How Virtual Credit Card Numbers Can Protect You
If you shop online, you might want to consider using a virtual credit card number to better protect yourself against fraud.
If you shop online, either on your computer or on a mobile device, you might feel uncomfortable entering your credit card details. There are plenty of scammers out there online, and it seems like there are always new credit card frauds and scams to follow when shopping on the web.
The good news is that virtual credit cards exist to provide numbers that can help you stay safe and feel more confident about shopping online. Read on to learn more about virtual credit card numbers and how they work.
What is a virtual credit card number?
A virtual credit card generates a unique number that is different from the numbers shown on your physical credit card. Your virtual card will include a card number, security codes and an expiration date.
Virtual credit card numbers are connected to your existing credit card account. But virtual numbers serve as a mask so that no one can see your real credit card account number or your physical card numbers. This can protect you, as it protects your personal financial information and keeps it away from potential online crooks.
It also means that your real account number and sensitive data will not be saved anywhere, so there is less worry about a possible data breach. When you shop online, you enter your virtual credit card details the same way you normally provide your regular credit card number. This way, you won’t have to feel nervous about your data being exposed.
In many cases, virtual card numbers are intended to be used only once. You generate a number and use it, then the next time you want to shop online, you generate a new virtual card number. Sometimes you can use a virtual card number more than once, but it can have an expiration date. You’ll want to check with each virtual card before using it to make sure you know if it’s a one-time use or not.
Are there any downsides to using a virtual credit card number?
Using a virtual credit card number is a smart idea, but it’s important to be aware of any complications that can arise when using it.
Since many e-card numbers are single-use, this can complicate matters when trying to return an item. Most retailers prefer to offer the refund directly to the credit card you used to purchase. This can be a problem with virtual card numbers that have a one-time use number. If you experience this problem, you can request a cash refund or store credit instead.
Another potential issue to keep in mind is using a virtual credit card number for recurring purchases may not make sense. This is because the number can be single-use or expire when recurring expenses need to be billed again. For these purchases, you may want to stick with your usual credit card number.
Which credit card issuers offer virtual card numbers?
Many card issuers offer virtual card numbers for your added protection. This capability is included in many major credit cards. Here is an overview of issuers that offer this:
- Capital one: Eno, the virtual assistant developed by Capital One, can help card users set up merchant-specific virtual card numbers with the Eno browser extension.
- Hunt: Chase offers digital payment options through Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, allowing card users to create and redeem virtual card numbers.
- Citi: Virtual card numbers are available for some of its cards, but not all.
- Marcus by Goldman Sachs: The Apple Card, which is backed by Macus by Goldman Sachs, has virtual card numbers built into the card’s capabilities.
- Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo offers virtual card numbers to its cardholders through third-party providers – Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
Before withdrawing your credit card to make an online purchase, consider whether it makes sense to use a virtual card number instead. If you are unsure whether your card supports the use of virtual card numbers, it is best to contact the card issuer and ask.
The bottom line
Virtual credit card numbers can help you feel more secure while shopping online. If you want to hide your real credit card numbers and further protect yourself from online security threats, using a virtual card number may be the right option for you. Before you start using one, just make sure you know if the virtual number is one-time use or offers multi-use capabilities with an expiration date.