A Mastercard virtual credit card is a tool for safer online shopping. But it’s not a separate account that you have to apply for. Rather, it’s a free service that you can enroll any Mastercard credit card in, which randomly generates stand-ins for your card number and security code when you buy things online so the real information doesn’t get stolen. Mastercard’s service is called Masterpass. Alternatively, Citi and Capital One have their own digital wallets, for those of you with a Mastercard from one of them.
Signing up for a Mastercard virtual credit card isn’t a bad idea, considering the threat of identity theft and fraud. But it’s important to remember that all credit cards give you a $0 liability guarantee for unauthorized transactions. So even if someone does get ahold of your credit card number, you won’t have to pay for what they buy.
How to Get a Mastercard Virtual Credit Card Number:
Through Mastercard: Mastercard’s free Masterpass Digital Wallet lets you make purchases without typing in your card number, security code or address. You just need to click “Masterpass” at checkout and sign into your account using a password, PIN, fingerprint or facial recognition. To make a free Masterpass account, go to Masterpass.com and enter your email or phone number to get started. You’ll then need to put in your Mastercard information, name, and billing address. Lastly, you’ll have to create a password. The only drawback to this system is that not all merchants support Masterpass.
Through Visa: Visa has its own digital wallet program, and you can actually add Mastercards to it, too. It creates a unique “payment token” that takes the place of your card information when you check out online. To enroll, create an account online and then put in the information for any cards you want to add. Like Masterpass, this system is not universally accepted yet.
Through Citi: Citi’s virtual wallet offers a high level of protection and will randomly generate you a different card number (along with an expiration date and security code) to use online at each merchant you request it for. If someone gets hold of that number and tries to use it somewhere else, it won’t work because it’s not authorized to make purchases anywhere else. Purchases made with the virtual number show up on your normal statement but will display the virtual number used too. In order to start generating numbers, go to Citi’s page to read up on their policy, then click “Enroll In/Get,” log in to your Citi account and request a number. It’s free.
Through Capital One: Capital One Eno will generate a virtual card number for each merchant you shop with online, as long as you have a Capital One credit card. In addition, Eno serves as a virtual assistant that can do things like tell you your balance, monitor your spending, send you fraud alerts and more. To get started, read up on the program on Capital One’s website. Then, follow the directions to add Eno to your web browser so you can use virtual card numbers at checkout.
Bank of America also used to offer a free “ShopSafe” service that would generate a new virtual credit card number on demand. However, this program was discontinued in September 2019.
At the end of the day, keeping your credit information safe is important, and getting a Mastercard virtual credit card can help. You can also supplement that by monitoring your credit for any signs of unauthorized use by signing up for a free WalletHub account, where we’ll give you daily-updated versions of your credit report and score and let you know if anything seems suspicious.