What is a Virtual Card?

Revolut Contributor

 · May 07, 2020  · 05/07/2020

A virtual card can do almost everything you could expect from a normal payment card, with one exception: it doesn’t exist in any physical form. So, what is this virtual debit card, and why would you want one?

Actually, there are many reasons why virtual payment cards are incredibly useful. From convenience to improved security, they’re really quite handy things. In this article, we’re taking a look at what they’re all about.

What is a Virtual Card?

A virtual card is a payment card that only exists in a virtual form. You can use it to make purchases online and in-app, and you can pay in-store with mobile payment services like Google Pay and Apple Pay, too.

The only thing you can’t do with it is withdraw cash. This is because it does not have a magstripe or chip for Chip & Pin – on account of not being physical. Apart from that, however, a virtual card has a 16-digit number, an expiry, and a CVV like any normal card – and will share an account number and sort code with your account.

What is important to know, though, is that, whilst your virtual card will be linked to the same account as your physical card, this card number will be different. This means that you can spend online without worrying about security. Simply lock your virtual card whilst still using your physical card as normal.

And the Disposable Virtual Card?

Whilst your Revolut virtual card can be stored and used over again, a disposable virtual card ups the security for one-off uses. These can be regenerated as many times as you require, each time with a new unique card number – meaning that your actual card details are never shared with vendors.

Instead, vendors receive surrogate card information. This is generated in seconds and is linked to your Revolut account.

What is a Virtual Credit Card?

Virtual credit cards are offered by some banks and work in exactly the same way as other virtual payment cards. However, they differ in precisely the way you’d expect – they are linked to a credit account rather than your current account – but the same benefits apply.

Why Use a Virtual Card?

You’ll have noticed that one of the main benefits of a virtual card is that it can be hugely helpful in keeping your account secure online. However, that’s not the only reason why you should use one.

Rather, there are a number of advantages that virtual cards offer. Let’s take a look.

Stay Secure

In the UK in 2018, cash lost through financial fraud totalled over £800 million, according to UK Finance, with over 75% of losses made through “card not present” transactions – i.e. payments made over the phone or online.

Virtual cards help to protect against this by being easily freezable or, in the case of disposable cards, simply single-use. This means that the card details that you leave with the vendor cannot be used to access your account after the single time you gave permission.

Budget Better

With Revolut, you can order up to five virtual cards at a time. Whilst this is great for security, it also allows you to better control what comes out of your account and for what purposes.

Use a different card for each type of online expense – and set a limit on what each can spend. The money all comes out of the same place, but virtual cards give you a clearer sense of precisely where your money goes.

Keep Your Card Handy

Physical cards are loseable. We’ve all done it. Virtual cards, though, make that a bit more difficult, as you’ll always have it stored on your phone.

This doesn’t stop you from losing your phone – obviously. But your virtual card will be there in your Revolut account as soon as you log in from elsewhere.

The Revolut Virtual Card: How to Use It

The Revolut virtual card is incredibly easy to use. That’s because it works in exactly the same way as your regular Revolut card.

You’ll see your virtual card in the app – as soon as you have one – alongside the details of your physical card. With any online payment, enter the 16-digit card number as normal, along with the expiry and CVV number – or add your card to Google Pay.

How Do I Get a Virtual Card?

To get a Revolut virtual card, head to the app and open up the “Cards” section. You’ll see your normal card there.

Swipe through to the “Get New Revolut Card” screen and you’ll see options for physical or virtual cards. Select virtual and choose between a “Virtual” and a “Disposable Virtual” card.

Now you can find your card in the “Cards” section of the app – and it can be used as normal. Easy.

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