Best Virtual and Prepaid Cards for International Shoppers
Includes LeuPay, MoneyPolo, US Unlocked, Card.com, Lamda
TechVise has once again dived into helping out shoppers and this time we are focusing on Virtual Prepaid Cards and prepaid debit cards only. For International money transfers/withdrawal services take a look at our post on Global Payments solutions which offer seamless withdrawals via banks & allow you to get paid internationally.
The concept of online shopping has increased by many folds in the recent years, and it is an integral part of the global economy. Many people, though, still cannot shop online due to restrictions placed on them based on their location. Namely, many people cannot order products from certain websites because their country is not supported by that site’s shipping services, or perhaps their bank still does not support online payments.
We have already covered in detail how one can get a parcel forwarding address in order to get the items anywhere in the world but now its time to focus on a payment solution to go with your new address.
Virtual debit cards and Virtual Prepaid Cards are becoming a necessity in the online marketplace. The internet has many dangers including scam virtual debit card sites such as Cliffscard and Safepay. Below is a list (in no particular order) of the best virtual debit card services out there and what they have to offer.
How Virtual Prepaid Cards Service Work
Virtual debit card providers offer debit cards that can be accepted globally. Once you sign up with these services, you have to go through a verification process. (If you want to hop the verification process there is 1 such option mentioned at the very end). Getting verified is not very difficult or lengthy especially if you have your scanner nearby. They ask for certain documents to verify if you are indeed a registered citizen of this world with a valid residential address, contact number and a bank account sans fraudulent activity or not. Once the documents are verified, you are a free to use your own money via their virtual debit cards. How? Well you simply have to upload your funds via their allowed methods which can be local bank transfer, local Credit/Debit card or PayPal etc. and then wait for the money to get topped up in your card. After that you can use your virtual prepaid card on any website to purchase anything.
Now for the list of Virtual Prepaid Cards
The fundamental difference between LeoPay and other services on this list are cards. That’s right, plural – cards! When you sign up for a LeoPay, you will need to go through the regular KYC which is quite simple and fairly quick (in my case at least) and then you will actually receive two cards for free! This is an excellent method to get verified as well because the VISA cards will need to reach you at your address. You can choose to have separate names (of family members maybe) and different currencies. You can open LeoPay account in any of the 10 currencies offered.
They don’t offer virtual prepaid cards, but plastic VISA cards with enabled chip. You can have up to five cards per LeoPay account, making this a perfect solution for the whole family. You can change access to each card through LeoPay website and/or mobile app (iOS/Android). There’s an option to lock cards, enable/disable POS, ATM or internet transactions. You can also put spending limits, and get SMS or email notifications for every transaction. Since LeoPay cards are VISA, they are accepted pretty much everywhere. LeoPay has excellent transfer options. They allow SEPA transfers (and have good rates), SWIFT (enabling you to to make international payments), will allow you to make transfers with other LeoPay users, or to make transfers between your accounts. A little about opening accounts, it is a free and easy process. You will be assigned an account number with IBAN and BIC code which comes very handy, right? They also give you a certified letter (PDF) which has all the relevant information for transfer.
Spending via LeoPay is stress-free whether you are buying something online or in stores. Uploading money to LeoPay card/account is free for EU and 2% of others. For me, that was the selling point. You can also load your mobile balance via LeoPay account or any other mobile (in the world) for that matter, but I have yet to test this feature.
Warning! As of recently, LeoPay services are now available for signup to EU only customers or for those from EEA country colonies. Existing customers continue to avail their excellent services though.
US Unlocked is by far the most helpful service out there for international shoppers. They give you a virtual prepaid MasterCard that you can either use once or reload whenever you are ready to shop online. How does this work? Well they need some basic info from your end along with a US shipping address from one of their partnered services(names mentioned below). You then need to make a card payment which includes a one-time application fee. Once your credentials have been approved it then takes 2-4 business days for you to get the virtual debit card working. If you order a non-reloadable card then there is no ID verification and you can start using it instantly. You can load cards through a number of methods, however depending on your location, only some of them may be available to you. The card allows recurring payments… so your monthly subscriptions for Netflix, Spotify or HuluPlus are all safe. The card can be linked to PayPal and here is how you can do it.
Heads up! USUnlocked is currently unavailable at the moment, they intend to relaunch their service with another bank by mid 2019.
Card.com – US Only
What makes Card.com service unique is the design of the cards- you get to choose your own. There are so many choices, divided into 17 categories such as Animals, Celebrities, Cartoons, Fashion, Sports, TV, Video Games, Movies… You will unquestionably find the right design for you.
