Temporary Credit Card Number Not Always Safe

Does using a temporary online credit card really provide protection?

Over a decade ago during the early days of Paypal, they launched a feature to generate temporary credit card numbers for online shopping (well technically they were debit card numbers, but you get the ideea).

One time I used this virtual number for a purchase from shady merchant and lo and behold, they ended up pounding me with unauthorized charges afterward. As far as protection goes, it was essentially worthless because the disputed charges still wiped out my Paypal account balance.

This is the problem with temporary credit card numbers… ultimately they do nothing to stop fraud. As long as the virtual account number is active cyber-criminals and fraudsters can charge to their heart’s content – using up your credit limit or shrinking the available spending power on your debit card.

There’s really only one advantage

screenshot of virtual account numbers from CitiNow if the aforementioned happened, obviously you can dispute the charges and get your money back if they were unauthorized. But that offers no advantage over disputing charges made on your regular debit/credit card numbers: both involve the same dispute process and both will distort your account balance (at least until the charges are reported and reversed).

At the end of the day, the only advantage of using a temporary card number is that if it’s abused, you only have to cancel that number instead of your main account number.

Some are more dangerous than others

You can create temporary credit card numbers for Chase, Citi, Bank of America, Discover and most other major issuers (excluding American Express). But not all are created equal…

Types of temporary card numbers

The “use everywhere” typeSome only give you one virtual account number. You can then use it whenever you want for online transactions. The problem with this type is that over time you will be using it at multiple merchants. This is how Paypal does it.
The one-time use typeWith this kind, the temporary number is generated for one-merchant only. That way if the number is compromised, no one else can use it. Citi offers this as a free feature on their credit cards. Bank of America’s “ShopSafe” is similar but with fewer features.

Between these two options the first is clearly more dangerous (though more convenient), since you can’t restrict using it to a specific merchant. So should you choose to use these, go with the ones that give you a unique number on a per-merchant or one time use basis.

But never, ever use a debit account

The problem with a Paypal virtual credit card number (and all debit cards) is that if your account gets hit with fraudulent charges, your balance will be affected. Even if that’s only temporary and you are able to reverse the charges, there will still be a period of time where the money isn’t there and that could cause checks to bounce if it happened with your checking account. Not to mention that debit card protections are just substandard across the board compared to credit cards. First off, when you use a debit card you are using your own money. Banks won’t go to bat for you like they do when it’s their money on the line, as with a credit card. And worse yet, you have to notice and report debit card fraud really quickly. By law, your liability is limited to $50 if you report it within two days but quickly jumps to $500 after that. Beyond 60 days you technically have no limit to the liability you could incur, meaning the entire balance of your checking account could get wiped out in an instant. This is why debit cards are so risky to use and credit cards are the way to go, as they offer so much more fraud protection.

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

I have use ShopSafe (SS) numbers over 750 times – This is how to use it with PayPal.
1. Start with no credit cards on PayPal.
2. Remove the bank account after your PayPal (PP) account is approved.
3. Make your purchase and set the limit of the SS number and put it on PP.
4. Log the SS number, the Max limit, the Exp date and the CVC code into a spread sheet.
5. Have all of these things open for you to view – Bank credit card account, PP, and SS window. and the selling merchant’s web page.
6. Pay for the item with PP.
7. Now watch the money flow through the system.
– merchant sends bill to PP.
– PP sends request to BOA(SS)
– Funds come out of SS.
– Charge shows up on credit card statement (online)
8. As soon as you see the charge on the bank statement, or you see the available balance of the SS number to be zero, the funds are on their way to the merchant so now there is no more need for the SS number, so delete it from PP.
9. As soon as the charge on the bank statement is no longer TEMP then delete the SS number from SS.
10. My experience has been that you can still get a refund onto a deleted SS number because BOA still has the information. It has not been a problem for me. I even had a refund back to PP that a merchant sent to a canceled SS number and PP still somehow sent the money back to my BOA account even though I did not have bank account number on PP anymore.
11. All of the above has been working for me hundreds and hundreds of times with no problems.
12. The above system worked for me but you will have to prove it for your self.
13. NOTE – This it very important – LOG ALL OF THE NUMBERS AND EXP DATES AND LIMITS and who you purchased from and what it was into a spread sheet.

Good Luck.

I am smart, never had any issues with ‘credit cards’.

