Virtual Cards Vs. Physical Cards | Hydrogen
The Difference Between Virtual Cards vs. Physical Cards for Businesses

The Difference Between Virtual Cards vs. Physical Cards for Businesses

Physical and virtual cards can serve the same purpose of facilitating work-related payments, but these solutions have vast foundational and functional differences. Physical credit or debit cards are plastic cards issued to employees to use for company spending. This traditional purchasing card features the cardholder’s name, card number, and a magnetic strip.

On the other hand, virtual cards are used for digital purchasing, allowing users to access them from their mobile phones. These electronic payment solutions can generate a unique number sequence with every purchase rather than using a singular card number.

Though you can draw parallels between both payment methods, they offer different ways to spend money.

Differences Between Virtual and Physical Cards

Before choosing a company card for your business, it’s important to know the benefits and drawbacks of virtual cards versus physical cards. There are many differences between these two payment methods that you should consider to make the most informed decision.


Both virtual and physical cards can be used for business or personal spending, but they differ in how and where you can use them to make payments. You can use virtual cards for electronic spending, subscription management, and one-time purchases through tokenization. These options offer excellent security benefits, protecting your account from data breaches and fraud. 

Physical cards are primarily used for in-person spending, but you can also use them for online transactions by entering your account information into the appropriate fields. Though physical cards are versatile, the online purchasing process can be lengthy and poses security risks. Traditional cards use the same number sequence with every purchase, making it easier for hackers to infiltrate your account.


White-label cards are highly sought after by businesses because they allow companies to implement their own unique logos, colors, and designs onto their company cards. Virtual cards can be fully white-labeled, which means you can customize them to feature any of your company’s signature symbols, information, or color schemes.

Physical cards commonly use cobranding, which allows businesses to feature their brand on the card while sharing the space with other companies. Though cobranding can be beneficial through positive brand association, it often involves complicated legal agreements and profit-sharing.


Virtual and physical cards are produced differently, too. Because virtual cards are fully digital, you can create and set them up instantly on a convenient mobile app in only a matter of minutes.

On the other hand, physical cards take much longer to produce due to their material elements. Companies have to pay for their cards to be printed and delivered — a process that can get expensive.

Issue Cards With Hydrogen’s Platform

You can experience the benefits of virtual and/or physical cards at Hydrogen. Our innovative platform makes it easier and more convenient than ever to optimize your spending solutions with groundbreaking features such as fraud prevention and detection, white-labeling, and spending controls. We strive to give users the most positive experience with our cost-effective and convenient no-code card issuing offering.

Sign up to build your card issuing solution with Hydrogen today.


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