Virtual credit cards provide a way to make purchases online without revealing any information from a real credit or debit card. By generating a unique, temporary card number, these services minimize the risk of fraudulent activity as the virtual number is much less useful to potential predators. Some banks and credit card companies—but not all—now offer this service.
PayPal, an online service long synonymous with virtual money transfers, has grown over the years to offer a suite of virtual financial products. A PayPal account allows users to keep a balance to facilitate easier online purchasing and transferring, and if necessary, it can be linked to draw from other sources of funds such as a bank account. The list of online vendors that accept payments from a PayPal account is ever-expanding.
Launched in 2020, PayPal Key is an additional free service that can generate and link a virtual card number to an existing PayPal account. Even though purchases made with PayPal Key are funded through the supporting PayPal account, they will work just the same whether or not an online retailer accepts PayPal as a form of payment.
This is achieved by backing from Mastercard, which means that the virtual card is accepted online wherever a Mastercard credit card can be used. This means that PayPal Key transactions will appear as Mastercard transactions on receipts.