I used Citi VANs as a program on my computer for years until a new version about 2 years ago refused to load, the small window displaying “Cardloader error 2032.” Ever since then I have had to rely on the online version (successfully, but a PITA). Recently I received an email announcing a new downloadable version, it has produced the same problem I am using Win 7 and Firefox or Chrome. all up to date a/o 12/2015. Has anyone else had this problem and could you get around it?

Call SENIOR TECHNICAL SUPPORT at Citicards to completely remove your online userID, and re-register at Citicards online. Then try the VAN again.

I have used BoA’s Shop Safe temporary credit card for several years, with an estimated 150+ online transactions without any problem. I limit the credit amount of the temporary card to the purchase price plus shipping, handling and sales tax. The expiration date I select is usually 3 months to allow for any refund to be returned to the temporary credit card. For my second credit card which I carry, I use an RFID scanner sleeve to prevent electronic near field communication “NFC” scanning. When I travel out of my normal transaction area, I contact BoA to inform them of my itinerary and the dates when I will be in that area, to preclude them deactivating my card during my trip. I put “see DMV photo ID” in the card’s signature block, since the BoA EMV “chip” card no longer contains my photo.Disclaimer: I am not an employee of BoA or its affiliates.

Hey Chuck. I also usually limit the card to the total amount I am going to shop, but due to authorization by merchant when you submit the order, it reduces the card limit and therefore my order usually gets cancelled. So I usually need to double or triple the amount. Have you experienced this?

I’ve used Discover, Citi, and BofA virtual account numbers for a long time. Discover quit, started again, then quit again a year or so ago. Citi was OK until they started requiring a phone call to verify new numbers which became a PITA. So I’ve switched to BofA shopsafe without problems so far except their fraud department denies a lot of valid charges for no good reason, which becomes a PITA too. I don’t like PayPal and absolutely would never shop online for anything except with a virtual/secure/safe credit card number.


You’re mistaken about Citi VANs allowing only one transaction. Why else would they allow you to add more time and dollars to a card number? For example, I have one VAN that I have been using to place delivery orders with a restaurant for over a year now. Maybe you meant they allow only one *merchant* per VAN?

Clearly you have distorted the facts to suite your message. I hace used CitiBank’s VAN for years with NO problems. One can set both the dollar limit as well as the expiry date, and moreover Citi’s VAN is only good for ONE transaction. Works beautifully, and protects you from fraudsters who want to bill you extra or renew an offer every six months or a year.

ShopSafe and VAN user

I just found this thread, so my comments are late, but anyway …

I’ve used Citi VANs for several years. A couple of years ago, their VAN management pages were broken for several months, so I took out a BofA card with ShopSafe. So I have experience with both.

1) I agree with the many respondents who disputed the assertion that VANs/ShopSafe do nothing to stop fraud. They work well for their intended purpose. Both VANs and ShopSafe (apparently the only major players) offer time and dollar limits (though some respondents say ShopSafe is soft on the dollar limits; I haven’t personally tested that), which go a long way against fraud. And of course you can cancel an individual number without affecting the other numbers or the underlying card.

2) Neither Citi nor BofA is ideal in terms of user interface or customer service. I’d give the edge to Citi, but that’s not a ringing endorsement.

3) For the users having trouble with Amazon: I’ve found (using Citi) that I only need two numbers for Amazon. One for purchases that are “sold by Amazon”; the other for purchases that are “sold by [someone else]”, whether or not they are “fulfilled by Amazon.” As long as I keep these purchases separate, I can get by with only one number for each of the two types. I’ve just started using BofA’s ShopSafe with Amazon, and I can’t tell yet whether this applies there too; but I expect it will. The key is in how the merchant name appears on the charge record (as “Amazon.com” or “AMAZON MKTPLACE PAYMENTS,” or similar wording).

3a) I do have to use a different number for purchases from other Amazons, such as amazon.co.uk. Again, it’s because the merchant name on the charge is different.

4) I’ve had frustrating experiences with some recurring charges (I’m looking at you, Time Warner Cable). If they keep changing the way they list or spell their name on the charge, the bank will reject the charge as coming from a “different” merchant. So you have to keep an eye out for that.

5) I find it useful to have both the Citi and BofA cards, so that if (when) one of them screws up and forces a reissue of the underlying card I can temporarily (or permanently) switch my recurring charges to numbers on the other bank’s card.

6) Like another respondent, I generate several numbers at a time, with reasonable dollar and time limits, and record them in a safe place. This reduces the aggravation of using the web interface.

All in all though, I’ve found VANs/ShopSafe to be a useful and appreciably safer tool for online (and telephone) purchases.

