Today, online shopping has become a fad with global brands and innumerable products are available at your doorstep without the need to move out of your home. Right from commodity goods, like electronics appliances, to eatables like fruits and vegetables, everything is available with just a click of your mouse.
However, with all this comfort there lies a concern for security too. Online shopping has also attracted the attention of Cybercriminals making it unsecured at times. The need to enter the credit card details including the CVV number puts the user’s entire credit limit at the stake of online criminals.
What makes credit cards more vulnerable is their hefty credit limits, which cybercriminals are looking for. A simple leak or hack, and your credit is at the risk of being misused online. So, what is the solution? Is there a way that you can still use Credit Cards and feel secure enough?
The answer could be, Virtual Credit Cards.
What is a Virtual Credit Card
A Virtual Credit Card is a prepaid credit card with no credit limit, meaning that there is no possibility of any credit being compromised. Virtual Credit Cards are ideal for online usage as even if the card information is compromised, the hacker cannot use them beyond the loaded balance and the present daily usage limits.
As the name suggests, Virtual credit cards are virtual in nature and are not issued physically. They do not have any plastic presence at all. They exist only virtually, and that is how they provide protection. Virtual Credit Cards are basically randomly generated numbers designed to protect your traditional credit card information when shopping online.
Even if the number gets hacked, the hacker cannot use it beyond the loaded balance and the present daily usage limits. It is an online service that is linked to the Netbanking account of the user. You just need to log in to the online portal and create a Virtual Credit Card for the required amount whenever you need to pay online. It is an extended version of your credit card that offers you an extra layer of protection. Virtual Credit Card is the safest and best option for most needs.
Although it is called a Virtual Credit Card, it is in effect a prepaid card. It is a debit card in the true sense, as there is no credit facility on it. You can decide the everyday credit limits of these virtual cards. All the relevant details of this card like the card number, “valid from date”, the expiry date, and the CVV number are present online.
How Virtual Credit Card guarantees security
One of the most attractive features of this card and the reason for its existence is its anti-theft guarantee. A virtual credit card number is present virtually, and it can be used only once. This feature itself reduces any doubt for theft largely.
Read: How do you protect yourself against Carding credit card fraud?
How to get a Virtual Credit Card
A virtual credit card is easy to use like a normal credit card. It is quite simple to make an online purchase using these virtual cards.
- The first thing you need to do is create a card of the required denomination. For this, provide your card details to the bank from whom you are taking the net banking facility.
- Then, the bank will provide you with a 16-digit virtual credit card number.
- Enter this credit card number that is generated. Top up the card with as much money as you need to make a payment for, and the requisite amount will be credited from your account. That’s it!
You do not have to fill in more details like CVV number or expiry date or anything else, as you are required to do with a permanent or physical credit card. That is why Virtual Credit Cards are preferred nowadays for secured online shopping.
Generally, the validity of these virtual credit cards is just 24 to 48 hours. However some banks like ICICI allows a longer expiry date. After that, it self-destroys itself. Customers are allowed to make only one payment through these credit cards.
Customers have the flexibility to use either the entire amount or a part of it. The leftover balance will be credited back to the customer’s bank account. No additional service charge is applicable for using it.
Trustworthy virtual credit card services providers
There are many banks that provide Virtual Credit Card Services. Bank of America and Citi are the major players who offer both Credit Cards as well as Virtual Credit Cards.
Bank of America: The Bank offers this service to the users of online banking as a ShopSafe service on Visa and Mastercard accounts only. By default, it generates a virtual credit card number for online shopping. Customers have the flexibility to select the validity of numbers that can be up to one year max and can even use it for monthly recurring payments. They also provide a temporary expiry date for the 16-digit account number and security code for more security.
Citi: It offers this service to the users of Citi Thank You and Preferred Card. There is little difference in the way Bank of America and Citi work towards Virtual Credit cards. The virtual credit card number generated in Citi can be used for a single merchant only. Thus, if a hacker even steals, it cannot be used elsewhere. Cardmembers can request Citi to provide them with additional numbers for other merchants. You need to check if your account is eligible for a virtual credit card.
EntroPay: It is the most popular at present in virtual cards for international payment in spite of being a new player. It is quite easy to get a ready card that too just in five minutes. Visit the website and click on Get Started Now. Registered yourself by entering the required details and clicking on “Create your Entropay card”. Select the currency you would be dealing with and enter the top-up amount between $5 to $300. On this top-up, you have to pay a high loading commission of $4.95% of the total top-up amount. And your card is ready in just five minutes! Moreover, it accepts most cards all over the world. It has three levels – Starter, basic, and Premier with limitations of the recharged amount.
Though Entropay has a high commission, it is so far the most trusted and good service provider for virtual credit cards.
Final: Final was the credit card startup that is now acquired by Goldman Sachs. Finally used to offer disposable credit card numbers. In one of the services, the could be used once only, and it would be disposed of by default. In contrast, another card could be utilized with a single merchant multiple times.
Final is no longer taking new applications. The existing cardholders can know more about their card by signing in to their account on GetFinal.com, or by emailing [email protected].
India-based issuers of Virtual Credit Cards
SBI VCC: In order to issue SBI Virtual Credit Card, log into your NetBanking account. Free virtual cards will be generated with a range from INR 100 to INR 50,000. The card is valid until one successful transaction or up to 48 hours.
It can be used for domestic purposes only. The bank sends a text to your registered mobile number for approval of the transaction. To create a virtual SBI card, go to its site and Log In. Click on the e-card tab and choose Virtual Credit Card of SBI. Read their terms and conditions thoroughly and click on agree and then on generate. Verify the details and OTP will be sent to your mobile number. The card will be generated on successful verification.
HDFC NetSafe VCC: It generates the virtual card number using your existing credit/debit card. Its validity is just for 48 hours. For debit cards, 5 HDFC VCC can be generated daily. It can be used on merchant site that accepts Mastercard/ Visa Card, providing you secure online payment.
Kotak Mahindra Bank Netcard: It works internationally and domestically. It is valid for 48 hours only or until 1st transaction. You can avail its facility if you have a current or savings account in Kotak Mahindra bank and if you are registered as a net banking user. Here are simple steps to create Netcard:
Go to its site and log in to your NetBanking account. Click on Netc@rd tab. The OTP will be sent to your registered mobile number. Enter the amount of the virtual card and click OK. Your card is created!
Lime Wallets of Axis Bank: Users of Mastercard are offered a free virtual credit card or a shopping card. It can be used for domestic purposes only. They also have plans for connecting a physical card to the wallet to facilitate shopping at offline stores. To start using it, download a Lime Wallet App. Enter your details to open an account. Then create a VCC.
Pockets Wallet of ICICI: It can be used by anyone, even if they are not customers of ICICI. It also has an option to link the physical card to the wallet, facilitating offline payment, though you need to pay an annual fee for that. They also have shopping offers, especially for users from time to time. It also facilitates to transfer the fund to other bank accounts using NEFT. There is news that ICICI will soon have a facility in its ICICI branches for customers to deposit cash to load it into the virtual visa card.
If you wish to create an online VCC of ICICI, simply download the pocket wallet app and click on sign up. Enter the details and click on sign up and done. Your card is created.
Selecting a Virtual Credit Card is recommended if you want to protect your Credit Card limit from being abused by hackers. However, even Virtual Credit Cards run the risk of being manipulated, though the damage will be minimal. Hence, you should consider all risks before buying.