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One of the things I am really looking forward to is the fact that Apple Card is really beefing up the focus on credit card security. Not only will the physical titanium card be devoid of any account numbers, expiration dates, or CCV (the three-digit code on the back), but they are ramping up security when you are shopping online. Apple Card supports Virtual Account Numbers, which give you the ability to generate a new digital credit card number that, while tied to the main account, helps protect you in cases where you don't feel comfortable with a certain merchant having your main account number. It's a similar concept to giving a company your debit card number instead of your checking account number. If you need to, you can change your debit card number to shut off access to your account.
There are a number of other banks that offer Virtual Account Numbers, but the security feature is still missing from most institutions. However, if you still want to get the benefits of Virtual Account Numbers, do not despair! Seeing the lack of this important product in the market, a couple of companies have shown up offering these services for any and all debit and credit cards. So, if you have a card that you want to up the security on but your provider doesn't offer virtual account numbers, these services are for you.
Token is a mobile app-based service that provides virtual account numbers for any credit card, regardless of whether or not your debit or credit card provider supports the technology itself. You can generate an unlimited amount of unique card numbers, all tied to your main credit card number, to use while shopping online or over the phone. You can connect any bank account or credit card to generate tokens and shop anywhere as the technology makes the use of tokens universally accepted by any merchant. Shop at Apple, Nike, Uber, or even use it for bills like Netflix and Spotify.
Token works by creating a unique virtual account number per merchant, so you will have a separate number for every place you purchase something. This creates an enormous layer of protection as even if one merchant is compromised or experiences a data breach, you'll only need to shut that one virtual number down and start a new one, rather than having to get a new credit card and update everywhere that you are using that card at. The convenience factor alone is impressive. It can be a bear to remember everywhere you have a credit card saved for use, especially with subscription services. Token not only protects you better from fraud but ensures you never have to go through setting up a new credit card with all of your bills or merchants due to fraud again.
When you download the app (opens in new tab), Token verifies your identity and then enables two-factor authentication, adding an additional layer of security to all of your virtual account numbers. They are also committed to keeping your information private, even from them. They don't ask for your Social Security Number, none of your information is stored on device, and they do not save your payment information anywhere. Rather, they use the tokenization process to create a new, indistinguishable set of numbers that make your payment information meaningless to anyone else.
Token is completely free for personal use. They are also working on Token Business, which will provide the same features for small businesses. In addition to the app, they are releasing a free Chrome browser extension that will allow users of the service even easier access to their virtual account numbers when shopping online. If you're looking to up your security when shopping online and over the phone, check out Token (opens in new tab) in the App Store.
Privacy (opens in new tab) is a similar service to Token, which some additional enhancements to the capabilities of your virtual account numbers. The service is completely free to use and, like Token, creates secure virtual cards and completes checkout forms for you. This makes shopping online not only more secure, but convenient as well. No more entering in your card number for every transaction or having to save your real credit card number with companies online. Privacy can handle that for you while hiding your real card number the whole time.
Our favorite card
With its sign-up bonus having just jumped to 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months, now's the time to add the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to your wallet. Even better, future travel and dining purchases earn 2x points per dollar spent and it includes valuable travel benefits like primary car rental insurance. All of these extras make its $95 annual fee easy to justify.
There are two types of cards that you can create with Privacy. The first is similar to Token in that each virtual account number is assigned to a specific merchant. This ensures that your card information is unique at every place you shop or pay bills online. Data breaches won't have much effect on you anymore unless someone hacks every single company you have an account with at the same time, which would be quite insane. Even then, the hacker won't access to your actual credit card number. Privacy also lets you create a Burner card, which stops working two minutes after its first use. This is a great feature if you are making a one time purchase online at a website you don't necessarily trust, or if you want to sign up for a trial subscription but don't want to have to remember to cancel it when the free trial runs out.
You can also set per-charge limits on all of your cards. This is not only great to ensure you don't go over budget when shopping online, but even more importantly it stops any fraudster from charging up your credit card. For instance, you can set a $100 per-charge limit at Amazon.com, and it will do exactly what it sounds like. Privacy will immediately decline any purchase over that amount. These limits can be changed or removed at any time without having to shut down or change the card information. You can even pause cards, so if you shop at a merchant regularly but want to ensure no charges come through until you specifically want them to, this is just another way to stay secure.
Privacy is available on the App Store (opens in new tab) and as a free extension for Google Chrome. It's also free for personal use as the company only makes money from the merchants and never shares your information with anyone. It's a fantastic option for those who are looking for a service that works with any debit or credit card and wants advanced features when using Virtual Accounts Numbers.
Keep it secret. Keep it safe.
Shopping securely online and over the phone is becoming more crucial as hackers are getting more effective at stealing your card information. It feels like we are hearing about a new data breach every week at this point. Virtual account numbers are a fantastic way to ensure that you stay protected, and these free services work with any card you own, making it a no-brainer for those looking to up their security game. Choose whatever one appeals to you (they're both great options) and start shopping securely with more peace of mind.
Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.
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