What is a virtual debit card? Features to look for

Virtual debit cards explained
  • Debit card
  • International payments

Virtual business debit cards are the best option for SMEs and corporations alike due to benefits like:

  • Instant activation
  • Multiple currencies
  • No hidden markups
  • Lucrative packages

Find out what features to look for and everything you need to know about your virtual debit card.

What is a virtual debit card and how is it used?

A virtual business debit card is the digital counterpart of a physical card and contains the same properties, including:

  • The name of the cardholder
  • A 16-digit debit card number 
  • A CVV number
  • Card expiry date
  • Payment network, such as Mastercard or VISA

Cardholders are able to make online purchases the same way as they would with physical cards. Depending on the virtual business debit card provider, you are even able to add multiple payment services such as Apple Pay.

Virtual debit cards are as safe to use as physical ones and offer nearly all advantages of traditional debit cards. Admin functions allow businesses to apply individual settings for each card, including limits, merchant type restrictions and deactivations.

Therefore, it is not surprising that the usage of virtual debit cards increases year by year. According to Juniper Research1, transactions conducted with virtual cards will reach 175 billion by 2028, compared to 36 billion in 2023.

What are the benefits of a virtual debit card?

Virtual debit cards offer numerous benefits for SMEs and corporations alike.

Instant activation

Businesses can activate their virtual cards online, without the need to go to physical locations and without any waiting times. While physical cards need certain business days to be sent and activated, virtual debit cards can immediately be used after the online-registration process.

Security & Privacy

Virtual cards offer the same level of security as physical cards, as they also come with CVV number and expiry date. Further, depending on the provider, administrator and user functions are separated. This means that you can issue cards to your staff, but still control all safety features, including budget limits and cancellation options.

No need to carry

If you opt for virtual-only solutions, you will never have to worry about losing your card again, while your staff can still make use of online transactions.

Subscription management

The bigger your organisation, the more unnecessary expenses can add up if not being managed properly.

This is where subscription management comes into play. You can use one virtual debit card to handle all company-wide subscriptions for commonly-used services, such as Google Drive, Adobe Creative Cloud, Meta Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Slack, etc., while you can still issue virtual cards to different departments and even individual employees.

This strategy prevents individual departments from paying twice for the same services.

International transactions

Multi-currency virtual debit cards facilitate international money transfer, as you can pay in the required currency without additional foreign currency exchange fees. This comes in handy when you regularly pay international suppliers or receive foreign currencies on your linked accounts.

Virtual debit card vs physical card

Virtual Debit CardPhysical Card
Issuance TimeImmediately available upon registrationRequires shipping and may take a few days
SecurityEasily blocked or deletedCan be lost or stolen before owner realises the loss
UsageFor online purchases or digital transactionsFor both online and offline purchases as well as ATMs
ChargebacksQuick and easy processMay be more complex and require longer processing times
ReplacementImmediate issuance of a new virtual business debit cardRequires shipping of a new card (at additional cost, depending on provider)
AvailabilityOnline onlyIn physical stores, ATM and online
This might also interest you: Business debit card vs credit card.

What features to look for in a virtual debit card?

Virtual debit cards are issued and activated instantly, which means you don’t need to wait for several days until you can use your account. However, before choosing a provider, make sure to compare the most important features, as virtual debit cards differ in functionality and cost structure.

Flexible card management and control

Activate multiple virtual debit cards for your employees while maintaining full control. Businesses should separate admin functions from cardholder functions, so that you can easily set limits to keep control of assigned team budgets or de- and re-activate the cards whenever needed. One single interface allows you to keep track of all your expenses.

Efficient reporting

Choose a provider that offers efficient reporting and expense management functionalities. Often, solutions allow for pre-categorization of card transactions for accounting purposes, enabling easy assignment to specific projects or departments. This facilitates the creation of comprehensive reports. Moreover, you should verify the feasibility of uploading receipts and exporting transaction files.

Cost structure

Traditional banks offer non-transparent cost structures, high conversion fees and extra markups when paying in different currencies. To avoid unexpected fees, make sure to choose a provider where you understand the cost structure from the beginning to know exactly how much you pay.

