Payments. Ecommerce. Profits.

What Is PayPal Key?

PayPal is widely used for online payments, money transfers, and shopping. As one of the most secure payment methods currently available, setting up the service is quick and simple.

Not all virtual or physical stores offer PayPal as a payment option. However, when you used the PayPal Key function, you could shop at any online store that takes MasterCard. Keep reading to learn everything about PayPal Key.

What Is PayPal Key?

In order to make it simpler for PayPal customers to make purchases from merchants that require a credit card number, PayPal developed a program called PayPal Key. The PayPal Key feature allowed account users to establish a virtual credit card number for use in online and phone-based transactions like Google Pay or Samsung Pay. Transactions involving keys were paid for using money from consumers’ PayPal accounts.

As of April 20, 2022, PayPal Key is no longer supported and cannot be used. According to PayPal, the Key product was phased down so that more resources could be allocated to the PayPal Debit Card. After April 20, 2022, you won’t be able to use PayPal Key to complete any purchases.


PayPal Virtual Card Number or PayPal Key

The PayPal Key is a virtual card that functioned much like a debit card but was tied directly to your PayPal account. Therefore, you didn’t have to carry an extra card.

With PayPal Key, you could make purchases at any store that takes MasterCard using the money already in your PayPal account, bank account, credit card, or debit card — regardless of whether the store accepts PayPal.

You entered a 16-digit numeric code for PayPal Key, much as a credit card or debit card number. Then, you included the date and the security code. 



Where Can You Use PayPal Key?

If a business accepts MasterCard, then you had the chance to use PayPal’s virtual card number there. While utilizing PayPal Key online is where you’d see the most value, you’d still be able to make in-store purchases by entering the 16-digit card number.

PayPal Key was only accessible to users in the United States. However, American tourists could use PayPal Key everywhere they took their MasterCard.

How to Get My PayPal Key?

In the United States, creating and using a PayPal Key was free. However, a 1.1% transaction charge would be assessed for purchases from non-US retailers.

The Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining Your Own Personal PayPal Access Key

  • If you wanted to use PayPal and PayPal Key for your online shopping, you’d need to generate your personal PayPal Key from your account. The process was as follows:
  • Launch your PayPal client.
  • You’ll see a PayPal Key symbol or link anywhere on the screen on a computer or a mobile device. Nonetheless, this PayPal link should help if you’re having difficulties locating it.
  • Get money into your PayPal Key by selecting a suitable payment option.
  • Proceed by selecting the “Agree & Get Your Key” button.
  • Pictured is the PayPal Key symbol for use with the mobile app.

Once you obtained your 16-digit key, you were ready to use it. Now let’s get to the fun part, where we talk about how you could use your PayPal Key to buy something.

Methods for Buying With a PayPal Key

Making your first purchase is the next logical step after registering for a PayPal Key. Since Amazon is a popular online store that does not yet take PayPal, it will serve as our example.

Now comes the exciting part. Then, to start using PayPal purchases, do as follows:Laptop

  • Choose to Checkout from the Shopping Cart.
  • When prompted to add a credit or debit card, click the “Payment Method” button.
  • Check your PayPal Key using the PayPal app or website. 
  • The Home page and the PayPal Key symbol at the top of the screen will lead you there.
  • The Card number field accepts a 16-digit PayPal Key number.
  • Just enter the card details and expiration date and proceed with the transaction as usual.
  • Amazon’s checkout page with the option to add a payment method.

Any other web store would most likely follow the same steps. In place of a traditional credit or debit card number, PayPal users would just enter their PayPal Key. The process was easy, risk-free, and fast.

Possible Alternatives for PayPal Key

If you were just utilizing PayPal Key for the extra protection it provided at checkout, you may want to look into other options. Masterpass and Visa Checkout are two more options that accept cards from any network.

Credit card information is also encrypted when used with mobile wallets (like Apple Pay). Unlike PayPal Key, you may use a mobile wallet offline and online.


If you didn’t want to use a credit card but wanted an easy and secure online purchase method, PayPal Key was an option to consider. Users could sign up for a free PayPal account, get their 16-digit key, link them to their bank accounts and use it to make purchases online just as you would with a credit or debit card. Also, you could use your PayPal key details while shopping over the phone. Further, PayPal Purchase Protection protects online transactions.

If you use PayPal often, you would have benefited from PayPal Key. In addition to the safety of a virtual card number, PayPal Key would provide you with more options when making online purchases. While PayPal is useful for making online payments and in-store purchases, PayPal Key could be used to earn rewards on sites that don’t support the PayPal service. Unfortunately, the service was discontinued by PayPal back in April 2022.

Ecommerce is a fast moving niche, so for more solutions that may take the place PayPal Key, check out our merchant processing educational guides.