What is a virtual card number?
Virtual card numbers are a randomly-selected series of 16 digits and a security code associated with your credit or debit card. They can have spending limits and short-term expiration dates, so if stolen, thieves will not have access to the actual card details, and the account holder can quickly cancel the virtual number.
In the field of corporate travel, virtual card numbers are a convenient alternative to physical plastic cards. Their main advantages are that they protect card information, limit spending, and combat credit card fraud.
What can I use virtual card numbers for?
Virtual card numbers are generally for purchases made online or over the phone. In the context of corporate travel, major purchases are booking flights and accommodation. However, as there is no physical card, they are not suitable for face-to-face transactions like restaurant bills or taxis.
Virtual card numbers also offer the following features:
Putting a spending limit on each number helps employees abide by corporate travel policy and reduces the risk of losing money in the event of theft.
Companies can limit virtual card numbers to pay a specific vendor, for example, an airline. Like spending limits, this can help employees to follow policy and in cases of fraud, the card simply cannot be used with any other vendor.
How do virtual card numbers protect businesses against fraud?
A study by the European Central Bank showed that in 2016, €1.8 billion was lost through card fraud in the Single Euro Payments Area, so protecting cards is essential for businesses. Below is a brief list of the security advantages of virtual card numbers:
- Hide actual card information for online and telephone purchases
- Can’t be misplaced or lost
- Easily canceled and replaced if stolen
- Prevent data breaches as a result of theft
- Payments limited to vendor, amount and expiry date
How do I get a virtual card number?
Most banks offer the option of virtual card numbers, especially for businesses, and they are easy to set up.
How is a virtual card number different from a regular card number?
While a regular card number is constant, virtual card numbers are temporary and you can generate different numbers very quickly. Virtual cards also omit identification, such as names, reducing the possibility of identity theft.