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Are virtual credit cards safe for businesses?

Virtual Card Spend
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In an era where payments are increasingly digitized, have you thought about how to secure your business transactions? The risks of credit card fraud and online breaches are higher than ever, and safeguarding your financial interactions is vital as you navigate this digital-first landscape. 

While there are many ways to protect your financial data online, virtual credit cards stand out as an effective solution. Their growing popularity is reflected in their global market value, which reached $13.31 billion in 2022. This surge indicates a strong trend among small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) adopting virtual cards not only for enhanced security but also for the added flexibility and control they offer over company expenditures.

Keep reading to learn how this powerful payment tool can help secure your business’s finances. 

Enhanced security features of virtual credit cards 

When it comes to securing business transactions, virtual cards take the lead over traditional credit cards. While physical credit cards remain a standard method for business expenses, they carry inherent risks, such as the potential for physical theft, cloning, and fraud. Virtual cards, on the other hand, offer an added layer of security that physical cards can’t match. 

Virtual cards are solely digital, eliminating the risk of physical loss, theft, and unauthorized copying. Their digital nature enables you to exponentially extend the power of your existing corporate card. Rather than sharing credit card numbers across your organization, you can create as many virtual cards as you need from that one existing card and assign them for specific uses — be it individual transactions, employees, projects, departments, or client accounts. 

Every virtual card has its own distinct credit card number, expiration date, and spending limit, meaning you’ll be diversifying your credit card usage across multiple virtual cards instead of just one physical card. If a virtual credit card number is compromised, the impact is limited and contained because a virtual card is automatically rendered useless after its intended transaction occurs or a custom expiration date is met, unlike a physical card, where a breach can expose your entire credit line.

The safety features of virtual credit cards, combined with the flexibility to tailor spending, also add an extra layer of control over company spending. Thanks to real-time modifications, spending limit capabilities, and the ability to instantly deactivate cards if you detect any suspicious activity, you can better control business budgets and prevent unauthorized or excessive spending. 

This level of oversight goes beyond fraud prevention; it represents a strategic, disciplined approach to financial management, ensuring that company spending aligns seamlessly with your broader financial objectives.

Virtual card benefits for businesses 

Incorporating virtual credit cards as part of your business payment strategy offers a multitude of advantages that span beyond security. 

Fraud prevention and risk mitigation 

Virtual cards are a great tool to prevent fraud and mitigate financial risks in your business. Leveraging unique card numbers and adjusting cards for single or limited use reduces the chances of fraudulent activity. Customizable spending limits and usage parameters further bolster security, allowing you to set precise controls on business expenses and vendor usage. Additionally, with real-time monitoring capabilities, you can quickly detect and respond to unusual activities, ensuring you take swift action against potential fraud. 

Streamlined spend management 

Virtual credit cards enhance spend management by granting you precise control over business expenses. By assigning individual cards to specific projects and departments, your finance team can gain the ability to track and manage budgets in real-time and with greater accuracy. This method streamlines financial oversight and provides valuable insights into spending patterns, aiding in strategic decision-making. With this granular view of expenses, you can better optimize resource allocation and ensure your company's financial resources are used wisely. 

Enhanced reporting capabilities 

With access to detailed transaction data, you can produce in-depth reports, offering a comprehensive view of all expenses. This will equip your finance team with a thorough analysis of spending patterns, helping identify areas of efficiency and potential overspending. Additionally, these detailed reports play a pivotal role in aligning financial activities with the company's broader strategic objectives. By having a transparent view of financial transactions, your finance team makes more informed decisions, ensuring that spending aligns with long-term goals and contributes to overall financial health and success.

Operational efficiency 

Virtual cards' ease of use, management, and deactivation allow your company to quickly adapt to evolving market conditions and internal demands. This agility is particularly valuable in managing unexpected expenses or allocating funds for new projects. The ability to create and distribute virtual cards instantly to employees eliminates delays often associated with traditional credit cards. Moreover, the straightforward management system of virtual cards enables you to adjust spending limits and track expenses in real-time, ensuring that financial resources are used effectively, and business operations keep moving smoothly. 

Seamless integration with financial tools 

You can also integrate virtual cards with your existing financial tools to create a unified financial ecosystem. 

This seamless integration facilitates the automatic flow of transaction data into accounting and financial management systems, reducing manual data entry and human error while streamlining reconciliation. This added visibility will provide you and other business leaders with a comprehensive view of company funds and ensure your team can work within an interoperable environment.  

Potential risks and concerns for businesses 

While virtual cards offer numerous benefits, there are some potential concerns you need to keep in mind. 

  • Cybersecurity vulnerabilities: 

Although virtual cards are more secure than their physical counterparts, they’re not immune to cyber threats or online fraud. For this reason, make sure business leaders and employees remain vigilant, complete security training, and adhere to best practices against phishing and advanced fraud techniques. 

  • Compliance and regulatory issues: 

As regulatory landscapes shift, you must stay informed and ensure your business practices comply with the latest requirements to avoid legal and financial repercussions. This involves regular updates to compliance policies, possibly consulting with legal and financial experts, and ensuring that the virtual card provider you work with adheres to relevant regulations. This is especially important if your business operates in multiple jurisdictions where regulations vary.

  • Virtual card provider restrictions: 

Some virtual card providers require you to leave your preferred bank and open new lines of credit. This can be a significant drawback, forcing you to abandon your established partnerships and potentially lose out on accrued benefits and rewards programs. That’s why it's essential to carefully evaluate your business needs and select a virtual card provider that offers a seamless onboarding process without requiring you to start from scratch. 

Business use cases for virtual credit cards 

There are many ways you can use virtual cards in your business; let’s go over the most common ones.

Vendor payments 

If you manage multiple vendors in your business, use virtual cards to manage and track payments in real-time. You’ll ensure vendors always get paid on time, further strengthening the relationship while protecting your real account information instead of leaving your card on file across multiple vendor accounts. This is particularly beneficial for companies dealing with a large number of vendors, as it also simplifies the reconciliation process and provides better control over cash flow.

Employee expenses 

Using virtual cards to manage employee expenses eliminates the need to share credit card numbers and saves your employees from acquiring costs they might not be able to afford by using personal funds. While these standard methods work, they’re not optimal for your business or employees. Instead, assign them a virtual card, set a spending limit, and empower them with a way to pay in seconds. You’ll retain spending control and visibility while they can keep the business moving without interruptions and long approval cycles. 

