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Card & Collateral Design

Card & Collateral Design Guide#

This Guide describes the process of designing (1) Standard cards and collateral, and (2) Custom cards and collateral.

  • Standard cards offer less customization compared to Custom but also take less time to produce (expect 5-6 weeks between design approval and delivery to cardholders).
  • Custom cards offer more customization (materials, printing, colors, design elements, etc.) but also take much longer to produce (expect 8-12 weeks between design approval and delivery to the warehouse).

Unless you are confident you want to proceed with Custom cards, Unit recommends beginning with Standard cards.

You can find more information about card features and choices in the Card Issuance Guide.

Standard Cards#

We find that most clients choose to produce Standard cards initially, in order to prioritize speed to market. When printing Standard cards, clients can expect it will take roughly 3-4 weeks to ship cards to initial cardholders after the design is approved by the card printer. 

Standard cards are produced using a method called on-demand printing, which allows for fixed pricing per card and no minimum order size.

Standard Card Design Guides#

Standard Card Pricing#

  • Contact-only: $4 to print and ship each Standard contact-only card
  • Contactless: $5.50 to print and ship each Standard contactless card

Standard Card Production Timeline#

Standard Card Production Timeline

Standard Card Design FAQs#

What are the key limitations?

  • The card is white plastic (i.e., no color core plastic, no metal cards, etc.).
  • The back of the card must remain white.
  • The card is full gloss (i.e., no special finishes like matte, varnish, etc.).
  • The card cannot be personalized with engraving or laser cut.

What does staged vs. non-staged mean?

Standard cardstock comes in two different options:

  • Staged: The blue Visa logo in the bottom-right corner of the card is surrounded by a white “knockout box”; the Visa logo does not need to be included in your design file.
  • Non-Staged: The Visa logo must be white and printed on a colored card background (you cannot have a plain white card). The Visa logo must be included in your card design; and the printer will print it on the plastic at the time of personalization.
StagedThe card has a pre-printed blue Visa logo that requires a white knockout box around the logo. There must be contrast between the white box and the background behind it.Staged card visa logo example
Non-stagedThe printed Visa logo must be white and there must be a color contrast between the logo and the card background. The Visa logo should be included in the card design file.Non-staged card visa log example

Acceptable and unacceptable card designs#

Non-Staged Visa logo#

Staged Visa logo#

You must include the proper debit product identifier on the front of the card:

  • Consumer: “Debit” may be placed directly above the Visa logo
  • Business: “Business debit” must be placed at least 10mm from the Visa logo. 

Consumer Debit#

Business Debit#

Do you want the card to be horizontal or vertical?

  • Horizontal card: You can fit up to 26 characters in the cardholder name field

  • Vertical card: You can fit up to 19 characters in the cardholder name field

    • Typically, long names abbreviate the middle initial first followed by the first name

Which information do you want to include on the card front vs. back?

Cardholder information can be placed on the front or back of the card according to the following guidelines:

InformationFront or BackFont/Logo
PANEither12-14 pt sans serif
Cardholder NameEither9-12 pt sans serif
Valid Date (optional)Either4-6 pt sans serif
Expiration DateEither9-12 pt sans serif
Applicable card network logosBackN/A
Contactless Logo (if using contactless cards)EitherContactless card logo

What are the requirements for the card art file?

When creating your design file, adhere to the following guidelines:

.ai or .eps (Vector format).psd or .tif (Hi-res format)
SizeAt least 3.5” x 2.24“ (plastic size is 3.375” x 2.125”)At least 3.5” x 2.24“ (plastic size is 3.375” x 2.125”)
Color modeCMYKCMYK
Layered ArtworkPut each design element in separate layerDo not flatten layers
FontsFonts converted to outlines or font files includedNames of fonts used or font files included
Pantone ColorsIf Pantone colors are used, they will be converted to CMYK during formattingPantone colors may be used (if applicable)
Other--At least 600 DPI resolution

Standard Collateral#

Cards shipped to cardholders are accompanied by paper collateral: envelopes and carriers (the page cards are affixed to). Standard carriers can be customized as long as you use white paper and black ink. Standard envelopes cannot be modified. 

Standard Collateral Design Guides#

We’ve developed an example carrier that can be modified according to your needs, and is compliant with our printer’s standards. Verbiage and design can be modified as you see fit, as long as you use black ink. The standard card envelope and sticker examples below are not templates, but are representative of what to expect when using standard collateral.

Standard Carriers #

  • Size: 8.5” x 11”

Custom Cards#

Custom Card Design Guides#

Custom Card Pricing#

Unlike the Standard option, Custom design pricing is not bundled: The per-unit cost to print and ship a card to an end-customer depends on the specifics of your order. Moreover, card printers are notoriously secretive about their pricing models.

Per-unit costs for custom orders are derived from four components: the card itself, the related paper collateral, manual fulfillment of the card order, and shipping fees. If you choose to move forward with custom printing, we will work with you and the printer to clarify the pricing details specific to your card(s) as soon as possible.

Custom cardThe cost associated with the design and production of the card plastics themselves.
Relevant elements may include:
  • Card material(s)
  • Finish
  • Contact vs. contactless chip
  • Card order volume
Typically you will discuss this fee as part of the design process, and it will be stated in the SOW you sign when ordering the cards
Paper collateralThe cost of designing and producing the materials shipped with your cardMaterials may include:
  • Carriers (envelopes)
  • Inserts
  • Stickers
  • Card holders
Manual fulfillmentThe cost of the manual processes involved in preparing and shipping your cards--
ShippingShipping costsSee Card Issuance Guide for details

Custom Card Production Timeline#

Custom card production timeline

Custom Paper Collateral#

  • Custom collateral can be modified in terms of design, colors, sizes, inserts, etc.
  • Pricing depends on your design choices and mailing service 
  • Custom Card Carrier Template


  • Minimum font size: 8pt
  • Minimum weight paper: 60# offset or equivalent (e.g. 24 #bond)
  • Folded inserts must be C Folded with a hard fold displaying the logo/name on the outside of the insert
  • Folded size for letters is 8.5”X 3.67” (Standard). All other inserts must not exceed 8.5”X 3.67”. Minimum size required 5.5”X 3”. Exception: Card Gloves (insertion equipment will allow (1) one glove per envelope)
  • ⅛” bleed is required where colors bleed past trim

Manual Fulfillment#

Our printers can package your cards in any envelope/format you choose (including those developed outside of the printer themselves) through manual fulfillment. If you choose to move forward with custom printing, we will work with you and the printer to clarify the pricing details specific to your card(s) as soon as possible.


See Card Issuance Guide for details