Mauriat Miranda     mjmwired

Temporary Credit Card Numbers

Not a week goes buy where I don't hear someone complain about having to give their credit card to some questionable merchant online or identity theft. Whenever I mention the concept of temporary credit card numbers, everyone always looks suprised and ask me "is there such thing?". Well yes, and I think more people should use them.

Basically the way it works is your credit card provider (Discover, American Express, etc.) must give you some sort of website or application to generate temporary numbers. Those new numbers will be restricted or limited in some way to the seller not the customer (you). The restrictions vary per service.

Say I purchase a $49.99 book from with my credit card, but I use a temporary/limited number. One possible restriction is preventing EVERYONE but Amazon from using that number. So if someone hacks into Amazon and steals it, it is of no use to the hacker. Also I can leave that card number with Amazon indefinitely. Another possibility is my service may allow me to create a credit card number that is only valid for 1 month, and has a spending limit of $50, which would be rendered useless well after Amazon makes the purchase for me. Both situations are in my favor.

Now services may vary, but speaking from experience I use this service with virtually every purchase I make online from both trustworthy sites and small sites. Furthermore, my credit cards allow me to do both of the above scenarios. I would stronly recommend people taking the time to see what protective services their credit cards provide. It won't be any harder than buying something online or paying your bills on the web. ... And it has been around a long time. I've had it for years.

Posted in: Internet, Technology,


  • Kellie Mullins on July 10, 2009 ~ 03:03 AM

    shopping on line afraid of using my own credit card number

  • ldb on March 20, 2010 ~ 05:17 PM

    Citibank offers a similar service;
    they call it "VAN" (Virtual Account Number)

    They don't offer a restrict-to-one-vendor option,
    but they do offer a (optional) time-limit
    (2-12 months) together with a dollar limit.

    In practice, I would guess about 1 in 3 to 1 in 2
    vendors refuse CitiBank's VAN numbers, usually

    best guess: refusal is proportional to the dollar amounts.

    NewEgg, in particular, always refuses these
    Citibank VAN's (and not until 2-3 days after
    an order was placed …)

    The VAN generator is also a bit of nuisance;
    available only as a windows app. It can be made to work under linux (wine), with a lot of work.

    Citibank has a web version of this VAN generator, but as you might've expected, it only works with a IE browser/client.