What is a virtual debit card?

Tilly Michell3 minutes
What is a virtual debit card?
In this article

What is a virtual debit card?

To answer this question, think about the ways you can use regular physical debit cards:

  • Putting them into a cashpoint to take out cash

  • Using a chip-and-PIN reader to pay in-store

  • Tapping them on a reader for contactless payments

  • Entering card details into an online payment system

  • Linking them with a service like Apple Pay or Google Pay, and making contactless payments with your phone

These last two methods don’t require a physical card. They just require the information that’s usually on a debit card: a unique card number, expiry date, name and CVC (Card Verification Value, the three-digit number on the back of the card).

As the use of cash declines and online and contactless payments become more popular, there is less incentive to have a physical card that could be easily lost or stolen.

Virtual cards allow you to make online and contactless payments without this added worry.

How do virtual cards work?

A virtual card is stored on your phone or computer. Every virtual card has its own unique card number, expiry date, and CVC, which can be used to make online payments. Getting one can be as easy as downloading an app and tapping a few buttons. 

Virtual cards can also be linked with a payment app like Google Pay or Apple Pay so you can make contactless payments with your phone.

What’s the difference between a virtual card and a digital card?

A ‘digital card’ is the name given to a copy of your regular bank card that’s stored on your phone. A virtual card, on the other hand, has no physical equivalent.

It’s possible to get disposable virtual cards, which expire after a certain period of time, or even after one use. Disposable cards make it harder for fraudsters to steal your card details, giving you an added layer of security when purchasing products online. 

What are the benefits of virtual cards?

There are several security benefits of virtual cards:

  • You can lock and unlock virtual cards from your phone.

  • Push notifications give you real-time alerts every time the card is used.

  • There’s no physical card to get lost or stolen.

  • Multi-factor authentication can add extra security.

Other benefits of virtual cards include:

  • They save you the hassle of having to carry your wallet around.

  • You can activate them instantly, and use them from the moment they’re created.

  • You can set spending limits to control your budget (this is useful for businesses who issue corporate cards to their employees).

  • You can create new cards in an instant if, for example, a new team member joins your business. 

  • You can track expenditure on an app. 

Borderless virtual cards

Borderless virtual cards, like those offered by Airwallex, give additional benefits to companies who operate internationally.

Airwallex provides multi-currency accounts that allow you to hold money in multiple currencies. This can save you money on overseas money transfers and conversion fees, whether you have international customers, staff or suppliers. 

When a business joins Airwallex they can create up to 200 virtual debit cards for their team in minutes, in addition to physical cards.

These cards are borderless, so you can use them to pay in any currency anywhere in the world with no exchange fees, as long as you have that currency in your account. 

If you don’t have the right currency in your account, you can still use your card and benefit from our bank-beating exchange rate. 

Airwallex does not charge transaction fees for domestic or international card payments.

Use borderless virtual cards to streamline your finances

A smart way of streamlining book-keeping is to create a virtual card for any team member entitled to business expenses.

Rather than sharing one corporate card for booking business travel, paying for software and supplies or entertaining clients, each team member can have their own card.

Each Airwallex virtual card can be set up with a spending limit, and expenditure will be tracked automatically in the platform and in Xero.

This avoids any bottlenecks caused by CFOs being too busy to quickly sign off expenses. It also means that team members don’t need to pay expenses out of their own pocket, and then wait to be reimbursed.

Join Airwallex and change the way you manage your finances

Setting up an Airwallex business account is quick, easy and doesn’t require an appointment with a bank. 

Click below to watch a three-minute demo, or sign up immediately via a simple online form.

Once you have an account, you can create virtual cards for every member of your team. By doing so, you’ll quickly boost security, transparency, accounting efficiency and ease of doing business abroad.

Related article: How to open a euro business bank account from the UK

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Tilly Michell
Content Marketing Manager

Tilly manages the content strategy for Airwallex. She specialises in content that supports businesses in their growth trajectory.

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