What about prepaid virtual cards?
While not technically "credit cards", you can get prepaid digital Mastercard and Visa cards in Australia. Usually, these are gift cards that you buy pre-loaded with a set amount of money and can use until that amount has been spent.
Virtual credit cards in Australia
Virtual credit cards give you a way to apply, get approved and start shopping all on the same day – here’s how they work.
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A virtual credit card is a digital version of a credit card that you can use for the same kinds of payments as traditional, plastic cards. With a virtual card, all the details are stored online or in an app, so you don't always have to wait for a plastic credit card to arrive in the mail before you can start using it.
If you run a business, a virtual credit card account can also make it easier to add additional cards for employees and securely manage spending.
How does a virtual credit card work?
A virtual credit card works the same way as a regular card and has the same eligibility criteria, but you can start using it instantly. This is really handy, but can also be risky if you tend to be on the impulsive side when it comes to your spending. So just make sure you have a plan before you apply and start shopping.
Compare virtual credit cards in Australia
You'll see some credit cards come with a physical and digital version of the card, or a digital-only account.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Different types of virtual credit cards
There is a growing number of digital and virtual credit cards you can apply for, including options through Apple Pay, Google Pay and other mobile wallets.
Any credit card that is stored virtually on an app or online account can technically be called a virtual credit card. But there are 3 main types of virtual credit cards you can get in Australia right now, each with different features, benefits and options.
1. Instant virtual credit cards for personal use
These are credit cards you can apply for and start using as soon as you're approved.
Usually, you'll get a digital copy of the card number, expiry date and CVV that you can use to pay online or over-the-phone. Add these details to a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay and you can also shop in-person at any store that accepts contactless payments.
Some accounts also come with a plastic credit card (or the option of getting one), while others are totally digital.
It does depend on the credit card though. For example, the PayPal Rewards Card offers a virtual card that you can use with PayPal partners once you're approved, but you'll have to wait for the plastic credit card if you want to shop outside the PayPal network.
Let's look at some of the different instant, virtual credit cards you can get in Australia, including whether they are virtual-only or send you a physical, plastic card as well.
|MoneyMe Freestyle Virtual Mastercard (virtual)||This completely virtual credit card is stored on the MoneyMe App and can be used with Apple Pay or Google Pay, anywhere Mastercard is accepted (both online and offline).|
|Westpac Flex Card (virtual and physical)||A no interest, flat fee credit card that offers a virtual card you can start using once your application is approved.|
|PayPal Rewards Card (virtual and physical)||A virtual credit card that is instantly added to your PayPal wallet when your application is approved, so you can use it to shop with businesses that accept PayPal.|
You also get a traditional credit card that you can use anywhere Visa cards are accepted.
|Latitude credit cards (virtual and physical)||Latitude credit cards can be set up virtually through the Latitude app, then linked to your Apple or Android mobile wallet so you can use it before you get the physical card.|
|Bendigo Bank credit cards (virtual and physical)||Bendigo Bank personal credit cards can be set up virtually through the bank's app, then linked to Apple Pay immediately.|
|Bankwest credit cards (virtual and physical)||Bankwest personal credit cards can be set up through the bank's app. You can then use the card number and other details to make payments or link it to a mobile wallet.|
Most of these credit cards come with a virtual card and a plastic one, which means all of them will be widely accepted by businesses.
But if you want to make virtual payments most of the time, it's worth comparing the apps and platforms used by each card so you can find one you like. App store reviews and images are a great place to start because you'll see feedback from people already using them. This, along with the card's features, rates and fees, will help you choose one you want.
Also keep in mind that we're likely to see more virtual credit cards in the future, with government research showing that more than 1 in 20 payments in-person are now made with a mobile device.
2. Mobile wallet cards
When you add a card to Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay or another mobile wallet, it creates a virtual "copy" of your credit card that you can use to make payments from the app.
Mobile or digital wallets typically create a virtual account number that's used for payments, instead of using the numbers printed on your plastic credit card. This feature – along with thumbprint or other ID authentication – helps keep the account safe.
Example: A virtual account number in Google Pay
In the Google Pay smartphone app, you'll see an image of your card without the numbers, along with some encrypted details of your virtual account number that's used when you tap to pay at the checkout.
Tip: Waiting on a new card? Check Apple Pay
If you need to replace a credit card that's been added to Apple Pay, the app will automatically update the details. This can happen before the physical credit card arrives in the mail, although you would still need to activate the card to start using it.
