According to Forbes, virtual cards could eventually become universal among businesses.
What’s so good about Virtual debit/credit cards? First, they are practically impossible to be stolen. Plus, they act as a buffer between your real card and funding source, which gets you another layer of security. You can control spending and cut costs by checking out some of the virtual credit card providers listed below.
There’s also convenience and simplicity, by being able to quickly generate a new virtual card with a few clicks.
What are Virtual Debit or Credit Cards? Virtual credit/debit cards work just like physical cards, except they only exist online. A virtual card provider will generate a virtual payment card instantly for you through a website or a mobile app, which you can use for online payments almost everywhere. You can usually get them for free from many of these companies.
I’ve personally checked and examined all virtual cards and providers in this list, and here are the best ones. Also, note that all of these cards are available in the US.
What are the best virtual debit/credit cards in 2022?
Here are my top picks for the best virtual debit/credit cards to use this year:
- Capital One.
- US Unlocked.
- American Express Go.
Best virtual credit card provider (plus #1 expense management platform)
Divvy offers instant free virtual credit cards for every merchant you buy at, and a unique VCC (virtual credit card) for every recurring payment you need to pay. Their offer of unlimited virtual cards, customization, and the price (FREE) gets them the top spot on this list. The seamless integration of their business credit cards with the #1 expense management platform makes Divvy one of the best apps to manage company money all in one place.
- Unlimited number of virtual credit cards
- Free one-time use burner cards for single expenses
- Free subscription cards for recurring payments
- Set maximum spend, expiration date, and merchant lock
- Freeze/unfreeze or delete individual cards
- Send payments and set limit against a budget
- earn 1-7x rewards with a scalable credit line
- Pricing: It’s FREE – they don’t have contracts or hidden fees.
The biggest physical and virtual card provider
As one of the largest payment processors in the world, the Payoneer virtual debit card is finally here. Their digital card is easy to order and quick to get approved if you’ve already got an account (took me literally 2 minutes). They’ve been leading the world as the #1 option for purchasing and payments for some time, and now with their ‘Digital Purchasing Mastercard’, they’re gearing up to become one of the best virtual card providers available.
The Payoneer virtual card is perfect for making business payments as convenient as possible because it’s accepted almost anywhere, has low fees, and has multiple digital cards to use. Get $25 by signing up with Payoneer through this link.
- pay online anywhere where Mastercard is accepted
- pay for marketing campaigns (such as purchasing ads on social media) on Facebook and Google
- multiple virtual cards for use across platforms and store fronts
- pay to contractors, suppliers and all other business expenses
- daily spending limit of up to $200,000
- Payoneer account fees are $29.95 annually
- digital card not available for Russia, India, European Union, United Kingdom, and a few other countries
Revolut offers instant and free virtual debit cards from their app, with great perks and benefits for everyone. They now offer their services in the US as well through their virtual prepaid debit card, providing great exchange rates without hidden fees. Revolut offers all kinds of services next to virtual cards, including budgeting and analytics, and they have personal and business options with three types of plans in the US: Standard (free), Premium, and Metal.
Revolut cards and services are used across the world for all kinds of domestic and international payments, and they provide perks and benefits not available at most other providers. Sign up for Revolut through this link.
- single-use virtual cards (for privacy) or subscription cards (for longevity)
- International money transfers with 10 fee-free international transfers per month
- spend in over 140 currencies at the market exchange rate and exchange in 30+ fiat currencies
- no hidden fees with unlimited free P2P transfers within the Revolut network
- cash-back, travel perks, and Revolut<18 for kids and teens
- Revolut pricing plans: FREE, $9.99, and $16.99/month
Extend allows you to generate virtual cards with your existing credit card. This virtual credit card can be used by both businesses and freelancers, and anyone who has a credit card with any of the banks they’re partners with, such as American Express, City National Bank, Pacific Western Bank, Bank of the West, Silicon Valley Bank, Regions Bank, and Comdata. Their virtual credit card service is available only in the US, with plans to expand into the UK.
- Unlimited number of virtual cards at no cost
- distribute virtual cards to anyone with as little as an email address
- generate one-time virtual cards, recurring use or auto-refils
- consolidate all your business credit card rewards
- Send cards to vendors, employees, contractors, etc.