You highlighted the absolute best deal of the virtual numbers– that if a merchant’s info gets stolen, including my temporary number, I don’t have to go through my entire account statement and contact every recurring biller I use the card for. That happened to me twice in one year, and that was the most frustrating about the whole thing. Getting a new card is fine, but that means a new number, and contacting all those recurring payments I use my credit card for.

I haven’t decided about using the temporary numbers for those billers– but definitely the temporary numbers from now on for online merchants who “lose” my data.

Can’t do anything yet about the physical card shopping in stores. Perhaps the chips will help a little eventually with that.

Just came across this site and these comments. I’ve been a Shopsafe user like some others here since MBNA. It’s the only reason I keep the BofA card – otherwise I’m not fond of them. Amazon will definitely require MORE than 2 SS numbers as they have numerous billing identities.

“For the users having trouble with Amazon: I’ve found (using Citi) that I only need two numbers for Amazon. One for purchases that are “sold by Amazon”; the other for purchases that are “sold by [someone else]”, whether or not they are “fulfilled by Amazon.” As long as I keep these purchases separate, I can get by with only one number for each of the two types.”

If you have a Kindle and order digital music you will need another. And another for on-demand video. I’ve used SS with Amazon for years. I generally have 4 or 5 numbers active at any one time. It’s a REAL PIA! And I just upgraded to Prime which adds a whole nuther level of problems. No surprise but the Amazon customer service folks are CLUELESS as to how to deal with this. They say (assuming you can understand them) “you have VISA, that correct sir? Just use that card again please”

Just an update to this thread for y’all!

Mr CreditCardForum,

You have failed to mention that some Virtual Account Numbers offer monetary and time limits. You also failed to mention that even without those benefits they are still better than using your number directly as they can be closed without having to call a representative.

Your poor representation of the facts of this topic has permanently discredited you as a viable source of information about credit cards. I assume you desire for people to be knowledgeable about using credit cards safely. The best way you can help is by discontinuing to offer any credit card advice at all.



Perfectly stated. I could have not said it better myself. Nailed it.

I agree with the majority of replies, and have been using ShopSafe for years with NO issues. As mentioned, there are time and monetary limits to limit fraud…if it were to occur. My apologies, but this is a lame, ‘Debbie Downer’ article that seeks to generate fear where it may not be warranted. Thanks, CreditCardGuru!!!

I wholeheartedly agree with Brian. Temporary numbers are usually for a one-time purchase of a specified amount. Anything beyond that is denied.

Now on the other hand, if you wrote this article because you work for a Bank that doesn’t offer temporary numbers, then this article makes perfect sense.

Had the same reaction reading this blog post, careless or misinformed. Began with shopsafe some 10 years ago or more, loved it. Tried Discover’s implementation, poor. Now use citi’s, good. Time and dollar limits. Possible they will adjust upwards for tax and such if needed but you are protected. My favorite use is with auto renewal programs… puts you back in control! Get emails stating how sorry they are there was a problem charging my account. Don’t be sorry, I know I’m not

I have been using the BofA ShopSafe virtual numbers for years. Great feature.

However, I have been unable to generate a Shop Safe virtual number for about two weeks. The problem started around 6-Oct-2014. BofA tech support has acknowledged the problem and even indicated that the problem is known as the “32 %” problem because the shop safe number generator stops at 32% and issued a “system error” popup box. Problem occurs on latest releases of IE and Chrome running on WIN 8.1.

I hope BofA escalates the fix to a higher priority as I used the virtual numbers exclusively when shopping online.

November here, still no fix. Fails on all browsers, PCs and Macs. Lame. All this does is put them at risk, so WGAF? Before using shopsafe I’d be sent a new CC (and abruptly locked out of the compromised account), and expect to again.

BTW, I’ve been particularly concerned about paying in person where the card goes away – usually restaurants. Apparently the US government started printing virtual money in various denominations on small bits of linen. Fits nicely in the receipts section of my wallet. I’m giving it a try.

Would appreciate a reply from anyone who has recently used B of A ShopSafe, and has had a temporary number stolen/unauthorized charge happen :
Does B of A cancel & reissue your REAL card number when one of the temporary numbers gets stolen/misused/etc? (don’t want that, my whole reason for using ShopSafe is to prevent my REAL card from getting cancelled and reissued)
If they do routinely cancel & reissue the REAL card number when a temporary number gets compromised, then what if I were to promptly close each temporary number after using it? Would that cause B of A not to mess with the REAL card?
Thank you.

