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Card Issuance


Basic Card Terms#

  • Network: Our primary debit card network is Visa, one of the two main debit processing rails in the world. We have a strong relationship with their team and have implemented a wide range of features and functionality with them.

  • Card printer: We have good deals and a close relationship with our best-in-class card printers, so we can offer our clients favorable terms, high visibility, and quick turnarounds when designing and producing cards.

  • Issuing bank: Cards are issued through our bank partners, where we have created “BINs” for Unit and our clients.

    • BIN: A Bank Identification Number (“BIN”) is the first six digits of the number printed on a debit or credit card, identifying the issuing bank. We currently have BINs set up for individual debit, business debit, and HSA debit use-cases.
    • BIN range: A subset of a BIN (the three digits following the first six) that allows you to issue cards with a unique prefix to your customers.

Infrastructure Terms#

  • Generic BIN range: Unit has created a generic BIN range for clients prioritizing speed to market. This BIN range allows you to issue cards immediately following your launch, but does not provide interchange and does not support mobile wallets.
  • Dedicated BIN range: Unit can create a BIN range exclusively for you and your cardholders, providing full interchange and options for additional functionality, but it takes longer to set up.
Generic BIN rangeFastest option to get cards to market
  • No interchange on card transactions
  • No mobile wallet support
Available immediately post-launch
Dedicated BIN range
  • Gives you full interchange
  • Allows greater customization of cards & program
Requires a Visa project to set up, so requires more time and organization3 weeks for Basic functionality
Additional 6 weeks for Full functionality

Feature Terms#

  • Physical cards: The physical (plastic or metal) debit card held by your cardholder
  • Virtual cards: All the information contained in a physical card (card number, expiration date, CVV) but existing online only. Virtual cards can be used for online purchases and may be added to a mobile wallet for in-person POS transactions.
  • Mobile wallet: Apple Pay or Google Pay (The process of setting up your BIN range to allow physical and virtual cards to be added to a mobile wallet is called tokenization.)
  • Contactless cards: By default, all cards are contact-only. You may upgrade to contactless cards for an additional fee (about +$1.50 per card).
  • Allpoint ATM access: By default, your cards work at ATMs that are part of the Visa, Plus, Interlink, or Accel network. You may opt-in to allow customers to access Allpoint, a network of ATMs offering surcharge-free withdrawals and cash deposits at 55,000 terminals around the world. (See our ATM Guide for more.)

Design Options#

  • Generic: Generic cards can be customized with your logo but nothing else.
  • Standard: You can design a full-color image that covers the entire front of the card, but the card plastic cannot be changed (the back and sides of the card will be white).
  • Custom: You can design and choose all elements of the card (materials, embossing, engraving, etc.), provided you remain within the card printer’s design parameters.
  • Review the Card & Collateral Design Guide for more information.
Generic4 weeksClient logo on frontWhite plasticFixed (incl. shipping) – $4 (contact only)
$5.50 (contactless)
Standard5-6 weeksClient designed front
Custom8-12 weeksClient designed front & backAnyDepends on card order volume

Infrastructure Options#

  • Starter: Out of the box, Unit can issue cards to your end-customers on a generic BIN range (already set up). The benefit is speed, but this option does not generate interchange and does not support mobile wallets.
  • Basic: Unit can set up a BIN range in your name, giving you a dedicated card issuance option and the benefit of full interchange revenue. This typically takes 3 weeks from the moment of kickoff.
  • Full: All the functionality and benefits of the Basic option, plus support for mobile wallets. This typically takes 9 weeks from the moment of kickoff. Adding support for mobile wallets to a Basic range does not require reissuing cards.
LevelTimelineInterchangePhysical CardsVirtual CardsMobile Wallets
Basic3 weeksFullYesYesNo
Full9 weeksFullYesYesYes

Cards Questions to Consider#

Question 1. What functionality do you want your cards to have?

Review the menu of feature options and let us know what you want to implement.

