Banks with virtual debit cards make business spending more convenient, secure, and controllable. Instead of having to keep track of dozens of physical cards, you can manage virtual cards entirely online, from setting spending limits to instantly freezing a card with suspicious activity. 🔐💸
If you’re ready to start using virtual debit cards for your business, finding the right bank is a crucial step—and we’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll cover:
Why do small business owners need a bank with virtual debit cards?
A virtual debit card is a digital version of a physical debit card, used for online purchases. They provide the same functionality as a traditional card but exist solely in electronic form.
In an increasingly digital world, virtual cards 💳provide unmatched convenience and security, especially for small business owners. Here are a few reasons to use virtual debit cards:
⏰ Available immediately: Physical debit cards can take 7-10 days to arrive in the mail, but virtual debit cards can be issued in an instant.
💸 Streamlined employee spending: Whether an employee is new to the team or leaving the company, you can issue new cards—and manage existing cards—completely online.
💳 Advanced card controls: Unlike banks with exclusively physical cards, banking platforms with virtual debit cards typically have more sophisticated features to help business owners stay on top of spending.
🔐 Enhanced security: Virtual debit cards are less prone to theft or loss compared to physical cards. They also often come with advanced anti-fraud and security features for added peace of mind.
Thanks to these features, virtual debit cards can save small business owners hours of time and make the management of business spending a breeze.
Can virtual debit cards be used for in-person transactions?
Since more than 85% of retailers accept contactless payment options like Apple Pay and Google Pay, many businesses don’t have a need for physical debit cards. You can just add a virtual debit card to your digital wallet and start making in-store purchases immediately. 📱🛍
However, most banking platforms with virtual debit cards will provide a physical card if you want or need it for a specific type of spending.
How to choose a bank with virtual debit cards
Contactless payment is more common than ever, but it can still be tough to find a bank with virtual debit cards. Plus, the banks that do have virtual cards offer varying levels of service and features—so it’s important to consider multiple factors when making your decision.
Let’s take a closer at how you can find the best banking option (and virtual card issuer) for your business.
🏦 Traditional banks vs. online banking platforms
Online business banking platforms like Relay (that’s us! 👋) are able to offer business owners modern, convenient banking features—like virtual debit cards. This is because, unlike traditional banks, digital banks aren’t weighed down by outdated infrastructure and complex processes.
But what if a traditional bank allows you to add your debit card to your mobile wallet? In most cases, this “digital card” is technically just another version of your physical debit card. That means they share the same card details (like CVV and expiration date).
So, if your physical debit card is compromised, you will also have to replace the digital card—but not until you wait 7-10 days for the physical version to arrive in the mail. In the meantime, you won’t even be able to make online payments. 😬
That’s why it’s best to find an online banking platform that offers true virtual debit cards with unique card details. That way, you can avoid the inconvenience (and security concerns) that come with relying on a single debit card or a single set of card details.
💳 Choosing a virtual card issuer: what matters most?
When it comes to choosing an online banking platform with virtual debit cards, how do you weigh your options? Well, the right choice will depend on your business’s unique needs, but the following 4 factors will make a big impact on your decision.
Card controls: Some banking platforms allow you to set spending limits and instantly freeze cards from a mobile app. Others allow you to set up complex rules to manage when, where, and how employees spend. 🔑💸
Number of virtual debit cards: Some banking platforms are designed to help you manage team spending and cash flow with multiple virtual debit cards. Others will only allow you to issue one virtual card per account holder, which can make employee expense management a challenge.
Fees: Banking platforms have a wide range of different fee structures, so it’s important to be aware of what you could be charged for. For example, some banks have transaction limits and charge a service fee after a certain number of withdrawals each month. Monthly maintenance fees and overdraft fees can also add up.
Other money management features: Running a small business can be demanding, so the more helpful features your bank offers, the better. Banking platforms that integrate with your accounting software, for one, can make spending (and bookkeeping) even easier to manage. 😎
Ultimately, the best online banking platform for your business will provide virtual debit cards and a multitude of other features to make your life easier.
5 of the best banks with virtual debit cards
Whether you’re opening a new bank account or need a new card, traditional banks typically require that you receive a physical debit card in the mail. 📫 As we discussed above, that means you’ll need to wait several days to start spending—and most likely, you won’t even have access to the card number to add it to your mobile wallet.