Just an example that shows how ShopeSafe could be not safe in some cases:
I had a situation when the charge on a temporary credit card exceeded the maximum set for the temporary credit card. BOfA didn’t decline transaction and their customer support pointed to the following paragraph of their policy:

“ShopSafe® allows you to set a dollar limit for purchases at a specified merchant. When we consider it appropriate, we may permit charges in addition to your preset dollar limit to allow for shipping, handling and taxes, which may not have been taken into consideration at the time of purchase”

Sounds damned reasonable to me.

I believe the new Apply Payment system is using something like ShopSafe because the media is talking about how a ‘token’ is passed and not the read credit card number.
(A token that looks like a legit credit card number as produced by ShopSafe????) 🙂

This is a simpler and more secure solution. Open a bank account with debit card. Make sure it does not have overdraft protection. Keep $20 in the account. Just before finalizing a purchase, transfer the purchase amount into that account. Fraudulent charges over $20 will reject due to insufficient funds.

You must not shop much. Sounds like a PITA.

My bank charges a $35 fee when a check is presented to my account when it has insufficient funds and there is no overdraft protection.

I use Bank of America’s Shopsafe and so far I’ve found it easy to use. As others have written, it doesn’t work if you try to place an order at Amazon for several items that have different suppliers. My solution is to use a Shopsafe number to purchase a gift card for myself and use that credit for those orders.

If you purchase GC then your real purchases would not be protected by credit card warranty extensions, etc…

I am a long time satisfied shopsafe user going back to MBNA. Thanks for the gift card idea for Amazon. Besides solving the merchant name issue I will also try to use them as “sub accounts” for limiting in app purchases made by grandchildren using kindles.

I’ve been using Citibank’s Virtual Account Numbers for years and it works great. I can use the options feature and limit the useable dollar amount on the card and set a time limit also. And after a transaction is completed I can close out the card so it is no longer useable so I can make sure no other transactions are charged to the card.
Plus, the Citibank virtual card numbers are good for ONE merchant only, so even if that number is stolen, lets say by a crooked employee, it is only good for that merchant and cannot be used for other purchases from other merchants. That makes it easy for the merchant and Citibank to trace who did a unauthorized transaction.

This article is incorrect. When you create a virtual number with a dollar limit, not a single penny can be withdrawn above this limit. If you combine your card with i.e. a Paypal account, of course they will allow funds to be drawn beyond that or your balance go negative. These are 2 different tasks and have nothing to do with each other.

I agree. I use Bank of Americas Shop-safe virtual credit card number that allows me to set the purchase limit to exactly the amount and it generates numbers that are good for only that purchase up to 2 months. you can even use this method for over the phone purchases, It’s all I ever use in this way. now I only use my card for gas, restaurants, home depot etc. I only wish they had two step verification text to my phone for every purchase like my paypal account does.

website says software owned by MasterCard & they no
longer have access to it

I have been an MBNA/BOA Shopsafe user for years. As mentioned by others, the two problems that I have experienced are the 10% extension (explained by BOA customer services as “being due to people forgetting to account for shipping and taxes when they make a charge”) and the single vendor lock. I got burned when I tried to purchase a flight from Expedia (?) and clicked on the “trip insurance” button. The trip insurance was charged by a different company than the actual ticket. It took 4 phone calls and numerous bouncing around BOA’s customer service departments before anyone could figure out why the charges were declined.

For the past 2 nights Shopsafe has been offline. When you try to launch it you get a generic message saying “There was a problem processing your request. We are unable to process your request at this time. Please try again later.”. I figure that 24 hours does constitute later but apparently I am wrong.

BOA also doesn’t seem to really tout SS. No ads. No placement in strategic spots on web pages. You have to select your account then scroll all the way down to the bottom, then click the link under what looks like an advertisement.

In the meantime I’ll keep using it and try the trick of changing the expiration dates after the charges are made to help insure that the card doesn’t get used again. Maybe it will help, maybe not.

As for the comments about there being no difference between getting a fraudulent virtual card charge removed versus a fraudulent real card charge removed. Why exactly do you think a credit card company would care? They’re just going to jack up rates and fees to cover it anyways…

Jamie Campbell


No need to gimmick with the expiration date.

If you click “Create a ShopSafe Card” on your accounts page the ShopSafe flash app opens. One of the options is to view all open ShopSafe numbers. It shows the date you created the number, who used it and how much is remaining. If you click on a number, you have the option to close it.

