What is a virtual card and how does it work?

You could be used to the plastic cards that banks offer you when you open up an account. This is not the type. A virtual card is in digital form. It is made up of a series of 16 numbers that have been randomly created along with a three-digit security code. These numbers and codes can be used to make purchases remotely just as you would do with a plastic card.

A virtual card is generated for you by your card issuer using an API or by you if you have been provided with an API. They represent your underlying credit or debit account. In some cases, the card expires as soon as it has been used, while in other cases it remains active.

How does a virtual card work?

A virtual card has a randomly generated credit card number that changes every time your real credit card account is used for purchase. A virtual credit card works kind of like chip credit cards. With chip credit cards, the merchant gets a single-use number, or token, which changes every time your chip card is used.

If a fraudster got the account number from a chip card and tried to clone it, it wouldn’t work because the unique code is only good for that single purchase. With virtual credit cards, temporary account numbers are used, so similarly, hackers wouldn’t be able to use those virtual account numbers for purchases.

Where can you get a virtual card in Uganda

MTN MoMoCard

The MTN MoMocard is a virtual card available to MTN customers that enables them to perform online transactions with funds from their MTN MoMo account. MTN has partnered with Mastercard to offer this service. Getting the MTN MoMocard is very easy. Simply dial *165*70# and select option 1 to create an MTN MoMocard.

The customer will then be prompted to enter their MTN MoMo PIN. A 16-digit virtual card number together with the CVV (security code) number will be sent to your phone via an SMS notification. Each MTN MoMocard created costs UGX 1,000 and every payment using the MTN MoMocard will be charged 3% of the transaction amount. These charges will be made on the customer’s MTN MoMo account.

Airtel MasterCard

The Airtel Mastercard is similar to the MTN MoMocard and was created to allow Airtel Money customers to make payments to local and global online merchants even those that don’t have bank accounts. The customers will get access to merchants that accept Mastercards like GooglePlay, Amazon, Alibaba, UberNetflix, and Ali Express. The virtual card can be acquired either by dialing a USSD code *185*7# or by using the My Airtel application.

The virtual card is valid for one year and a customer has the option to delete it at any time and generate another one instantly, re-emphasizing the security proofing the card offers. Since the virtual card is linked to the customer’s Airtel Money Wallet, the Airtel Money balance is always the card balance. All transactions have a maximum charge of UGX 1,000.


Wallets holders can as well own virtual cards on the Eversend platform in a simple procedure. You just need to exchange your local currency for US dollars using the existing currency exchange feature. Then a virtual card can be generated by tapping ‘Create new card’ followed by entering a USD amount to add to the card. The minimum amount required to create a card is $5. Users can create as many cards as they want.

Chipper Cash

Dubbed the Chipper Card, this is a free, pre-funded, and reloadable virtual card that can be used for online payments. You can easily book flights, subscribe to Netflix, or buy anything online. To claim your Chipper Card, please ensure your Chipper app is updated to the latest version. Then log into your Chipper account, tap the “Card” tab, tap “Claim Card“, enter the requested information, and tap “Looks Good!” once completed. Tap “Continue” and your Chipper Card is ready to go!

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