Best Virtual and Prepaid Cards for International Shoppers
Includes LeuPay, MoneyPolo, Card.com, Lamda
TechVise has once again dived into helping out shoppers and this time we are focusing on Virtual Prepaid 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 LeuPay and other services on this list are cards. That’s right, plural – cards! When you sign up for a LeuPay, 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 LeuPay account in any of the 10 currencies offered.
LeuPay doesn’t offer virtual prepaid cards, but plastic VISA cards with enabled chip. You can have up to five cards per LeuPay account, making this a perfect solution for the whole family. You can change access to each card through LeuPay 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 LeuPay cards are VISA, they are accepted pretty much everywhere. LeuPay 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 LeuPay 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 LeuPay is stress-free whether you are buying something online or in stores. Uploading money to LeuPay 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 LeuPay account or any other mobile (in the world) for that matter, but I have yet to test this feature.
This is by far the most unique service. There are people out there who don’t use a credit card because of the ‘possibility of hack’ or simply because they don’t want surprise charges in their card statement. With OKPay’s prepaid virtual debit card service, the biggest advantage is security and flexibility. How? Because with OKPay you receive a temporary card number for only one use and hence the card numbers are only good for that one use, which ensures security because hackers will not be able to use the number, even if they do attain it. The service is flexible enough to give you a regular Debit card as well that you can use in brick and mortar stores as well as draw cash out. Sign up is once again free and there is no annual fee or any extra fee for SMS alerts etc. You should check their fee table to get an idea of how they charge their users. They are transparent in their exchange rates which is a huge plus over the other providers on this list. The process to open an account is quick but verification is significantly slower than other services though (it can take 3-7 days or 4 hours if you pay extra). If security & flexibility is your number one priority, you should not have an issue here.
Another unique service that deserves a dedicated review. MoneyPolo gives both physical and virtual prepaid cards to users. Signup is easy and free. Getting yourself verified is the next step and after that, everything is straight forward. You have the option to get four types of VISA cards with MoneyPolo; Multi-Currency Visa, Virtual Visa, Virtual USD MasterCard and USD MasterCard. As the name suggests, Multi-currency supports EUR, USD, GBP, CHF, JPY, AUD, CAD, NOK, DKK, SEK, SGD, HKD, ZAR, NZD and AED. You can move the money from or on your card whenever you like, so no need to worry that someone will drain money from your account without your knowledge- when you are not using the card, just withdraw the remaining money into your bank account. Once you order a card, it will arrive by post or courier. Virtual Visa Card however, is a perfect solution if you worry about the safety of your private data. Also, unlike ordering regular plastic cards, this virtual card is ready instantly and active for multiple uses.
The Virtual USD MasterCard has no transaction nor maintenance fees and should be used for online payments only. You can have up to 3 cards at once, each limited to a maximum balance of $6500. The USD MasterCard however, is the “material” brother of its Virtual MasterCard. This card is tied to a dollar account too, but it has a bigger limit; maximum $25,000 and can be used anywhere.
MoneyPolo account/card can be loaded via debit/credit cards, wire transfers, Bitcoin, Sibcoin, OKPay, QIWI, Cash transfer (through select outlets in different countries) and Direct Debit.
MoneyPolo recently bought out OK Pay hence now, both services can be used in tandem. It is easy to withdraw funds in your OK Pay wallet into Money Polo and vice versa.
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.
Another very good choice for international shoppers wanting to parcel their shipping is EntroPay. You can get a Virtual Debit Card with EntroPay. Signing up is free and upon successful creation of account the user is allowed to load 20 bucks of the available currencies they offer (USD, EUR, GBP, AUD etc). Once you are a verified user, which of course requires submission of relevant documentation, the restriction of using just 20 bucks vanishes and is replaced by another one which is different for uploading, withdrawing and even per transaction. You can upload your money via bank account or any credit/debit card at a certain fee. Once you have uploaded your money, you are clear to buy products from websites that accept VISA. Plus, you can also get a prepaid plastic MasterCard with which you can make payments with chip and PIN (this feature is available to some countries/regions and not all). The waiting time for uploading money via bank transfer is between 1-3 days while the top-up feature of credit/debit card is instant (and expensive). To withdraw money from your card, you’ll have to find an ATM, from all parts of the globe. The awesome thing about EntroPay is that you won’t have to pay annual fees, there is no interest, and you don’t have to worry about the safety of your account because the website is fully secured (128bit encryption).
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.
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.
PayPal recognizes Lamda card so you can easily use it to pay for purchases. You cannot use it as a withdrawal method though.
This is by far the most helpful service out there for international shoppers. They give you a virtual debit card. 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. You then reload it with your own credit card and start shopping at stores where VISA is accepted. You do need to make sure that you are connected via a reliable VPN service when making transactions. 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.
Now for the names of the partnered forwarding services: MyUS, ReShip, WannitUS, Opas, Shop and Ship and ShipPorter. Make sure you go through these links because they give some form of discount or another. Also keep in mind that you can read about these services in our parcel forwarding post which we keep updated.
MyWireCard – Germany Only
MyWireCard is a Germany-based prepaid virtual debit card service, and it functions in much the same way as other prepaid services. They offer Visa Card and Master Card both. Their Visa card can be purchased from any retailer in Germany which makes it an actual Visa card. Their Master Card is, however, a virtual one which can be made into a physical card as well. After filling out your account details, you load money onto it and it becomes instantly available for use. This service is free to signup and there is no annual fee attached to it but the currency is by default set to Euros, which is not a big deal for much of the world, but it may be a hard conversion for buyers who don’t typically shop with euros. The physical card, however, has a fairly hefty annual fee, but given the service’s positive reviews and effectiveness, it may be worth the cost. Additionally, you can check their contact page for ways to get in touch (they support chat also).
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.
Not a cheap option but this gets work done. You want a VISA virtual prepaid credit card to shop online and they have a quick solution. They have exactly 6 virtual prepaid cards that can be paid for via PayPal credit, debit or credit card. Simply opt to ‘checkout with PayPal’ and after that select debit or credit card option, fill in your details and that’s it. Mind you, these virtual prepaid cards by VISA are a bit expensive but they do beat the whole verification process and this is the only reason why they have been mentioned here. One big benefit of getting this particular virtual prepaid cards is that they can be attached to any address! If you want to get shopping done on a site that accepts only US cards, then by all means get this VISA card and at checkout attach a USA address, a USA phone number (that you can get here and here) and get your shopping done successfully.
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 🙂
Originally Published in 2014