I have tried Citi’s VAN. Not a good experience.

Citi doesn’t seem to care that I have already entered my user ID and password and I am successfully logged into my account. It demands that I go thru an additional security step when I select to generate a VAN. It wants to call me, and give me a special ID number, and I need to type that into the webpage.

All fine and dandy. However, I never get the call. Yes, I verified that they have my correct phone number, though in the VAN page, it masks most of my number with asterisks (“*”), so I can’t be 100 sure.

If you don’t get “the golden call”, you’re screwed by Citi. Is this the Virtual Citi Screw, VCS?

People, before you get your panties in a bunch, if the citi VAN website does not work for u, then try accessing it using another browser. That’s what I did. I know chrome works, under windows7. U can also try internet explorer or Firefox.

I’ve tried Citi VANs and BofA ShopSafe but they take too many steps and take me away from my shopping cart. FinalCard is a new company (www.getfinal.com) that will make it as fast to pay as any normal card and easier to track and add additional controls. Take a look, would love to know what you think.

I don’t trust companies that ask your email first before they tell you anything at all about themselves. That seems very shady. It smells like a con job. A real company would reveal itself to you first.

I’ve used Shopsafe for years. It was an MBNA account that B of A took over; apparently they were (are) a bit clueless how to manage it. I’m looking for someone that does it right.

I was shocked that when it was compromised:
1) They couldn’t say what card number got compromised. It may as well have been my main CC number.
2) I had to cancel / change my entire account; impacting all my ongoing subscriptions.

Even if they could have told me what number was compromised, they don’t let me put a comment on the card as a self-note about what I’m using it for.

This could be a powerful feature if implemented correctly. Is Citibank better?

I have been a card carrier of a Citi credit card since 2005. The primary reason I have been a card carrier is because of the VAN numbers.

The main reason CITI’s VANs are the best is because the virtual account number you generate can only be used once. I also like the time and amount limits you can place on them. Since I’ve had the card, I have tested both features twice and it passed with flying colors.

Basically, I generated a number with a dollar amount less than the purchase price I needed. Another time, I tried to reuse a number that I know I already used. All transactions were denied.

Jamie Campbell

I’m a ShopSafe user. We have those features. I suspect that most banks do.

I agree with you, The Traveler. I have kept my Citi account for the same reason. I know for sure that a number is only used once because I placed an order with Amazon that had a lot of items. I generated a VAN to pay for it. But, because the order was divided into 3 shipments, as soon as the first shipment was ready, the amount for that shipment was charged to the VAN, and payment for the next shipment was declined. The link to Amazon to choose another payment method wouldn’t let me add another number, so I had to search for the customer service phone number–took me about 5 minutes, and I kept being redirected to the page that didn’t work! When I finally connected with someone, I could hardly understand her, and she didn’t seem to know what a VAN was. Fun.

I got around some of the BofA ShopSafe issues by having TWO cards.
One CC I have in my wallet and use around town and with shopsafe for one-time
purchases. The other card is locked in my safe and is ONLY used for shopsafe and
most only for recurring purchases. Both are linked to my AlaskaAir miles.

So when I have my everyday/walkaround card cancelled all my recurring charges keep going on the other card and I’m not interrupted. Proves to be good for when a replacement card is in transit at renewal because you can’t use the old CVC … SIGH!

Citi allows you to set a maximum spending amount. IE, I have a $20 limit on my apple appstore in case it ever gets stolen they can only use up to $20 and no more than that.

Ann-Marie M. Schwartz

Does Citibank have a card with VAN capability that isn’t $95 a year? That’s a lot to pay for the privilege.

Yes. I started with “citi Thank you preferred” with no annual fee. Now upgraded to “Diamond Preferred” with no annual fee. I have used VAN on both cards many times.

“As long as the virtual account number is active, crooks can charge to their heart’s content…”

You’re statement begs the question… just cancel the virtual card after it’s proper use and generate a new number… that’s the point.

Set a limit just above the legit amount, and an expiration date at eom for extra protection.

Jason Deangelo

Citi VAN works for me. Many a time I’ve signed up for a subscription site and lo and behold when I want to cancel the membership all of sudden the site makes it hard to cancel the recurring charge..all i do is cancel the Virtual Account Number and laugh as the site e-mails saying it can’t process my card

Hello Citibank Users! I’m flummoxed. I’ve been using Citibank’s virtual account number feature for many, many years, but I’m confused about many of your complaints. I guess I use the vans in the simplest way: Per transaction, one-time use, 24-hour window in which to use it. I do agree with you that the windows version was perfect–it was handy right on my desktop. Then they initiated the in-account version, which necessitated me logging into Citi.com every time I wanted to use it. However, now that they offer both ways to access it, I’m loving Citi vans again. Honestly, with Citi’s excellent vendor-tracking features (you can sort and track by vendor), even if they offer separate merchant numbers for specific merchants, I don’t see a need to use it. Actually, I think doing it that way puts you back in the same security issues that sent you to vans in the first place.

