Online shopping: New tools promise to protect your credit card info


If you’re doing any online shopping this holiday season, there’s a new tool to keep hackers from stealing your personal information: disposable credit card numbers.

The Los Angeles Times reports that several start-ups are now offering virtual payment cards for free.

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Shopping online? New tool offers fraud protection

Pay with Privacy and Token Payments are two of the companies that offer virtual cards. They act like an ordinary payment card, but they expire after a single use or can be used only at a specific merchant.

I downloaded the Token Payments app in November 2017 to see exactly how it worked! This was my experience…

How to sign up for Token 

After going to the website for Token Payments, I clicked the “Text me the app download link” button and entered my phone number.

I received a text message, which directed me to download and install the app.

Disguise your credit card with Token

To sign up with Token, I had to verify my phone number and link a payment account. You can add any U.S. bank account or credit card. I chose to link a credit card.

How to create a virtual card 

After my account was approved, I created my first virtual card. From the app, I tapped “Pay,” confirmed my fingerprint/passcode and was provided a payment token.

Create a virtual credit card with Token

What exactly is a payment token? Here’s how the company explains it:


When you generate a token, you create a randomly generated set of “dummy data” — a name, card number, expiration date, and CVC – that you can provide when you check out instead of your own data. Your real card or bank account will still be charged, but the merchant will have the token “dummy data” in their system rather than your real data. That way, when a merchant is hacked, your data is not there to begin with.

How to use your payment token 

Once I created the payment token, it was time to use it to shop online. At, I simply entered the “dummy data” — including the fake name shown below — at checkout.

Token reminds users to provide their real billing address and zip code if the merchant requests it.

Sample payment token

Each virtual card that you generate is associated with a particular store. I can use the same token over and over again at Amazon, but I would need to generate a new one for another retailer.

There’s no limit to the number of virtual cards that you can create, according to Token’s website.

How does Token Payments make money?

Token’s service is free! Like the other start-ups, it makes money by taking a cut of the payment processing fees that merchants pay to accept credit and debit cards.

Read more about Token and the other companies in this report from the LA Times.

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