Suppliers and wholesalers 

If you’re using a single credit card to handle supplier and wholesaler payments, you’re putting your credit card line at risk. A more secure approach is to assign individual virtual cards with set limits to each supplier, which confines any fraudulent activity to a single card rather than affecting your entire credit line. If fraud occurs, you can deactivate the compromised virtual card in seconds, a process much simpler and faster than dealing with traditional credit cards. Aside from ensuring business continuity, virtual cards can help you re-negotiate better terms with suppliers thanks to clear and organized spending data. This detailed financial record-keeping lets you demonstrate consistent purchasing patterns and volumes to suppliers, giving you leverage in discussions. 

Multi-location and franchisees 

If your business operates across multiple locations or franchises, virtual credit cards can help you create a unified and compliance-friendly payment environment. Rather than sharing a corporate card across various locations and hoping for the best, create a virtual card for each site and easily delegate spending power. This process will automatically categorize payments as they occur instead of waiting until the end of the month to learn you’re over budget. Not to mention, you’ll significantly streamline the reconciliation process, ensure consistency in spending policies across all branches, and facilitate consolidated financial reporting.

Travel expenses 

For employees traveling for business, virtual cards provide a more convenient and secure way to pay. Employees can request virtual cards directly from their phones instead of waiting through long approval cycles to access a credit card. They can attach notes and attachments to their request, including their desired amount. Finance teams can then approve or deny requests and instantly enable employees to pay for flights, accommodations, and meals. This approach ensures compliance with travel policies and provides a more streamlined process with real-time spending visibility, simplifying the management and monitoring of travel expenses. 

Secure your business transactions with virtual cards 

Digital risks aren't going anywhere; if anything, they will only increase. Hence, equipping your business with virtual credit cards is vital not only to protect against the ever-present threats of fraud and cyber breaches but also to position your business for greater operational efficiency and control.

Contact Extend today to take the next steps in securing and streamlining your financial transactions. 

Blog

Are virtual credit cards safe for businesses?

Author
Irais Urias
Content Marketing Manager
Virtual Card Spend
No items found.
Share post

In an era where payments are increasingly digitized, have you thought about how to secure your business transactions? The risks of credit card fraud and online breaches are higher than ever, and safeguarding your financial interactions is vital as you navigate this digital-first landscape. 

While there are many ways to protect your financial data online, virtual credit cards stand out as an effective solution. Their growing popularity is reflected in their global market value, which reached $13.31 billion in 2022. This surge indicates a strong trend among small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) adopting virtual cards not only for enhanced security but also for the added flexibility and control they offer over company expenditures.

Keep reading to learn how this powerful payment tool can help secure your business’s finances. 

Enhanced security features of virtual credit cards 

When it comes to securing business transactions, virtual cards take the lead over traditional credit cards. While physical credit cards remain a standard method for business expenses, they carry inherent risks, such as the potential for physical theft, cloning, and fraud. Virtual cards, on the other hand, offer an added layer of security that physical cards can’t match. 

Virtual cards are solely digital, eliminating the risk of physical loss, theft, and unauthorized copying. Their digital nature enables you to exponentially extend the power of your existing corporate card. Rather than sharing credit card numbers across your organization, you can create as many virtual cards as you need from that one existing card and assign them for specific uses — be it individual transactions, employees, projects, departments, or client accounts. 

Every virtual card has its own distinct credit card number, expiration date, and spending limit, meaning you’ll be diversifying your credit card usage across multiple virtual cards instead of just one physical card. If a virtual credit card number is compromised, the impact is limited and contained because a virtual card is automatically rendered useless after its intended transaction occurs or a custom expiration date is met, unlike a physical card, where a breach can expose your entire credit line.

The safety features of virtual credit cards, combined with the flexibility to tailor spending, also add an extra layer of control over company spending. Thanks to real-time modifications, spending limit capabilities, and the ability to instantly deactivate cards if you detect any suspicious activity, you can better control business budgets and prevent unauthorized or excessive spending. 

This level of oversight goes beyond fraud prevention; it represents a strategic, disciplined approach to financial management, ensuring that company spending aligns seamlessly with your broader financial objectives.

Virtual card benefits for businesses 

Incorporating virtual credit cards as part of your business payment strategy offers a multitude of advantages that span beyond security. 

Fraud prevention and risk mitigation 

Virtual cards are a great tool to prevent fraud and mitigate financial risks in your business. Leveraging unique card numbers and adjusting cards for single or limited use reduces the chances of fraudulent activity. Customizable spending limits and usage parameters further bolster security, allowing you to set precise controls on business expenses and vendor usage. Additionally, with real-time monitoring capabilities, you can quickly detect and respond to unusual activities, ensuring you take swift action against potential fraud. 

Streamlined spend management 

Virtual credit cards enhance spend management by granting you precise control over business expenses. By assigning individual cards to specific projects and departments, your finance team can gain the ability to track and manage budgets in real-time and with greater accuracy. This method streamlines financial oversight and provides valuable insights into spending patterns, aiding in strategic decision-making. With this granular view of expenses, you can better optimize resource allocation and ensure your company's financial resources are used wisely. 

Enhanced reporting capabilities 

With access to detailed transaction data, you can produce in-depth reports, offering a comprehensive view of all expenses. This will equip your finance team with a thorough analysis of spending patterns, helping identify areas of efficiency and potential overspending. Additionally, these detailed reports play a pivotal role in aligning financial activities with the company's broader strategic objectives. By having a transparent view of financial transactions, your finance team makes more informed decisions, ensuring that spending aligns with long-term goals and contributes to overall financial health and success.

Operational efficiency 

Virtual cards' ease of use, management, and deactivation allow your company to quickly adapt to evolving market conditions and internal demands. This agility is particularly valuable in managing unexpected expenses or allocating funds for new projects. The ability to create and distribute virtual cards instantly to employees eliminates delays often associated with traditional credit cards. Moreover, the straightforward management system of virtual cards enables you to adjust spending limits and track expenses in real-time, ensuring that financial resources are used effectively, and business operations keep moving smoothly. 

Seamless integration with financial tools 

You can also integrate virtual cards with your existing financial tools to create a unified financial ecosystem. 

