What Are Virtual Cards?

Virtual cards are automatically generated 16-digit card numbers that can be generated instantly. By using a Privacy Card for online transactions, you can keep your financial information safe from prying eyes.

Overview of Virtual Cards

Virtual cards allow you to minimize the amount of personally identifiable information (PII) you share with places you buy at. Historically, virtual cards provided by banks have been difficult and clunky to transact with; however, new providers have made virtual cards simple and easy to use. We believe virtual credit cards and virtual debit cards are now valuable tools in protecting your privacy and security without compromising convenience.

What is a virtual card?

A virtual card, sometimes called a temporary card number or anonymous card number, is a credit or debit card number that can be created through a website or mobile app, and does not come with a physical card. Virtual cards can be utilized for most online purchases to mask your personal and financial information. Oftentimes, you can set a maximum spend or charge limit on the virtual card to prevent yourself from being overcharged. Some virtual cards will also lock to a merchant to prevent the card from being used elsewhere if the merchant is breached.

How do virtual cards work?

A virtual card is a unique, 16-digit payment card number with a CVV and expiration date that is created instantly through a website or mobile app. Virtual cards function just like a credit or debit card but without the physical card, and can be used for online shopping, over the phone purchases, or any transaction that requires entering a card number.

Many users may think of virtual cards as burner cards that can be used for quick, one-time purchases. However, Privacy's virtual cards offer more enhanced security features and unlock more use cases than a simple burner card.

With Privacy Cards, you can set maximum spend limits on virtual cards to prevent being overcharged. Privacy Cards will also lock to a merchant to prevent the card from being used elsewhere if the merchant is breached. Lastly, Privacy's virtual cards can be paused or closed at any time, with just a few clicks.

How can you get virtual cards online?

You may wonder how to get virtual cards from a company like Privacy.com. The entire process is handled online. This means you don't have to fill out lengthy paper documents or go to a physical location in person. In addition, no credit check is required to open or use a Privacy account. Signing up for a virtual card service requires some personal information so that the virtual card issuer can complete a mandatory verification procedure called Know Your Customer (KYC) in accordance with anti-money laundering laws. You can learn more about how to get started using Privacy Cards on our website and blog.

What kind of safety measures does a virtual card provider take?

Safety and security are very important to virtual card providers (after all, greater security is one of the main reasons users sign up for the service in the first place). For Privacy specifically, we undergo rigorous internal and third-party audits and hold ourselves to the same rigorous PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) requirements as your bank or credit union.

How much do virtual cards cost and how do virtual card companies make money?

Some virtual card providers charge fees for every card you create or a monthly fee to use their service. Other virtual card providers may also charge fees for each purchase made with the cards. In contrast, Privacy's Personal plan is completely free to use on all domestic* purchases. We make money off of interchange - the fee that the merchant pays for accepting a debit or credit card - and we will never sell your personal data.

Who can use Privacy.com and how can I get started generating virtual cards with Privacy.com?

Privacy is currently available to US citizens or legal residents with a checking account at a US bank or credit union, and who are 18+ years of age. Unfortunately, we don't support international bank accounts or non-US users at this time. To get started, you can sign up for an account through our website or mobile app in as little as 3 minutes by providing some basic personal information (name, date of birth, valid phone number, valid email address, etc.) and securely linking a checking account for funding transactions.

Get Started in as Little as Three Minutes

Our basic plan is free to use* on domestic transactions because, like other card companies, we collect transaction fees from merchants.