citi Credit Cards. Some recent companies that have joined these major players to offer these services are Final and Entropay.
Virtual Credit Card Features
The major suppliers provide these cards with a little difference in features and how they are made available to consumers.
Bank Of America: Integrates with the Visa & Mastercard accounts to auto-generate the virtual credit card service for its customers. The virtual service is called the ShopSafe service. Each customer has the exclusive right to indicate how long they want the virtual number to be active for.
Citi: Integrates its own service differently from Bank of America. Citi associates this service with its own Citi credit cards, precisely for the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card. While Bank of America can let consumers use same virtual number for a period of time and on different transactions. Citi restricts this virtual number to a single merchant.
Visa & Mastercard: Called the Visa Checkout and Masterpass respectively, allow users create a direct Visa and Mastercard accounts. This new account can then be linked to an existing credit card or debit card account. In order to allow the virtual service work during shopping or online payment. This service, however, is only available on eligible merchant networks. Before any payment, consumers can click on the Visa Checkout or Masterpass button and their virtual credit card details will be made available automatically.
Final: Gives users a ontetime virtual number or the single merchant service option. The onetime number option will be disposed of after each transaction while the single merchant number is restricted for one merchant only. Receipts and transaction details will be sent to the consumers’ phone for record sake. The single merchant credit card comes with an annual rate fee and 1% cash back on all purchases. The service is only available for consumers with excellent credit scores.
Entropay: Offers only a virtual prepaid card service with no interest payment and no physical credit card. Each prepaid account operates under one currency only. The only applicable fees to this service are foreign exchange fees and account closing fee.
The virtual credit card method of payments to online merchants is a plus in the online security measures. The only potential setback with this system is the refund or return of items outcome. This is as a result of most virtual services creating credit card numbers at random. The difficulty of requesting a refund with your original credit card details continues to rise with each purchase.