This seamless integration facilitates the automatic flow of transaction data into accounting and financial management systems, reducing manual data entry and human error while streamlining reconciliation. This added visibility will provide you and other business leaders with a comprehensive view of company funds and ensure your team can work within an interoperable environment.  

Potential risks and concerns for businesses 

While virtual cards offer numerous benefits, there are some potential concerns you need to keep in mind. 

  • Cybersecurity vulnerabilities: 

Although virtual cards are more secure than their physical counterparts, they’re not immune to cyber threats or online fraud. For this reason, make sure business leaders and employees remain vigilant, complete security training, and adhere to best practices against phishing and advanced fraud techniques. 

  • Compliance and regulatory issues: 

As regulatory landscapes shift, you must stay informed and ensure your business practices comply with the latest requirements to avoid legal and financial repercussions. This involves regular updates to compliance policies, possibly consulting with legal and financial experts, and ensuring that the virtual card provider you work with adheres to relevant regulations. This is especially important if your business operates in multiple jurisdictions where regulations vary.

  • Virtual card provider restrictions: 

Some virtual card providers require you to leave your preferred bank and open new lines of credit. This can be a significant drawback, forcing you to abandon your established partnerships and potentially lose out on accrued benefits and rewards programs. That’s why it's essential to carefully evaluate your business needs and select a virtual card provider that offers a seamless onboarding process without requiring you to start from scratch. 

Business use cases for virtual credit cards 

There are many ways you can use virtual cards in your business; let’s go over the most common ones.

Vendor payments 

If you manage multiple vendors in your business, use virtual cards to manage and track payments in real-time. You’ll ensure vendors always get paid on time, further strengthening the relationship while protecting your real account information instead of leaving your card on file across multiple vendor accounts. This is particularly beneficial for companies dealing with a large number of vendors, as it also simplifies the reconciliation process and provides better control over cash flow.

Employee expenses 

Using virtual cards to manage employee expenses eliminates the need to share credit card numbers and saves your employees from acquiring costs they might not be able to afford by using personal funds. While these standard methods work, they’re not optimal for your business or employees. Instead, assign them a virtual card, set a spending limit, and empower them with a way to pay in seconds. You’ll retain spending control and visibility while they can keep the business moving without interruptions and long approval cycles. 

Suppliers and wholesalers 

If you’re using a single credit card to handle supplier and wholesaler payments, you’re putting your credit card line at risk. A more secure approach is to assign individual virtual cards with set limits to each supplier, which confines any fraudulent activity to a single card rather than affecting your entire credit line. If fraud occurs, you can deactivate the compromised virtual card in seconds, a process much simpler and faster than dealing with traditional credit cards. Aside from ensuring business continuity, virtual cards can help you re-negotiate better terms with suppliers thanks to clear and organized spending data. This detailed financial record-keeping lets you demonstrate consistent purchasing patterns and volumes to suppliers, giving you leverage in discussions. 

Multi-location and franchisees 

If your business operates across multiple locations or franchises, virtual credit cards can help you create a unified and compliance-friendly payment environment. Rather than sharing a corporate card across various locations and hoping for the best, create a virtual card for each site and easily delegate spending power. This process will automatically categorize payments as they occur instead of waiting until the end of the month to learn you’re over budget. Not to mention, you’ll significantly streamline the reconciliation process, ensure consistency in spending policies across all branches, and facilitate consolidated financial reporting.

Travel expenses 

For employees traveling for business, virtual cards provide a more convenient and secure way to pay. Employees can request virtual cards directly from their phones instead of waiting through long approval cycles to access a credit card. They can attach notes and attachments to their request, including their desired amount. Finance teams can then approve or deny requests and instantly enable employees to pay for flights, accommodations, and meals. This approach ensures compliance with travel policies and provides a more streamlined process with real-time spending visibility, simplifying the management and monitoring of travel expenses. 

Secure your business transactions with virtual cards 

Digital risks aren't going anywhere; if anything, they will only increase. Hence, equipping your business with virtual credit cards is vital not only to protect against the ever-present threats of fraud and cyber breaches but also to position your business for greater operational efficiency and control.

Contact Extend today to take the next steps in securing and streamlining your financial transactions. 

About the author

Irais Urias

Content Marketing Manager

Irais is the Content Marketing Manager at Extend. An ambitious and performance-driven professional, Irais brings over five years of experience in journalism, content marketing, social media, and communications. Before Extend, she was the Marketing Communications Specialist at DATAMARK, where she led content marketing and social media campaigns, further deepening her skills in strategic storytelling and augmenting brand affinity. She earned a B.S. in Multimedia Journalism with a minor in Marketing from The University of Texas at El Paso.

Frequently asked questions about the safety of virtual credit cards

What are the risks of virtual credit cards?

While virtual credit cards offer enhanced security, they are not immune to risks. For this reason, it's critical to remain vigilant and proactive in safeguarding your financial transactions. Regular training sessions on identifying and avoiding phishing scams, secure handling of financial information, and best practices in digital security can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access or misuse of card details. 

Are virtual credit cards secure?

Virtual cards were created with security in mind, as they mask your real account information and reduce fraud risks. They provide unique numbers for each card or transaction, custom spending limits, and expiration dates, which add layers of security not typically available with physical cards. Not to mention, you can quickly deactivate any given virtual card directly from your phone, rendering it useless in a matter of seconds. 

What are the disadvantages of virtual cards?

Virtual cards are widely accepted online, and you can also pay by phone, an app, or in person, where contactless payments are accepted; however, they’re not universally accepted everywhere just yet. Certain providers, particularly in industries like hospitality or car rentals, may still require a physical card at the time of payment. The digital payments landscape is rapidly evolving, though, meaning it's only a matter of time before virtual cards gain broader acceptance everywhere. 

Do virtual credit cards have CVV?

Yes, like traditional credit cards, each virtual card is assigned a unique card verification value (CVV). This CVV is an essential security feature for verifying transactions, significantly enhancing the safety of your online purchases. Whenever you make a purchase with a virtual credit card, you'll need to provide this CVV. This requirement ensures that you, as the cardholder, have the correct and complete card details, adding an extra layer of protection against unauthorized use and potential online fraud.

Are virtual cards safer than physical cards?

Virtual cards are more secure than physical cards due to their advanced features. They provide unique card numbers for each card or transaction and allow you to set custom spending limits and expiration dates, enhancing control over payments. Additionally, the ability to instantly deactivate a virtual card in case of suspected misuse offers a level of security and flexibility that physical cards can't match. These features make virtual cards safer and more adaptable for managing business transactions.

