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How to Use a Virtual Card: Steps, Tips and Reminders

Unlock a safer and smarter way to manage your digital payments by learning how to use a virtual card.

Today, in the world of business, virtual cards have emerged as a game-changer, offering convenience, security and control. As businesses continuously navigate the evolving landscape of online transactions, knowing how to use a virtual card has become a crucial skill. 

According to Digital Nation Australia, the total volume of virtual card transactions is predicted to hit 175 billion by 2028. This is a noticeable growth from 36 billion in 2023.

Let’s discuss the essential steps to unlock the full potential of virtual cards.

What Is a Virtual Card?

How does a virtual card work? A virtual card is like any other payment method, except it doesn’t have a physical form. Just like physical cards, virtual cards are accepted almost anywhere. Virtual cards, however, are more advantageous because of their various features, controls and benefits.

Parts of a virtual card are pretty much the same as those of physical cards:

  • 16-digit card number
  • Expiration date
  • Security code (CVV/CVC)

What Can I Use a Virtual Card For?

Since a virtual debit card functions just like an ordinary debit card, you can use it for the same things you use your debit card for:

  1. Paying for products and services at physical locations
  2. Paying for products and services online
  3. Paying bills
  4. Paying for subscriptions or memberships
  5. Signing up for new subscriptions or memberships
  6. Enhancing security measures
  7. Keeping track of expenses
While the function is the same, virtual cards offer far more benefits than physical cards do. Virtual cards offer more protection, reduced fraud, improved efficiency and better visibility.

How Do I Use a Virtual Card Online?

Purchases done online are classified as digital transactions. Just like when using a physical card, you enter your virtual or digital debit card’s credentials on the merchant’s website. Verifications are also done to ensure safety and security.

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to use a virtual card online:

  1. After you add all the items you want to your online shopping cart, go to the checkout page.
  2. Select the appropriate payment option. Since most e-commerce websites don’t have a “pay with virtual card” option (and a virtual card functions like a physical card anyway), you may select “pay with a debit or credit card” as your payment option.
  3. Fill out the relevant fields with the card number, CVV code and expiration date.
  4. Provide your billing address if needed.
  5. Go through the necessary verification processes as required, such as the provision of a one-time pin.
  6. Complete the purchase.

Virtual cards offer several advantages for employee purchases, making them a preferred and efficient choice for businesses.

How Do I Use a Virtual Card In-Store?

A virtual card can only be used in stores that allow contactless payments. When you’re in physical stores, you can pay with a virtual card in two main steps:

1. Load the card onto a digital wallet

How to use a virtual card: Load the card onto a digital wallet

  1. Open your digital wallet app.
  2. Go to the section where you add or load a card.
  3. Fill out the relevant fields with your virtual card’s credentials.
  4. Name your card if needed.
  5. Follow the other prompts from the app to finish loading your card.
  6. Now that you’ve added your card to the digital wallet, it should now be visible in that app along with your other loaded cards.
2. Use your phone to complete the payment

  1. Near-field communication (NFC) technology allows customers to pay at contactless terminals. Start by opening your digital wallet app at checkout.
  2. Select to pay with the virtual card that you want to use.
  3. Point your phone at the terminal.
  4. Complete the necessary verification process to confirm the purchase (This could be by entering a password or tapping a button).

How Do I Get a Virtual Card?

If you’re ready to switch to a virtual card, reach out to any of its usual providers:

  • Banks and card companies — Several banks and card companies provide virtual cards as part of their financial services. Take note that you need to have an account or physical card at the bank to be eligible to apply for a virtual card.
  • Bank-agnostic card providers — Bank-agnostic virtual card providers allow you to request a virtual card regardless of the bank you have an account.

Other Virtual Card Tips and Reminders

  1. You can set a credit limit and validity date for virtual cards. This will keep payments safe from hackers and fraudsters.
  2. Your virtual cards can integrate with your digital wallets, mobile apps and other platforms. Be sure to maximise that feature!    
  3. When you’re making a purchase and the merchant asks for a zip code, use the zip code of the virtual card. Credit card issuers and banks will often verify at the time of purchase that the zip code of the card on file matches the zip code entered by the buyer.
  4. A virtual card’s expiration is not the same as its validity date. The card’s expiration is the month and year that you see on that card. The validity dates, which are the card’s start and end dates, are composed of a day, month and year. These dates are to tell whether or not the card is active.
  5. When requesting a virtual card, don’t make the spending limit too close to the expected purchase amount. Some merchants make a temporary hold on cards before they fully render their service. When a virtual card is on hold, it temporarily loses its spending capacity and is not released until the actual charge is submitted. Take these possible scenarios into account when you set a virtual card spending limit.

While virtual cards are now accepted by many merchants, some people might still be unfamiliar with the concept. Nonetheless, virtual cards are great for improving efficiency in your company’s payments. They also empower employees to make efficient and secure business-related purchases.

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