Okay, I just used Citi virtual account numbers for the first time in about three weeks. I NOW understand everyone’s frustration with Citibank. First, I tried my Windows desktop icon. That DID NOT work,so I had to go back to signing into my Citi online account. That’s a hassle (as in an extra step I don’t need), but I still think using the virtual card is worth it. I wish Citibank would be consistent with how they’re going to offer us this awesome feature.

Me, too, Sunny. I use the VANs once, for a single purchase, and then I’m done until the next time. I’ve never had to access it from the Citi account page, tho. It’s always been on my desktop. The person who came up with virtual accounts is a genius. Probably a woman who did a LOT of on-line shopping!

Bank of America’s ShopSafe works as advertised but ….

I use BofA’s ShopSafe extensively. It works! I love using it for those snakeoil merchants that say : “first month free just give us your cc for subsequent months if you decide to keep the service” and then they never answer their phones or reply back to your email requests for cancellation. HA!

But there is ONE big downside of using BofA’s SS: real credit card cancellation.

They CANCEL ALL your SHOPSAFE numbers along with the compromised card!
Did I say I use it alot? YIKS! I now have to scramble to recreate new shop safe number for all the merchants that have recurring / monthly charges with me that I want to keep going. SIGH!!

The only workaround I can think of is to have a second real credit card that I keep locked up in my safe and NEVER use except as a shopsafe base.

We must be twins. I have been using ShopSafe extensively since it was invented. Simply a great tool to prevent or reduce fraud. Not sure about a merchant? Simply put a spending limit a few bucks higher than your purchase price and a one month expiration date. Once sale has gone through, cancel the unique number.

Only a few problems with ShopSafe:

As you describe, when they reissue the real card for whatever reason (payment processor or merchant issues), they immediately update your real card number in ShopSafe. Well, you need your new 3 digit security code on the back of the real card to get into ShopSafe. Until you receive the new card in the mail, you can’t get into your account. So, now I have to use another credit card to pay for some recurring monthly charges. They should wait until the new card is actually activated before changing the number in ShopSafe.

I have had very little success in increasing a limit or extending an expiration date on an existing ShopSafe number. Stopped trying to do that years ago and just cancel and reissue another virtual number for that merchant. Maybe the problem has been remedied since I last tried a couple of years ago.

Buying from a website where you may have multiple merchants on a single sale (Amazon and Amazon Marketplace), the virtual cards will only accept a single merchant per card number. So, it will only accept part of the sale and decline the other. You end up having to create another number for the other merchant’s portion of the sale.

Other than this, I still think ShopSafe is great. Used to have Discover’s virtual card before they discontinued and only used it once. You could not limit the amount of the purchase and you had to actually call or email them to cancel a number. Too much effort and mother may I.

Just to add to the fire.

I also use Citi VAN. I now also have issues with that feature. I use Cell Phones provided by my jobs. No personal Cell. Will not use those for my personal finances.

This means unless home I can not use Citi.

Gets worse. I was actually logged into Citi VAN. Timed out. Then needed to get back in. Was forced to answer questions but they did not work. I know I answered the questions properly because I have them in a secure encrypted file on the computer.

Wala my account is now locked out (not credit card just online account), I am told by support I need to create a new account.

Ya Right.

Over 20 years now this. The accounts will not be closed but will be unused for any on line purchases. Will get a card with a low limit for that now.

Discover is stating that they no longer offer the program since the license needed to access the technology on which Secure Online Account Numbers are based is no longer being offered to Discover. I am very disappointed.

I used Discover for several years and it always worked splendidly. They tried to terminate it awhile back but the backlash was enough to make them reconsider. I again implored them to maintain, to no avail. The problems with those still providing the service is that they simply don’t see a financial return on investment, so some terminate, others screw up the program to where no one has the patience to deal with it, or they haven’t got around to closing it yet. As long a just a few greedy paws run the banks, you will dance to their tune. Just wait until currency is eliminated…Then you will be totally under their control.
Discover CS (US based) was always top notch, and they did have a great SOAN system, but I will probably take my XK$/mo. to BofA, and I HATE Bank of America.

