How Revolut virtual cards work
Virtual cards work just like physical credit cards and debit cards, only they are completely digital - or "virtual." Because there is no physical card involved, virtual cards are best used for online payments or for purchases in-app on a mobile phone. They don't work for ATM withdrawals, because there's no physical card to insert, no chip, and no PIN.
Revolut cards have the same card details and card number as any physical card - 16 digits, the cardholder's name, and the three-digit CVC number. Purchases are quick and secure, and virtual cards offer great protection against card fraud.
Your virtual card has a different card number and card details from your physical Revolut card. So you can lock the virtual card (to prevent abuse) and continue using your Revolut card as normal.
Disposable virtual cards
Revolut lets you create disposable virtual cards for one-off use. These single-use cards are perfect for non-recurring online purchases, where you don't need the merchant to store your card details.
These one-off cards also work exactly the same as your other Revolut cards, but the card details cannot be used again in future. So if the vendor is hacked or your card number is stolen, no charges can be made.
Apple Pay, Google Pay & the Revolut app
Revolut customers can also use virtual cards in-store, Apple Pay or Google Pay. They simply link a virtual card to their Apple or Google Pay app, and make purchases as they otherwise would.
This lets Revolut customers make contactless payments in stores, even if they don't have a physical card with them.
Virtual cards prevent card fraud
Perhaps the dingle best reason to use virtual cards - especially for businesses - is the reduced risk of credit or debit card fraud. Users can block virtual cards any time from the Revolut app or from a computer, without cancelling their main company credit cards. You can even keep cards in a permanent "frozen" status, and unblock them only when you need to use them.
Disposable virtual cards are even better. They cannot be use more than once, so even if card details are stolen, they're worthless. Merchants cannot charge the same card twice, and cards are only valid for the amount loaded onto them when created.
Alternatives to Revolut virtual cards
Here are a few to consider.
Spendesk virtual cards
Spendesk cards are the best solution for companies. Whereas Revolut focuses more on consumer credit cards, Spendesk offers virtual and physical Visa and Mastercards designed for modern businesses - and especially for finance teams.
Get more control and visibility over all company spending, with the same single-use or recurring card options listed above. Every payment is tracked along with approval, and no team member can spend unless permitted by their designated budget manager.
And Spendesk users report 98% of expense receipts collected on time, thanks to the easy workflows that accompany the cards.
The best part:Spendesk users can create unlimited recurring or one-off virtual cards, so team members always have a safe payment method at work.
Monzo virtual cards
Monzo's virtual credit cards are very similar to Revolut's. Both companies primarily serve consumers and small businesses, giving users a more modern version of the traditional bank account.
The cards are easy to create and fast to use, and draw from the same Monzo current account balance as their physical cards. The key differences between Monzo and Revolut will be pricing and the package you choose, as both companies primarily serve the same buyers.
Stripe virtual cards
Stripe is a service well known to many companies. It's leading product helps companies accept and process payments, but the fintech also lets businesses distribute virtual cards to their employees. This may be a good option for companies already using Stripe's services.
Stripe Issuing's API lets companies create virtual cards that suit their needs. It's a good option for technically savvy companies that need tailored solutions or want to create their own use cases.
Virtual cards in multiple currencies
Companies operating internationally may want to ensure that their virtual cards can be used globally. Exchange rates may cause issues, and the inability to pay in certain currencies also slows businesses down.
Revolut accounts are available in GBP, EUR, NOK and PLN.
Spendesk accounts are available in GBP, EUR, USD, NOK, DKK, and SEK.
Monzo accounts are available in GBP only.
Which virtual card provider is best for you?
If you're a private citizen (not a business), a solo entrepreneur or running a small business, Revolut, Monzo, and other similar options may be perfect for your company. They're designed for consumers first, and don't feature extra workflows and features that finance teams may require.
If you're a company with software subscriptions or making lots of online payments, Spendesk is probably the best choice for you. It has built-in approval workflows and connects to your accounting software, while still easy to use for all employees.