Denver, Colorado

What Are Virtual Cards?

Virtual cards are digital cards purposely for facilitating online transactions. You won’t receive a plastic card that you can hold and swipe; virtual cards exist as a string of numbers and information you can input for online purchases.

Virtual cards are linked to your credit or debit card. When you create a virtual card, you can use it online the same way you’d use your physical card. The difference is that the virtual card provides a secondary level of security. You can add restrictions to the virtual card, such as a spending limit, category limitation, or expiration date, thereby preventing misuse of the card information.

Below are the benefits of virtual cards and barriers to virtual card adoption. Read on to learn.

Why Virtual Cards Stand Out

Virtual cards stand out for several reasons, making them an increasingly popular and convenient payment option in various industries. Here are some key factors that make virtual cards stand out:

Cost-Effective: Virtual cards can be more cost-effective for businesses as they eliminate the need for physical card production and distribution. This can lead to cost savings, especially for companies that issue cards frequently, such as for travel expenses or employee allowances. 

Basically, the elimination of paper checks and wire transfers reduces the cost of postage, shipping, and handling. These cards also reduce the risk of check fraud and provide an accurate, real-time view of your payment activities.

Convenient for Online Transactions: Virtual cards are ideal for online shopping and e-commerce transactions. Users can generate a new virtual card for each online purchase, ensuring higher security and reducing the risk of unauthorized charges on their primary card.

Enhanced Security: Virtual cards are typically designed for single or limited-use purposes, reducing the risk of fraud and unauthorized transactions. Once the virtual card is used or expired, it becomes useless, making it harder for potential fraudsters to exploit it.

Privacy and Anonymity: Virtual cards can be issued without revealing the user’s personal or financial information. This feature is particularly beneficial when making online purchases from unfamiliar or less secure websites.

Convenience: Virtual cards can be generated instantly through various platforms and mobile apps, eliminating the need for physical card issuance and delivery. They are beneficial for online shopping and subscriptions.

Budgeting and Control: Since virtual cards can be generated for specific amounts and timeframes, they are excellent tools for managing budgets and preventing overspending. Users can set limits on the virtual cards, which helps control expenses effectively.

Travel and Expense Management: Virtual cards are especially valuable for business travel and expense management. Companies can issue virtual cards to employees for specific trips or expenditures, simplifying reconciliation and reducing administrative burdens.

Improved Vendor Relationships: Virtual cards provide a secure and faster payment option, which can significantly improve relationships with suppliers. With virtual cards, businesses can make payments faster, which helps to improve cash flow and vendor relationships. The virtual card payment process also provides a level of transparency, as suppliers can track transactions in real-time, improving trust and collaboration. 

Increased Flexibility: Virtual cards offer businesses increased flexibility in the payment process. Creating one-time-use cards with specific spending limits or merchant categories enables businesses to control their payments better. Virtual cards also offer the flexibility to make payments from anywhere, anytime, providing a reliable payment option for remote workers.

Environmentally Friendly: Virtual cards are an environmentally friendly option for payment. By choosing virtual cards over traditional payment methods like checks or ACH transfers, businesses can reduce the amount of paper and energy consumed. This is a small but important step towards improving sustainability and reducing carbon footprints. 

Improved Cash Flow: Virtual cards allow businesses to improve their cash flow management. By using virtual cards to pay suppliers, companies can take advantage of extended payment terms often offered. Additionally, suppliers can be paid quickly once an invoice is received, allowing businesses to establish better supplier relationships and manage cash flow more effectively.

Biggest Barriers to Virtual Card Adoption

Here are some of the biggest barriers to virtual card adoption up until that point: 

Lack of Awareness: Many businesses and individuals were unaware of virtual card options and their benefits. They were less likely to adopt them without understanding how virtual cards work and their advantages. 

Traditional Mindset: Some businesses and individuals were accustomed to using physical cards or other payment methods. Adopting virtual cards required a shift in mindset and internal processes, which can be challenging for some organizations.

Security Concerns: One of the primary concerns with virtual cards is security. Companies and consumers worry about the potential for data breaches, fraud, or unauthorized access to virtual card information, leading to hesitancy in adopting this technology. 

Limited Acceptance: Virtual cards might not be accepted everywhere, particularly in physical stores or smaller online merchants that have not yet adopted this payment method. This limitation could make consumers and businesses reluctant to rely solely on virtual cards for their transactions. 

Education and Awareness: Both consumers and businesses may not be familiar with virtual cards and how they work. Lack of education and awareness can slow adoption as people may be resistant to change or unsure of the benefits.

Perceived Complexity: Some users may perceive virtual cards as more complicated than traditional payment methods, leading to resistance to adopting this technology. 

Legacy Systems: Most organizations, especially larger enterprises, may have legacy payment systems in place that do not easily support virtual cards. Upgrading or replacing these systems can be a significant hurdle to adoption. 

Lack of Incentives: Without proper incentives or cost savings, businesses and consumers may not see a strong motivation to switch from traditional payment methods to virtual cards. 

Regulatory and Compliance Concerns: Depending on the region and industry, there may be specific regulations and compliance requirements that virtual card providers must meet. Adhering to these standards can be a challenge and may impact adoption.


Virtual cards are quickly becoming a popular form of payment for businesses. By using virtual cards to pay suppliers, businesses enjoy numerous benefits compared to traditional payment methods. Beyond the enhanced security and reduced administrative costs, virtual cards improve cash flow management, provide reward points and cashback opportunities, and are environmentally friendly. As businesses continue looking for ways to streamline their operations and reduce costs, virtual cards offer a compelling solution worthy of consideration.

October 26, 2023