How long does a virtual credit card last?

The lifespan of a virtual credit card is highly flexible, as you can tailor its validity date to your specific needs. Moreover, you can set it up as a single-use card, ensuring it expires immediately after use, which is ideal for one-time purchases. Alternatively, you can configure the virtual card with auto-refill capabilities for recurring expenses and set it to last for several months or as long as needed. 

What are the benefits of virtual cards for businesses?

Virtual cards offer numerous benefits for businesses, including enhanced security, improved spend management, and operational efficiency. They allow for precise control over expenses, easy integration with financial systems, and real-time tracking of transactions, which can streamline financial processes and reduce the risk of fraud.

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Irais Urias

Content Marketing Manager

In an era where payments are increasingly digitized, have you thought about how to secure your business transactions? The risks of credit card fraud and online breaches are higher than ever, and safeguarding your financial interactions is vital as you navigate this digital-first landscape. 

While there are many ways to protect your financial data online, virtual credit cards stand out as an effective solution. Their growing popularity is reflected in their global market value, which reached $13.31 billion in 2022. This surge indicates a strong trend among small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) adopting virtual cards not only for enhanced security but also for the added flexibility and control they offer over company expenditures.

Keep reading to learn how this powerful payment tool can help secure your business’s finances. 

Enhanced security features of virtual credit cards 

When it comes to securing business transactions, virtual cards take the lead over traditional credit cards. While physical credit cards remain a standard method for business expenses, they carry inherent risks, such as the potential for physical theft, cloning, and fraud. Virtual cards, on the other hand, offer an added layer of security that physical cards can’t match. 

Virtual cards are solely digital, eliminating the risk of physical loss, theft, and unauthorized copying. Their digital nature enables you to exponentially extend the power of your existing corporate card. Rather than sharing credit card numbers across your organization, you can create as many virtual cards as you need from that one existing card and assign them for specific uses — be it individual transactions, employees, projects, departments, or client accounts. 

Every virtual card has its own distinct credit card number, expiration date, and spending limit, meaning you’ll be diversifying your credit card usage across multiple virtual cards instead of just one physical card. If a virtual credit card number is compromised, the impact is limited and contained because a virtual card is automatically rendered useless after its intended transaction occurs or a custom expiration date is met, unlike a physical card, where a breach can expose your entire credit line.

The safety features of virtual credit cards, combined with the flexibility to tailor spending, also add an extra layer of control over company spending. Thanks to real-time modifications, spending limit capabilities, and the ability to instantly deactivate cards if you detect any suspicious activity, you can better control business budgets and prevent unauthorized or excessive spending. 

This level of oversight goes beyond fraud prevention; it represents a strategic, disciplined approach to financial management, ensuring that company spending aligns seamlessly with your broader financial objectives.

Virtual card benefits for businesses 

Incorporating virtual credit cards as part of your business payment strategy offers a multitude of advantages that span beyond security. 

Fraud prevention and risk mitigation 

Virtual cards are a great tool to prevent fraud and mitigate financial risks in your business. Leveraging unique card numbers and adjusting cards for single or limited use reduces the chances of fraudulent activity. Customizable spending limits and usage parameters further bolster security, allowing you to set precise controls on business expenses and vendor usage. Additionally, with real-time monitoring capabilities, you can quickly detect and respond to unusual activities, ensuring you take swift action against potential fraud. 

Streamlined spend management 

Virtual credit cards enhance spend management by granting you precise control over business expenses. By assigning individual cards to specific projects and departments, your finance team can gain the ability to track and manage budgets in real-time and with greater accuracy. This method streamlines financial oversight and provides valuable insights into spending patterns, aiding in strategic decision-making. With this granular view of expenses, you can better optimize resource allocation and ensure your company's financial resources are used wisely. 

Enhanced reporting capabilities 

With access to detailed transaction data, you can produce in-depth reports, offering a comprehensive view of all expenses. This will equip your finance team with a thorough analysis of spending patterns, helping identify areas of efficiency and potential overspending. Additionally, these detailed reports play a pivotal role in aligning financial activities with the company's broader strategic objectives. By having a transparent view of financial transactions, your finance team makes more informed decisions, ensuring that spending aligns with long-term goals and contributes to overall financial health and success.

Operational efficiency 

Virtual cards' ease of use, management, and deactivation allow your company to quickly adapt to evolving market conditions and internal demands. This agility is particularly valuable in managing unexpected expenses or allocating funds for new projects. The ability to create and distribute virtual cards instantly to employees eliminates delays often associated with traditional credit cards. Moreover, the straightforward management system of virtual cards enables you to adjust spending limits and track expenses in real-time, ensuring that financial resources are used effectively, and business operations keep moving smoothly. 

Seamless integration with financial tools 

You can also integrate virtual cards with your existing financial tools to create a unified financial ecosystem. 

This seamless integration facilitates the automatic flow of transaction data into accounting and financial management systems, reducing manual data entry and human error while streamlining reconciliation. This added visibility will provide you and other business leaders with a comprehensive view of company funds and ensure your team can work within an interoperable environment.  

Potential risks and concerns for businesses 

While virtual cards offer numerous benefits, there are some potential concerns you need to keep in mind. 

  • Cybersecurity vulnerabilities: 

Although virtual cards are more secure than their physical counterparts, they’re not immune to cyber threats or online fraud. For this reason, make sure business leaders and employees remain vigilant, complete security training, and adhere to best practices against phishing and advanced fraud techniques. 

  • Compliance and regulatory issues: 

As regulatory landscapes shift, you must stay informed and ensure your business practices comply with the latest requirements to avoid legal and financial repercussions. This involves regular updates to compliance policies, possibly consulting with legal and financial experts, and ensuring that the virtual card provider you work with adheres to relevant regulations. This is especially important if your business operates in multiple jurisdictions where regulations vary.

  • Virtual card provider restrictions: 

Some virtual card providers require you to leave your preferred bank and open new lines of credit. This can be a significant drawback, forcing you to abandon your established partnerships and potentially lose out on accrued benefits and rewards programs. That’s why it's essential to carefully evaluate your business needs and select a virtual card provider that offers a seamless onboarding process without requiring you to start from scratch. 

Business use cases for virtual credit cards 

There are many ways you can use virtual cards in your business; let’s go over the most common ones.

