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When is the best time to use a virtual payment card?

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As the world has shifted online, so have payment methods. One of the most innovative developments in recent years has been the rise of virtual payment cards.

In this article, we look at how this exciting tech works, and what it means for your business.

What are virtual payment cards?

While reasonably new technology, virtual payment cards are taking off in a big way. They do exactly what their name suggests: these nifty online products act as debit or credit cards, but they’re entirely an online entity, with no physical card. 

You receive a generated 16-digit card number, complete with an expiry date and card verification number. This information is linked back to your account, and then works the same way as a traditional payment card: you can use it to spend money online through your suppliers but without the constraints of having a physical card.

So, is this an app?

While they work in a similar way, a virtual payment card is not a payment app.

For starters, it’s not available in an app format. There’s no download required, and there’s no tap-and-go function like with Apple Pay and Google Pay. And unlike these platforms which can be used at brick-and-mortar stores, your virtual payment card is used almost exclusively online.

The card data is generated online, and you use this to pay online. All you receive is the card number and the details, and you use this when it comes time to pay for goods or services.

When to use virtual payment cards

You can use a virtual payment card practically anywhere you would use your physical credit card. 

Software subscriptions

Software subscriptions are usually something you prefer to set and forget. You don’t want to be messing around remembering to make payments every month, or even every year. This is where virtual payment cards come in handy. You can create a virtual payment card that’s specifically for that software provider, with the card only going live during a certain date. This allows you to create a recurring payment at a certain time each month or year, depending on your billing cycle. You can also set the card to expire at a certain time, putting an automatic end date to your subscription. 

You can also set a payment cap on your virtual card, too, so the only spend available is for the same amount each period. This way, if your card details do somehow become compromised, the only amount of money at risk is what you’d usually pay for your subscription.

Single online purchases

What’s great about virtual payment cards is that you can create individual payment cards for one-off payments. Simply set the amount you need to pay, and then once the payment is made the card number becomes inactive, never to be used again. This makes them ideal for making large purchases, without the worry of having an extra payment card lying around.

This provides you with the comfort and certainty that this money is only being used on what it’s intended for.

One thing to be aware of here is if you need to make a return on that payment. Depending on where you make the purchase from, you may not be able to get a refund, as a one-off payment card is no longer valid. So keep this in mind when creating a one-time virtual payment card, just in case. 

Bookings and travel

You can assign specific merchant types to your virtual payment cards, which means that you can create payment cards specifically for travel, bookings, sundry funds, or the like. They can’t be used for any other spend types, so you always know where this budget is being spent. This makes them ideal for setting up travel or accommodation accounts for your staff. 

You can also set the currency, so if there’s international travel or purchases to be made, you can create a card specific to that currency, so you can make payments wherever you need to without getting slugged with expensive conversion fees.

Better business payments

You can assign cards to specific team members or departments, which allows you to keep track of your budget and spend, and you know exactly where your staff are spending their money.

Virtual payment cards even let you drill down to specific expense codes and departments, so when you make payments your information is translated immediately to your financial system. This enables you to eliminate the scramble of chasing down receipts or invoices, and streamline your reconciliations each month.

Are virtual payment cards secure?

One of the big benefits of a virtual payment card is the improved level of security you enjoy.

At a basic level, a virtual payment card is just that—virtual—so there’s no physical card to lose, or to get stolen. You’re the only one receiving those card details, and as you’re able to set the time and spending limit for your cards, you can limit the potential for fraudulent payments too.

You also receive improved accountability. A good virtual payment card system, such as Airwallex’s Borderless Cards, integrates seamlessly with your preferred financial platform, so your virtual card payment data is logged and tracked immediately. You can see exactly where your money is going, and when, without having to lift a finger.

How do I get a virtual card?

While many banks these days offer virtual payment cards, Airwallex Borderless Cards is an easier and smarter way to get started.

Simply sign up to get started.  We’ll complete a quick identity check to confirm your details, then you’ll be able to issue new virtual payment cards instantly from your dashboard. From there, you can start using your card instantly.

If you already have an account with us, you can create virtual cards immediately.

There’s never been a better time to embrace virtual payments

Airwallex Borderless Cards make your virtual payments a breeze. They’re quick and easy to set up, with no monthly fees, no annual fees, and absolutely no fees on foreign transactions, ever. All you’ll ever pay is a small margin on FX of either 0.3% or 0.6%.

So if you’re thinking about going virtual with your payments, sign up today. We can run you through how your virtual payment card work, and show you how Borderless Cards will benefit your business. Click here to book a free 30-minute demo with a Product Specialist.


Our products and services in Australia are provided by Airwallex Pty Ltd ABN 37 609 653 312 who holds AFSL 487221. Any information provided is for general information purposes only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs. Please read and consider the Product Disclosure Statement available on our website before using our service.

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In Australia, our products and services are provided by Airwallex Pty Ltd ABN 37 609 653 312 who holds AFSL 487221. Any information provided on this website is for general information purposes only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs. Please read and consider the Product Disclosure Statement.

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