How Virtual Cards are Changing Online Transactions

Virtual cards are digital counterparts to physical payment methods that offer efficiency, fraud protection, control, and even rewards. This blog dives into various use cases around virtual cards, and how you can start using them along with other seamless checkout technologies. 
Virtual cards are digital counterparts to physical payment methods that offer efficiency, fraud protection, control, and even rewards. This blog dives into various use cases around virtual cards, and how you can start using them along with other seamless checkout technologies. 

What's a Virtual Card?

Let’s start with an example. You own a company and sometimes your employees need to expense one-off items. A client is coming in and they need to order food. Or, they need to book a hotel room for one night. Before virtual cards, the options here were fairly limited:

  1. Have your employee pay for it themselves and then submit receipts to get reimbursed
  2. Issue out company credit cards for all employees.

Neither of these give you much control - your employees may be stuck with unnecessary charges, or they may go over the limit (since restrictions are hard to enforce here). With the company card, you also may not expect employees to treat it like their own - these cards are more susceptible to theft or less. Or, employees may feel like they can sneak in a few extra charges. 

With virtual cards all of this can change. Employees can request a one-use virtual card on-demand with restrictions (such as each payment can only be up to $200, or payment can only be used for transportation). The after the card is used or the condition is met, the card expires. Let’s look at this flow in a bit more depth: 

Virtual card provider flow - employee requests card and provider issues VCN, CVC and Expiration Date.
Virtual Card Provider Flow
  1. Business sets up virtual card provider with limitations 
  2. Employee requests virtual card
  3. Virtual card provider issues all the information required to use the card
  4. Employee transacts
  5. Card expires

This flow is subjective, but we can see many variations of this. 

What Are The Benefits of Virtual Cards?

Expense Efficiency

Virtual cards can automatically capture expenses at a granular level, reducing the need for expense management. The quick spin-up of a virtual card makes it so that users don’t need to carry around physical cards, or remember multiple CVCs. 

Prevent Card Fraud

Virtual cards are typically issues for a restricted timeframe, a certain number of transactions, or a specific spending amount. After they’ve met their conditions, they become unusable.

The temporary and disposable nature of these cards is key to preventing fraud, especially within a business setting. One report states that only 9% of virtual cards are subject to business fraud vs. 36% from corporate credit cards. 

Control Over Spending

Businesses, organizations, or even family have the flexibility to set individual spending limits for virtual cards. This enables control of expenses and budgeting. Some companies are even exploring virtual cards for person budgeting. The card can even be tied to specific categories of spending, or specific vendors overall.

Cash back Rewards and More

Just like regular credit cards, virtual cards can still offer rewards like cash back! These cards can also still provide typical credit card benefits like insurance protection, and other perks 

What Are Uses Cases for Virtual Cards?

1. Easier Expense Management

We already talked about this one, but just one more time - virtual cards can totally change the game for expense management. Businesses can issue virtual cards to employees with predefined spending limits and restrictions. When employees need to make a purchase, a virtual card Is generated based on the requirements and the circumstance. This streamlines reimbursement and reduces unauthorized spending.

2. E-commerce and Online Purchases

Virtual cards have the potential to be the top payment method for online shopping. Because these virtual cards offer so much security, they have the opportunity to reduce credit card fraud significantly. Since these cards can be configured for one-time purchases, shoppers don’t need to be worried about the card number being stolen, or hidden recurring charges. 

3. Subscription Management

Virtual cards can be assigned to certain subscriptions. This can help prevent unexpected charges or renewals for the subscriber. When a subscription expires or requires renewal, a new virtual card can be generated with updated details.

4. Streamlining Travel Expenses

Travel expenses can be a nightmare for budgeting but virtual cards can streamline this. You can generate individual cards for hotel bookings, rental cars, or other travel expenses. This helps make sure each transaction is separately accounted for.

What Does Sleek Have to do about it? 

If you don’t already know - Sleek is on a mission to streamline transactions, drive insights, and help offer rewards for a variety of use cases. One of Sleek’s features includes a one-click checkout solution, or Checkout API, where a user’s credit card information is filled out without the user needing to fill anything out. 

While Sleek isn’t currently in the business of providing virtual cards, there’s a great “better together” story here. Remember the example about employees generating one-time use card for business expenses? What if they could request the card from a Google Chrome extension, or from directly within an app? Sleeks Checkout API can autofill the card information and complete the checkout. This way, the employees no longer need to copy and paste the card numbers themselves (an insecure and error-prone method!). Integrated with Sleeks’ Deals API or Coupon Filling API, these cards can tap into Sleek’s expansive network of cash back deals to offer rewards at 1000s of vendors.

Interested in learning more? Contact us at or request a demo!

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