3. Business and corporate virtual credit cards
The first virtual credit cards to be widely used in Australia were for business and corporate use. These accounts give businesses a way to manage finances without issuing lots of traditional credit cards to employees.
Some business virtual cards also let you generate virtual card and account details for payments, either for single-use or ongoing spending that could be restricted to certain types of transactions. These features mean virtual cards can give you more flexibility and a greater level of financial transparency compared to traditional business and corporate credit cards.
Here's a look at some of the business virtual credit card accounts available in Australia right now.
|AirPlus Virtual Cards|
|American Express Go|
|CommBank virtual cards for businesses|
|HSBC Virtual Card|
|Westpac Virtual Card|
As well as banks and traditional credit card issuers, there are business and corporate virtual cards from a mix of other companies that specialise in business solutions. This gives you more options if you're looking for virtual cards for work.
What about prepaid virtual cards?
Pros and cons of getting a virtual credit card
Every virtual credit card has different account features, the same as any plastic credit card. But when you're comparing virtual and physical cards, here are some of the key pros and cons to look at:
- Instant access. Some virtual cards can be used as soon as your application is approved, or when you're waiting for a new plastic card in the mail.
- Data encryption. All virtual card apps and digital wallets encrypt your personal and financial data to help keep it safe.
- Mobile payments. With a virtual credit card, you can leave your house with nothing more than your smartphone – and shop online in just a few taps.
- Plastic-free. A totally virtual credit card means you'll save on plastic (and credit card plastic is hard to recycle in Australia). If you want to make greener choices, you could also switch to a more sustainable phone plan or energy provider. Check out the Finder Green Award-winners to get started.
- Relies on technology working. You won't be able to use your virtual card if your phone battery goes flat or if you don't have an Internet connection.
- Cashless-only. Some virtual cards restrict cash withdrawals, while others charge high cash advance interest rates and fees. This makes it hard if you're in a situation where cash is the only option – for example, if you're travelling or paying for a service that doesn't accept your card.
- Potential debt. Getting a virtual card more quickly than a plastic credit card could mean you spend less time thinking about how you'll manage your money and repayments.
Can you use a virtual credit card anywhere?
Most of the time, you can use a virtual credit card with any business that accepts traditional credit card payments. But there are a some situations when a virtual card may not be accepted, including:
- When a payment terminal or system isn't set up for contactless payments
- If a hotel booking requires a credit card and/or other ID when you check-in
- If you need to present the card as proof of purchase
In these situations, a virtual card either won't work when you try to pay or won't show the details that are needed by the business (such as a hotel). So it's a good idea to keep your plastic card handy – or to check if your virtual card will be accepted before you leave with only your phone.
How secure are virtual credit cards?
Virtual cards are as secure as a traditional credit card – and sometimes could be even more secure because the virtual card numbers can be changed for each transaction. Every virtual card has different features, but some of the key security options include:
- Unique card numbers. Some virtual cards let you generate a specific card number for each transaction, or for very specific types of transactions. This makes it very hard for a fraudster to use the card for unauthorised transactions.
- Dynamic CVVs. Traditional credit cards come with a 3- or 4-digit CVV or CVC number that you need to make payments online or over the phone. While that number always stays the same on a physical card, virtual cards can offer CVVs that change regularly, or per transaction.
- Encrypted details. Both online and contactless payments made from a virtual card use encrypted data so that the account details are protected.
- Zero liability and fraud monitoring. Both traditional and virtual credit cards in Australia offer zero liability policies so you can get your money back from fraudulent transactions. Most also offer fraud-monitoring technology to flag any suspicious activity.
Similar to losing a traditional credit card, you should report your phone as lost or stolen as soon as you can by logging in to your account. From there, you'll be able to lock, track or even erase your phone details so that no one can access your private information – including any digital or virtual cards stored on it.
How to apply for a virtual credit card
You can apply for a virtual credit card in basically the same way as a regular card: by filling in an application form online. You also need to meet the card's eligibility criteria.
Depending on the virtual credit card, you might notice a few differences to other applications, especially if it's an "instant" virtual credit card. This is because the card issuer needs enough details to verify that someone is eligible to be approved.
For example, with the MoneyMe Freestyle Virtual Mastercard, you'll need to upload bank statements as part of the application. And with the Westpac Flex Card, you need to log in to your bank account during the application.
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