Citi VAN doesn’t work on Safari, but luckily it works on Chrome. I just used it tonight.

From Discover site: Note: Effective February 6, 2014, you will no longer be able to create new Secure Online Account Numbers. And, effective March 15, 2014, Discover will no longer be offering this service to our cardmembers and all existing numbers will no longer be active


Did Discover say why they ended it? I’ve used it for online purchases for years, cancelling most of those “virtual numbers” after the charge was posted to my Discover account. So I’ll drop their card completely & take $2+k/mo. elsewhere. It’s been a good 20+ years – Goodbye,Discover.

I am just closed my Citibank credit card because I am unable to log in their online to view and pay my account in window explorer. There always are message said “system error in this time, please log in later” for almost two months and forced me to pay my bill in phone. In fact, I like the citi VAN but I don’t want to get fraud through their unstable webside.

Discover Card has the answer for all of this. Use their Secure Online Numbers for phone and internet purchases. You assign each number Discover issues you to one single merchant – keep a list of those merchants and you can recharge to them over and over. No one else can charge on the number except the merchant you assigned it to, so you don’t worry about fraud. And with Discover, you earn cash!

“This is the problem with temporary credit card numbers… ultimately they do nothing to stop fraud.”

This is a stupid statement. Create a dollar limit, a date limit, and/or a merchant restriction, and make an applicable purchase. Buying a book for $12? Limit it to $12 for 2 days on that site. Unless something is horribly wrong with the card issuer’s system (yeah, I know that does happen), it’s immune to fraud.

Citi VAN is just useless now. It used to be great, I used it all the time, now they have this verification code sent through a phone call, which is already annoying, and a website that NEVER works. Neither does the dowloadable brand new software. The only reason for keeping a Cit account, for me, was the ability to use the VAN, since I do lots of online shopping. Now, it is just useless. Thank you Citibank (and your not helpful at all tech support).

My bank has what they call a Companion Card. You put money on it and then use it to charge purchases. there is a $3.00 monthly charge and a $2.00 to add money. The man at the bank said sometimes a purchase can’t use it on a site and then some people never have trouble with it. Seems like this is the way to go.

I have been a fan of Citi Cards virtual numbers for years and have steered friends to its use. I generated a series of numbers with amount and time expiration. These are only good for one vendor. Thus the number on record at vendors is specific to that vendor only. If the site gets hacked – the real threat I’m guarding against, no problem. the number is useless to the hacker and I don’t have to cancel and reissue my ‘real’ card.

But Citi screwed up the service – as noted by ‘Former Citi Customer’ in Feb. Its worse than he describes. 4 times now I’ve been forced to log in ‘secret questions’ – once the questions I was asked were not the questions I entered forcing me to get on the telephone. Then, adding insult to injury, they impose an activation code. At 3 PM I requested a code to be texted to me – at 7:15PM it arrived – and its only good for 10 minutes – since 4:15 hours is more than 10 minutes – it was useless. The telephone activation code did work. It makes one question if doing any banking on their site is safe if they employ such incompetent people in their IT department.

I’m looking for a replacement service but haven’t found one – anybody know a service that generates vendor specific ##’s with $ and time limits????

In the meantime, I go through the Citi hassle, but generate 10 ##’s at once which I record in a spreadsheet for future use.

Its too bad they destroyed a good service.

Citi VAN is still working fine for me using Chrome. I’ve generated several numbers in the past week or so. Yes the verification code thing is annoying but I guess I understand if they feel it’s necessary for security purposes. Good luck!

I went through the same troubles with the Citi VAN feature a few months ago. It was a major flail and I had to call customer service. I was very unimpressed by the manner in which they handled the migration, both from a customer service and IT standpoint.
But I’m over it now, and back to what I think is a fabulous feature.
The ability to generate individual vendor-specific card numbers with a expiration date and charge limit that I control is unbeatable. I use it for all my online purchases.