Vendor payments 

If you manage multiple vendors in your business, use virtual cards to manage and track payments in real-time. You’ll ensure vendors always get paid on time, further strengthening the relationship while protecting your real account information instead of leaving your card on file across multiple vendor accounts. This is particularly beneficial for companies dealing with a large number of vendors, as it also simplifies the reconciliation process and provides better control over cash flow.

Employee expenses 

Using virtual cards to manage employee expenses eliminates the need to share credit card numbers and saves your employees from acquiring costs they might not be able to afford by using personal funds. While these standard methods work, they’re not optimal for your business or employees. Instead, assign them a virtual card, set a spending limit, and empower them with a way to pay in seconds. You’ll retain spending control and visibility while they can keep the business moving without interruptions and long approval cycles. 

Suppliers and wholesalers 

If you’re using a single credit card to handle supplier and wholesaler payments, you’re putting your credit card line at risk. A more secure approach is to assign individual virtual cards with set limits to each supplier, which confines any fraudulent activity to a single card rather than affecting your entire credit line. If fraud occurs, you can deactivate the compromised virtual card in seconds, a process much simpler and faster than dealing with traditional credit cards. Aside from ensuring business continuity, virtual cards can help you re-negotiate better terms with suppliers thanks to clear and organized spending data. This detailed financial record-keeping lets you demonstrate consistent purchasing patterns and volumes to suppliers, giving you leverage in discussions. 

Multi-location and franchisees 

If your business operates across multiple locations or franchises, virtual credit cards can help you create a unified and compliance-friendly payment environment. Rather than sharing a corporate card across various locations and hoping for the best, create a virtual card for each site and easily delegate spending power. This process will automatically categorize payments as they occur instead of waiting until the end of the month to learn you’re over budget. Not to mention, you’ll significantly streamline the reconciliation process, ensure consistency in spending policies across all branches, and facilitate consolidated financial reporting.

Travel expenses 

For employees traveling for business, virtual cards provide a more convenient and secure way to pay. Employees can request virtual cards directly from their phones instead of waiting through long approval cycles to access a credit card. They can attach notes and attachments to their request, including their desired amount. Finance teams can then approve or deny requests and instantly enable employees to pay for flights, accommodations, and meals. This approach ensures compliance with travel policies and provides a more streamlined process with real-time spending visibility, simplifying the management and monitoring of travel expenses. 

Secure your business transactions with virtual cards 

Digital risks aren't going anywhere; if anything, they will only increase. Hence, equipping your business with virtual credit cards is vital not only to protect against the ever-present threats of fraud and cyber breaches but also to position your business for greater operational efficiency and control.

Contact Extend today to take the next steps in securing and streamlining your financial transactions. 

Beyond plastic cards: The ultimate guide to business virtual credit cards

As your business expands, you need to stay attuned to the future. Within the realm of business finances, this translates to reassessing the way you make and manage payments and the tools you use to do so. If you still rely on traditional physical credit cards, checks, or ACH payments — there’s a better way. 

With the rise of online transactions and the increasing need for secure payment methods, the business virtual credit card has become indispensable for companies of all sizes. More than just a payment method, virtual cards are a strategic asset for businesses seeking to streamline expense management and establish an overarching spend management strategy. 

But what is a virtual credit card, and how does it differ from a traditional physical card?

Whether you're a startup exploring new payment methods or a well-established corporation looking to streamline processes, understanding the power of virtual credit cards is essential for the future of your business. 

In this guide, I’ll delve into the mechanics, benefits, and best practices of using virtual credit cards for business. 

Let's get started. 

What is a virtual credit card?

A business virtual credit card is a digital version of a traditional corporate credit card. Each virtual card consists of a unique 16-digit number, security code, and expiration date, and although they’re typically associated with your main credit card account, they stand alone in their functionality. 

Virtual cards were initially created to enhance security around payments since they safeguard real account information and protect against data breaches and fraud. However, the benefits of virtual credit cards have since expanded beyond just security. Today, virtual cards offer businesses a comprehensive suite of helpful features, from real-time expense tracking to on-demand payments.

You can use virtual cards for one-time or recurring payments and easily deactivate or modify them to fit your company's needs. This adaptability makes them a preferred choice for businesses looking to modernize their payment processes without overhauling their existing financial infrastructure.

How do virtual credit cards work? 

Diving deeper into the mechanics of virtual credit cards, it's essential to understand their operational framework. How do these digital tools function in the vast ecosystem of business finances? Well, much like their traditional counterparts. 

You can use virtual cards for various transactions, whether you make them online, in-app, on file, and, depending on your issuer, in person via mobile wallets. Through a virtual card app, which you can use via your desktop or mobile device, you can create and distribute as many virtual cards as you need in a matter of minutes. 

This means you can instantly equip your team with a payment method when they need one and gain even more control while doing so — thanks to spend limits and custom expiration dates. 

For instance, let’s say your team needs to charge various expenses for an upcoming project. Simply create a virtual card with a precise spending limit and a set duration, and distribute it in seconds. Once the project wraps up, you can easily deactivate the card, ensuring no unexpected charges crop up. 

Every transaction you or your team makes with a virtual credit card is logged in real-time, giving you an immediate snapshot of your expenses. This instant tracking keeps you updated and helps you spot any irregularities or potential fraud. Notice something off? You can take immediate action, showcasing the proactive nature of virtual cards. 

Why should you use virtual credit cards for business? 

Embracing virtual credit cards in your business is not only about transitioning to a more effective payment method; it's a strategic move to future-proof your financial operations. As industries become more interconnected, the demands for swift, transparent, and secure transactions will grow, and agility and adaptability will be even more critical. With virtual credit cards, you can instantly gain the security, flexibility, control, and real-time insights to navigate the complexities of payments.

6 Benefits of using business virtual credit cards 

Beyond serving as a modern payment method, virtual cards for business offer many advantages that allow you to get more out of your business credit card, enhance security, and provide unparalleled control over transactions. 

Enhanced security 

One of the primary reasons businesses gravitate toward virtual cards is the enhanced security they bring to the table. Each virtual card has its own unique card number, and you can use it for specific transactions, contractors, or employees. So if a virtual card number is compromised, you don’t need to worry about jeopardizing your entire credit line. Simply deactivate the virtual card and create a new one, rather than having to close down your entire credit card account and start from scratch. 

