Everything you need to know about using a prepaid virtual credit card
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 followed. 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 leaving their credit card info online for any other reason.
Luckily, there’s a solution to this problem, so if you don’t trust the online world with your sensitive information, 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 prepaid virtual credit card?
A prepaid virtual credit card is a type of disposable virtual card used for safer online shopping. This is a U.S.-issued card, but it can be funded from an international bank account, credit or debit card. Just like a real credit card, this virtual version, too, has its expiration date, so as a user, you need to 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 most likely won’t be able to make a refund, so it’s not worth the risk.
How to open a prepaid virtual credit card account?
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:
- You need to have some funds on your new prepaid virtual card to be able to make payments
- The company that issues you the card may set a required minimum balance for opening a prepaid virtual account
When you order the 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:
- Reloadable virtual credit cards
- 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.
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 should know that it usually has a limited term of validity of three years. Another thing to be prepared for is that a monthly fee is charged after the first year of use. What can be quite convenient is that you can use it to pay in other currencies, too.
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 Visa worth considering include the following:
- You can change your personal details if you want to
- You can use it for automatic payments
- You can make payments in other currencies
- There’s no activation fee
- There’s no monthly fee
- There is no minimum balance set
- Term of validity may be shorter (a year or even less)
Understand how DoNotPay Virtual Credit Card works
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 sensitive info. But how?
The method behind our virtual credit card is quite similar to how chip credit cards work, so if you’ve ever used these or you’re familiar with them, you’ll understand this easily. 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.
The principle behind DoNotPay’s virtual credit card is mostly the same. 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 just a random set of numbers that has nothing to do with your real credit card. So, when you leave this random set of numbers where your credit card info is required, you can relax, knowing that there’s no room for any fraudulent activity. Service providers may try to wrong you, though, but it won’t work. You can also limit the virtual card to one purchase or one merchant only if that works for you.
To get a DoNotPay’s virtual credit card, all you need to do is access our app via a web browser. 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 a negative experience with free trials before, so you’d rather skip another free trial than risk being charged again, DoNotPay Free Trial Card is for you. There’s no need for you to miss out on any exclusive features or services a free trial gives you access to when you have our Free Trial Card to protect you. 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 be able to track you, 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, too. Just like the card, this will be a random email address that you can leave if you want an even higher level of security. 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. Service providers usually take advantage of your email here to add it to their email list and then send you various ads and promotions.
Pros and cons of using virtual credit cards
If you’ve never used a virtual credit card before, you must be wondering about the pros and cons of relying on this option. Most people who’ve already tried them out agree that virtual credit cards come with some rather significant benefits, primarily security. Here are some major advantages and disadvantages that you should keep in mind:
You can use a virtual credit card without exposing your real card information
|In case you use a virtual credit card to book something online, and you are required to provide your real card in person, 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 those providers that do 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|
|Malicious merchants or scams of any kind can’t do you any harm||You may not be able to receive a refund if your card expires before they make a refund|
|You can limit your spending||
Limited spending might cause you complications if you have recurring payments you want to make in the future
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 start using them right from the start. For the time being, they are usually used in the following cases:
- Online shopping
- Single payments
- Recurring payments
- Over-the-phone purchases
- Monthly subscriptions
- 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 access the free trial period on Netflix. Sure, you can do this anytime you want, but could you really enjoy all those shows while thinking about the potential charges when the free trial expires or even before its expiration date? Netflix will promise to send you an email as a reminder, but what if they don’t? Or what if you don’t see it? 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 several other services, too, including the following:
- PlayStation Vue
- Amazon Prime
- ESPN Go
The difference between a regular credit card and DoNotPay 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
Should you use a mobile wallet?
Mobile wallets are virtual wallets used for more secure and convenient online shopping. They can be good to use if you want to make a payment someplace where you don’t have access to your credit card. You shouldn’t rely on them entirely, though, as it might happen that the merchant or service provider whom you want to pay like this is not connected to a mobile wallet service provider.
What can be tricky with mobile wallets is that you leave your real credit card information stored on a device, such as your smartphone or a tablet. Compared to virtual credit cards, this might be a less secure solution, so think carefully when you make your final pick. Remember that safety comes first, right?
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 robot lawyer to give you a hand. DoNotPay is also here to do the following for you:
- Help you negotiate and pay all kinds of bills
- Provide you with the paperwork necessary to show up in small claims court
- Put you through customer support without wasting time in long phone queues
- Get DMV appointments faster than ever
- Offer virtual credit cards for a carefree trial period
- Manage your subscription services and memberships
- Ensure airline flight compensation
- Dispute any unfair traffic tickets troubling you
- Get revenge on robocalls
- Dispute unfair parking tickets
- Fight speeding tickets