A virtual credit card creates a unique number for every new transaction. Some banks, including Bank of America and Capital One, offer virtual credit card options linked to your traditional credit card account.  For more on virtual credit cards, see below.

How to Use a Virtual Credit Card

A virtual credit card offers a more secure way to purchase items online. Unlike a traditional credit card, which has a set of numbers and other identifying information physically imprinted on it, a virtual credit card generates a unique number for every new transaction. This helps reduce the risk of fraud.

Most banks offer virtual credit card options for eligible accounts. If your current account isn’t eligible, you can apply for an eligible account to receive access to virtual credit card features. Some of the banks offering virtual credit cards include:

  • Bank of America has a virtual credit card feature called ShopSafe. ShopSafe is available to Bank of America Visa and Mastercard account holders. The service is free and can be accessed when you sign in to your Online Banking account.
  • Capital One’s virtual credit card option is through its own intelligent assistant, Eno. Eno is a free browser extension you can use to get a virtual credit card number whenever you’re ready to make an online purchase. Eno is linked to your eligible Capital One credit card.
  • Select Citi credit cards include access to a Virtual Account Number feature that generates a unique number for you to use when shopping online. The service is free.

Terms and conditions will vary by company, but, in general, you can set the expiration date (usually up to a year) and spending limits.

To use your virtual credit card, open your bank’s application and follow the instructions to create a unique credit card number for your online purchase. Transactions will be linked to your credit card account, so they will appear on your monthly statement. Many banks also offer virtual credit card options for setting up auto-pay for bills and subscriptions.

In Summary

Virtual credit cards can help reduce the risk of fraud when shopping online. By generating a new credit card number with each transaction, your account information stays safe. For more information on credit cards, see our articles: Instant Approval Credit Cards + Cards You Can Use Immediately and Capital One’s Store Branded Credit Cards: The List.