So what does Card.com offer besides personality? It is a prepaid card available only in the US and can be used instead of regular debit cards (linked to your checking account). All you need to do is load your card before spending. Card.com has a variety of loading methods on offer. From Cash loads at Western Union outlets to places such as Kmart, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS pharmacy, etc. to bank transfers and wallet transfers from PayPal & Google; Card.com has a very simplified yet useful approach. You can also load a friend’s card.com account via MoneyPak.
Card.com has two plans – Single Card Plan and Family of Cards Plan. You have probably guessed the difference – Single card plan is perfect for individuals who need only one card but have multiple income sources. And if you qualify (receiving more than $1000 a month), Card.com will waive the monthly maintenance. The Family of Cards Plan is an excellent choice if you need cards for your loved ones. It is an economical solution too; you will pay only one maintenance fee for up to three card accounts.
You can either choose a Visa or MasterCard, and you will be able to use them wherever VIsa/MasterCard cards are accepted- basically anywhere. Card.com has Android and iOS apps, meaning that your money will be available on the go.
And, since these cards are prepaid, you are completely care-free- the only money that can be spent is the money you have loaded. A perfect way to control your children’s expenses.
Lamda – EU Only
LamdaCardService is for EU region. Signup is free and but getting your MasterCard is not free. There are certain fee that apply with the type of card you wish to have/own. Once your information is verified and your details checked out, you can order your card. A person can have up to 5 cards with certain limitations. In fact, each card has a limit for spending and loading, be it daily or for card life.
Loading a card has 4.5% fee associated with wire transfer and make sure the account you are transferring from is also in EU. Expiry of a card however is linked with what sort of card you have applied for, so for example their Gold Prefunded MasterCard and Virtual Gold Anonymous expire after 5 years from the date the card is issued while Platinum and Black prepaid MasterCards and Virtual blue cards expire after 3 years. Its a good deal if Lamda suits you.
mycard2go – EU Only
mycard2go is another virtual and prepaid card service available to UK & EU residents. They provide both virtual and prepaid debit card from VISA and is designed to meet all your day-to-day needs. Since, mycard2go gives a Visa card, it is a perfect solution for travelers, due to wide acceptability. Their plastic card is chip enabled and contactless, making your purchases secure and fast for small transactions. As with all prepaid cards, you can preload funds on it, and stop worrying. If your card gets stolen or misplaced, the only amount that will be lost is the money you hold in it. That also makes it ideal for online shopping, especially on suspicious websites.
Ordering the card is simple- first, you need to register and activate your mycard2go account. Activation is done online or via SMS. After activation, you can top up your card via Wire Transfer, Online Bank Transfer (Klarna) or cash load. There is 4% top up fee if you use cash load and it is available in Germany only. There is a €100 limit to the virtual card which you can get rid of by going through a KYC check. After this you can enjoy higher loading & spending limits and order a plastic card.
mycard2go has an easy-to-use website so you can track your spending from anywhere.
EcoPayz – EU only
Ecopayz is the creator of the Eco Virtual Card. This service is a bit different. The ecoVirtualcard is designed for safe, one-time payments online. It can be created instantly in the “ecoVirtualcard” section of your ecoAccount. As soon as you perform a successful purchase with your ecoVirtualcard, the card is automatically cancelled. This ensures that your card details can never be stolen or misused. Once the purchase has been made, you can create a new ecoVirtualcard and continue your shopping.
Creating a new Virtual card is free but is limited to the account type you own or have opened with Ecopayz. Should you like to make repeating payments or purchases with merchants that require card verification first, you can always use their EcoCard Payment card. The cool thing about Eco Virtual Card is that it is compatible with several currencies like Euro, GBP and USD. Also, unlike some cards, Eco Virtual Card is accepted pretty much everywhere, wherever MasterCard® is accepted anyway.
One key thing you need to keep in mind is that you must upgrade to a Silver ecoAccount before you can apply for an ecoVirtualcard, which is done by verifying your identity and address. It is easily one of the most internationally friendly services out there, and is definitely one of the top providers on this list.
As of June 2018, EcoPayz is no longer issuing or supporting cards issued outside the EEA. Existing customers have until 6 Aug 2018 to use their cards after which they will stop working.
VISA – Canada Only
Sometimes it is just better to go with one of the industry giants. Visa has been in the credit business for a long time, so they know how to make a quality and secure product. It works just like any other virtual debit card and Visa product. The big downside to it though is that it requires an RBC bank account, which may be an issue for international users. If you’re a Canadian resident, however, this is more than likely the most sensible option.
A whole list of VISA cards can be seen on our feature covering Gift Cards. If you have trouble with address and phone number, I suggest you get a package forwarding address for that country and inserting it at checkout point.
And that’s it!
If you are aware of any other good virtual prepaid card service which is free or super awesome, let us know in the comments below so we can review them and maybe even put them up here as an addition 🙂
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