Update 12/21/20: The demise of PayPal Key continues as readers report over the past couple of days that Paypal Key no longer works on tax payments. It was a major gain since you could be the small debit card fee and use a credit card, but Paypal has now blocked that.
Update 11/26/20: Readers note that Paypal Key has blocked Plastiq from working. This has since been confirmed. Other commenters mention a few other things that dried up at the same time, such as Bluebird loads.
Update 10/29/20: Multiple data points I’ve seen indicate that when Paypal Key charges your card they generally carry over the category and method of charge exactly how it would be had you used the card directly. E.g. you’ll get grocery bonus points on a Grocery purchase and you’ll trigger a Chase Offer if you use it at a merchant with a Chase Offer. Good news, though a bit surprising. Note: this won’t always work, and reader Jenny says it does not work for Amex cards.]
PayPal has rolled out a new virtual card number system called PayPal Key. The program runs on the Mastercard network, and allows generating a card number to use anywhere and gets charged to any payment method in your PayPal wallet, including any credit card.
You can generate new card numbers whenever you’d like, and you can disable cards whenever you’d like. The virtual card number can be added on Google Pay, but does not work with Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.
PayPal Key is in midst of rollout and might not be available for everyone; check your online login or app to see if it pops up for you. Also important note: PayPal Key is only available for US account holders with PayPal Cash balance account or PayPal Cash Plus balance account. You need the upper level verified PayPal account in order to be eligible. Verify yourself completely and hopefully it’ll pop up for you eventually.
Other key details:
- Daily limit is $10,000 regardless of linked credit card though that limit may lower if your credit limit is under $10,000.
- 1.1% foreign transaction fee if the online merchant is located outside US and the District of Columbia regardless of linked credit card.
- Works on Paypal personal and Paypal business accounts, according to readers.
Potential uses of PayPal Key:
- Use Paypal Key for a website that does not accept PayPal, and get the PayPal category bonus. For example, right now Discover is offering 5% on PayPal which only works for websites that accept PayPal. PayPal Key is a workaround way of using it on any website, or even in-store via Google Pay or by having them key in the card number (if they are willing).
- Use PayPal Key as a way of generating a one-time virtual card number for a merchant you don’t want to give your real card number to. For example, when doing free trials, some people like using a virtual card number for the added security they won’t be charged again.
- Use PayPal Key for a website who does not accept American Express or Discover. If you have an online merchant who does not accept AmEx or Discover, you can still have it charged to your AmEx or Discover by using PayPal Key which runs as Mastercard. Same thing would work for a store who is willing to key in your number or who accepts Google Pay.
- (I assume that PayPal Key will run as a credit card, not a debit card. If you can find a merchant who considers it a debit card, that obviously opens up a world of possibilities.)
- Update: Readers have been saying recently that it’s not working on Google Pay for in-store purchases.
Hopefully PayPal Key will work like Privacy which allows using any address, thus enabling you to mask both card and address from any merchant. (PayPal will know your address, but you don’t have to pass it on to any company you aren’t comfortable with, e.g. a charity who you don’t want to get mailers from.)
We’ll add PayPal Key to our List of Banks Offering Virtual Account Numbers.
[Update 9/11/20: Reports of cash advance when using this on some cards/charges; be sure to set your cash advance limit to zero before using.]
[Update 9/7/20: Reposting since multiple people have been getting it recently.][Update 8/18/20: Here’s a direct link to check if you are eligible for PayPal Key. Hat tip to TtiGeR]