  • Full interchange
  • Physical card
  • Virtual card
  • Mobile wallet
  • Contactless card
  • Allpoint ATM access

Question 2. When do you want to launch your initial cards?

Considering your answers above, do you want to launch cards only once every feature is ready, or do you want to launch a v1 card product and upgrade over time?

Priority"We want to launch cards..."Design OptionsInfrastructure Options
SpeedAs soon as possibleGenericStarter
FunctionalityOnly if we have full interchangeGeneric
Only if mobile wallet is readyGeneric
Card DesignOnly if we have a branded card (more than just a logo printed on a generic card)StandardStarter
Only if we have a branded card and full interchangeStandardBasic
Only if we have a branded card and mobile wallet is readyStandardFull
Only if we have a custom card and mobile wallet is readyCustomFull

Question 3. How should you manage a phased rollout (if applicable)?

Depending on your preferences, you may choose to launch a “v1” card product and optimize over time (e.g., launching with a Standard card as an interim solution until a Custom card is ready, or beginning with the Starter setup before transitioning to a Basic or Full setup.)

Before executing a phased rollout, you should have answers to the following questions:

Will you reissue cards?

  • Only applicable if you begin on a Starter setup
  • If you upgrade to the Basic or Full setup, the cards you issued while in the Starter environment will continue to not generate interchange and not have mobile wallet functionality.
  • Once you move to the new setup, you may want to migrate those existing cardholders to the new offering via “mass reissuing” their cards.
  • The more cards you issue on the Starter infrastructure, the more expensive it will be to migrate those cardholders to the new infrastructure.

How will you notify your customers?

  • You should notify your customers any time you change your product offering, including modifying card terms or offering new functionality.
  • Options may include adding an announcement to your card mailer or sending an email blast to cardholders. We’re happy to walk through notification options with you.

Do you have a process for updating your Terms & Conditions?

  • You will also need to update your customer-facing debit card terms and conditions when offering new functionality, and push these new terms to your customers.
  • We will walk through this process with you.

Shipping & Delivery#


  • You place a card order for an end-customer (via API)

  • Unit’s card printer receives the order and prints the card (can take 1-2 business days)

  • The card printer ships the card to the cardholder

    • By default, the printer uses USPS as its standard delivery method, which offers limited tracking options
    • Special handling options are available for an additional fee
    • Customers should expect to receive their card approximately one week after the card order API call has been made (international shipping can take longer)

Card Printing Timeline#

  • Day 1: Client requests card via Unit
  • Day 2: Card printer receives card order and starts producing card
  • Day 3: Card printer continues producing card
  • Day 4: Card printer mails out card

Shipping time: 80% of presort mail is delivered within 3-5 business days from when the printer receives the card order.

Special Handling Options#

  • For an additional special handling fee, you may upgrade to FedEx shipping, which comes with full tracking
  • You can also request expedited processing, regardless of the delivery method, as well as delivery to an address different from the cardholder’s permanent address.
Shipping MethodCost
Standard USPSCurrent cost of first-class mail (~$0.55)
FedEx priority overnight (delivery by 10:30am)$55
FedEx two-day shipping$40

*Shipping costs are passed through from FedEx; this table shows averages only. Actual costs depend on the destination of the delivery.

Card Activation & Setup#

  • When the card arrives to the cardholder, the cardholder must activate the card before it can be used for physical or online transactions.
  • Cards may be activated via an API call or by calling the Visa cards center.
  • Once the card has been activated and the PIN set, the cardholder may use the card for in-person and online transactions.

Phone Activation#

If activating via phone, the cardholder should call the toll-free number (“TFN”) that you share with them (typically printed on the card, in-app, or on your website) and follow the voiceover prompts to verify his or her identity and set up a PIN:

[Call TFN] → Enter card number → Enter expiration date → Enter CVV number → Enter date of birth (mm/dd/yyyy) → Create PIN → Re-enter PIN → [Complete]