How to Get a Temporary Credit Card

A virtual, temporary credit card can add additional security for online or over-the-phone purchases. To get a temporary credit card, you must contact your bank to activate the service. The bank will give you a temporary credit card number, and set spending and expiration limits on the card.

About Temporary Credit Cards

Temporary credit cards, also referred to as virtual credit card numbers or disposable cards, are limited-use credit card numbers associated with your main credit card account. They're designed for consumers and business owners who need to share their credit card number but are concerned about account security.

You can set safety limits on temporary credit cards so that less damage is done if the number is compromised. For example, a temporary credit card number can have a spending limit, be one-use only or expire after a set amount of time.


Temporary credit cards are virtual and can only be used for online or phone purchases.

Getting a Temporary Credit Card

Not all banks offer temporary credit cards. As of 2015, CitiBank, Bank of America and Chase bank are a few that do offer them to their customers.

Contact your bank and inquire if they have a virtual credit card service. As long as you have an existing credit card account, you don't need to qualify, complete an application or make any special purchase to get one. Once activated, your bank assigns a virtual card number or give you the ability to generate a virtual credit card number from a screen in your online account. Along with a 16-digit card number, you'll also receive an expiration date and a security code. You can then use this information in lieu of your regular credit card number when you make purchases online or by phone.

What to Expect with a Temporary Card

All purchases you make with a temporary credit number are charged to your main credit card account. Your bank will indicate if the purchase on your statement was made with a temporary credit card number and, if it was, which virtual card number the purchase is associated with.

Temporary credit card numbers may have increased security measures, however, breaches are still possible. If your virtual credit card number is compromised or you don't recognize the transactions on your statement, you must contact your bank right away.