For many, buying online remains a source of doubt. And they have no reason: in some cases, we will have to provide the data of our checking account or of our card. To minimize risk, banks and other financial institutions have launched a virtual card.
What sets them apart from lifetime credit or debit cards? Which are the most interesting?
Virtual cards vs classic cards
The virtual card was born precisely for this new – not so much – habit of buying online. As their own name indicates and unlike traditional cards, they do not have a physical format. And that is, as we will see later, the main difference with respect to prepaid cards. An advantage derived from this is that we cannot lose them if the portfolio is lost.
Of course, although we do not have that piece of cardboard in the wallet, we will have the information we usually find printed on it.
- Expiration date
- Security code
Exactly the same as physical cards. It will be precisely the data that we use in our online transactions.
As there is no card in physical format, we cannot pass it through the readers of the physical stores … unless we link this card to payment platforms such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, Garmin Pay and the like.
The key to virtual cards is that we are the ones who manually load their funds, so they are limited and controlled. That is if I want to buy a Redmi Note 8 Pro on Aliexpress and its price is 173 euros, I would recharge this amount in a timely manner to carry out the transaction. That would be the maximum money I can spend, not one euro more since they don’t work on credit.
As they are not directly linked to our financial products, if someone tried to steal from our card and got it, they could only access their funds.
These virtual cards designed to buy on the internet, are also managed through the internet, so that refills and other operations have immediate effect.
What to consider when choosing a virtual card
Like when we buy any other financial product, it is essential to know in advance what are the expenses derived from having a virtual card. That is, the cost of hiring, maintenance and if there are commissions for operations.
However, it is worth asking our own bank, since on some occasions it can offer us virtual or prepaid cards with good conditions derived from our client status.
Among the options, we find some whose issuance and maintenance are free and others that charge for it. There are also virtual cards that do not charge for recharging.
As we use it to buy, it is important to know the fund limit and if there is a minimum income to be made. And if the idea is to buy out, we will also pay attention to whether there are levies in the currency exchange.
If we are interested in linking it to a payment platform to use it in physical stores with our mobile or watch, we must also verify if it is compatible with it. Another option if we want to pay in stores in person is to opt for prepaid cards. Although this article focuses on virtual ones, we have also included some in this format.
As with any other card, it is worth taking a look at the protection they offer: sending SMS, coverage against fraud, insurance, etc., something we usually find by reading the small print of the contract.
When choosing a virtual (or prepaid) card, we will essentially find products that come from traditional banking entities and fin-tech companies in the form of mobile banks that cover the classic functions to a greater and lesser extent. Next, the most interesting virtual cards and their main features.
Virtual Bankia Card
Bankia has a specific virtual card, which meets all the requirements listed above: it has no physical support and works with a prepaid system. It has no fees or commissions, but you must be a client of this entity to request it.
The maximum we can recharge is 1,500 euros, but we can spend what we want, so if we intend to buy for example something of 3,000 euros, we can make two refills. This money charge is instantaneous through other products of the same bank, such as the account or other cards.
BBVA Virtual Card
BBVA has a virtual card, although it also has a prepaid card that we can use in a similar way, but with a physical format: the ” Before BBVA “, also available in a young version.
As the name implies, the BBVA Virtual Card has no physical support and can be requested by customers of this bank without issuance, maintenance, fees or commissions. To hire it, just email and a personal identification number.
The maximum recharge amount is 600 euros and can be done from ATMs, telephone, internet, apps or the office
Santander Bank e-Cash Card
Banco Santander customers also have the e-Cash prepaid virtual card available to their entity. This card issued by Mastercard is free during the first year and, if we make three purchases during this one, we will not pay a maintenance fee. Otherwise, we must pay 9 euros.
Recharge the card is free, being able to do it from the app, by phone, offices and financial products of this bank. Of course, we can not enter less than 6 euros or more than 1,650 euros.
Each time we make a transaction, we will receive an SMS code to authorize it. It also includes accident insurance of up to 120,000 euros.
Openbank eCard is one of the most interesting cards in terms of cost and benefits, although it requires us to be customers.
It is free and without commissions for both issuance and maintenance or recharging. Something we can do from one euro to 3000 euros from Santander Bank tellers or online. Includes free accident insurance and free SMS alerts service.
Revolut follows the trail of the former as a mobile bank, offering services such as cryptocurrency trading. In addition, it is compatible with Apple Pay.
It is possible to be a customer of Revolut in three modalities:
- the free one
- the “Premium” (7.99 euros/month)
- the “Metal” (13.99 euros/month)
Although in the free version they offer us the prepaid card Revolut Standard in a virtual format with the option to convert it to physics.
In addition to paying for purchases online, the Revolut Standard allows you to withdraw up to 200 euros for free at ATMs (after 2%).
That applies an exchange rate without commissions on operations such as taking money or payments abroad, so it is very interesting for trips.
Thus, we can spend, transfer or exchange money at the interbank exchange rate up to 6,000 euros free (after 0.5% commission).
Hence, making transactions at the interbank exchange rate or make global transfers without commissions.
If we opt for Premium and Metal modalities, the amount of the withdrawals in the ATM goes up, they offer refunds in payments and access to insurance among other characteristics.