Virtual Debit Card – what is it and features to look for?

Virtual debit cards explained
  • Debit card
  • International payments

Virtual debit cards can be activated instantly and offer almost all advantages of physical cards. Innovative card providers offer lucrative packages at affordable rates without hidden markups. Find out what features to look for and why virtual business debit cards are the best option for SMEs and corporations alike.

What are virtual debit cards?

A virtual debit card is the digital counterpart of a physical card. It is connected to a payment network such as Mastercard and contains the same properties, including the name of the cardholder, a 16-digit debit card number, CVV number, card expiry date, etc. Therefore, 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.

Compared to physical debit or credit cards, businesses can instantly activate and use virtual debit card accounts for their entire staff. Admin functions allow you to apply individual settings for each card, including limits, merchant type restrictions and deactivations. Therefore, virtual debit cards are as safe to use as physical ones and offer nearly all advantages of traditional debit cards.

Who needs a virtual debit card?

A virtual business debit card is ideal for businesses of any size that conduct online transactions on a regular basis. Virtual multi-currency debit cards even enable businesses to receive, hold and pay with multiple currencies.

Therefore, if you need to pay for your online tools, suppliers or travel expenses in different currencies, a virtual debit card can save unnecessary foreign transaction costs and extra markups as charged by traditional banks. Most virtual cards also come with physical card options, so that you and your staff can access ATMs worldwide.

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 FX margins or hidden markups for the currency exchange.

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.

amnis’ virtual and physical debit cards combine all valuable payment features

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.

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If you don’t have the foreign currency in your wallet, your reference 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. 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, 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 costs of the SWIFT network.

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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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