An introduction to virtual payment for business travel

The payment landscape is changing.  Most major credit card issuers have announced they will require signatures for only significant charges. Just a handful years ago the ability to pay with your smartphone didn’t exist.  This payment evolution increases the use of virtual credit cards and impacts business travel.

According to a recent Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) / AirPlus study, virtual cards are widely accepted and used in Europe, whereas the U.S. market is still considered in the adoption phase.  About 11 percent of U.S. corporations use virtual cards for business travel payment, but that number is on the rise with GBTA expecting a notable increase in usage over the next two to three years.

Virtual credit cards share similarities with traditional credit cards—both are 16-digit account numbers you can use to make purchases.  However, with a virtual card a physical card doesn’t exist. Each transaction generates a unique card number for a one-to-one payment, which means once the transaction is complete, the account number is inactive for new charges. These payments provide greater flexibility and control.

Why would an organization want to use virtual credit cards for business travel payment?

There are many benefits but a couple standout.  First, virtual credit cards are more secure and reduce opportunities for fraud.  Second, they are easy to deploy for travelers who do not have access to a traditional payment method, such as a company issued corporate card.

Enhanced security and fraud reduction benefits include:

  • Lower risk for the number to be compromised because there isn’t a physical card printed.
  • Reduced credit exposure for the organization because each virtual card is authorized for a set amount specific to the transaction it will be used for. The validity dates and even specific merchant codes are custom to each card, whereas a traditional (plastic) corporate card typically carries a higher credit limit with the ability to be used nearly anywhere for anything.
  • Virtual card numbers cannot be reused after the initial charge – any remaining authorized “credit” is no longer at risk to be available or misused.

Fox works with several organizations on virtual payments implemented, as well as consults with organizations on how to deploy the use of virtual credit cards within their managed travel program. Use cases range from interview candidates and employees without a company-issued corporate card, to offering virtual cards as a payment option across the enterprise for anyone in the organization.

Want to learn more about virtual cards and if they are right for your travel program? Join Fox’s George Kalka on June 5 for the GBTA webinar “A Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Cards”.  George is a featured presenter who will discuss the uses and advantages of virtual cards, as well as how to get started using them in your travel program.  Register here.

For more information about virtual cards and how your organization can start using them today, contact Fox World Travel at 888.369.8785 or contact us online.



George Kalka is the Sr. Director, Global Sales at Fox World Travel and member of the Global Business Travel Association Payment Solutions Committee. In his role, George works with organizations to deliver Fox’s proven global travel management solutions by providing cost reductions and industry-leading technology, while enriching the service provided to their travelers. He has been in the travel and hospitality industry nearly 20 years serving in regional, national and executive roles.


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