Updated: May 24, 2024

Temporary Account Number: Your Solution to Safer Shopping

Learn how you can use temporary account numbers instead of your actual credit card numbers for safe online shopping. They help prevent fraud and identity theft.
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You may have yet to discover that your credit card has this feature, but temporary account numbers are great for the avid online shopper, especially during the busy shopping frenzy of the holiday season.

A prominent concern for online consumers is that their credit card numbers may get stolen leaving them, with mounds of paperwork, or worse, in financial ruins. To cure those worries, some card companies began offering a free, underused feature known as temporary account numbers so that online shoppers won’t compromise the security of their credit card numbers on the web.

Read: Holiday Shopping Tips: Preventing Fraud

The Internet is an easily accessible portal to commit identity fraud so you can never be too safe when it comes to shopping online. Temporary credit card numbers are just an additional layer of protection to a secure online shopping spree.

What Are Temporary Account Numbers

In a general sense, temporary account numbers are generated credit card numbers that are linked to your actual credit card account. When you are ready check out your online order, you visit your card’s online account to access this feature. You use the temporary account number as you would with any credit card number at an online store.

Card companies restrict each generated number to a single online retailer. Therefore, you can rest assured that anyone who steals your credit card number will not be able to buy at another retailer.  Additional protections vary with each card company. While it would be wise to use a temporary account number for every online shopping transaction, you should refrain from using this feature if you have to show your credit card to pick up your purchase.

Banks That Offer Temporary Account Numbers

Citi: Virtual Account Number

If you are a Citi cardholder, Virtual Account Numbers generates an account number that is each valid only at one merchant. For more advanced security measures, you can determine the exact dollar amount and expiration periods for the life of each Virtual Account Number.