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How To Get an Instant Virtual Debit Card

Written by Banks Editorial Team

Updated December 21, 2023​

7 min. read​

When you open a checking or DDA account, you may not receive a physical debit card right away. Instead, it may show up at your door in 7-10 business days. Some consumers want their debit cards sooner to make purchases, and an instant virtual debit card can help. You won’t have to wait long for these cards to arrive, but do they make sense for you? We’ll discuss how to get an instant virtual debit card and some of its advantages.

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What Is an Instant Virtual Debit Card?

An instant virtual debit card is a virtual card that can be stored in a virtual wallet like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. These digital wallets are accessible on your smartphone, tablet, and other devices. You can’t physically store a virtual debit card. These cards skip the delivery process, letting you use them immediately upon approval after you add funds. Other than the virtual nature of these cards, they are similar to physical debit cards.

Physical Debit Card vs. Virtual Debit Card

Some cardholders gravitate to virtual debit cards because they can instantly use them after funds are added. Virtual debit cards are accessible through digital wallets and your bank’s mobile app, and they provide perks that extend beyond quicker delivery. We’ll discuss how physical debit cards and virtual debit cards compare with each other.


Your physical debit card or credit card can fall out of your wallet. You may forget it at a restaurant or stadium, which can be stressful. Someone can spend your money if they also obtain your PIN, and finding a debit card can help someone with identity theft. A virtual debit card doesn’t present these risks to cardholders since you can’t lose it. Virtual debit cards aren’t immune to hackers, but their safety precautions may let you limit the damage. You can quickly freeze and unfreeze your virtual debit card from your bank’s mobile app. You can freeze your card when you are not using it and temporarily unfreeze the card when you want to make a purchase.

Ease Of Use

Both debit cards are easy to use. You can pull a physical debit card from your wallet, put it in the scanner at the point of sale, and make your purchase. Virtual debit cards reduce the need for a physical wallet, which would free up space in your pocket. You can open up the app containing your virtual debit card to make a purchase. However, the merchant and the card will need contactless technology to support in-store purchases using a virtual debit card. If the merchant does not have this capability, you will have to rely on cash or a physical debit card.

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Benefits Of Getting an Instant Virtual Debit Card

Instant virtual debit cards have numerous benefits over their physical counterparts. Many banks offer these cards to their customers, and it’s no wonder why they do. We have outlined some of the top benefits below.

Get It Instantly

You can receive a card in minutes and use your bank account to make purchases right away. A physical debit card takes longer. You may have to wait over a week for this card, and you will have to visit the bank’s website to verify your card. These steps happen much faster with a virtual card. Some of these cards also come with instant approval, so you won’t have to worry about waiting several days for the final verdict. Some companies even let you get preapproved before submitting an application, so you only get hit with one hard credit check.


Bank accounts with instant virtual debit cards provide a new level of flexibility and ease of use. As mentioned above, you can instantly activate your card, allowing you to start spending from a linked account immediately. Instead of carrying a traditional wallet, your virtual card is accessible via a mobile app or online platform. This allows you to make purchases using your card number, whether it’s a free virtual card or a Visa card, with just a few taps on your mobile device.

No/Low Fees and Charges

Another key advantage of using instant virtual debit cards is the potential for lower fees or even no fees at all compared to traditional debit cards. Many virtual card providers offer competitive pricing on transactional and maintenance fees, saving you money on daily expenses and charges. Consequently, it becomes simpler and more cost-effective to manage your finances.

Builds Credit

Some financial institutions and fintech companies offer a credit-building tool free of charge in conjunction with its virtual debit card. If you’ve had a series of past financial missteps and are looking to start fresh, this perk could greatly benefit you. By using your instant virtual debit card responsibly, you can develop a positive financial history and build your credit. A good credit score is essential for future loans, mortgages, and other financial opportunities. Regularly track your spending, pay your bills on time, and maintain a manageable balance on your card to help improve your credit rating.

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Track Your Bills, Spending and Subscriptions

Many virtual debit cards come with built-in tracking features that make it easy to monitor your expenses in real time. You can easily access your transaction history, set alerts for bill payments and manage budget categories. This can be especially helpful in tracking subscriptions and online services. Plus, you can avoid spending beyond your means or paying for an unwanted subscription you forgot to cancel before the renewal or billing date.

