What are ghost cards?
Ghost cards are types of virtual credit card numbers that can be instantly generated and assigned to individual departments within a business or to specific vendors. The card numbers can be used by all of the departmental employees to make purchases that are charged back to their departments or by high-volume suppliers to charge products for the company.
According to the 2017 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey, 31 percent of companies that were surveyed reported that they used ghost cards in 2016, which was an increase of 2 percent from 2015. Businesses that want to know how to get a ghost card can check with card issuers and banks that specialize in offering payments solutions that are designed for businesses.
How ghost cards work
After businesses learn how to get a ghost card, it is important to understand how ghost cards work. Ghost cards can be ghost credit cards, ghost prepaid cards, or ghost debit cards. Businesses can randomly generate the numbers and assign them to individual departments or specific suppliers.
When the ghost debit cards are assigned to individual departments, the employees of the departments can make ghost card payments with the ghost debit cards. The ghost card payments that are made with the ghost debit cards are charged back to the department before importing automatically into the company’s accounting software. This helps to streamline payments and to track purchases company-wide at the department level.
What types of businesses use ghost cards and why?
Ghost debit cards, ghost prepaid cards, and ghost credit cards are generally used by larger companies because they help to track expenses and automate accounts payable processes. Companies may also generate and assign ghost debit cards to suppliers with which they conduct a high volume of low-value transactions.
Businesses can restrict each number that they generate to specific types of purchases from specific vendors. They can also set departmental spending limits and turn the card numbers on or off whenever they want. These features help by ending the traditional payments process and reducing transaction costs. Expense tracking is much easier so that businesses can know where they stand at any given time.
Assigning ghost cards to individual suppliers
Ghost cards may be used horizontally or vertically. When they are used vertically, a business can assign ghost debit cards to specific suppliers so that they do not have to process numerous invoices for small purchases.
For example, if your paper company regularly purchases pulp for processing on an ongoing basis from a specific supplier, you can give the supplier a ghost prepaid card. The supplier can charge the ghost card payments for each pulp order to the ghost prepaid card without having to submit an invoice and to wait for it to be processed. You can choose how much money to allocate to the ghost prepaid card and turn it off in between orders.
How to research ghost cards
An important part of how to get a ghost card is understanding how to research the ghost debit cards that are available. There are a number of different banks and companies that offer ghost cards for businesses.
You can identify different ghost debit and credit card offers by researching online. You should check the features that are offered by the companies and compare them to find the best cards for your needs. Reading virtual card reviews can help you to narrow down the list of cards to the offers that afford the most benefits.
Features to look for in good ghost cards
The best ghost payment cards should offer robust expense management and spending control features for businesses. You should be able to restrict the types of purchases that can be made per the department or the supplier. You should also be able to establish spending limits by the interval of your choosing and to turn the cards off or on remotely.
Ghost payment cards should allow the transaction data to import directly into your accounting software so that your payment processes are automated and streamlined. This can allow you to get rid of costly processes such as reimbursements and purchase approvals.
How using ghost cards can help to save money
Using ghost debit or credit cards can help your business to save money. When you switch to ghost debit or credit cards, you can end reimbursements and the traditional purchase approval processes at your company while also automating invoice processing.
All of these processes carry high transaction costs in terms of the time and labor costs that are involved. With ghost debit or credit cards, these processes can cost significantly less and let your employees engage in more productive work.
Why use ghost cards to make purchases from new or unknown suppliers?
One good use of ghost debit cards and virtual cards is to use them to make purchases from suppliers that are new to you and that you have not had time to build a trust relationship with. You can use a virtual card or ghost card API to instantly generate a credit card number and CVV code that can be used to make a purchase in a specific amount from the supplier.
If the supplier attempts to charge a different amount, it will not work. You can also turn the card off after a purchase and turn it on again when a new purchase needs to be made. If the supplier tries to use the number to make unauthorized purchased, the number will not work.
Why ghost cards are important to businesses
Tracking expenses can become more complicated as businesses expand. However, it is crucial that companies maintain tight control over their expenses so that they can prevent losses caused by fraud and misuse.
Using ghost debit and credit cards can automate expense tracking across companies. Businesses are able to see how each department is spending money and whether the department is staying within its budget in real time.
The importance of expense management to help prevent fraud: Rite Aid fraud case
Fraud affects businesses of all sizes across all industries. A recent case that demonstrates the importance of automated payments processing and strong expense management and controls involved a Rite Aid executive in Pennsylvania. The executive, 60-year-old James Pilsner, defrauded Rite Aid of $5.1 million from 1995 until he was fired in 2017.
Pilsner reportedly approved fraudulent and inflated invoices from Nuvision, a vendor, in exchange for kickbacks from the company. Two other men were also charged in the fraud scheme. If Rite Aid had assigned a ghost debit card to Nuvision, it could have controlled the charges that the vendor made. Automated payment processing could have also prevented the executive from inflating the invoices that the company paid.
How are ghost cards created?
Businesses that wonder how to get a ghost card can create them in several ways. One way how to get a ghost card is to generate it through an online dashboard or web interface. Businesses can request the company to generate ghost credit or debit cards and then use the numbers as soon as they are received.
Ghost debit or credit cards can also be generated within an application or through a ghost card API. A ghost card API can be integrated with your proprietary software so that the process involved with how to get a ghost card is simple. You can simply generate a card within your applications for immediate use.
How you can customize spending workflows with virtual cards APIs
Virtual cards, p-cards, and ghost cards can all be used to customize your spending workflows with an API. You can generate virtual debit cards, p-cards, and ghost debit or credit cards instantly. The numbers will be activated and ready to use within minutes.
You can use virtual debit cards to make one-off purchases. The numbers will instantly expire once they have been used. P-cards can be generated and given to specific employees to make purchases over set periods of time. You can restrict each number that you generate by purchase type, vendor, and amount, allowing you to customize the allowed spending at your company.
How to get a ghost card or API
To get a ghost number or API, you can check online. There are a number of companies and banks that offer ghost numbers and APIs to business customers. You will want to read virtual card reviews so that you can narrow down your list to the leading companies.
You should then compare the features of the different offers and choose the companies that have the top reputations. The cards should also allow you to set tight limits on the ghost card payments that can be made with the cards.
The benefits of the controls from Bento for Business
Bento for Business offers card solutions that allow you to set tight controls. You can restrict where ghost card payments can be made, how much can be spent, and when the numbers will work.
For example, your community nonprofit agency can assign a ghost number to the house weatherization department. Employees of the department can charge supplies that they need to weatherize homes for low-income people who qualify from a specific vendor. You can set daily or weekly spending limits so that the department stays within its budget.
Why choose Bento for Business?
Bento for Business has earned a reputation as a leading provider of business payments and expense tracking solutions. Business customers can get two cards each year for free, and packages are available that start at up to 10 cards for as little as $29 per month.