Apple Cash Virtual Card Numbers Explained (And How To Use Them)

Apple is bringing its virtual card feature to Apple Cash, which is the company’s debit card app. The feature is bundled with the iOS 17.4 update, which is in beta at the time of writing and is expected to be released for everyone in March 2024. Users opting into the beta — and presumably, users who receive the update once the public release goes live — may have noticed a popup asking if they want to set up a virtual card for their Apple Cash account.

Virtual cards are already used by many companies people trust with their money, including Apple itself. The Apple Card, which is the credit card version of Apple Cash, has included virtual card numbers since it launched back in 2019. Virtual cards have some pros and cons, but it is likely to be a very welcome feature for those interested in upping the security of their online purchases.

How does Apple Cash’s virtual card number work?

The idea behind Apple Cash’s virtual card number is quite simple. When you want to perform a transaction, the app generates a unique card number for you. This card number is only viable for a very limited amount of time, so even if a bad actor manages to steal it, they probably won’t be able to use it and access your funds before it expires. You can use Apple Cash to generate a new number whenever you feel like it. Virtual card numbers, like the one Apple is rolling out, are one of the most secure ways to shop and are particularly useful to people who are concerned about credit or debit card fraud.

If this feature sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Numerous apps and services have had it for a while now, including the Apple Card. As far as downsides go, though, there are one or two. While it is a more secure way to shop, saving the card number to a phone or browser isn’t really an option. You’ll have to type a new one in every time. While this isn’t a problem on devices that can just use Apple Cash, it could be a pain if your daily driver doesn’t have that option. It does automatically work with Safari, so if that’s your browser of choice, then you don’t have to worry about one of the card’s main negatives.

As for day-to-day use, you should generate a new card number as often as you feel comfortable and proceed to use that card number when shopping online. This could be every transaction, if you want to be extra-safe, or once every so often if you aren’t as worried.

How to use Apple Cash’s virtual card feature

At the moment, there’s an extra step when it comes to using Apple Cash’s virtual card numbers feature. As it’s part of a yet-to-be-released update, you’ll need to opt into Apple’s beta program to access it. This involves going to and signing in with your Apple ID. You then have to read through and accept some terms and conditions before waiting a little while for it all to kick in. There is a chance you could still be waiting by the time the 17.4 update gets a public release, but if things like this interest you, then taking part in Apple’s beta program is probably a good idea anyway.

Once you’re enrolled, you can download the beta by going to Settings>General>Software Update>Beta Updates and selecting iOS 17.4 Public Beta. Even if you’re in the beta, there’s a chance that you won’t be able to use this particular feature just yet. Apparently, Apple is steadily rolling it out during the beta process.

Once the feature hits your phone, you should receive a popup when opening the Apple Cash app. The pop-up will ask if you want to “set up a virtual card number.” Users can agree or select no thanks. If they opt out, the feature can be enabled later through the app’s settings. According to a post on Reddit, the Apple Cash virtual card works exactly like the Apple Card verison. Users have a rotating CVV code and can request a virtual new card number from inside the app whenever they wish.

What are the alternatives?

If you aren’t an Apple user, you don’t like using pre-release software, or you just don’t like Apple near your cash, then you should be aware that there are some other apps and companies that do a very similar thing to the virtual card numbers feature. For example, Samsung Galaxy users can create and use virtual numbers in Samsung Pay Cash, which works in essentially the same way as Apple’s offering. Similarly, Google Wallet allows users who have certain types of cards to create virtual card numbers linked to them — and unlike Samsung’s offering, the Google Wallet version can be used by any Android phone owner, not just Galaxy users.

Several banks and other payment services also offer virtual credit and debit card numbers. It’s worth checking if your particular bank offers the service, assuming you want the benefits of a virtual card number while putting your actual, physical card details into the hands of as few companies as possible. Whatever you ultimately choose, virtual numbers are a great way to keep your accounts safe when shopping online.

Original Article