A virtual credit card is an online card that is not issued physically. It is a free service offered by the card issuer to a credit cardholder or customer who is interested in making an online payment via a credit card.
In essence, a virtual credit card is not a physical card, rather, it’s a credit card number that is randomly generated and keeps on changing every time you make a purchase with your physical credit card.
According to Simon Sule, the Managing Director and Founder of Credit Cards Compare NZ, virtual credit cards are a welcome change to the credit card industry which has been plagued with fraud and he believes virtual credit cards are set to become mainstream in the coming years.
What Sets A Virtual Credit Card Apart?
The unique feature of a virtual credit card is the level of security it holds. Your physical credit card has information printed on it, such as your name, CVV security code, credit card number, and the expiry date. This information doesn’t change. As such, it can be stored in any database and can be used by hackers against your will to make purchases using your card.
A virtual credit card will provide temporary account numbers to online merchants when you make a purchase. This safeguards your sensitive credit card information from being accessed by third parties.
If hackers hack a retailer’s website where you’ve made a purchase from before and look through the customer payment information stored by the retailer, they will only find your virtual credit card number which is useless to them since it can only be charged once for a payment and has already been used while making the payment to the retailer.
This then guarantees you of your safety when making payments online via your credit card.
How To Use A Virtual Credit Card
A virtual credit card is only used online or through the phone. Here are the steps to follow when using a virtual credit card:
- After filling your cart on your online retail store and checking out to make a payment, you’ll need to head over to your virtual credit card provider’s site and log in to your account.
- After logging in, you’ll need to generate a token that has a security code and a unique card number. This token can only be used once and will have an expiry date. There will be an option for you to set a maximum spend limit for the card number.
- Once all that is done, you can proceed to make payments using the provided virtual card details.
What About Refunds For Returns?
If you make a purchase online and later decide to return the product and require a refund of your money, you will be able to receive the refund if the virtual credit card has been linked to your usual account. The retailer will process the refund of the amount which will be sent back to the virtual number.
If, however, the number had already expired, you can consult with your credit card issuer to assist you on how to receive the refund from the online merchant without providing your sensitive credit card information.