This can cause many issues for business owners. For example, if you need a replacement debit card due to theft, you could miss critical subscription payments while waiting for a new physical card to arrive. 🙁
The truth is, traditional banks just aren’t built to truly serve small business owners. The good news? Today, entrepreneurs can choose from an array of online business banking solutions designed to meet their unique needs.
Here are 5 of the best online business banking platforms with virtual debit cards. 💳
Relay is an online banking and money management platform built specifically for small business owners. At Relay, we’ve designed features that solve the pain points of traditional banking, like high account fees and poor visibility into cash flow. 💸
With Relay, you can open up to 20 individual, no-fee business checking accounts and two savings accounts. Relay also helps you get crystal clear on monthly spending and speed up bookkeeping with enriched, automatically categorized transaction data.
After opening a Relay account (no in-person branch visits required) you can instantly issue your virtual debit cards. Then, in just a few clicks, you can assign those cards to team members and set spending limits.
And if the worst case scenario ever happens—like when Relay customer Madeline discovered that one of her employees was committing fraud—you can freeze your debit cards and create new ones in a matter of minutes. 🔐
Plus, if you’re dealing with a major security concern while on a business trip (like Madeline was), you won’t have to worry about paying for dinner. With Relay, you would be able to instantly issue a new virtual card, add it to your Apple Wallet, and enjoy your meal in peace. 🍝
✅ 20 free business checking accounts: Relay doesn’t charge overdraft fees, maintenance fees, or require a minimum account balance. That means you can easily organize your money into multiple accounts (like profit and operating expenses) and get crystal clear on earning, spending, and saving.
✅ 50 physical or virtual debit cards: With Relay, you can issue 50 physical or virtual debit cards. Digital cards can be used right away for online shopping or with your mobile wallet.
✅ Online card controls: No phone calls required. Relay allows you to monitor business spending in real-time, set limits, and freeze cards right from your phone or computer.
✅ ATM accessibility: Relay’s physical Visa debit cards allow you to make cash withdrawals and deposits at AllPoint ATMs with no ATM fees.
✅ Low-cost or free international payments: Relay’s exchange rate for international wires is just 1-1.5%. Plus, you can send international wires for only $10 per wire (or for $0 with Relay Pro).
✅ Simplified expense management: Want to organize spending and stay on track with your budget? Relay lets you quickly issue debit cards for new expense categories, project expenses, or separate teams.
✅ Bill pay and approval workflows with Relay Pro: For $30 per month, you can subscribe to Relay Pro and access powerful accounts payable features, including single- or multi-step approval rules for bill payments.
✅FDIC insured: Relay customers are insured through our partner banks Thread Bank and Evolve Bank and Trust.
❌ No credit cards
💡Want to learn more about Relay? Check out our powerful business banking and money management features here.
Ramp is a virtual card and employee expense management solution for mid-sized to enterprise businesses. They don’t provide banking services, so you’ll need a separate business bank account to receive and manage your money.
The Ramp Visa card is a bit of a cross between a credit card and a debit card. It offers many of the same benefits as a virtual credit card, such as cash back rewards. However, you’re required to pay your balance in full each month and can only spend against money that’s actually in your bank account, like a debit card. 💳💸
Because of this structure, Ramp requires customers to have a minimum bank account balance of $75,000. If your business doesn’t typically keep this kind of cash in reserve, Ramp might not be the right fit.
✅ Credit card benefits without the credit check: Ramp provides 1.5% cash back on all spending. To qualify, you don’t have to pass a credit check (you just need to meet their minimum account balance requirement).
✅ Unlimited cards: Ramp allows you to create and distribute unlimited virtual corporate cards.
✅Advanced accounts payable: If you’re a large company with multiple departments and lots of employees, features like automated approvals and compliance can streamline expense management.
❌ Minimum bank account balance of $75,000 cash
❌ Requires a separate business banking solution
❌ Not the best fit for small business owners
💡Read more: Brex vs. Ramp: Compare Expense Management Tools
Spendesk is another potential solution for small business owners that want to use virtual debit cards. However, like Ramp, Spendesk is categorized as a spend management platform and does not provide business banking services.
