| 8 min read

Virtual Card Issuing: Everything You Need To Know

While credit card issuers keep innovating with sophisticated chip and contactless card technology, the future of the credit card may not involve a physical card at all. Between mobile wallets and virtual credit cards, we may be getting closer to a future that doesn’t require a physical credit card at all. 

In the meantime, virtual credit cards allow cardholders to create and use credit card numbers that are never printed on a physical card, providing flexibility and additional security. 

What Is Virtual Card Issuing?

Virtual card issuing is similar to traditional debit or credit card issuing. Generally to get a virtual credit card, applicants must first apply for and be approved for a credit card. 

Once approved, the business or cardholder can create virtual credit cards. These card numbers will be issued with 16-digit numbers that can be used through payment networks as Visa or Mastercard, just like any other credit card. That card number, along with card details (expiration date and CVV code), allows cardholders to make purchases without revealing the payment card details of the underlying physical card. 

Cardholders may be able to generate additional unique credit card numbers as needed. 

How Businesses Use Virtual Card Issuing

Businesses often use virtual card issuing to run more efficiently and safer. There are several use cases where virtual cards have an advantage over physical cards, prepaid cards, or debit cards:

  • Improve risk management by issuing cards to employees only when needed or for specific purchases. 

  • To enhance spending controls for employees. Virtual cards can provide an easy way to manage employee use. 

  • Improve expense management and business budgeting by limiting use for subscriptions or specific types of expenses. 

Credit cards are generally a very safe way to pay for purchases. However, employees may abuse company cards, or businesses may waste money by losing track of subscriptions and other recurring purchases. 

Business debit cards may present additional risk to business owners. If a commercial debit card is compromised, stolen funds the business needs to pay expenses won’t be available until the financial institution restores them. 

Virtual cards can mitigate some of these risks. Depending on the card program, spending limits can be associated with specific card numbers, or card numbers may be created for single-use purposes. It’s easier for employers to issue virtual cards to employees rather than sharing a single card number or a physical card. Employees also don’t have to worry about losing a physical card. 

How Can I Get A Virtual Card Instantly?

Your ability to get virtual cards instantly will depend on multiple factors. The first is to find a virtual credit card issuer. Not all card issuers offer them. 

But if you are approved for a credit card from an issuer that offers virtual credit cards, you should be able to access a virtual card number almost immediately. Most card issuers make it easy to generate a virtual card number either online or through a mobile app. 

If your issuer doesn’t yet support virtual cards and you don’t want to get a new card, you can consider using a third-party provider such as Privacy.com. However, keep in mind this service is not free and you’ll need to link a debit card or bank account for purchases. 

What Banks Issue Virtual Credit Cards?

It can be hard to find a bank that offers virtual credit cards, especially if you are looking for a commercial card. Most major card issuers do not offer virtual cards and instead focus on digital wallets. Fintech companies, rather than traditional financial services companies, are more likely to offer this option. 

Among the major issuers offering virtual card numbers, Capital One offers a tool that will generate virtual card numbers for online purchases through its online app, Eno. Citi also offers virtual card numbers. 

Dash.fi offers unlimited virtual cards with unique name, address, and zip code for each ad account, channel, and expense. When you are approved for a dash.fi card, you can create unlimited virtual card numbers instantly. 


Can I Use A Virtual Card For Online Purchases?

Absolutely. Virtual cards are great for online purchases. Once you have generated a virtual credit card number you will simply make your online purchase as normal, except you will enter the virtual card’s information for the payment instead of your usual card. 

How Can I Use A Virtual Card?

When it comes to the customer experience, using a virtual card is very similar to using a regular credit or debit card. Once you have the virtual card number and card information, you simply use it to make your purchase.

Because it is a virtual card and not a physical card, you are limited to online purchases or those you can pay through an online service such as PayPal. In some cases, you may be able to add virtual cards to a digital wallet to use for in-store purchases, but for the  Fortunately, most companies are set up for online purchases or online invoices.

Can I Use A Virtual Card Before It Arrives?

The good news is that virtual cards are generated almost instantly in real-time so you typically don’t have to wait for a physical card to arrive. This means that once you generate a virtual card with your card-issuing API you can go ahead and use it. 

What Is The Difference Between A Virtual Card and A Physical Card?

The main difference between a physical and virtual card is simply that one is virtual and the other is physical. Outside of this major and obvious difference, virtual cards tend to be more customizable. You can often create a virtual card for one-time use, for use with a specific merchant, or for a specific amount. This helps reduce fraudulent use as the card number can be used for limited purposes.

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