Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Should you use virtual credit cards?

I got a press call this morning from a guy looking to learn more about "virtual credit cards." These are one-time use numbers that protect your main credit card and can only be used one time on one site. This capability is available from a few of the large credit card banks. Check out more information at the Cardratings site.

The reality is that using these virtual credit card numbers are a pain in the butt. You have to either download some software or go to yet another web site to get the right credential to use it. Is it worth it? The answer is a big maybe.

If you are doing business with a totally new site, then it probably does. Credibility and trust are earned and until a vendor has an opportunity to earn my trust, I'd rather shield my true financial information.

On the other hand, you are now pretty much insulated since you will be reimbursed on any fraudulent charges on your card. But to be clear, having your credit card compromised is a huge hassle, so you want to avoid it.

Truth be told, I don't use virtual credit cards very often. But I am also very selective about the online merchants I use. As always, you are better safe than sorry.

Photo credit: pt

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