What Is an Instant Virtual Debit Card?

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Contributor, Benzinga
July 28, 2023

A digital banking revolution is upon us, and you — like everyone else — have access to an array of financial options and tools. One of the most unique arrows in the quiver of the 21st century bank is the instant virtual debit card.

You don’t necessarily need another credit card, and you might not be amenable to a traditional checking account. So, what are you to do when you need a bank account but prefer all the options that come with online bank accounts?

Learning more about virtual cards can change your relationship with your money.

What Is a Virtual Debit Card?

A virtual debit card is a digital version of the debit card you carry in your wallet. Think of it like your hidden replacement card. These cards are designed by banking institutions as software as a service (SaaS) options. SaaS provides you with a virtual card that you can save to your Apple Wallet — Apple Inc.: NASDAQ: AAPL — or Google Wallet — Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL). 

You can pull information off the card for payments; also, you have the option to share this card securely with others when they are making payments on your behalf. This makes the virtual card a much more flexible payment method, and it can even be attached to expense management systems, offer multiple mobile banking options and even protect your debit card number if it uses an obscured number for online purchases online.

As before, you can request a one-time code from the bank for your online purchases. If your account is hacked, the card number that’s stolen will not work again. It’s easier to shut off the card and track any payments that are made illegally. However, it cannot be used as an ATM card because it’s a digital card.

In short, a virtual debit card does the job your plastic card does with enhanced portability, security and functionality. Every cardholder should at least see if their card issuer offers the virtual options so that you can get more out of your banking service.

Who Needs an Instant Virtual Debit Card?

Anyone can use a virtual debit card. You can use this type of card to avoid handling a card in public. It’s healthier, given the spread of COVID-19. The virtual debit card is easy to replace, and it comes to you immediately after opening your account.

These features are important because you:

  • Have greater access to your funds
  • Can pay safely 
  • Save time

You might also attach a virtual card to a business checking account with a spending limit so that your team can use these cards during the course of their work. You save on maintenance fees, and it’s much easier to shut down the card if it goes missing. Plus, you can stop using a paper check when sending your team in the field to manage vendors.

The Benefits of an Instant Virtual Debit Card

The initial benefits of a virtual card are obvious. They are:

  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Secure

You can attach a digital debit card to your Apple Wallet or Google Wallet. Plus, you can travel with it knowing that you have greater security with the card. Touchless payments help reduce the transmission of illnesses and touching to pay makes checkout a breeze.

Plus, you can turn it off any time in the virtual debit card app. If your wallet or phone is lost or stolen, you can log in online, turn off the card, report the fraud and protect your bank account from further incursions. 


What’s most unique about virtual cards is that you can quickly replace your phone, download the app, sign back in and go on shopping like you normally would. There’s no need to wait for the issuer to mail you a new card; you aren’t carrying traveler’s cheques; and you can resell the burner phone you bought when you get home. 

More than anything, digital cards are easy to use and understand. You can teach your kids to use them, help them learn how to budget and give them more options for getting paid as they work around the community or complete chores.

Disadvantages of a Digital Card

Virtual cards have 1 annoyance and 1 disadvantage.

Some people don’t want to keep their phones on them all the time. They prefer to swipe their card and feel more comfortable knowing it’s in their possession. While this is fair, remember that a virtual card actually saves space, conserves the energy the issuer uses to generate a plastic card and is generally more friendly to the environment.

One tiny disadvantage of any digital debit card is that your phone or mobile device must be secure. While you cannot prevent all hacking all the time, you can use security apps on your device to protect yourself, only connect to known and secure wifi networks and only use your card number on secured servers — meaning the site has the “https://” prefix.

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About MoneyLion

MoneyLion is a financial platform committed to disrupting the traditional system. Living by a mantra of “helping the 99% feel 100%” about their finances, MoneyLion offers a massive array of financial services, including:

  • Mobile banking
  • Digital debit cards
  • Financial calculators
  • Cashback rewards
  • No hidden fees
  • Buy now pay later options
  • Get paid early with RoarMoneySM
  • Invest with an investment account or MoneyLion Crypto
  • Credit Builder Plus loan
  • Cash advances

Try Instant Virtual Debit Cards

Trying an instant virtual debit card is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to diversify their spending options. On the one hand, a virtual card is perfect for touchless payments via the Apple or Google Wallet. On the other hand, you can use the card online even if you do not have your plastic card. 

Plus, a virtual debit card may serve as a portal to other unique financial options, such as those offered by several up-and-coming digital platforms.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I get an instant virtual debit card online?


When you register for an account with a traditional or digital bank that offers a virtual debit card, ensure that the bank provides instant access to a virtual debit card when the account is created. This action should occur prior to the bank mailing your plastic debit card. You might also look into security options for 1-time purchases.


How do I use a virtual debit card?


You can save a virtual card to your Apple Wallet or Google Wallet for touchless payments. Use the card online by entering the number, expiration date and security code. You may also enter a virtual debit card number on a payment page for utilities or other bills you prefer to pay with a card rather than an ACH debit.