Former Citibank Customer

Well, Citibank’s service is no better than BofA. Although for years the V.A.N. service from Citibank was outstanding. They had nice Windows app “citiucs.exe” that provided all the convenience I needed. But around October of 2012 they suddenly went crazy and pulled the plug on the Windows app, forcing everybody to go through the gazillions of efing clicks on their website. A couple of weeks ago (i.e., January 2013) they went even crazier and now force everybody to go through this “activation code” nonsense that calls phone numbers listed on the account. This, by the way, does not work for me – the blue “Continue” button either does nothing or pops up the ridiculous “Enter keywords for search” dialog. WTF?!? There must be a bug in their JavaScript code that makes this impossible. Anybody else experienced this? I spent half a day with their dense and inept tech support who in the end were unable to resolve this at all So, no more Virtual Account Numbers from Citibank for me – they effectively took it away. This really sucks. I wonder why all this sudden craziness; did they get hacked, or what? Are they going to discontinue their VAN program? Isn’t it supposed to protect THEM from on-line fraud in the first place?!? Shouldn’t THEY be interested in having this program used as widely as possible? Something does not click here, literally and figuratively. Well, they are just pissing off legitimate customers to no end. But thanks to this thread I learned about similar services from Discover. Great! So, bye, bye Citibank, f.u.

Another Former Citibank Customer

Thanks so much for your remarks. I went through exactly the same hoops and… more. I have been using accountonline.com (which was a standalone operation) successfully for the last 20 years. What is happening there is that the banking side (Citibank.com) is trying to forcefully merge all Citibank credit cards operations under its wings for the last two years. The morons from the technical dept. of Citibank.com, instead of creating a dummy list of customers and exercise with that, they are trying “to shave on the skin” of live customer accounts. So this is key reason why since Feb. 2013 in 98% of trying to access my credit card on line, I couldn’t even get the Login page.

In addition, in those two cases I could login and reached up to the VAN page, a page titled: “Identification code request options” (which really stands for a temporary password) poped up. Firstly, this “options” in plural is really only one option: me staying at home and wait for their phone call at my home. Secondly, I am at this moment 16 hours net air time by flight away from my home. I tried to talk with several folks there but it was like talking to the wall and sometime even worse. I have been told that this is a “new and improved” security “feature” and remember, it is not that I lost my password, this is after I managed successfully to log in!. Besides, can’t think of a non-morbid reason why they wouldn’t want to send this temporary code by email, as everybody else does.

These are not real security issues but it MUST be some morons from Citibank.com programmers group who are making those decisions without any supervision from sane business people. Moreover, even though I subscribed to “all electronics” and asked for no hard copy mail (especially since I travel a lot), from time to time Citibank sends me hardcopy letters, that include the FULL number of my REAL credit card. When I called in and commented not to mention more than the last 4 digits of my CC (after all, I know my CC number…) their response was that that is who they were doing it ever since and don’t plan to change. Tell me about security decisions with Citibank…
So now I am stuck, can’t even safely buy a flight ticket back home. Obviously, as soon I get back home I will get rid of all my Citibank businesses.
Albert Einstein: “I know of two infinities: the universe and human stupidity and I am not sure about the former”.

I’m going through this with Citi right now. They introduced a new version of the desktop virtual account numbers which I downloaded yesterday, only to find out that it was infected with a virus. Also, the click-through online cash back site no longer works, and I’ve been unable to find out why or when it will be fixed. I’m ready to dump Citi ASAP.

Bank of America’s ShopSafe is one of the worst for virtual credit card numbers. First, they don’t tell you they will allow charges 10% more than the limit. In reality, they will allow anything they want. Just recently they allowed a charge more than 1000% of the limt. Their response, dispute the charge as if it were the regular card number.

Customer service is non-existent at Bank of America.

One BIG advantage to one time use virtual numbers is that they cannot be used again to send you goods and services you didn’t ask for. For instance, when you buy a ‘1 month supply’ of an item from some vendors you sometimes receive another ‘month’s supply’ every month billed to your credit card. Getting these charges to stop is often very difficult. With virtual numbers that can never happen.

Virtual cards are really the way to go when it comes to online shopping. I don’t want to give my plastic credit card number over the internet because I’m afraid of someone stealing it. I have been using this mobile app, CSI globalVCard that allows me to make one time use MasterCard numbers on my phone or my ipad. It’s really secure and works the exact same way that my plastic would work, except I don’t have to worry about fraud.

Re: “As long as the virtual account number is active, crooks can charge to their heart’s content…”

That’s simply not true. I can set a lower limit, an earlier expiration date, and once a vendor has made a charge to the virtual number, only that vendor can make subsequent charges.


That’s correct Gary, but only when you have those options. Not every credit card company lets you choose the expiration date, limit, etc.

Jamie Campbell

I know that a comment added to the end of an old thread may never be seen, but ShopSafe for temporary numbers and LastPass for passwords are my favorite tools for on-line shopping.