Here’s how a virtual credit card number can protect your real card when shopping online


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Amazon delivery dates have been all over the place lately, which means a lot of us are turning to other websites to shop.

Darlene wrote a good question on my Facebook page:

As COVID-19 has evolved, so have my shopping habits. I order groceries and essentials online. can you do a segment on single use credit card numbers or virtual credit card numbers please. I am not comfortable giving my cc to SO, SO MANY vendors and services.

Let’s take a look at how one-time or virtual credit card numbers can protect you while shopping online.

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To get started, I spoke to Jill Gonzales, analyst for the site WalletHub. She explained how single-use card numbers work.

“You have a separate, unique number used for this transaction, it’s basically gone after that,” Gonzales said. “So you’re a little safer because your regular credit card number isn’t available on the internet for hackers to grab. “

Jill Gonzalez, Communications Director for WalletHub

The process can be simple or complicated, depending on your credit card issuer.

You go to their website and ask for a one-time number or virtual card number. Then you use this number to complete your online purchase. It only works once.

A capital letter and Citibank are two of the largest banks to offer single-use numbers directly. Most other credit card companies have turned to “wallet apps” that help you verify online, but don’t directly provide a direct one-time number.

I’m guessing people just don’t use the one-time number feature very often, or their banks’ fraud detection AI has gotten so good that they don’t need to offer it.

But there are a lot of websites that don’t support wallet apps like MasterPass and Chase Pay.

For a virtual card number solution that you can use at any online merchant, I’m talking to Bo Jiang, co-founder and CEO of

“If you think about it, the system we put in place for credit cards today is a little ridiculous. You give a merchant a card number, you hope they charge you the right amount and keep your card number safe, ”Jiang said from his home office in New York City.

Boling Jiang, Co-Founder and CEO of offers a free way to generate one-time card numbers, but there is much more you can do as well.

You can lock a card to a specific merchant, you can set spending limits on a card, and even suspend or completely deactivate a card.

The main difference here is that you need to link your bank account or debit card to to use their service. You cannot use your credit card. makes money by capturing a percentage of the processing fees in the back – you don’t have to pay anything more unless you upgrade to a paid account that offers more flexibility and features.

I tried the virtual card to place an order online and it worked perfectly. It even displays the merchant’s name in my bank account ledger, which is handy for tracking transactions made through the service.

“I think in 10 years, I would be shocked if people still gave out their real card information online,” Jiang concluded.

Other things you can do to protect your credit and debit card number are to use mobile payment methods to pay like Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay when supported in person or even on websites.

In the end, even if your card number is hacked, you’re usually protected by the issuer, but that doesn’t mean it can’t give you a headache. You may still have to wait to get your money back in the case of a debit card transaction, or credit in the case of a credit card transaction.

Plus, it’s no fun having to update your card number for a bunch of recurring subscriptions you might have.

NOW: listen to the Rich on Tech Podcast, where I talk about tech news that I think you should know about and answer any questions you send me!

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