Virtual credit cards are disposable credit card numbers that allow you to make secure online transactions. By using a disposable placeholder number for your account, your real account details are masked, which reduces the chances of having your information and identity stolen through credit card use. You can get a virtual account number for most major cards by downloading a specific app or browser extension, requiring several steps on your end.
Though most credit card issuers do not offer virtual credit cards — or virtual account numbers — directly through your account, we’ve put together the cards that do allow for easy access right through your online account. Because of their simplicity and ease of access, and because they don’t require downloading an app or browser extension, these partner offers have been selected as the best credit cards with virtual account numbers.
Best cash-back card virtual credit card
The Citi® Double Cash Card is a good option for a virtual credit card if you’re looking to maximize your cash back on purchases and want to avoid the hassle of decoding point systems. While its cash-back rate is generally competitive with the Apple Card, this card may be more suitable for someone who does not have Apple products or is less technologically inclined. To access virtual credit cards for the Citi Double Cash Card, you must select “Other Services” on your account homepage, and then navigate to “Virtual Account Numbers.”
Most secure virtual credit card
The Apple Card is unique in that by design it has three credit card numbers built into one. One is the card number used by your Apple Wallet, which is kept secured, one is for your physical card (assuming you request one), and the other is considered your virtual credit card — it can be used for online transactions or in-person transactions where the merchant doesn’t accept Apple Pay. Best of all, if this virtual credit card number is compromised, you can request and receive a free replacement number instantly without interrupting the use of your account via Apple Wallet or the physical card.
Best for 0% intro APR virtual credit card
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card not only offers virtual account numbers right from your online account home page, it also boasts a 0% introductory APR period unlike all of our other virtual card picks. With account approval, you can enjoy 12 months of 0% introductory APR on purchases from the date account opening and a whopping 21 months of 0% introductory APR on balance transfers (though, with a proportionate 5% or $5 balance transfer fee, whichever is greater ). After the intro period, the APR is 13.74% to 23.74% variable. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening. This card offers purchase protection as well.
Best travel virtual credit card
While the Citi Premier® Card has an annual fee of $95 — unlike our other picks which have no annual fee — its rewards and perks make up for the extra cost. For example, the sign-on bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months after account opening (an equivalent value of $600 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com) is highly competitive, putting this card at the top of our picks for best welcome bonus credit cards. This card offers purchase protection, and you can access virtual account numbers right through your account home page.
Best for temporarily authorized users
The X1 Card — while new and not yet widely available — offers a unique setup with regards to virtual credit cards. You’ll need to download an app to manage your account (there is no account access via web browser), and through that app you can generate one-time use virtual cards like the other cards featured on this list. You also have the opportunity to set auto-expirations for virtual credit cards, which can come in handy for automatically canceling free trials or for giving a card number to a trusted individual like a family member or caregiver for a set period of time.
What are the best virtual credit cards?
For the sake of the simplicity of being able to generate a virtual account number anywhere you have internet access, the best virtual credit cards are ones you can get directly from your online credit card account, without downloading pesky extensions or additional apps. Those include Apple Card, Citi Double Cash Card, Citi Premier Card, Citi Diamond Preferred Card and the X1 Card.
Other credit card issuers may offer additional apps or browser extensions. For example, Capital One has the Eno web extension for its cards.
What is a virtual credit card?
A virtual credit card, or virtual account number, is a temporary credit card number used to make purchases online or over the phone safely. That means you don’t have to reveal your actual account information, sparing you potential identity theft. The virtual account number is generated randomly and expires after a set period of time so that it cannot be misappropriated in the future.
My credit card doesn’t offer virtual account numbers. How can I shop online safely?
There are several issuer apps and browser extensions that enable virtual credit card generation for accounts that do not have the feature built in. They require an extra step (downloading the app or extension) to use initially, and restrict you to making purchases specifically on hardware you’ve installed the program on. As an example, a Click to Pay account allows Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover cardholders to choose to apply for a virtual credit card at checkout.
CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles — with the understanding that everyone’s financial situation is different — and the designated function of a card.
For, for example, key factors include the annual fee, the “welcome bonus” and the cash-back rate (or rates, if they differ by spending category). For rewards and miles cards, we calculate and weigh the net monetary value of a card’s respective perks. And with , we analyze specs such as the duration of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee, while acknowledging secondary factors such as the standard APR and the length of time you have to make a balance transfer after you open the account.
*All information about the Apple Card and X1 Card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.