Are you looking for a safe, secure, easy-to-use virtual card? Today, many banks and credit cards offer a virtual card that can be used in place of a physical card.
Privacy.com offers a virtual card that can be used for secure online payments, budgeting, and money management.
Digital fraud attempts spiked by 189% in 2023, according to Yahoo Finance, and making virtual payments is a great way to keep your money safe.
Below, I’ll explain how Privacy.com works, outline some of the best Privacy.com alternatives in Canada, explain what they’re best used for, and share some of the key benefits of using a virtual card service to keep your transactions safe and secure.
Privacy.com has over 200,000 users in the United States, and the company has a 4.8-star rating on Trustpilot.
Unfortunately, Privacy.com is only available to US residents, as it’s only compatible with banks and credit cards based in the United States.
Technically, Privacy.com works in Canada and can be used with Canadian websites. However, you’d have to have a US bank account or US credit card linked to your Privacy.com account.
If you’re a US expat visiting or living in Canada, you’re in luck. However, most Canadians won’t be able to use the service.
Curious to learn more about how Privacy.com works? Here’s a quick overview.
Privacy.com is a financial technology service that protects users’ credit card information during online transactions.
It achieves this by creating unique, virtual payment cards that are linked to a user’s existing bank account rather than directly sharing sensitive personal information with the website.
Users create virtual credit cards linked to their real cards and accounts, which can be customized with:
- Spending limits
- Use frequency
- Expiration dates
These disposable or merchant-specific virtual cards help safeguard against fraud, identity theft, and unauthorized transactions.
If a scam website or hacker gets a hold of the virtual card details, the damage they can do is very limited compared to what could happen if they steal your real card details.
I recently came across a thread in r/PersonalFinanceCanada asking for any alternatives to Privacy.com. There were a few good answers, but I didn’t find anything conclusive.
So I decided to compile a complete list of the best virtual card services and Privacy.com alternatives available to Canadians. Keep on reading to see my top picks!
- Learn More: koho.ca
- Key Feature: Reloadable cashback debit card + virtual card
KOHO is a prepaid Mastercard service that offers unique benefits to its users. Users link their personal bank accounts to KOHO and load their KOHO cards with money. Similar to a credit card, they can then earn cashback rewards for their daily debit card spending.
With KOHO, you can earn 1% cash back on all groceries and selected billing and services and up to 5% cash back on purchases from select merchants. Unlike a credit card, though, you don’t need to have good credit (or any credit) to apply.
In addition to a physical debit card, users will also be issued a virtual KOHO card that can be used for online purchases or can be added to their virtual wallet to make contactless payments.
KOHO also comes with several other notable features and perks that its users can take advantage of, including:
- A high-interest savings account
- An option credit building service that costs just $10 per month
- A built-in budgeting app that helps you track and manage spending
- No annual or monthly fees
The KOHO virtual card also offers significant cost savings for international transactions, with a fee of only 1.5%, unlike the typical 2.5-3.0% charged by most other credit card providers.
Additionally, the service allows for unlimited e-transfers and rewards bonuses for shopping at selected merchants.
- No credit card is needed to apply
- Optional features such as credit building and HISA
- Lower international transaction fees
- Earn cash back on everyday purchases
- Safe, secure virtual card that can be used for online or contactless payments
- Built-in budgeting tools
- It doesn’t help you build credit (since it’s not a real credit card)
- No browser extension
- Online payments aren’t automatically encrypted
- Learn More: eqbank.ca
- Key Feature: Virtual debit card + online banking and investing
EQ Bank’s latest offering, the EQ Bank Card, combines the functionalities of a chequing account, savings account, and credit card in one versatile package. You get all of this with no sign-up costs or annual fees.
You’ll be issued a physical debit card that can be used to spend your balance and earn 0.5% cash back on all purchases. Like KOHO, you’ll also receive a virtual card to use for online transactions or add to a contactless payment wallet.
The EQ Bank Card allows you to withdraw cash from any Canadian ATM without incurring any fees (other than those imposed by the ATM itself). You can also use your account to make bill payments, receive direct deposits, and even transfer money internationally.
EQ Bank also offers a high-interest savings account with an industry-leading 2.50% APY interest rate, allowing your savings to compound over time.
One of the standout features of the EQ Bank Card is that there are no foreign transaction fees. I travel frequently, and my standard credit/debit cards impose an additional 2% to 3% fee when I make purchases outside Canada.
You can use your virtual card to make online purchases overseas as well, without having to worry about foreign transaction fees.
- Make secure online payments with the virtual EQ Bank Card
- No foreign transaction fees (great for travellers)
- HIgh-interest savings account
- No ATM fees when using Canadian ATMs
- 0.5% cash back on all purchases
- It doesn’t help you build credit
- No browser extension is available
- Online payments aren’t automatically encrypted
- Learn More: My Wealthsimple Cash Review
- Key Feature: Virtual and physical prepaid debit card + free money transfers
Wealthsimple is one of the top fintech companies in Canada and offers several financial services, including:
- Investing (guided and self-directed)
- Cryptocurrency exchange
- Free tax filing service
- Free money transfer service
When you sign up for a Wealthsimple Cash account, you’ll immediately receive a virtual debit card that can be used for any online purchases or contactless payments. You’ll also receive a physical card in the mail within two weeks.