Simplified vendor management

Navigating vendor payments can be a hassle for any business, and let’s not talk about the pain of having to update cards on file with Every. Single. Vendor. That’s the drawback of traditional payment methods; they may work, but they’re also cumbersome and time-consuming. With virtual cards, vendor management becomes notably simpler. You can tailor each virtual card for a specific vendor, ensuring precise payment amounts and schedules. This reduces the risk of overpayments or missed transactions and provides a clear audit trail for every vendor interaction. By using virtual cards, you can instantly centralize and streamline payments while gaining a more efficient and transparent approach to vendor management.

Increased control over expenses 

With the ability to set custom expiration dates and specific spending limits on each card, you can ensure employees adhere to budgets and spending policies. With real-time tracking, you can also gain immediate oversight of all transactions, making it easier to spot and address any discrepancies and keep a tight grip on expenses. Not to mention, with a clear view of where and how company funds are spent 24/7, you can proactively manage and optimize tedious yet necessary finance processes, like expense management and reconciliation. 

Improved flexibility and convenience

Gone are the days of waiting for plastic cards to arrive in the mail or the logistical challenges of distributing physical cards to team members. With virtual cards, everything is instantaneous. Need a card for a new vendor or employee? Generate it in seconds. Concerned about a specific transaction? Deactivate the card immediately and create a new one. The digital nature of virtual cards ensures that your business can respond to financial needs promptly, making the entire payment process more streamlined and efficient.

Cost savings

Ditching your plastic and using virtual cards will also translate to tangible savings for your business. 

Virtual cards help you do this in a couple of ways. First, with spending limits, which ensure your business stays within budget and eliminates unexpected overspending. Second, with real-time tracking, since you can easily spot suspicious transactions or fraud and instantly deactivate a card, safeguarding your funds from further unauthorized charges. Third, with streamlined vendor management, which puts you in a better position to negotiate favorable terms and discounts, ensuring you only pay what's necessary. And lastly, think about the hours you'd save on manual reconciliation thanks to the clear transaction trails. That's not just time saved; it's money saved from reduced labor and minimized errors.

Faster processing

Let’s face it, waiting days for transactions to clear can be a hindrance, especially when paying vendors or freelancers. Unlike traditional payment methods that can be bogged down by longer processing times, virtual cards offer near-instant transaction approvals. Whether you're settling an invoice or making a purchase, the speed of virtual cards ensures you don't miss a beat. This swiftness not only enhances your business's agility but also strengthens vendor relationships, as payments are received promptly. By reducing the waiting period associated with payments, you're ultimately boosting your business' productivity and financial fluidity. 

Best practices to manage business virtual credit cards

Learning how to use virtual credit cards is only the beginning. Follow these best practices to maximize their benefits and seamlessly integrate them into your business operations. 

Develop a clear policy 

First, define who can create, request, and approve virtual cards. Whether it's only executive management, specific departments, or every team member within a budget, clarity is vital. Next, set spending limits based on roles or project needs to ensure your business stays within budget. It's also essential to outline the approval process for exceptions to these limits. Incorporate guidelines on when and how to use virtual cards for recurring payments, one-time transactions, or vendor-specific purchases. By doing so, you not only enhance security but also ensure that all team members are on the same page, reducing the risk of unauthorized or fraudulent transactions. Remember, a well-defined policy is the foundation of effective virtual card management, ensuring you reap all the benefits.

Use a centralized platform 

Consider your current and future business needs when choosing a virtual card provider. A good virtual card provider will offer a centralized dashboard that integrates with your existing financial infrastructure, including ERPs, CRMs, and accounting systems. This interoperability ensures you can work seamlessly between platforms without compromising visibility into your expenses. Moreover, it minimizes manual data entry errors and enhances security by enabling quick card modifications. With all virtual card activities consolidated on a single platform, you not only streamline your operations but also foster a more transparent and efficient financial environment. This holistic approach ensures that your business remains agile, making informed financial decisions with ease and precision.

Train employees 

A good virtual card provider will equip you with educational resources and dedicated customer support to help employees grasp the ins and outs of the platform, from generating virtual cards to setting spending limits and monitoring transactions. But if you want to take it a step further, consider organizing in-house training sessions to delve deeper into the nuances of your company's specific virtual card usage and policies. This can also be a good time to review virtual cards' security advantages, such as their role in safeguarding against data breaches and fraud. When employees understand virtual cards' inherent value and safety, they’ll be more inclined to use them responsibly and effectively. Make sure to encourage open communication throughout this learning phase and establish a feedback mechanism where team members can voice their experiences, challenges, or suggestions. This not only aids in promptly addressing concerns but also in refining your company's approach to virtual card management. After all, well-informed employees act as a robust line of defense against potential financial discrepancies and unauthorized transactions.

Implement spending controls

Begin by analyzing your company's past spending patterns, identifying areas where overspending is common, and setting limits that align with your budgetary goals. Then, leverage spending limits when issuing virtual cards. However, if you need to administer funds within various projects, departments, or campaigns, create a pre-determined budget where your team can create, distribute, and use multiple virtual cards accordingly. This not only keeps expenses within your company's budget but also provides a clear audit trail, simplifying reconciliation. When assigning virtual cards to employees, consider their roles and responsibilities. For instance, a team member procuring office supplies might have a different spending limit than someone handling multiple marketing campaigns.

Regularly monitor expenses 

With the advanced features of virtual cards, you're equipped with real-time insights, but it's essential to actively leverage these tools to stay on top of payments. Make sure to consistently pull and review reports to get a clear view of monthly spending, identify trends, spot anomalies, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your budget. Regular oversight helps prevent unauthorized or fraudulent transactions and ensures that your spend management strategy aligns with your business goals. Remember, the power of virtual cards isn't just in their use but in the strategic insights they provide, enabling you to drive financial efficiency and growth.

How to get virtual credit cards with Extend 

Staying attuned to the future of finance means embracing tools that redefine how you make business payments. If you're ready to move beyond traditional payment methods and harness the power of virtual credit cards for business, there's no better time than now. 

Learn more about the virtual card features you can instantly start benefiting from, or if you’re ready to get started, we’re here to help!

How businesses use Extend

At Extend, we believe in enhancing, not reinventing, how businesses pay. 

We know businesses don’t want to start from the ground up; they simply want to do more with what they already have. But to achieve this, companies need access to the right tools to streamline payments.