- Delegate cards and budgets for different projects, clients, or spend categories
- create virtual cards in a bulk (up to 100 at a time)
- Price: Extend is totally free to use. There is no cost to create, send, and manage virtual cards
Penny lets you issue an unlimited number of virtual prepaid cards for free. You can issue staff cards to manage everything from petty cash to ad spend, fuel, and travel expenses to disposable gift cards. Penny Their offer of unlimited virtual cards, customization, and $0 fees & service charges is difficult to top.
- Unlimited number of free new virtual cards
- Free single-use prepaid debit or credit Mastercards for single expenses
- Free subscription cards for recurring payments or ads expense tracking
- Set maximum spend, expiration date, and merchant locks
- Control spending limit against a budget or cardholders
- Freeze/unfreeze or delete cards
- Pricing: $0 with no hidden fees and no lock-in contracts. It’s completely free.
Stripe offers you a way to create as many instant virtual cards as you want, as well as their physical cards. Especially beneficial for businesses who need to handle payments to their clients and/or employees. Stripe offers all kinds of financial services, management, automation, and payment solutions, and is becoming increasingly popular in the virtual card world as well.
- easy and fast setup with an instant generation of cards
- limit business types and industry
- single or multiple-use virtual cards
- custom spend controls
- make real-time decisions in every charge
- 10¢ per virtual card, $3 per physical card
- no fees for the first $500,000 in card transactions
Privacy.com offers instant free virtual debit and credit cards to residents of the United States only. As you can probably guess, their main principle is that they value privacy a lot, and have decent security measures put in place to protect consumers and businesses.
- free virtual cards if you use a bank account as a funding source
- Chrome/Firefox extension to instantly change who can charge your card, how much, how often, and to close the card
- set max charge limits on each card, or lock to a merchant
- your personal information is 100% private at all times
- Pricing – three tiers: Personal (free), Pro ($10 a month), and Teams ($25 a month)
Citi is the 3rd largest banking institution in the US and one of the largest banks with virtual cards, but they are not available for all Citi cards. You can generate Citi’s virtual card by using Citi’s Virtual Account Numbers. Their Virtual Card Accounts offer tremendous flexibility for businesses and consumers alike.
- Limit number of uses for each card
- Set a maximum limit or range for spending
- Limit card use to a few hours or up to two years
- Lock to a single supplier/vendor or a category of suppliers
- Businesses benefit through improved audit capabilities delivering directly to ERP systems to automate reconciliation
- Can be used for local-currency payments in 40+ countries and nearly 30 unique currencies
- Fees depend on the type of card you use to generate your Virtual card with
9. Capital One
One of the most popular banks with virtual credit cards, Capital one, offers their virtual cards through their Eno service. With this, Capital One can generate free virtual credit card numbers for you if you have a Capital One credit card. Their virtual cards get integrated with your Capital One credit card account, and to do that, you need to install their Eno Chrome extension first.
- every virtual card number unique to each vendor
- lock, unlock, or delete your virtual card numbers for any vendor
- Eno Chrome Extension offers various benefits such as generating a virtual card number at checkout
- earn the benefits and rewards since it’s linked to your account
- Adds another layer of protection to your credit card account
Emburse offers instant virtual debit/credit cards through their cloud-based solution. They offer the same security advantages as other virtual card providers, plus a decent number of additional expenses and purchasing automation solutions.
- set budget, time, and category restrictions
- assign each virtual card to a different merchant
- Apple Wallet and Android Pay ready
- transfer funds instantly
- assign virtual cards to remote employees or contractors
- create an unlimited number of virtual cards
11. Us Unlocked
The US Unlocked provides a virtual Visa debit card and prepaid virtual cards that you can use with almost all major online merchants. Their main offer is giving you access to US brands, plus they work with some of the top freight forwarders in the world.
- Order products and services attached to your billing address
- Offers locking to a single merchant with Merchant Specific Payment Card
- Generate an instant free new virtual card number after every online purchase
- Fees: $15 when signing up, plus a monthly fee of $3.5, plus top-up charge, load, and transaction fees.