With your virtual Wealthsimple Cash card, you can earn 1% cash back on all purchases. You can also opt to receive your 1% cash back as credit in your Wealthsimple Invest account or as cryptocurrency, which no other prepaid card in Canada offers.
Another thing I like about Wealthsimple Cash is that users can use its free money transfer service to quickly and easily send (or receive) money to other Wealthsimple Cash users.
Money received through transfers can then be immediately spent with your Cash card, virtually or with your physical card.
- Fast, free money transfer service for users
- You’ll immediately receive a virtual debit card
- You’ll also receive a physical card
- 1% cash back on purchases
- Option to receive cash back as crypto or investment credit
- It won’t help you build credit
- No one-time use card feature (like Privacy.com offers)
- Online payments aren’t automatically encrypted
- Learn More: paymi.com
- Key Feature: Card encryption while shopping online + cash back rewards
Paymi isn’t a virtual card service like Privacy.com and doesn’t offer users a separate card like EQ Bank, KOHO, and Wealthsimple.
Instead, it’s a cashback app that helps you earn rewards and save money while shopping online. Here’s how it works:
- You create a Paymi account
- Link your credit/debit card to Paymi
- Use the Paymi app or browser extension when shopping online
- Paymi will automatically encrypt your card details when making online payments
- You’ll receive cash back rewards (which vary by merchant) when shopping online
- Your cash back rewards can be redeemed for cash or used as credit to future purchases
It’s quite a bit different from Privacy.com and other virtual card services. However, its built-in card encryption service helps keep your personal card details safe when purchasing online.
Paymi automatically enters card details as well, which means you don’t have to make physical keystrokes on your device, that could be captured by a key logger virus.
- Earn cash back while shopping online
- Redeem cash back rewards for real money or future purchases
- Your personal card is encrypted for online purchases
- You don’t receive a separate virtual card
- Cash back varies by merchant
- Learn More: How ShopPay Works
- Key Feature: Quicker online payments with secure encryption
Shopify is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in North America, and over 121,000 Canadian e-commerce stores are built on it.
ShopPay is a digital payment platform offered by Shopify that’s designed to simplify and secure online shopping for consumers.
It enables users to store their credit card information in a single, secure location and then use it across multiple online retailers that accept ShopPay as a payment option.
Although ShopPay was created by Shopify, it’s not exclusive to the platform and can be used on other online stores that have integrated ShopPay.
For added security, ShopPay employs advanced encryption techniques and tokenization to protect users’ sensitive financial information.
When consumers use ShopPay, their credit card details are not shared directly with retailers; instead, a unique, encrypted token is generated for each transaction.
This tokenization process minimizes the risk of data breaches and reduces the potential for fraud.
- Encrypted tokenization keeps online payments very secure
- Users don’t have to type in their credit card details
- ShopPay makes online checkouts incredibly fast and easy
- ShopPay can be used with multiple online shopping platforms
- Users don’t receive a separate virtual card
- No option for one-time use or limited-use cards
6. Google Pay
- Learn More: support.google.com
- Key Feature: Make secure, encrypted payments online and in-person
Anybody with an Android device or using the Google Chrome browser can take advantage of Google Pay. Users can store their credit card information and billing details in Google Pay, allowing them to use the information for online purchases.
Google Encrypts all of your credit card information, ensuring that it can’t be accessed by anybody outside of yourself. Google Pay also utilizes two-factor authentication to ensure that it’s really you who’s using your card.
Before making a payment, Google Pay will either ask for your fingerprint or device PIN.
Similar to ShopPay, Google Pay automatically enters all of your card information into online payment forms, so you don’t have to physically type the details and risk exposure.
Virtual cards such as those offered by KOHO, Wealthsimple, and EQ Bank can all be added into Google Pay, adding an additional layer of security to online payments.
- Available to all Chrome and Android users
- Securely stores all of your credit card information
- Store multiple credit cards
- Fast, easy, and secure online payments
- No option to create virtual credit cards
- No option for one-time use credit cards
To wrap up, here are a few key reasons why you should consider using a virtual card service instead of your physical card.
One-time-use virtual cards don’t contain your real credit card information or billing details. If your card is hacked, the hacker won’t be able to learn any real-life details about who you are or be able.
Making contactless payments with virtual cards is also more secure than swiping. Scammers may implement devices into credit card machines designed to steal your card data when you swipe. This is far more difficult and rare with contactless payments.
Using a virtual card online allows you to copy/paste or automatically enter your card details into payment forms.
This prevents you from having to type your details in, which could expose you to a keylogger virus or allow people around you to see what you’re typing in.
Many virtual cards, such as those offered by KOHO, EQ Bank, and Wealthsimple, allow users to earn cash back rewards on their purchases, similar to a credit card. However, you don’t need any credit to apply for these cards, as they’re technically prepaid debit cards.
Virtual cards are great for managing your money. For example, when you receive your paycheque, you may keep your bill money in your primary bank account and transfer your designated spending funds to a separate virtual card.
This prevents you from overspending by separating your bill money from your “fun” money.
KOHO offers a reliable virtual card with added perks, such as cash back rewards, a credit-building service, and an available high-interest savings account.
I recommend integrating your KOHO card with a payment encryption service such as ShopPay or Google Pay for added security.
Curious to learn more? Check out my in-depth review of KOHO next!