That’s why we partner with the banks businesses already know and trust to instantly help customers access a smarter, more efficient method of managing company spend. 

Central to this strategy are virtual cards, which are digital counterparts of traditional physical cards, extending the capabilities of a company's existing credit card while providing better spend management. Virtual cards have typically been viewed as a single-use product for specific purchases and online security –- often used only by the largest of companies. 

But at Extend, we’ve leveled the playing field and now bring virtual cards to businesses of all sizes. 

We’ve turned virtual cards into a dynamic payment platform, functioning as digital versions of a supplementary card but with a vast array of controls and features. 

Today, thousands of small to medium-sized businesses trust Extend to turn their existing corporate card into a spend management platform through the power of virtual cards. 


As one of our customers, the controller at Donovan Agency, put it,

“With Extend, we’re getting flexibility over how we can use our company credit card. Creating virtual cards is really simple, and we can use them for everything from office supplies and production costs to managing our clients’ campaign spend by platform.”

Whether it be to manage media budgets or streamline employee expenses, there are many ways our customers use virtual cards in their business. 

1. Pass-through and bill-backs 

Businesses using Extend bring a new level of efficiency to pass-through and bill-back expenses, streamlining expense tracking and reconciliation

Instead of handling payments with a couple of physical cards, which often leads to a time-consuming reconciliation process, assigning individual virtual cards to each project and client account ensures every dollar spent is accounted for and attributed to the appropriate source.

With this clear separation and categorization of expenses, it’s easier to see who spent what in real-time rather than combing through credit card statements at month’s end to determine which charge belongs to which project or account. 

Moreover, businesses not only streamline a manual and error-prone reconciliation process but also enhance transparency and accountability. Since every transaction is recorded in real-time and can be tagged with expense codes, finance teams gain an up-to-date financial picture to ensure clients are billed back correctly and quickly, fostering trust and reliability in business relationships.

2. Multi-location businesses and franchisees 

Maintaining oversight and control over purchasing across various locations and franchises while ensuring compliance can be daunting. For that reason, more multi-location businesses are using virtual cards to budget and delegate purchasing power while maintaining total oversight and control. 

Companies using Extend can easily do this by creating and allocating budgets to location managers, who can then create and issue virtual cards for each location's purchasing needs within that budget. This approach eliminates card-sharing and allows location managers to manage day-to-day expenses while ensuring spending remains aligned with the company's policies.

The strength of virtual cards lies in the unparalleled control and visibility they provide to the business. Every transaction made with a virtual card is tracked and recorded, offering a transparent and detailed view of expenditures across all locations. This level of detail is invaluable for effective financial planning and budgeting. It enables owners to dissect spending patterns, uncover potential areas for cost-saving, and allocate resources more strategically.

3. Contractors and temporary employees 

Virtual cards offer a more efficient solution for covering contractors' and temporary employees' work-related expenses compared to traditional methods like checks or ACH. While these conventional methods work, they often lead to delayed reimbursements, creating inefficiencies and potentially straining working relationships.

Instead of having contractors submit their out-of-pocket expenses via an invoice, businesses can issue virtual cards to them directly. This approach ensures that contractors and temporary employees can immediately cover necessary work-related costs, from supplies to tools, without fronting their own money.

Virtual cards also bring significant operational advantages thanks to their immediacy and flexibility. Businesses can reduce cash reimbursements, streamline financial operations, and enhance the spend-tracking process. Not to mention, businesses accrue even more rewards from these transactions, a benefit they would otherwise miss by paying with traditional methods. 

4. Vendor payments 

Businesses are increasingly turning to virtual cards for vendor payments due to their enhanced safety and efficiency. Unlike traditional payment methods, virtual cards offer stringent security controls, like spending limits and custom expiration dates, which reduce risks like wrongful billing and fraud.

Moreover, they eliminate the need to share a single physical card with multiple vendors, which is risky business. Especially since fraud and data breaches are more common than ever, with global losses predicted to grow to almost $50 billion by 2030.

Creating a unique virtual card for each vendor is a much more convenient and secure approach to protecting real account information and credit lines. If vendor-related fraud ever occurs, businesses can simply deactivate that one virtual card and create a new one, rather than having to close down their entire credit card and update card numbers with every single vendor — a tedious and disruptive process for business operations. 

5. Employee expenses 

Virtual cards offer a flexible and accountable way for businesses to manage employee expenses more effectively. This use case is particularly important since not every employee has access to a company card, leaving many fronting the bill and submitting expense reports for reimbursement. 

Worse yet, if employees aren't using personal credit cards, they're likely sharing company card numbers, which can lead to unauthorized charges and a lack of accountability. Such practices not only affect employee morale but burden finance teams with a retroactive process that depletes time and energy that could instead be devoted to more strategic tasks. 

With Extend, business leaders can use virtual cards to empower their teams and efficiently distribute funds across the organization without sacrificing control or visibility over expenses. Employees can also request virtual cards, reducing unapproved spending and enhancing accountability. 

This approach simplifies expense management, receipt management, and out-of-pocket expenses, if any, and allows finance teams to create pre-determined budgets to delegate spending power while retaining comprehensive oversight.

6. Subscription costs 

Managing subscription payments often involves sharing one or a few corporate cards across various departments. A process that ultimately exposes credit card numbers and forces teams to leave cards on file with multiple providers. 

While common, this method can lead to several challenges, from security breaches to difficulty in tracking which charges belong to which department, diminishing internal accountability and control. Instead, finance teams can create a recurring virtual card for each provider to drastically reduce the risk of credit line exposure and gain a clear view of expenses. 

This method ensures every subscription expense is linked to a distinct virtual card that automatically renews every month, simplifying the process of paying, identifying, and managing these costs across the organization. 

If an employee leaves without canceling a subscription, deactivating their specific virtual card is a simple task. 

7. Suppliers and wholesalers 

Dealing with wholesalers and suppliers means businesses face the same risks associated with using the same credit card for multiple transactions. This practice risks a business's entire credit line, and if fraud occurs, canceling and reissuing cards and updating all relevant vendor details will take valuable time and stall business operations.

Assigning individual virtual cards with set limits to each vendor is a better approach to eliminating risks and limiting potential fraudulent activity to a single virtual card rather than the entire credit line. In case of fraud, businesses can quickly cancel the affected virtual card in just a few minutes compared to the lengthy ordeal with traditional credit cards.

