How Does a Prepaid Virtual Credit Card Work?

iEditorial Note: These blog posts represent the opinion of DoNotPay’s Writers, but each person’s situation and circumstances vary greatly. As a result, you should make sure to do your own independent research. Because everyone is unique, our self-help tools are never guaranteed to help with any specific situation. DoNotPay is not a law firm and is not licensed to practice law. DoNotPay provides a platform for legal information and self-help.

What Is a Prepaid Virtual Credit Card, Is It Safe To Use, and How Do You Get One?

According to Statista, in 2018, over 60% of online transactions were made by using either a debit or credit card. With the rising popularity of online payment, the need for a higher level of security has emerged as one of the major issues. Identity thefts and unauthorized charges have become rather common. It comes as no surprise that people want an extra layer of protection when making online payments or providing their credit card info online for any other reason.

Luckily, there’s a rather simple solution to this problem. If you want to protect your sensitive information while shopping online, it’s time to start using virtual credit cards. If you want a separate card for online purchases that you use by transferring money from your bank account, you should look into prepaid virtual credit cards.

What Is a Virtual Prepaid Card?

A prepaid virtual credit card is a type of disposable virtual card used for safer online shopping. Just like a physical prepaid credit card, this virtual version has its 16-digit card number, expiration date, and CVV, and is valid for a wide variety of online purchases.

One thing to note is that there are a few different types of virtual cards. The main difference between a virtual prepaid card and an instant approval virtual credit card is that the prepaid one is not linked to your physical card.

This means that your banking information is 100% safe. Even in an event of a data breach or if the online vendor gets hacked, your private information will remain secure. On the other hand, this also means that you’ll have to transfer funds from your bank account to the prepaid VCC.

With that in mind, be careful not to leave any money on it when the expiration date gets closer. If there are some funds on the card left, the card issuer likely won’t be able to transfer the money back to your bank account once the VCC expires. So, plan your online purchases beforehand, and don’t transfer more money than you intend to spend.

How To Open a Prepaid Virtual Credit Card Account

Prepaid virtual credit cards function separately from your physical credit card. So, to be able to use your prepaid virtual credit card, you need to transfer a certain amount of money from your real credit card or online money transfer service.

This is done for two main reasons:

  1. You need to have some funds on your new prepaid virtual card to be able to make payments
  2. The company that issues you the card may set a required minimum balance for opening a prepaid virtual account

When you order the virtual prepaid card, it is most commonly sent to you via email. You shouldn’t be surprised if your issuer sets a maximum balance possible, too, so make sure you check this before you continue to fund your prepaid virtual card.

Another thing to take into account is that the issuer is likely to charge you a card activation fee. The higher the initial amount, the higher the activation fee. Depending on the issuer, you might also be required to pay a monthly fee to keep the card active.

Types of Prepaid Virtual Credit Cards

Depending on what features they have, prepaid virtual credit cards can be divided into two categories. You should do some research about these and find out what they offer to be able to pick the most convenient solution for your particular situation. Here are your options:

  1. Reloadable virtual credit cards
  2. Single-use cards

Reloadable virtual credit cards

If the issuing company allows you to reload your prepaid card for some future purchases, then you have a reloadable card. Depending on the company, the amount of future reloads may be limited right from the start, so make sure you ask about this regulation right away. Reloadable prepaid virtual credit cards are best used when you’re planning to make regular payments, such as for subscriptions. One of the things you should be aware of when choosing this or that type is that fees for reloadable cards are usually somewhat higher than for single-use cards.

Single-use cards

As the name itself suggests, single-use prepaid virtual credit cards are used for one purchase. If you don’t have any plans for using this card in the future, the safest way to go is to pick this type. Should you realize that you’ll be needing it again on a regular basis, you can always get a reloadable card.

Single-use virtual credit cards usually have a limited purchase amount, but the good news is that there is no purchase transaction or monthly fee. Another common limitation has to do with the number of active cards allowed per user. This number depends on your chosen issuing company, so make sure you ask them about their rules specifically.

Mastercard Prepaid Virtual Credit Cards

Mastercard offers prepaid virtual credit cards that can be used for online shopping, as well as phone purchases and mail orders.

If you’re considering a Mastercard virtual prepaid card, you’ll need to create a Mastercard virtual account first. Also, do note that Mastercard’s virtual prepaid card usually has a limited term of validity of three years. Another thing to be aware of is that a monthly fee is charged after the first year of use. What can be quite convenient is that you can use the Mastercard VCC to pay in other currencies, aside from the USD.

Visa Prepaid Virtual Credit Cards

Visa also has a prepaid virtual credit card that can be used for safer online purchases. Some of the features that make the prepaid virtual Visa card worth considering include:

  1. You can change your personal details if you want to
  2. You can use it for automatic payments
  3. You can make payments in other currencies
  4. There’s no activation fee
  5. There’s no monthly fee
  6. There is no minimum balance set
  7. Term of validity may be shorter (a year or even less)

Pros & Cons of Using Virtual Credit Cards

If you’ve never used a virtual credit card before, you must be wondering if VCCs are safe to use and what their pros and cons are. Anyone who’s used virtual credit cards before will tell you that they offer a plethora of benefits, primarily regarding anonymity and security. That said, VCCs aren’t a perfect solution, and they do have a few drawbacks.

