What Is a Virtual Card Number and How Does It Work?

Learn how virtual card numbers can make online shopping more convenient and more secure

Virtual card numbers are a convenient way to make credit card purchases online. They’re sometimes called virtual credit cards or virtual cards. And they allow you to shop online without giving vendors your actual card number.

Thanks to virtual card numbers, you can shop online faster and more securely—and you don’t even have to pull out your wallet. Learn more about how virtual card numbers work and how they can help you keep your account information safe.

How Are Virtual Card Numbers Different From Regular Credit Cards?

Think of virtual card numbers as substitutes for your actual credit card number. The virtual numbers are still linked to your credit card account, but they allow you to use a different number to fill out payment information when you shop online.

This means your actual credit card is never given to the websites where you shop—adding another layer of security.

Some credit card companies give you a unique virtual card number for every website where you shop. And those virtual card numbers can’t be used anywhere else. So if a merchant site is compromised, there’s no way your virtual card number can be used to make purchases elsewhere. And your virtual card number can’t be used to access your account data on your card issuer’s app or website either.

How Do Virtual Card Numbers Work?

You can use a virtual credit card number just like you use your actual credit card—just shop online, start the checkout process and use a virtual card number to make your purchase.

Virtual card numbers typically work with any online merchant that accepts credit card payments. So if you can buy it online with your actual credit card, you can probably buy it online with a virtual card number.

How Do I Get a Virtual Card Number?

A virtual card number is linked to a credit card account. And most virtual card numbers also require a tool, such as a browser extension, an app or a downloadable program of some kind.

Once you’re set up, you can typically shop online like normal. When it’s time to check out, the tool will generate virtual card numbers for you. The tool can also store and retrieve virtual card numbers for the next time you shop.

How Do I Get a Virtual Card Number From Capital One?

Capital One® virtual card numbers are possible thanks to Eno®, your Capital One assistant. Eno allows you to shop online without giving merchants your actual card number. And everything is fully integrated with your existing Capital One credit card account. 

To use virtual card numbers, first add the Eno browser extension. Once you’ve registered your Capital One credit card, Eno will generate a virtual card number for you when it’s time to pay. The only thing you need to do is fill in the shipping and billing information. And Eno automatically saves virtual card numbers for each merchant so they can be used again. 

Charges will show up online in your transactions and on your monthly statements, just like they usually do. And you can manage all your virtual card numbers from an online dashboard. So it’s simple to keep track of where your virtual card numbers are used and stored.

With fewer security risks, faster checkout and easier monitoring, Eno makes shopping online with virtual cards an experience you’ll love.

What Are the Benefits of Virtual Card Numbers?

Simply put, virtual card numbers can make online shopping easier and more secure. 

They add another layer of protection to your credit card account in case a site where your credit card number is stored is ever compromised. And they can give you extra confidence if you’re making a purchase at a website you haven’t used before. So you know if something does happen, your actual card number is protected.

And instead of reentering your actual card number each time you check out, you can use virtual card numbers to auto-fill payment information to save you time. 

Are There Downsides to Virtual Card Numbers?

While virtual cards are great in most situations, they do have some limitations. 

Virtual card numbers may not be ideal for online purchases you’re planning to pick up in person. If you have to swipe or show your card to verify your identity, your actual card number won’t match the virtual number. This could apply to situations involving will-call tickets, hotel reservations and pickup orders. There might be similar issues with in-store returns, too. If one of these situations applies to your purchase, it may help to reach out to the company before buying.

And because they’re often part of a browser extension, virtual card numbers may need a desktop computer or laptop to work properly. That means virtual card numbers may not work on mobile devices.

Virtual Card Numbers and Online Security

Not only are they convenient, virtual card numbers are one way you can protect yourself from credit card fraud. And they also can help limit how much information is accessible to fraudsters if your information is stolen in a phishing scam or a data breach. But virtual card numbers can’t do everything. So always be careful when sharing your personal information online—and consider these ways to avoid scams

If easier and safer online shopping are must-haves for you, then virtual card numbers could be worth a closer look. If you’re a Capital One card customer, you can add the Eno browser extension and start using virtual card numbers today.

Learn more about Capital One’s response to COVID-19 and resources available to customers. For information about COVID-19, head over to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Government and private relief efforts vary by location and may have changed since this article was published. Consult a financial adviser or the relevant government agencies and private lenders for the most current information.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

The Eno extension is only available for certain web browsers and enrollment is required. Virtual card numbers are not available for debit cards and some credit cards. Actual experiences may differ from those depicted. Limitations apply. Capital One Bank (USA), N.A. ©2020.

Start Using Virtual Card Numbers

You can add the Eno browser extension to start shopping with virtual card numbers today.

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