A virtual prepaid card is a set of bank card credentials you can use for online payments. It is a protective firewall between a merchant and your bank account. It may be displayed like a usual bank card saved in a payment app but it has no physical embodiment. That lets it be faster to issue and safer to use than a plastic bank card.
Virtual card providers generate a 16-digit card number, an expiration date, a security code, a billing address, and other data that is usually required to make a purchase online.
The main benefits of virtual cards include:
higher security -- the actual bank card data is not exposed, some providers block a virtual card once it is compromised;
privacy -- a customer’s personal data can be hidden from a merchant;
control over the payments by setting up payment limits and restrictions;
easier management: no need to set up a new bank account, to request a physical card, and to wait for it to be issued;
saving money by using one-time cards and analyzing expenses;
fine-tuning: one can issue as many cards as one needs in several clicks (taps) and be able to control literally every payment;
special offers and additional services from card issuers: cashback offers, referral programs, and so on.
Some virtual card providers offer universal cards that can be used for shopping, subscriptions, other payments, money transfers. Others concentrate on special features or specific customer audiences, for example, delivering prepaid cards for children or B2B solutions.
Virtual prepaid cards are often supported by banks, neobanks, and other fintech startups like PayPal and Payoneer. There is also a number of companies that concentrate on virtual cards as their main product. Here is a list of best offers in 2021
Name: US Unlocked
Offers: Virtual card for shopping from US merchants that serve only US residents from any other location
A virtual shopping assistant, spending control, merchant-specific cards, one-time cards, affiliate program. The purchases from US merchants are delivered to the addresses of certified freight forwarders
Enrollment fee $15, monthly fee $3.50, transaction fee $0.50, unload fee $11.50, fees for card funding up to 5% of the sum.
Offers: Universal virtual cards issued easily with a web browser extension or a mobile app. Subscription control and canceling subscriptions in one click.
Features: A mobile payment app, spending control, merchant-specific cards, one-time cards, affiliate program; a cashback offer.
Pricing: Up to 12 cards per month for free; up to 36 cards, 1% cashback for $10; up to 60 cards for $25 per month.
Name: ePay Service
Offers: Mastercard virtual payment cards. Single-use non-reloadable cards without monthly fee or a purchase transaction fee, up to 10 cards per user, expire in 2 months. Multi-use reloadable cards, up to 3 per user, expire in 6 month
Features: Personal US bank account, Personal IBAN (for receiving and sending payments within the Eurozone fast and cheap)
Pricing: fees for ePay Wallet funds deposits and withdrawals.
Offers: 2 virtual cards for free, up to 20 cards for 1 euro for every additional card, only for the Android app
Features: A fintech startup with various payment services.
Pricing: No monthly fees
Market: European Economic Area countries.
Offers: Mastercard virtual cards
Features: First card issued for free. Users warned against trying to book hotels and flights or rent cars with virtual cards.
Pricing: no separate pricing for virtual cards, fees for deposits, withdrawals, transfers, and other operations.
Offers: A bunch of privacy and security-oriented services like removing personal data from search engines, password management, ad and tracking blocking, spam protection, virtual credit cards. They call them masked cards as a user can hide card and customer data.
Features: Blur refers to “everything masked”: you can hide your email, phone number, card data, personal details while interacting with businesses online.
Pricing: One can sign up for free, virtual cards are available only for premium accounts. $14.99 monthly for a premium unlimited account, $99 yearly, $39 yearly for a basic account with virtual masked cards.
Offers: Visa prepaid cards issued without a credit check; up to $10 of free overdraft. Up to six virtual cards for free. One of the oldest and best-known fintech providers on the list.
Features: Allows to customize a physical credit card by a personal photo.
Pricing: no separate pricing for virtual cards, fees for deposits, withdrawals, transfers, and other operations
Offers: B2B solutions for companies to help them control and manage employee spends.
Features: Typical prepaid virtual cards promoted with an emphasis on business-management tasks.
Pricing: First 2 months free, from $29 a month for 10 cards up to $149 a month for 100 cards, custom plans for larger clients.
Offers: B2B, “serves small to medium-sized US businesses across a wide array of industries, ranging from healthcare to consumer products” as the company represents itself. LLC-s or corporations only with most transactions within the US.
Features: Virtual and physical cards with built-in controls like spend limits, category restrictions, customized company policies, integration with Slack.
Pricing: A free plan with unlimited users and cards, offers cashback. Paid plans with more features, services, and options.
Offers: Another B2B-solution provider but promises as many virtual cards as a customer needs for free, with cashback.
Features: Lets create a unique subscription card for each vendor a company uses and limit available funds. Card limits are reset each month. Employees’ spends tracking without the need to write reports or process printed checks.
Pricing: “The Divvy Platform is free to use to manage budgets, expenses, physical and virtual cards, and so much more”, the company claims. Cash reimbursements are available for $5 a month for each active user.
Offers: Yet another B2B solution for managing corporate spends and payments. Unlimited virtual cards for free
Features: Sort employees by spends or vendors by costs, detect duplicate subscriptions, highlight high and rising spends, set limits, get cashback, miles, and other returns
Pricing: no separate pricing for virtual cards.
Offers: Virtual cards added to financial services featuring cryptocurrencies.
Features: Visa virtual cards focused on letting a customer use a bank card before a physical one arrives. Brand partnerships to let people pay for goods and services using a QR code generated for a virtual card.
Pricing: no separate virtual card pricing as the company’s main business is that of a cryptocurrency exchange.
Name: Kotak Mahindra Bank
Offers: “worry-free shopping at any website that accepts VISA cards with one-time use virtual card”.
Features: India’s first non-banking finance company to be converted into a commercial bank.