Making an online purchase is an exercise in trust. After all, to buy something online, you have to reveal enough information about your credit card that the recipient (or anyone who gets a peek) could also use the card to buy things. That’s a problem! Fortunately, there’s a way to protect online payments you make by using a masked credit card number instead of your real account number. When you use a masked credit card number, you get a new, unique credit card number with an expiration date and security code. This new number gets linked to your normal credit card account, but the seller never sees your real card details. You can sometimes put a limit on spending for the new number you create, give it a specific expiration date, and freeze or cancel it any time. This is an excellent way to secure your financial information.
Many people don’t know they can mask their credit card number when making a purchase, even though a lot of credit cards offer it. Plus, in the last few years, there has been more emphasis on getting people to use token-based systems for secure transactions instead, sometimes called “virtual credit card numbers” (a term that, confusingly, also applies to masked credit card numbers, even though the two systems are different). Still, masked credit card numbers have unique advantages. If you’re trying to stay on top of your personal finances, it’s a great perk to learn about and use.
Using a masked credit card number is safer than using your real card details any time you’re shopping online. It’s especially useful when you want to buy something from a website that you’ve never used before and you aren’t sure of its reputation or security history. How safe is its payment processing? In a case like that, you can generate a new number for the purchase in a matter of seconds and then, as soon as the payment goes through, disable the number you created. That way, no one can ever charge that masked number again.