Virtual debit cards and credit cards provide a secure and convenient way to shop online.
In the world of online shopping, security is paramount. There’s always a certain level of risk involved whenever you hand over your personal details and credit card information online, so any way you can make online shopping easier or safer is well worth a look.
Virtual debit cards provide a prepaid, disposable debit card number you can use to shop online and over the phone. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits these plastic-free alternatives offer to determine whether you could benefit from a virtual debit card.
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What are virtual debit cards?
A virtual debit card is basically a digital version of a plastic debit card. By generating a random 16-digit card number, virtual card providers offer the convenience of online debit card shopping instantly. You usually have to access the virtual card through an app or digital wallet on your mobile device, and the virtual card only remains valid for a specified period.
These plastic-free alternatives usually do not require you to add your personal details to the card, allowing you to protect your identity when shopping. They’re also disposable and, in many cases, you can only use them for a single transaction. Since they’re prepaid, you can enjoy the freedom of spending your own money rather than running up a credit card bill.
What are the benefits of virtual debit cards?
All the online functionality of a normal debit card
You can use a disposable virtual debit card to shop online in all the same places you would use your normal debit card.
No waiting around
Instead of waiting around for a week or more for a physical debit card to be delivered to your door, you can sign up for a virtual debit card instantly and start shopping.
Safe and secure
You can shop in safety and anonymity online when you use a disposable virtual debit card to pay for your purchases.
Stored in your phone
Digital debit cards are stored in your phone rather than in your wallet, providing a convenient way to manage payments straight from your mobile device.
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 are prepaid cards, 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.
How do I use a virtual debit card?
It’s quick and easy to load up a virtual debit card and use it to pay for purchases online. All you have to do is complete the following steps:
- Sign up for a virtual debit card and receive your card details (including card number and CVV).
- Continue to shop online as you normally would. Add items to your cart and click “Checkout” when you are ready to pay.
- Follow the steps at Checkout until you get to the payment screen.
- In the area where you would enter the details of any normal debit or credit card, enter the details of your virtual card.
- Submit payment and complete your purchase.
Are there any drawbacks to virtual debit cards?
The main drawback of virtual debit cards is that you can’t tap & pay with a virtual card in the same way you would with a physical card. Virtual cards only work in the online world, so they will most likely not provide an all-in-one solution to your payment problems.
The other main issue to be aware of is the fees attached to your prepaid debit card. Most providers charge an initial set-up/purchase fee when you sign up for a virtual card. You will usually also pay a fee when you load funds onto your card. This latter fee is calculated as a percentage of the funds you transfer to your virtual card, so it can end up being quite expensive.
Some providers will even penalise you with fees when you withdraw funds from your card back to your bank account. With this in mind, it’s essential to compare the fees and charges attached to any virtual debit card before deciding whether it’s right for you.
A different type of virtual debit card
In January 2017, as part of a push to promote increased use of digital wallets, ANZ introduced a virtual card option for customers who need a replacement card. Under these changes, ANZ customers who have uploaded their credit or debit card details onto a digital wallet on their smartphone won’t need to wait several days for a replacement card if their physical card is lost or stolen.
Instead, ANZ will automatically upload details of the replacement card to the customer’s smartphone. This convenient solution not only saves time for ANZ customers but also indicates a larger shift within the industry, with this Big Four bank planning for virtual cards accessed from digital wallets to one day replace plastic cards.
Virtual debit card FAQs
What use is a virtual debit card?
Virtual debit cards allow you to shop online or over the phone with a virtual card rather than a physical card. They provide a fast, convenient and secure way to shop wherever normal debit cards are accepted.
What is a virtual Visa card?
A virtual Visa card is a secure prepaid digital debit card offered by Visa. You can use it to shop online anywhere that Visa is normally accepted.
What is a mobile wallet?
A mobile wallet allows you to carry your debit and credit card information in digital form on your smartphone. Also known as digital wallets, mobile wallets allow you to purchase items online and in-store using your mobile device.
Can you transfer money from PayPal to Google Wallet?
To transfer funds from your PayPal account to your Google Wallet, you will first need to withdraw money from your PayPal account into your linked bank account. You can then add the debit card linked to your bank account as a payment method in Google Wallet, allowing you to access the funds you have just transferred out of your PayPal account.
How can I transfer money from PayPal to my prepaid debit card?
Australian customers cannot withdraw money from a PayPal account to a prepaid debit card.
What is the ANZ Virtual Card?
This 16-digit Visa account number offers a payment solution for businesses, allowing multiple employees to make purchases on a company account without the need to issue individual plastic cards.
Which companies offer virtual debit cards?
Several providers offer virtual debit cards, including Visa Virtual and EntroPay.