The Ultimate Guide to Virtual Credit Cards

Have you ever heard of a virtual credit card? Most people haven’t, but they might be of use to you, especially if you do a good deal of shopping online. If you’ve ever been concerned about buying things on the Internet, it may be possible for you to better protect yourself by using a virtual credit card. If you’re interested in the virtues of going virtual, then read on to learn all about how virtual credit cards work.

A virtual credit card is basically software that allows you to select a one-time “virtual” credit card number for each purchase that you make on the Internet. This means that if this number is stolen, the number can’t be used to make another purchase, or to track information back to you. In other words, scammers and hackers will be unable to rip you off with a virtual credit card.

Virtual credit cards are also helpful to use for free offers that require a credit card or have recurring payment cycles that you’re not sure about. If you think that you may be billed later for something you don’t want, you can use virtual credit card to protect yourself. Using an instant virtual credit card number is like using a disposable number that can only be used one time (and does not require a special virtual credit card terminal or anything similar – the virtual credit card can be used online just like any other credit card).

There is no need to buy a virtual credit card as several major banks offer virtual credit cards; here is a breakdown. You might be surprised to know that one of your cards offers this service. In fact, almost all of the major credit card companies offer a form of virtual credit card payment system so be sure and use our free tool to compare credit cards today!

Citi Virtual Account Number

Totally virtual.

For select cards (mostly Diamond and Platinum), Citi has a little animated web application that can generate a single-use sixteen digit number that can be used to make an online purchase. Once the transaction has cleared, the number is totally worthless—to both you and any potential thieves.

Visa Entropay

Remember: “EntroPay” is only one letter away from “entropy.”

While the name leaves a lot to be desired, EntroPay is a virtual version of a prepaid card. Unlike some of these other options, EntroPay is a prepaid Visa card. What’s beneficial about this is that it is backed by the Visa brand, making payment accepted nearly anywhere. Plus, this is great for someone who doesn’t have a traditional credit card, or with bad credit. While there are many other prepaid credit cards that you should research before jumping on the “EntroPay” bandwagon this is a nice online virtual credit card and is in fact marketed squarely towards people looking for a quick and easy online prepaid virtual credit card to use.

Discover Secure Online Account Numbers


Discover allows you to use their web utility to generate virtual credit card numbers, but you must specify when they expire. Unless you do so, they will not phase out until the expiration date of your real card. This could in turn give you some flexibility to use various virtual credit cards. But if you’re concerned about a recurring charge, you’ll have to stay on top of it. Using the Discover virtual credit card generator is as simple as just logging into the Discover website and pressing a few buttons – easy, huh?

Bank of America ShopSafe

Boom. Purchase protected.

If you currently own a Bank of America Visa or MasterCard and also are enrolled in online banking with the company, you have access to ShopSafe. With ShopSafe, you are able to specify an expiration date one year into the future, which means that you could use a single virtual number for an annual term if you want to keep using a specific number for all online purchases.

Prepaid Virtual Credit Cards

Yeah… totally legit.

This is probably somewhat the reverse of traditional virtual credit cards. This site issues cards from European Union banks that have expiration dates lasting for only 1-2 months. So this is not the same as virtual credit cards that are offered by other issuers. That’s because they give you a prepaid card that lasts much longer. But hey, to each their own.

Not many people know about virtual credit cards. Surprisingly, companies have been offering this for the better part of the past decade, although they haven’t really caught on.

And why shouldn’t they? It’s to everyone’s benefit to offer this feature. No one wants to deal with fraudulent transactions on their credit card statement, especially not your credit card company. So if you’ve ever been in a “compromising” position with your credit card, or don’t ever want to be, give virtual credit cards a try.

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Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or any other credit card company or issuer. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any credit card company or issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any credit card company or issuer. Credit Card Chaser may be compensated through various affiliate programs with advertisers. As always, Credit Card Chaser is an independent website commmitted to helping people research credit card offers and find the best credit card!