Venmo offers a virtual credit card for online purchases, next to ordering their physical credit card. Using their digital wallet, you can split your credit card purchases with friends.
- use the virtual card while you wait for physical
- one virtual card at any time
- Pay in apps, online or local
- Must confirm SSN to view the virtual card number
- Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay ready
American Express offers virtual cards through their Amex Go mobile app. If you are a business owner, you can create Amex Go virtual cards for your employees to control spending and simplify reconciliation.
- Can be used anywhere American Express is accepted, including outside the U.S.
- Use online immediately or add to a mobile wallet for on-the-go use
- Keep track of transactions from all users with one consolidated bill
- Virtual card is reusable
- Fees: a one-time fee of $2 per user profile for virtual-only purchases
Netspend offers multiple free prepaid virtual card numbers, which you can link to your already existing prepaid card.
- Generate up to 6 free virtual debit cards
- Must link prepaid card to a virtual card
- Must verify identity to be approved
- Can be used internationally
- Fees vary. They offer a monthly plan and pay-as-you-go plan for flexibility. You can check the details here.
Bento offers instant virtual debit cards through their business spending management platform. Bento specifically targets businesses, and you can try it free for 60 days.
- Set a spending limit for your virtual debit card
- single purchase or recurring purchases
- Restrict merchant categories, international or other transactions
- For business owners more security, speed and scalability
- Bento virtual debit card fees are already covered by the monthly pricing plan (first 2 months free)
Brex offers full financial software that gives access to your virtual corporate credit card once you’ve been approved. Brex recommends their virtual cards for businesses, to issue virtual cards to your team members.
- Control spending by setting card-specific limits
- Track expenses, earn rewards
- Earn points on all card spend
- need corporate Card before getting virtual cards
- no annual fee,
- no foreign transaction fees,
- no interest charges
- Brex Premium account is $49/month.
Airtm offers a way to get your own virtual debit card in USD and send any local currency for any other local currency, using USD as the base value. They act as escrow and work with Steam, Netflix, Spotify, Paypal, Venmo, Bitcoin, and many other options of payment.
- Make online purchases in any currency
- Send and receive money
- Some people use it for bitcoin and other cryptocurrency payments: you can buy crypto, change crypto to USD, and USD to any local currency
- No local restrictions
- No minimum balances or monthly fees
Benefits of virtual debit/credit cards
Security and Privacy
First, virtual cards add security and privacy to your payments.
Both virtual debit cards and virtual credit cards are used to prevent fraud; since they are throwaway numbers, they are useless to thieves. They act as a layer of protection (buffer) between your funding source and your merchant.
This keeps your real card number protected. You can even pay 100% anonymously. For example, you were in a car accident and you need to pay someone for the damages, but anonymously.
More security and control spending
You can usually set a maximum charge amount, and set the card to expire on a predetermined day. Some virtual cards will also lock to a merchant to prevent the card from being used elsewhere if there was a breach with that merchant.
If someone does manage to steal your virtual card information they’ll still be limited by the maximum amount you’ve set. Moreover, you can control spending of your single or recurring payments by these limits, often done through digital wallets. Control your income, the same way you control the costs.
Save costs as a business
As a business, you can save processing costs and improve internal controls. Virtual cards are cheaper to produce and mail than checks. You will eliminate paper-based payments with a faster and more efficient payment solution, which can’t be broken into.
You can save time with virtual cards, and you can use your digital cards and digital wallets everywhere. Any vendor or business that accepts payments by a debit or credit card generally accepts virtual cards as well.
Virtual debit card vs physical debit card
Virtual debit cards are very similar to physical debit cards.
Generally, you link a virtual debit card to an underlying debit account. When you make a purchase, the amount is subtracted from the balance connected to the card. To increase security and control, you can always limit the maximum amount you can spend on your virtual debit card.
Virtual credit card vs physical credit card
The same applies to virtual credit cards vs physical credit cards.
Virtual credit cards give you a few more benefits compared to regular credit cards. With virtual credit cards, you can decrease your spending, control your finances, close at any time if it’s negatively affecting your score, you can pause or freeze it, get more security and keep your information private.