Are you afraid to buy online and fear for the security of your card? Virtual cards are the solution, and here we explain everything you need to know about them
January 16, 2019 by Manuel Gimeno
- 1 What are virtual cards?
- 2 How do they work?
- 3 Why are virtual cards so secure?
- 4 When to use the virtual card?
- 5 The best virtual cards of 2019
Virtual cards are a payment method whose function is that the user can carry out purchases online with greater control than conventional cards allow. In the current environment where Internet shopping is the order of the day, its importance and popularity has increased exponentially.
And, according to the study ‘M-commerce: The Revolution of the online store’ carried out by Cetelem, during the past year 2018 up to 63% of Spaniards made online purchases through the mobile phone . A fact that not only indicates the prominence that the smartphone currently has in this type of transactions, but also shows the importance of purchases through the Internet.
In the following text we are going to tell you what role virtual cards play in this growing online shopping scenario, what security measures add to those already known for credit cards, how they work and which are the best ones at present.
What are virtual cards?
As we have said before, virtual cards are a payment method designed to be used in purchases over the Internet , with a performance and characteristics very similar to prepaid cards. The virtual card offers maximum control to the user over the money that is housed within it, as well as increases the security when executing these online transactions. These cards are usually associated with a bank account.
It is the user himself who in most cases can create the virtual card directly from the online bank of his own financial institution. At the time of doing so, a card number, an expiration date and a CVV are automatically associated to the new virtual card , since these are the data that are usually requested at the time of the online purchase. In addition, it is also possible to add the purchase verification in two steps through an SMS that sends a confirmation PIN code for each transaction.
Thus, the user who creates the virtual card can, at any time, determine the balance that card has when reloading it , and for that reason the control over this method of payment is so high. In this sense works the same as a prepaid card, because the owner of the virtual card can never spend more money than the corresponding balance. The virtual card can be reloaded at any time.
How do they work?
Virtual cards work somewhat differently than a conventional credit or debit card, but very similar to prepaid cards . Of course, when buying online, the virtual card has the same information as any other card and that is needed to execute the purchase. It has a card number, expiration date and CVV to deliver at the time of formalizing the purchase. They are the data that every card must have to carry out an online operation.
What changes in this way of paying is that, while a credit card is paid with the associated line of credit, the virtual card uses the balance that was previously charged . In this way, for a virtual card to work it is necessary to recharge it every time it runs out of balance, thus having enough money to make the desired purchase.
This brings virtual cards closer to prepaid cards , because they also need to recharge their balance. The main difference between the two is that, obviously, the virtual card has no physical representation, and can only be used to buy online.
Why are virtual cards so secure?
One of the main reasons to opt for the creation of a virtual card is because in this way the security is increased when buying online. This is mainly due to the fact that the virtual card has a usage limit equal to the available balance , with which the risks are much lower in case of data theft or fraudulent use by third parties.
It is even possible to reload only the virtual card with the exact money that the purchase will cost, which means that the danger is reduced absolutely. In addition, these actions help to have an accurate control of spending, something that often costs to carry out with credit cards.
But beyond this fact, virtual cards are safe for the following reasons:
- They have CVV : The CVV, as we have explained on some other occasion, is a set of three digits that serve to confirm that the user who uses the card has it in his possession. In this case, being virtual, the owner of the same knows the data thanks to its digital banking.
- The one-time verification code can be activated : These cards can also offer verification of the purchase by means of a one-time use code sent by SMS to the mobile.
- As they are not physical cards, they can not be lost : A truism that should be remembered, and is that virtual cards do not have the danger of being lost or stolen because they are not physical cards.
- Without recharge, there is no money in the virtual card : What we have said so far, the only way to have money on the card is to recharge your balance beforehand.
When to use the virtual card?
Although we have already commented that virtual cards are designed to be purchased through the Internet, then we will point out several cases in which it is advisable to use these types of cards . They are common situations that we live day to day, so if we add to these operations the virtual card as a method of payment, it will be easier to control spending and protect our money:
- During Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas or Rebates : It is advisable to use virtual cards when events of this type appear in which important discounts occur and there is a strong impulse when buying. The virtual card will help to have greater control of operations and avoid compulsive purchases.
- In services such as PlayStation Network, Xbox Live or Steam : Having a virtual card associated with these accounts will protect you from any type of problem that may occur with your data, and at the same time avoid as many compulsive purchases as automatic renewals of services.
- To pay for food at home in Just Eat, Deliveroo or Glovo : Home delivery is one of the most popular outings when you do not have something to eat or dine, but it is dangerous to use these services for both the economy and the own health. The virtual card helps limit the waste of money on food at home.
The best virtual cards of 2019
If you are thinking of acquiring or creating a virtual card, it is important that you know which financial entities offer the best virtual cards . To know which is the best one, we must take into account the limit of the balance top-ups, where these recharges can be made, the fees that may or may not be applied, as well as the commissions derived from the use of the virtual card:
- BBVA Virtual Card : In order to use this card it is necessary to hold a BBVA current account. The maximum recharge limit is € 600 and the balance can be reloaded through the Internet with the BBVA app, the BBVA Wallet app or from BBVA.es, from ATMs or by telephone. There are no fees or commissions for using this virtual card.
- Santander e-Cash Virtual Card : Banco Santander offers the virtual e-Cash card to buy online. The recharge of the card is free and can be done for a value between € 6 and € 1,650. It can be recharged online from the entity’s online bank or its app, but also from ATMs and Santander offices and by phone. Reload the e-Cash virtual card is a free action during the first year as long as 3 purchases are made with it. Otherwise, the renewal fee is € 9.
- Bankia Virtual Card : Bankia offers a virtual card with which you can top up the balance up to a maximum of € 1,500. This recharging action can be done through the Bankia Wallet app. The financial institution does not charge any type of commission for this card.
- Cybertarjeta de CaixaBank : CaixaBank offers a virtual card called Cybertarjeta. This card can be recharged from the digital banking of CaixaBankNow, from ATMs or from the offices of the financial institution. The cost of each recharge will be equal to 1% of the amount entered in the virtual card.