How does a Visa virtual card work? 

A virtual card is a digital payment method issued via a website or an app from your financial institution. Companies use virtual cards in a variety of ways, such as paying suppliers, or enabling employees, contractors, and job candidates to pay for expenses through a more secure, easily controlled method.

Use case examples


An online travel agent uses virtual cards to tie each airline booking to a unique account number, making it easier to reconcile multiple trips, customers, and payments at the end of each month.


A medical insurance company uses virtual cards to pay primary care claims, which bypasses the use of checks and the disadvantages associated with them.

Employee Purchases

A business owner provides a virtual card to an employee to make a specific business purchase.

Supplier Payments

A company uses virtual cards to streamline accounts payable processes and drive more efficiencies, lessening time spent on invoicing and processing payments.

Who can use a virtual card?


An entrepreneur looking to safely make one-time or recurring purchases without worrying about fraud.

Small Business

A business wanting a simple way to provide a card to employees or contractors while still maintaining control.


A corporation seeking a more efficient payment and reconciliation process, as well as better cash flow management when paying suppliers.

Benefits of virtual cards


Virtual cards reduce the potential for loss, theft, or compromised data; and also make compliance and auditing simpler.


Virtual cards improve organizational efficiency by making payments digitally with new or existing vendors.


Each virtual card can be setup with a unique accounting code making it easier to understand where dollars are being spent during month-end reconciliation.


The parameters you set for each virtual card account — date, dollar amount, and merchant name — are controlled by designated program managers.


Purchase data is passed through to your company’s back-end systems for insights and decision making.


The status of a virtual card transaction, whether it’s been received, processed, or approved, is just a click away. 

How are virtual cards used?

Employee accounts

Employee requests card which is routed to program manager for approval.

Make decisions and manage virtual accounts

Program manager makes decisions, controls, and manages virtual accounts.

Mobile and desktop

Available on-the-go or at the office for easy access wherever needed.

Transaction management

View, manage, and categorize virtual and physical card purchases via one site.

Related products

Visa Spend Clarity

Monitor spending and streamline reporting.

Visa Payables Automation

Pay suppliers quickly, securely, and with specific controls.