- Apple Pay, Google Pay
- Monthly fees: $0
Debit cards give you convenient access to funds in your transaction account, allowing you to pay for goods and services with a swipe, insert or tap of the card. But these days, you don't necessarily need the physical card with you at all.
Here, we talk you through what a virtual debit card is, how they work and how to decide whether they're right for you.
What is a virtual debit card?
Virtual debit cards are essentially a digital version of the plastic debit card you are probably already used to. There are a few types of virtual debit cards you really need to know about:
- A digital version of your physical card. This "card" exists in a digital wallet, usually on your phone with Apple Pay, Android Pay or an Internet bank app. It uses the same card number and details as the physical card, but you access it through an app and pay using contactless payment technology just like you can with your physical card.
- A digital "card" that is not necessarily linked to a physical card. This virtual debit card uses an encrypted card number. You can use it for contactless payments in-store or even by logging in when you shop online.
- A digital pre-paid card that you load money onto. You will be given a virtual card number to use for online shopping; this number may also change for each website. Because there is no set card number, these can be more secure.
What are the benefits of a virtual debit card?
Using a virtual debit card has a number of advantages, including the following:
Secure online shopping
If you are using a virtual debit card that generates a random card number, this will help keep your funds secure when shopping online.
You won't need to bring a physical debit card with you to complete transactions in-store. You can do this all on your smartphone.
No waiting for card delivery
You won't need to wait for a card to be delivered when you sign up for a new account or if your card expires. With the new digital banks, some give you a virtual debit card, which you can use as soon as you get an account and before your physical card is even delivered.
Single- or multi-use
There are single- and multi-use virtual debit cards available to suit your online payment needs.
Multi-currency cards available
Some providers also offer multi-currency prepaid debit cards, allowing you to save on currency conversion fees when buying from overseas retailers.
Virtual debit cards can be prepaid, giving you the freedom to load them up with the funds you want to spend rather than running up a debt with a credit card provider.
What are the drawbacks to a virtual debit card?
Keep in mind virtual debit cards may not suit everyone. Here are some points to consider before signing up:
- Prepaid virtual debit cards will have limits. You may only be able to hold a certain amount on the card.
- You can't spend more than $100 per transaction in-store. In-store transactions will be contactless payments, which are limited to $100 per transaction.
- Prepaid cards aren't guaranteed by the government. If you choose a prepaid card, any funds you load onto it aren't guaranteed by the government. This is not the case with debit cards, where deposits up to $250,000 are guaranteed.
How do I use a virtual debit card?
This depends on the type of virtual debit card you choose. If you opt for a virtual debit card that can be loaded into a digital wallet, you will need to have a transaction account that offers this option. Once you have opened the account and have the physical card, you can follow the prompts in your chosen digital wallet to add the card. The bank may also be able to give you a virtual debit card in your bank app before it sends you the physical card.
For a virtual card for online shopping, just sign up online and follow the process. You should receive the details once the process is completed. You may be able to link this card to a PayPal account or bank account or you may need to load funds to the virtual card account itself.
Have more questions about virtual debit cards?
Why you can trust Finder's banking experts
Our comparison tables are completely free to use. We link you directly to the bank's secure application page. On a daily basis we update the rates, fees and conditions of the 200+ accounts on our database.
We've researched and rated hundreds of accounts for our Finder Awards. We've published 100+ guides and our in-house experts regularly appear on Sunrise, 7News and SBS News.
Unlike other comparison sites, we're not owned by a bank or lender. That means our opinions are our own and you can compare nearly every bank account in Australia on Finder.
Since 2015, we’ve helped over 1.3 million Australians find an account. We'll never ask for your personal information. We're here to help you make a decision.
We're here to help
You may also be interested in
SPONSORED: Get the inside scoop on what you need to know when you migrate to the land down under.Read more…
SPONSORED: If you've migrated to Australia and you're looking for a home loan, make sure you read this first.Read more…
SPONSORED: Here's just about everything you need to know before you pack up and go.Read more…
SPONSORED: Recently arrived in Australia and not sure where to start with finances?Read more…
SPONSORED: We take a look at whether term deposits or savings accounts serve you better.Read more…
Here's how Teachers Mutual Bank Limited's focus on sustainability led to greener accounts, products and operations.Read more…
More guides on Finder
ANZ Business Essentials Account
This is a business bank account with no monthly account keeping fees and a free ANZ Business Visa Debit card.
Best debit cards
Whether you’re travelling overseas or just want easy access to your funds, here’s how to find the best debit card to suit your needs.
Bendigo Bank Everyday Account Product Review
With convenient access to your funds and a host of flexible features, Bendigo Bank’s Everyday Account can help you manage your day-to-day finances with ease.
BCU Access account
The Access account offers bcu customers accessibility, flexibility and convenience when conducting everyday banking transactions.
Online banks in Australia
Online-only banks do not operate any physical branches resulting in reduced expenses and more affordable banking solutions for their customers.
How to open a bank account in Australia for foreigners
For foreigners opening a bank account in Australia, the process is easy and user-friendly, and often comes with attractive deals and discounts on transaction fees.
100 points of ID to open a bank account
You can meet the 100 points of ID requirement when opening a bank account by showing your passport, birth certificate or driver's license. If you don't have these, there are a few other things you can use as ID.
Bank Australia Mortgage Offset
Any funds in your Bank Australia Mortgage Offset are subtracted from your home loan principle and reduces your interest repayments while giving you on-call access to your funds.
Debit cards with no foreign transaction fees
International transaction fees can add up to a lot of wasted money. These debit cards are great for travelling and online shopping and will save you money by waiving this annoying fee.
Ask an Expert