Lately I've been reading a lot about people who are asked for the VISA card with which they bought the flight when doing the check in. In these situations they are not allowed to board. Many of these people complain because they didn't have it. This can happen in several situations: you got the trip as a gift, the company bought the trip, etc.

Currently several banks/financial companies started offering virtual credit cards over the Internet. That means there is no actual physical card, only a number. If you want to use it, how would one proceed if asked for the card? Would they ask for it even if the card is in your name?

A first person testimony who was not allowed to fly because he didn't have the company card (it's in portuguese): http://www.fmgomes.com/impedido-de-embarcar-num-voo-emirates/ - Google translation to english


2 Answers 2


You would be best to check the airline's booking rules and term of carriage before you start making your reservation. Quite a few airlines require that the card be shown to verify its validity for online bookings. If they do, then you can't use a virtual card.

Virtual cards are designed to offer security in transactions where you are unsure of the safety of your information. Airline reservation systems which gather a huge amount of personal data are probably safe enough bets to simply use your real card number.

The Naysayers will likely chime in about never being checked, but they do check. I have had to show my card on several occasions to different airlines. And on one occasion, left it sitting on my desk at home and couldn't produce it at check-in. I had to buy a new ticket at check in, but the airline did allow me the same fare basis and refunded the previous payment fairly promptly.

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    "gather a huge amount of personal data are probably safe enough bets to simply use your real card number". I wouldn't bet on that. There are plenty of examples of large websites related with technology companys beeing hacked.
    – nsn
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 11:31
  • And there are examples of banks being hacked as well, so "virtual" cards can be compromised as well. You can find a chance for crime in any activity involving money, one can't absolutely insulate themselves.
    – user13044
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 11:36
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    Definitly, but those virtual cards give you a level o guarantee by contract that some of the physical ones don't. Most of them are specificaly tailored for the web.
    – nsn
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 12:14
  • Having seen some of the innards of Sabre GDS (parts of which date back to the 1970s) I am not nearly as confident as you are about its security. But that's a discussion for another site... Commented Oct 10, 2014 at 23:09

I've never been asked for my credit card on checkin or boarding, nor have I ever heard of anyone I know being asked for one.
It would be extremely weird for such a thing to be asked for, as a lot of tickets (probably the majority) are not paid for with a personal credit card (or indeed any credit card).
A large percentage of traffic is business travel, purchased either through a corporate travel agent (using whatever payment method, most likely he's just billed once a month or so for all the traffic he sells), a company credit card, or a bank transfer.
Then there's the large volume of vacation travel using package holidays where the ticket is supplied again by the travel agent, who often buys it through several intermediaries. Again the traveler won't have information about how the ticket was actually paid for, nor would he have access to the payment mechanism if he did know.

And even if I buy directly from an airline, the airline usually has several payment methods, including bank transfer, credit card, and various others, and the credit card if used doesn't have to be the one of the passenger (you can buy a ticket for someone else).

In fact the only times I've ever heard it mentioned that people were supposedly asked for a credit card was in questions on this site where people wonder how to act if asked for a credit card on checkin because they've heard on the internet that strangers have been so asked...

My guess is the only time you'd ever be asked for your credit card is if there are problems with the payment of the ticket that show up on the checkin agent's screen, and then only if a credit card was used. Or maybe there's excess luggage that needs to be paid for, and the easiest way to do so is using a credit card.

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    A couple of month ago I was flying from Athens to London and was asked for my credit card when checking in at Athens airport.
    – Aleks G
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 8:43
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    We indeed had a question on this with extensive evidence that it does happen and is in fact part of several airlines' conditions of carriage. What's the point of still denying it's happening based on personal anecdotes without providing any authoritative information or actually addressing the question? -1 from me
    – Relaxed
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 9:25
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    United have asked me for my credit card at check in (ORD-CDG). There were no issues with payment nor did I have excess baggage. Really, it would seem to depend on the agent at the check-in counter.
    – dearN
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 9:25
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    Also, if you read carefully, many posters related their own experience of being asked for the credit card used to book the plane. It's a blatant mischaracterization to suggest it's all hearsay based on what people read on the Internet.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Oct 9, 2014 at 9:35
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    If the flight is not bought directly from the airline by the travelling passenger then this won't happen.
    – Calchas
    Commented Oct 16, 2015 at 9:33

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