What Was PayPal Key Exactly?

What Was PayPal Key Exactly?

In April 2022, PayPal's virtual card was phased out. PayPal Key was a service that allowed PayPay users to shop at online stores that required a credit card number. PayPal Key created a virtual credit card number that users could use to make purchases online and over the phone with their PayPal accounts. PayPal paid for Key transactions with funds from users' PayPal accounts. PayPal Key was officially decommissioned on April 20, 2022, and is no longer available for use. According to the company, PayPal's Key product was retired to streamline its services and focus on its current debit card product. After April 20, 2022, all PayPal Key transactions will be rejected.

What Was PayPal Key, Exactly?

With PayPal's ever-expanding range of payment services, it's easy to become perplexed. You can use PayPal Key as a workaround when you want to use PayPal, but an online retailer doesn't have the PayPal button. PayPal Key gave you a virtual card number that you could use to shop anywhere that accepts Mastercard online. Users only had to provide the virtual card number, expiration date, and security code when making phone purchases, just as they would with a regular credit card purchase.

What Was the Function of PayPal Key?

The old PayPal instructions were as follows:
  • To get started, go to the setup link.
  • "Let's Go" should be selected.
  • Select a payment method (bank account, credit card, or debit card) to fund PayPal Key.
  • To get your key, click "Agree & Get Your Key."
  • You can save PayPal Key to your Google Chrome, Safari, or Internet Explorer browser, so it's just a click away when you're checking out online.

Is the PayPal Key Compatible With Other Services?

You could previously link your PayPal Key to your Venmo account. You could also link your PayPal Key to Google Pay and use it exclusively online.

Were there any extra charges?

There was no charge to sign up for PayPal Key or use it. There was a 1.1 percent foreign transaction fee if you made purchases in a currency other than US dollars or from non-US merchants. Foreign transaction fees are usually around 3% on most credit cards.

Will I Receive Reward Points?

You still earned points on PayPal Key purchases if you used one of your rewards credit cards as the payment method. If you had a rewards card that offered 5% cash back on PayPal purchases, using PayPal Key (even on a site that didn't offer PayPal as a payment option) allowed you to get the 5% still back.

PayPal Key's Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Allow you to use PayPal on websites that don't have it.
  • It was simple to switch payment methods.
  • For those who wanted to use their debit cards to make online purchases, there was a safer choice.
  • PayPal Purchase Protection covered the transactions.


  • Not all PayPal users had access to it.
  • There were some restrictions on how it could be used.

Explaining the Benefits

Allows you to pay with PayPal on websites that don't have it: If you're annoyed by the lack of a PayPal button at checkout, PayPal Key is the solution. I was able to change payment methods easily: On the backend, you can quickly change the payment source for PayPal Key. This was a convenient option if you had a PayPal balance or wanted to switch to a specific credit card to earn rewards for a specific category. People who wanted to pay with debit cards online had a safer option: It's always a good idea to add a layer of security between your funding source and the checkout process. A virtual card number is the same concept, and because using debit cards online is generally considered risky, PayPal Key allows customers to make secure payments from their bank accounts. PayPal Purchase Protection covered your transactions: PayPal provided purchase protection for any purchases you made with a key. If an item you ordered was not delivered or was "significantly different" from what you ordered, PayPal would reimburse you for the purchase price and shipping costs.

The Drawbacks are Expounded

(Previously) Not all PayPal users have access to this feature: PayPal Key was only available to a limited number of customers in the United States. There are some restrictions on how it can be used: PayPal Key could not be used with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or American Express cards. You couldn't use it for in-store purchases, either, which is why PayPal shifted its focus to its mobile app.

PayPal Key Alternatives

Suppose the added layer of security when shopping online was your primary motivation for using PayPal Key. In that case, you should be aware that numerous card issuers additionally provide their own variations of virtual cards for a more secure purchasing process. They include Capital One Eno, Citi, Wells Fargo, and others. Masterpass and Visa Checkout, for example, accept cards from any network. Some people prefer to use mobile wallets (such as Apple Pay), which encrypt credit card information as well. A mobile wallet has an advantage over PayPal Key in that it can be used both in person and online.

Additional PayPal Cards are available.

PayPal Key was phased out in order for the company to focus on its other card products. These include the PayPal Cash Card, which works like a debit card and allows users to make purchases in-store and online anywhere Mastercard is accepted, and the PayPal Cashback Mastercard, which is also accepted anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

Most Commonly Asked Questions (FAQs)

In person, how do I use PayPal Key?

On April 20, 2022, PayPal Key was deactivated. Because PayPal Key was not a physical card, users were never able to use it in person. You'll need to use PayPal's debit card for in-store purchases.

Is there a limitation to the number of PayPal keys I can have?

Each PayPal account was given a unique PayPal Key. Multiple keys were possible if you had several PayPal accounts. This product, however, came to an end for all users on April 20, 2022.

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