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 – compare your options and see how they work.
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. But the virtual card's details are stored online or in an app, which means you could use it even before a new plastic card arrives in the mail.
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.
Compare virtual credit cards
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.
What banks give you an instant virtual card in Australia?
Bankwest, Bendigo Bank and Westpac are among the banks that offer virtual credit cards you can start using once you're approved. Here are some more details on different instant, virtual credit cards you can get in Australia, including whether they are virtual-only or send you a physical card as well.
|Bankwest credit cards (virtual and physical)||Bankwest 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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|MONEYME Freestyle Virtual Card (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.|
|Wizitcard (virtual)||A completely virtual credit card that charges no interest, with a flat monthly fee instead. You can start using it once your application is approved, anywhere Mastercard is accepted.|
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.
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.
These days, transactions mainly just involve tapping a card or a mobile device that securely stores card details.”
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.
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 (including expense management 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).
- 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.
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.
Frequently asked questions
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We're here to help
- Reserve Bank of Australia Payments System Board Annual Report 2022
- Australian Parliament Mobile Payment and Digital Wallet Financial Services report 2021
- Visa Mobile Payments
- Apple Pay Security and Privacy
- Google Pay Help
- Gift Card Store Virtual Prepaid Mastercards
- Westpac digital card details accessed 17 April 2023
- Ellis Connolly RBA speech The Shift to Electronic Payments – Some Policy Issues (March 2023)
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