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Virtual Credit Cards

A virtual credit card, sometimes referred to as a temporary credit card or throw away credit card, is a credit card number that is generated by your credit card issuer, on your behalf, for temporary use.  The benefit is that if a hacker gets your credit card information they can not go on an online shopping spree because the virtual number generated is unique and can be limited in amount and time.  The number may be used  in online shopping and telephone orders but once either limit is reached the virtual credit card number is no longer valid and can not be used.  A virtual credit card number is "like putting a wall" between any specific transaction and your regular account.

A virtual number can be either generated on your card's web site or by using a program that is downloaded to your computer depending on your credit card company.

While a credit card owner is only liable for up to $50 for a bogus transaction, misuse of stolen credit card information could lead to identity theft in the future.  Using a virtual card eliminates that risk.

It's possible that your current credit card company has such a free service.  The primary card issuers with virtual credit card services are Discover, Citi and Bank of America.  Check with your company to determine if they offer the service.  Obtaining a virtual credit card number is a very simple process and eliminates the risk of identity theft due to stolen credit card information.

Further references:
  1. Shop Safely Online: Use a Virtual Credit Card Number
  2. Six Things to Know About Virtual Credit Card Numbers




Published 19 Dec 2011 by Manny Carvalho
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