Christie Matherne, Credit Card Writer
A temporary credit card is a “disposable” credit card number or virtual credit card, that some card issuers offer to existing cardholders as a way to safely shop online. A cardholder can use a temporary credit card number - which also comes with a temporary security code and expiration date - in place of their real credit card information when shopping online to help minimize fraud. The number expires in a period of time determined by the card issuer, so any intercepted information would soon be useless to a thief.
Where to Use a Temporary Credit Card
A temporary credit card is not a physical card, but some card issuers offer temp credit card services that allow you to use the virtual card in person at specified retailers via a mobile app. Even some of the credit card networks have virtual credit card options. Notably, Mastercard Masterpass and Visa Checkout are open to cardholders from any card network. That said, some services specify limitations on where you can use the temporary credit card, i.e. the temp cards are only accepted by certain merchants.
Currently, Capital One and Citibank are the only card issuers that offer temporary credit cards that can be used anywhere online. With these card issuers, you can simply use your temporary credit card number in place of your real card number when you check out. You can log into your Capital One or Citibank credit card account anytime to get a temp card for online shopping.
What You Need to Get a Temporary Credit Card
All that said, it’s worth noting that you can’t get a temporary credit card without first having a real credit card, so it isn’t an instant credit solution. And it’s also important to keep in mind that virtual credit cards aren’t a guaranteed protection against fraud. They simply make it a bit harder for a thief to gain access to your credit card information. But on that note, all major credit cards give cardholders a $0 fraud liability guarantee, anyway.
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