Increase Security and Protection

Instant virtual debit cards offer a higher level of security, as each transaction requires unique card details or one-time passwords. In case of a breach, your physical card’s information remains untouched and secure. This feature helps protect your account from potential fraud and misuse. You’ll also have peace of mind while making purchases online or in person.

Access Your Money Instantly to Make Purchases

You don’t have to wait for a physical card to arrive in the mail. Instead, cardholders can start using their virtual debit card upon approval after they add funds. The less complicated you can make your finances, the better.

Add to Digital Wallets

Digital wallets carry information that would normally go in your wallet, such as your driver’s license. Digital wallets eliminate the need for physical wallets. When you use digital wallets, you only have to bring your device, and you don’t have to risk your wallet or any of its contents falling out of your pocket.

If you have a watch that supports a digital wallet, you can have your virtual debit card with you on runs, walks, and bikes. You won’t have to store these items in a separate pocket and create an unpleasant exercise experience. You might get hungry or need some water during the exercise. If you only have a physical debit card, you may have to tough it out until you make it back home. Virtual debit cards are more flexible and allow you to keep everything in one place.

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Easier Replacement After The Expiry Date

It’s easier to replace a virtual debit card as it approaches the expiration date. Your debit card issuer will send you a notification on your smartphone when your card only has a few days left. Most financial institutions will walk you through the process of replacing your virtual debit card in a few clicks. You won’t have to worry about waiting for a new card to arrive in the mail. It’s possible to miss the new card when it arrives in the mail, but you won’t have to worry about that risk with a virtual debit card.

Quick Cancellation If Necessary

It’s easy to cancel a virtual debit card in case you only want to use it for a few purchases before closing your card. Closing a virtual debit card will not affect your credit since it’s not a virtual credit card.

No Credit Card Debt

Many people avoid credit cards because of the high interest rates and risk of taking on a lot of debt. When you buy goods and services with a debit card, you don’t have to worry about high interest rates and excessive credit card fees. Only using the funds in your checking account limits your spending and helps you gain better control over your finances. Some virtual debit cards also have rewards, such as cashback programs.

Should You Get a Virtual Debit Card or Virtual Credit Card?

Virtual cards are here to stay. The advanced technology makes them safer and more convenient than physical cards. A virtual debit card lets you stay in control of your spending and avoid excessive credit card debt. Some virtual debit cards even come with rewards programs. However, most credit cards have better rewards programs, and you can build your credit with every on-time payment to your credit card issuer.

Some people can’t qualify for credit cards due to low scores. You can get a secured credit card in this scenario and make a security deposit, but a debit card offers a quicker path to obtaining a virtual card with no strings attached. You also won’t have to worry about the high interest rates. The major weaknesses of debit cards are that they don’t build credit, and you can end up with several overdraft fees if you operate with a low balance too often. Overdraft fees occur if you overdraw your account, but some online banks have additional protections that make overdraft fees less likely.

You won’t build credit with a debit card, but you can build credit in other ways, even if you don’t own a credit card. Some mobile banking apps let you connect a line of credit to your debit card, so your transactions end up building credit and strengthening your payment history. Debit cards have more workarounds than credit cards. If you fall behind on credit cards, you can fall into a debt spiral and incur high interest along the way. Getting behind on a credit card will hurt your credit and make it more difficult to apply for a loan in the future.

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Where Can You Get an Instant Virtual Debit Card?

Most financial institutions offer instant virtual debit cards. This is because more banks realize the consumer experience has shifted online and have adjusted accordingly. You can also get a virtual debit card from many online banks, which tend to have better rewards than their traditional counterparts. Since virtual banks have fewer overhead expenses, they can reduce costs and pass those savings on to consumers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you get a virtual debit card instantly?

Yes, it is possible to obtain a virtual debit card instantly. Many financial institutions and fintech companies offer instant virtual debit cards when you open an account with them. These cards can be used immediately for online purchases and other transactions while you wait for your physical card to arrive.

When can you get an instant debit card?

There are several options available for obtaining an instant virtual debit card. Start by taking a look at what Experian Smart Money has to offer. You can also explore other options before moving forward. Remember to evaluate your specific needs and choose the instant debit card provider that best meets your needs.

Can you get a virtual debit card without a bank account?

Getting a virtual debit card without a bank account can be challenging, as most providers require an associated account. However, some prepaid payment services, such as PayPal and Payoneer, allow you to create a virtual card for free without a traditional bank account. Keep in mind that these options may have limitations and fees compared to regular debit cards.

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