Leveraging virtual cards empowers businesses to maintain business continuity, ensure smoother interactions with suppliers and wholesalers, and benefit from a safer, more controlled, and more efficient way to handle these crucial business relationships.

8. Travel expenses 

Everyone benefits when virtual cards are used for business travel: the company, its finance team, employees, interns, and even interviewees. 

The reality is many employees can’t afford to front business costs on behalf of a company and wait for reimbursement. Given that travel expenses can be substantial and accrue interest, this places a significant financial burden on staff, interns, and interviewees. 

Meanwhile, finance teams are left with a cumbersome reimbursement process and a lack of real-time spending visibility. Finance teams that implement virtual cards for better spend management can easily manage and monitor travel spending as it occurs, while employees get an instant and reliable way to cover travel-related costs like flight bookings, accommodations, and meals.

The same applies to interviewees, who can also use a virtual card to take care of travel costs and an allotted per diem when interviewing for a position, giving them a stellar interview experience and leaving a positive impression of the company. Moreover, with spending limits and restrictions on virtual cards, teams can rest assured travel expenses will adhere to company policies, reducing the risk of overspending and simplifying compliance. 

9. Tail spend 

Virtual cards provide a practical way to track miscellaneous spending and cash flow in real-time. Each purchase is automatically recorded, providing up-to-date financial data and enabling businesses to adjust their spending as needed throughout the month, rather than waiting for month-end reviews. 

This level of detail is crucial for identifying areas where cost savings can be made and ensuring that even minor expenses align with the company’s broader financial strategies.

Businesses using virtual cards for tail spend not only benefit from a streamlined expense tracking process but also from significant savings. According to recent data, firms that use digital tools to manage tail spend can cut their annual expenditures by 5% to 10%, on average.

Get started with Extend 

Experience Extend's spend management platform for yourself and see the impact it can have on a business’s efficiency and financial control.

How virtual credit cards enhance security and control

The payment industry has undergone a digital transformation in the last couple of years, and while this evolution has opened doors to new opportunities, it has also increased security risks. 

As more businesses operate online, the potential risks – from data breaches to financial fraud – become increasingly more complex and sophisticated. 

Research shows that North American fraud rates in 2023 – including attempted and successful incidents – increased by 70%, compared to 59% in 2022.

Hence, securing financial transactions is necessary in today’s digital-first environment. 

But where should you start?

A great first step is to adopt virtual cards as your preferred payment method.

What are virtual credit cards? 

Virtual credit cards are exactly what they sound like: credit cards that exist solely in digital form. They work just like traditional credit cards, holding a unique card number, validity date, and security code.

They’re created from your existing corporate card and via the virtual card platform you decide to use. As with a traditional credit card, you can use a virtual card to make purchases online, over the phone, and in person by loading them into your mobile wallet for contactless payments. 

What sets virtual cards apart from their physical counterparts is that virtual cards exist strictly in the digital realm, making them more secure and customizable.

How virtual credit cards enhance security and control over transactions 

Virtual credit cards bring unprecedented security and control over financial transactions, among other benefits, for businesses looking to streamline their spend management. This manifests in several key areas, allowing your business to navigate its finances with greater precision and security.

Unique card numbers 

Whenever you use a virtual card, you generate a unique credit card number. You can use this number to pay for a one-time transaction or other specific uses by assigning it to an employee, vendor, or client account for recurring payments. Relying on unique card numbers rather than one single number from your physical card is the best option for securing and controlling business expenses. Doing so eliminates the need to share physical card numbers across your organization and reduces the risk of card theft, cloning, or misuse. If a virtual card number is compromised, its impact is limited to that specific transaction or card, allowing you to quickly deactivate it and prevent widespread fraud.

Spending limits and expiration dates 

Another great advantage of virtual credit cards is the ease of setting and adjusting spending limits and expiration dates per card. Not only is this great for securing transactions, but this functionality ensures expenses remain within the allocated budget while maintaining financial discipline across departments and projects. It also guards against unauthorized charges or misuse. Adjusting these settings in response to changing economic situations or unexpected needs enhances your control and responsiveness in financial management.

Real-time transaction monitoring

Maintaining visibility is crucial when managing expenses to control cash flow and catch any potential unauthorized charges in time. Relying on month-end reports can be challenging for finance teams as funds have already been spent. Virtual cards transform this process into a proactive approach. They offer real-time visibility into company spending, ensuring you're always informed about where and how funds are used. This level of visibility is invaluable for effective budgeting, making timely financial decisions and analyses, quickly identifying discrepancies, and aligning every transaction with the company’s financial strategy and objectives.

Better expense management 

To simplify expense management, you need clarity and control, often lost in traditional methods where employees face costs and seek reimbursements. Instead of forcing employees to front the bill, use virtual cards. Employees can access an immediate payment method when needed, while finance teams retain complete oversight and control. This approach reduces the need for employees to pay out-of-pocket and streamlines expense reporting, freeing finance teams from the burdens of a cumbersome reimbursement process. 

Case study: A business success story

Let's look at how virtual cards can protect payments in real life through the lens of one of our customers, an electronic online retailer and wholesaler.

Before using Extend and virtual cards to manage transactions, the online retailer used one corporate card to manage inventory purchases for more than 200 vendors. Leaving the same card on file with every vendor proved to be a challenge since they experienced fraudulent charges at least once or twice a year, “an eight-month-long nightmare,” as the retailer’s business manager put it. 

Fortunately, they found Extend. 

After registering their existing corporate card, the retailer started creating new virtual cards in a matter of minutes. Fast forward to today: they create a unique virtual card for every vendor, meaning they never have to leave their primary card on file again, protecting them from exposing their primary account information. 

The results have been transformative. 

Not only were they able to reduce fraud hassles, but they prevented wrongful billing by setting exact spending limits on each card, and increased oversight when reconciling charges with original orders. 

Added bonus? They can continue to earn rewards for every transaction from their preferred card program.

Want to experience a similar success story? 

Leverage virtual cards for enhanced security in your business

Shifting to virtual credit cards is a strategic move to ensure safety and control over your company's financial transactions. 

From preventing fraud and overspending to increasing security, virtual cards are simply a better choice for today’s fast-paced and digital-first environment.

Learn more about how to implement virtual cards in your business. 

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