Virtual cards have changed the way I use my bank. I’ve been using them since its testing phase and haven’t looked back.

I have them loaded on my Apple Watch, iPhone, Samsung Pay, etc, which is super convenient.

A big drawcard for me

One of the biggest draw cards to using FNB’s virtual card is the safety aspect of the changing CVV number every hour. I think it’s a genius feature because should any of your VC info get compromised – somehow – the credentials are useless to the fraudsters.

FNB has made the exception for recurring services like iCloud, Spotify, or other monthly subscriptions so that you never have to keep adding the changing CVV in. I generated separate virtual cards for my subscription services, online shopping, etc.

Relying less on physical cards

Now that I’ve been using my virtual cards for more than two years, the feedback I have is that I rely much less on my physical cards. In fact, I don’t carry a physical wallet anymore. I’ve travelled overseas and didn’t take bank cards with me.

The reason being is that all my cards – multiple – are loaded onto my Apple Watch, and a few on my iPhone. I have a virtual card for every physical card I own.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How do I do shopping? Well, I didn’t even think about it until I bought an iPad in the Apple Store in California and swiped for it from my watch. It was under R15k I think, and the transaction went through.

I haven’t had issues abroad with swiping my card. I even tapped a virtual card to buy a fridge at Hirsch and it went through. I just got to the till and said, well, I don’t carry physical cards anymore, and it went through.

Virtual card on my Global Account

One of the most recent updates I have is that I created a virtual card for my Global Account (this feature was rolled out in May 2023). I simply loaded it from my banking app. I‘ve noticed the turnaround time for the forex to reflect is a lot quicker than before (pre Covid days) when I first started using it. You may recall I wrote about it here:

I tried FNB’s Global Account on holiday

LoungeKey access

By the way, the Global Account gives you access to LoungeKey, and if you’re a traveller, pay attention. LoungeKey has more than 1000 international lounges outside of South Africa, which is super handy as you can access it 10 times a year for free. If you take a guest, it will be used from your allocation.

While you don’t need to register on LoungeKey, you get instant access when presenting your card, you can register to access the app and generate codes from there. The LoungeKey app also lets you find lounges by airport, which is a good way to plan your travels.

Back to virtual cards. Here’s a quick FAQ:

What is a virtual card?

It’s a digital version of your physical card that can be used online, in-store or through scan to pay services. A virtual card can be loaded on mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Fitbit Pay, Garmin Pay, etc.

What makes FNB’s virtual card unique?

It has a dynamic CVV, which is a 3-digit code needed for online purchases. The fact that it changes every hour means if your credentials are stolen, then that CVV would be expired by the time someone tries to use it fraudulently.

How do I create one?

Go to the FNB banking app into your main banking profile under Accounts, then choose My Cards > Add Card > Create Virtual Card. Once here, you can choose which linked account you’re creating it for. You can create a nickname for it to easily identify and track where you are using it. You can cancel it just as easily as you create it, giving you complete control. There is also an option to temporarily block your card, along with options like manage PIN, update limits,

How safe is it?

Virtual cards can only be accessed on the FNB banking app by you, as the card holder. Even if they are stored on your smartphone, it will never show you the digits fully, you still need to go to your banking app for it.

But ultimately, if something does not physically exist, it cannot be lost or stolen. So chances of you losing it or being held up and handing it over – well, just can’t happen,

The chances of your virtual card being used fraudulently is virtually impossible without the CVV. I always recommend to friends to create a virtual card for their smartphone or watch, and where possible leave the physical card at home.

Why should I use it over my physical card?

Apart from the safety features I covered quite a bit, you can also earn more eBucks points if you do. If you look at the eBucks earn rules, it is geared towards using it and being rewarded more than if you use a physical card. It may seem like an adjustment to initially switch and require some admin, but in the long run the safety outweighs that.

The changing CVV also means you rely less on One Time Pins (OTPs) sent to you over SMS. We know what a big problem SIM cloning is in South Africa. But additionally, FNB sends you codes on the banking app, which is also useful if you’re traveling and cannot receive SMSes.