Has your credit card information been stolen before? But you’re not sure how?
Well, perhaps you made an online purchase through an unsecured platform. Or, during your last online purchase, you decided to keep your credit card on file.
Whatever the case may be, there are many ways hackers can gain access to your credit card information.
Luckily, there is a way to prevent this from happening to you ever again.
That’s by using a virtual account number…
Virtual Account Number
A virtual account number is a temporary number linked to your credit card account. It allows you to buy merchandise online without giving your actual credit card details. Read on to find out how to get started using one today.
Like the sound of a virtual account number?
Well, in this article, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about them. Including what they are, the benefits you can unlock when using one, and of course, the risks of using one when not prepared.
But, before diving in, if this is your first time visiting GlobalBanks, don’t forget to download your FREE Non-Resident Banking Starter Guide. It’s designed to help non-residents open accounts in top banking hubs around the world.
Where To Get a Virtual Account Number?
If you’ve never heard of a virtual account number before, don’t feel bad. Most people have never heard of them. That’s because most credit card issuers don’t mention them. In fact, only a couple of US credit card companies actually advertise and offer this feature.
You can get one in the US as well as through many European banks. Both traditional and online banks.
So if this is the first time you’re hearing about a virtual account number, let’s get you familiar with what it is, what it does, and how it can be used.
What is a Virtual Account Number?
A virtual account number also referred to as a virtual credit card, is an alternative way to purchase products, services, or supplies online.
How does it work?
Well, it is a 16-digit number that is tied to your credit card account and can be used as a substitution for your physical credit card.
It is used instead of a physical credit card to hide your cardholder information from online merchants. In other words, when making an online purchase, instead of providing the merchant with your actual credit card details, you’d use the virtual account number to complete the transaction.
The number is for one-time use only so that no one can take your card details and use them for other transactions.
Though security is one of the most common reasons to use a virtual account number, there are a number of other benefits to using one for foreign non-resident individuals and businesses.
Benefits of Using a Virtual Account Number
Unsure about the website you’re purchasing from? Or, purchasing from a country you’re not familiar with?
Whatever the case may be, using a virtual account number can provide foreign non-resident businesses and individuals with a valuable layer of protection when making those uncomfortable purchases.
Let’s look at the other benefits it can offer.
Benefits of a Virtual Account Number:
- Provides a layer of protection and privacy
- Can be used the same way as a physical credit card
- Can protect your physical credit card from fraud
- No additional fees
As you can see, there are some significant benefits to having a virtual account number. From making secure and safe transactions to reducing your chances of having your credit card information stolen.
As mentioned above, in nearly all cases, the number is only good for one transaction.
While this is good for security purposes, it can be a hassle for those making many online purchases. However, for foreign non-resident individuals that often purchase from unfamiliar companies in suspicious countries, having a one-time virtual account number can provide an important level of protection.
Note, it’s useful to use not just for foreign purchases, but for domestic purchases as well.
Why? Because many large companies store their regular customer’s information, including credit card details, in their databases. The size of these databases makes them a target for hackers to steal customer credit card information.
So, instead of permitting every merchant you do business with to keep your credit card on file, the only people who are aware of your credit card number are yourself, your credit card company, and your bank.
Pitfalls of Having a Virtual Account Number
While a virtual account number can create a sense of privacy when it comes to purchasing products from unfamiliar companies, there are some pitfalls worth mentioning.
Pitfalls of Having a Virtual Account Number:
- Can only be used to purchase items online (in most cases)
- Not all companies accept a virtual account number to purchase items
- Not all credit card issuers provide virtual account numbers
- Can’t be used for purchases that require in-person verification
- Can be impossible to get refunds of purchased items
- Does not work with purchasing through mobile devices
- Limited use of transactions (depends on the bank)
- Has an expiry date (one transaction, one month, one day)
- Has spending limits
- Can cause verification issues
It’s important to note that not all credit card issuers and banks offer virtual account numbers. In fact, only specific institutions do. So, if you’re a foreign non-resident and you think you could benefit from having one, it’s important to choose a credit card company that offers them.
In most cases, you’ll only be able to use it when purchasing products or services online. In addition, be aware that some online merchants do not accept them. So you may have your purchase blocked…
It’s also important to note that it’s not a good idea to use one if there’s any chance you might want to request a refund. This is because the merchant will not be able to process a refund to a card number that no longer exists.
Now, using a virtual account number can also be an issue if you’re needing to make an in-person pick-up to verify order details. This is because, a virtual account number is just that, a virtual number. It is not a physical credit card, nor is the number physically present on a card.
So, if you used one to make an online purchase but an in-person verification is required, you’ll likely run into some issues with verifying the purchase and proving it was purchased with your credit card.
As you can see, there are some pitfalls that foreign non-residents and business owners should be aware of before using a virtual account number.
But, despite the pitfalls, it’s still very much worth it to have the option to use a virtual account number in some situations.
Next, it’s important to understand how to use one properly. Especially, since there are restrictions on the number of transactions, spending limits, and where you can use it.
So, with that said, let’s look at how individuals and foreign business owners can use a virtual account number.
Using a Virtual Account Number
By now, you should have a basic understanding of what a virtual account number is, the benefits it can offer, and the risks foreign non-residents need to consider before using one.
But, what’s also important, is knowing how to properly use one.
Here are three important steps to take when using a one…
1. Choose a Credit Card Company
This is an obvious first step. But, as we’ve mentioned above, not all credit card issuers provide them to their clients.
First, ask your current credit card companies if they offer virtual account numbers.
If not, look for a company that specifically offers them. We’ll discuss how to find one below.
2. Download Browser Extension
Once you’ve acquired your virtual account number, you’ll need to download a browser extension to your computer. Now, it’s important to note that the program you require can vary from bank to bank and company to company.
So, it’s important to make sure you download the proper browser extension that aligns with your specific credit card issuer.
3. Register Your Credit Card
Now that you’ve downloaded the proper browser extension, you’ll need to register your credit card in the downloaded program.
Once you’ve done this, when you make a purchase online, the program will automatically generate a virtual account number that you can use at check out. The number provided, while being tied to your credit card account, replaces your credit card information completely.
Sounds pretty easy, right? It usually is.
But, what many people tend to ignore is a virtual account number should only be used in one place. Yes, some credit card companies allow multiple purchases with one number. But, there does come some risk with doing so.
For instance, if you’re using your number over multiple websites, you’re now at risk of compromising that number too. Not to mention, creates an easier route for hackers to locate your actual credit card information.
And, the reason you’re looking to use a virtual account number in the first place, is to avoid having your credit card information stolen. So, it’s important to understand the specific rules and regulations set forth by your credit card company on how to properly use it.
Like the idea of having a virtual account number to protect your credit card information while making purchases online? Read on to find out how you can find a credit card company that offers this service.
Ready to Get a Virtual Account Number?
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