Multiple currencies

If you conduct international transactions on a regular basis, you should opt for a virtual debit card that allows you to hold multiple currencies. You are free to pay with any currency you hold, which allows you to avoid costly conversion fees and to hedge against FX risk. In case you don’t hold the required currency, make sure your provider won’t charge unnecessarily high margins or hidden markups for the FX spot transaction.

Access to payment networks

Make sure that your virtual debit card uses the right payment network that suits your needs and is available in the countries you are operating in. For instance, Mastercard is accepted in over 210 countries worldwide, while the acceptance of VISA is slightly lower. American Express, on the other hand, is accepted by roughly 130 countries.

Access to local payment schemes

Debit cards are just one way to pay, as most businesses pay their bills through regular bank transfers. If your business conducts international transfers through the SWIFT network, you should choose a payment provider which gives you access to local payment schemes such as SEPA or ACH. Instead of paying hefty fees and waiting for several days until your payment arrives, local payment schemes are much faster and cost-efficient. Capable payment providers are not only able to offer virtual debit cards, but also let you use local networks, no matter where your company is located.

A quick-step guide to get a virtual debit card

amnis pricing plans overview
Activate your amnis virtual debit card in just a few minutes to receive all advantages of a multi-currency virtual business debit card.

Step 1: Choose your subscription plan

With the free Starter plan, you can already issue as many virtual cards as you need. If you need more than 10 physical cards or want to profit from cheaper foreign currency exchange rates, you are free to choose the Essential or Professional plan or upgrade your Starter plan at a later point.

Step 2: Order single virtual debit cards

To order your virtual debit card, complete the following steps:

  • Log in to your amnis account 
  • Go to the “Debit cards” section on the left side
  • Click on the blue button “New Debit Card” to choose a virtual debit card
  • Assign a cardholder
  • Give your card a descriptive name
  • Specify the card settings 

That’s all you need to use your card immediately.

Step 3 (optional): Order cards in bulk

If you need to order multiple cards for your departments or individual employees, complete the following steps:

  • Contact your amnis account manager by email
  • Your account manager will send you a template (csv/xlsx)
  • Fill out the template with the required information
  • Email the final template back to your account manager

For more information, check out our FAQ section: How can I order and issue amnis business debit cards?

What do you get with amnis virtual and physical debit cards?

The physical and virtual business debit cards offered by amnis combine all valuable features that your business needs to save money and streamline its finances. amnis’ virtual multi-currency debit card allows you to receive, hold and spend foreign currencies to avoid conversion fees and hedge against foreign exchange risk.

Get demo account

If you don’t have the foreign currency in your wallet, your multi-currency account is charged in real-time at transparent FX margins, which are clear from the beginning and depend on your subscription. You can be sure to save a huge amount of fees compared to your traditional provider.

Even better: You can issue more than 300 virtual debit cards for individuals, teams and entire departments, which can be used instantly. Physical cards can also be created conveniently online. Each card is customisable through administrator rights, so that you can create different limits or restrictions, depending on your intended use.

You can also export card transaction files to import them into your accounting system and speed up reporting. Further, a mobile app simplifies attaching receipts to card transactions to speed up accounting tasks – available to each employee without the need of a separate login.

Moreover, transactions can be tagged and assigned to projects to get a clear overview of all your expenses on one single platform.

Create your free demo account with amnis

amnis is a comprehensive payment provider that streamlines your financial transactions at the most cost-efficient and transparent rates. Next to physical and virtual business debit cards, amnis enables you to pay your business partners through local networks such as SEPA or ACH at a fraction of the international payments fees of the SWIFT network.


Sources:
1 Juniper Research. Virtual Cards Market Statistics 2023-2028. https://www.juniperresearch.com/resources/infographics/virtual-cards-market-statistics-2023-2028/

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Sabrina Maly
As a marketing manager at amnis I provide SMEs with fx market, international business and news updates on our blog & FAQ page.
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