Here’s a quick rundown of the major advantages and drawbacks of virtual credit cards:



You can use a virtual credit card without exposing your real card information

If you use a virtual credit card to book a service that requires to provide your real card in person, such as a plane ride, there might be a verification problem because the two don’t match

In most cases, you can get a virtual credit card numbers without spending a single penny

You need to be on the lookout for providers that charge a monthly fee when your balance is below a certain amount

You can forget about being charged after a free trial period if you forget to cancel a service on time

You may be rejected if the merchant or service provider in question doesn’t accept virtual credit cards

You can set the most suitable expiration date

If you have recurring payments for services you want to continue using, and your card is set to expire, you will have to switch to a regular credit card
Fraudulent merchants or scams of any kind can’t do you any harmYou won’t be able to receive a refund if your card expires with money still on it
You can limit your spending

Limited spending might cause you complications if you have recurring payments

DoNotPay Virtual Credit Card—The Best Option For Free Trials

When you use our virtual credit card, you can be completely sure that your real credit card information cannot be misused by anyone with the intention to wrong you. You can access all the free trials you want without jeopardizing the security of your banking information. Let’s see how.

The core principle behind our virtual credit card is quite similar to that of chip credit cards, so it should be easy to understand how our Free Trial Card works. When someone uses a chip credit card, the merchant or service provider in question receives a single-use token, which changes with every following purchase. This allows that extra layer of safety, as the merchant or service provider in question cannot misuse a user’s card. The token used will expire after the first purchase, which makes a fraud of any kind impossible.

DoNotPay’s virtual credit card functions in the same manner. You can rely on our app to generate a new temporary credit card number, which changes with every future use—the equivalent to a token in chip credit cards.

This temporary card number will be registered by the service provider as an actual credit card, but you’ll never provide them with your actual credit card number. Unlike most other prepaid virtual credit cards, DoNotPay’s free trial card doesn’t require you to link your chip card to it. This means that there’s absolutely no room for any fraudulent activity.

Service providers may try to charge the card after the free trial period, but they’ll be unable to do so, given that it doesn’t hold any money. In the event of a data breach, you’re fully protected since the information you provided is randomly generated and unrelated to your actual credit card information.

To get a DoNotPay’s virtual credit card no deposit is necessary. All you need to do is access our app via a and create a free account. When you’re in, you should find virtual credit cards among the services offered and just request to get one.

When to Use DoNotPay Virtual Credit Card

If you’ve had negative experiences with free trials before and you’re hesitant to start a free trial because you fear getting charged automatically after it ends— the DoNotPay Free Trial Card is the perfect option.

When a service provider requires you to enter your credit card number, all you need to do is enter the virtual card number DoNotPay provides you with, and you’re good to go. That way, they won’t have access to your banking information, so even if you forget about the expiration date of the trial period, they cannot charge you.

Another convenience with DoNotPay is that it can also generate a temporary email address for you to use. Just like the card, this will be a random email address that you can leave if you want to be free of spam emails. When you have a virtual card, why wouldn’t you use a randomly generated email, too? This is another piece of information that service providers and merchants will require you to provide.

Not only do you get peace of mind knowing that you didn’t leave any of your real info, but you also avoid being put on an email marketing list.

Most Common Uses of Prepaid Virtual Credit Cards

With the rising concern about the jeopardized safety of using real credit cards online, virtual credit cards are gaining more and more in popularity. As time goes by, they are likely to become even more popular and much more common, so it’s a good idea to jump on the bandwagon as soon as possible.

You can use a prepaid virtual credit card for:

  1. Online shopping
  2. Single payments
  3. Recurring payments
  4. Over-the-phone purchases
  5. Monthly subscriptions
  6. Free trials

When it comes to free trials, in particular, you’ll be happy to hear that you can have a wide range of services at your disposal when using a virtual credit card.

For instance, you can use DoNotPay’s Free Trial Card to sign up for a Netflix free trial and have peace of mind while watching your favorite TV series, knowing you won’t be charged if you choose not to continue using the service after the free month.

Netflix will send you an email as a reminder when the free trial period is nearing its end, but what if you miss it and forget to cancel the subscription? You don’t have to worry about any of this when you use our solution. DoNotPay’s Free Trial Card is at your disposal for a wide variety of other services as well, such as:

The Difference Between a Regular Credit Card and DoNotPay’s Virtual Credit Card

Considering that virtual credit cards are still gaining traction, many people still find it difficult to differentiate a real credit card from its virtual counterpart. As the name itself suggests, a virtual credit card belongs to the online world, and it is restricted only to actions taken online. Our Free Trial Card is designed to enable people to enjoy as many free trials as they want without facing any charges. To help you get a clearer picture, we suggest you take a look at the following differences:

Real Credit Card

DoNotPay’s Free Trial Card
Your credit card information can be easily misused Your real credit card information is not exposed, so it’s safe from misuse
In case you forget to cancel a subscription, you can be charged a regular fee

Even if you don’t cancel a subscription, you cannot be charged

You could eventually waste thousands of dollars

You cannot lose any money, as your real credit card is not linked to the Free Trial Card
If the website where you left your sensitive info is hacked, they can access your info Even if the site is hacked, your real credit card information is completely safe
Exists in physical form

Can be used only online

Can you rely on DoNotPay for something else?

Helping you avoid being charged after a free trial is only one of the many services we have in store for you. Whenever you find yourself in a potentially problematic situation, or you think someone has wronged you in any way, you can rely on your AI Consumer Champion to give you a hand. DoNotPay is also here to do the following for you:

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