Spendesk allows businesses to create virtual prepaid cards, where you load an employee’s debit card with funds ahead of time. You can also set up pre-defined rules and spending policies to manage when, where, and how company funds are spent.
As a “7-in-1” spend management solution, Spendesk provides a wide range of features to simplify the tracking and processing of payments. While extremely helpful for larger companies, these features might add unnecessary complexity and costs for small businesses.💰
✅ Single-use and recurring virtual cards: If you need to make an online purchase or pay for a subscription, Spendesk will provide a virtual card with its own unique card details. This can be more secure than using the same card information on dozens of websites.
✅ Set-it-and-forget-it spend control: Because every Spendesk virtual debit card is limited by a pre-defined budget and spending rules, you’ll never have to worry about employees overspending.
✅ Easy budgeting: With Spendesk, you won’t receive an unexpectedly high credit card bill at the end of the month. Instead, you can budget at the beginning of each month by pre-loading cards with funds.
✅Streamline expense management: From the mobile app, managers can request additional funds as needed. Plus, Spendesk will send employees automatic notifications about uploading receipts, categorizing purchases, and more.
❌ Requires a separate business banking solution
❌ Advanced features might not be necessary for smaller teams
💡 Read more: 18 Small Business Budgeting Software & Tools
Lili is a business banking platform that offers virtual debit cards and no-fee checking accounts. Only available to sole proprietorships (or single-member LLCs filing as sole proprietorships), Lilli is designed primarily for freelancers and side hustlers. 💻
Lili’s free plan includes one business checking account, one Visa Business debit card, and fee-free ATM withdrawals at select locations. With Lili’s premium plans, you can also access features like expense management and fee-free overdraft. However, no matter which plan you’re on, you’ll only have access to one virtual and one physical debit card.
Ultimately, if your business has more than one employee or you expect to grow in the future, Lili’s capabilities may be too limited for your needs.
✅ Digital debit card: After opening a Lili account, you don’t have to wait for your physical debit card to arrive—you can access your virtual card number immediately for online checkouts. Or, you can add it to your mobile wallet for in-person purchases.
✅ Invoicing software: You can subscribe to one of Lili’s premium plans for invoicing features and the ability to accept payments. Pricing ranges from $9-$35 per month.
✅ Cashback rewards: Lili’s premium plans also give you a Visa Business Pro debit card with cashback rewards.
❌ Only 1 virtual debit card
❌ Only 1 business checking account
❌ No spending limits or card control features
❌ Limited features available on the free plan
💡 Read more: Lilli vs. Relay comparison
NorthOne is an online banking platform that offers account holders a virtual Mastercard debit card. There are no overdraft fees, but NorthOne does charge a $10 monthly fee no matter your account balance.
One of NorthOne’s top features is the ability for customers to organize their money via an electronic envelope system made up of sub-accounts. It’s important to note, however, that these sub-accounts are not individual checking accounts with their own account numbers—and even if you have multiple “envelopes,” you’ll only be able to issue a single debit card for all your spending. 💳
NorthOne is a decent banking option for small businesses. However, if you want to issue multiple virtual debit cards for team spending, organizing cash flow, and increased security, NorthOne might not be the right fit.
✅ Manage debit cards online: You can issue or freeze virtual and physical debit cards via the NorthOne mobile app or website.
✅ Accounting integrations: NorthOne connects to accounting software like QuickBooks Online so you can speed up bookkeeping.
✅ Cash deposits available (within limits): NorthOne is an online banking platform that allows you to deposit cash, but only up to $1,500 per day. The maximum for cash deposits is $5,000 total per month.
❌ $10 monthly fee with no exceptions
❌ Only one business checking account
❌ Only one virtual card per account holder
❌ Limited debit card controls
Which bank with virtual debit cards is right for you?
If you’re a small business owner, you need a virtual debit card solution that simplifies your life and gives you totally visibility into spending. That’s why we think Relay is the absolute best banking platform with virtual debit cards.
With Relay, small business owners can open 20 no-fee business checking accounts and issue 50 virtual or physical debit cards. 🙌💸 Then, they can set spending controls, manage employee expenses, and even automate accounts payable—without the hassle of leaving the platform.
Relay is truly an all-in-one banking solution, designed to meet the unique needs of small businesses. Ready to get your virtual debit card? You can sign up for Relay here!