The Good and Bad of Instant Issue


Nature dictates that there is always a good side of things, and a bad side. Take moving to the countryside for instance. The good would be that you are most likely not going to have neighbors; the bad side would be the fact that you would have to drive a much longer just to get a few groceries.

Another great example was receiving the home assessment from the city indicating the value of my house went up. The good news is that the housing market is going well, and my home value is better. The bad news is that my mortgage payment is now going to increase due to increased taxes on the new value. As a credit union, when thinking about going instant issue, just know that this rule also applies; it will have benefits and drawbacks.

What are instant issue cards?

Instant issue cards are exactly what they sound like: a process through which you can instantly produce a plastic (whether it be an ATM, debit, or credit card) on the spot for your members as they wait inside the credit union. The card will display the member’s new card number, along with their name using flat emboss (meaning the numbers and name are not punched through the card).

There are also “temp-to-perm” cards. These are very similar and have the same concept as the instant issue printed plastics, however, let’s hold off on that for another article.

Some of the basics you need to create instant issue cards would be a printer at your branch, card stock with your credit union’s selected image (however this will be blank until you print the card), and the supported software. With instant issue you too will be working alongside your core processor and current plastics vendor, as well as the instant issue provider (vendors such as Entrust Datacard or Card @ Once to name a few).

The good about instant issue


The number one reason many credit unions are going the instant issue card route is simple: the member’s card is created instantly there in the branch. No more having to wait five to seven business days for the card to arrive in the mail. Your member can request a new card and walk out the door with their new plastic in hand within minutes. This also comes in handy in cases where a member happened to have lost their card or damaged it.

In today’s world convenience is everything. It’s also great that your member can set their PIN right then and there. No more having to call the 1-800 number to enter in your card information. Just simply enter in a four-digit code into a keypad and your member is good!

Cutting down cost for the credit union

Everyone loves to hear the words ‘cutting down cost’ when it’s a good thing. Everyone looks for ways to save money and this is one area that will do that. With instant issue, the credit union will be eliminating the cost of having to mail the card directly to the member. This is great, especially as the cost of postage keeps rising–and those few extra cents per mailing add up! With instant issue, the credit union will have the card stock on hand ready for use!

The bad about instant issue

Faster wear-and-tear

Because the cards are made on the spot, there is no way to have them raised embossed. Everything is printed flat on the plastic. This can cause havoc for people who use their cards often, or in my husband’s case, works in a field that requires for him to get dirty. This wear and tear can make it almost impossible to see the numbers, which would require the member to have to request a new card sooner. Although this may be good for the credit union if you charge a card replacement fee, this can become a problem for some members if they are having to replace their cards more frequently than if the card had raised-embossed numbers.

One at a time, please

When creating a card, multiple people at one location cannot create a card at once. So this may cause a little bit of a traffic jam if you have multiple people who need to use the machine to create cards for their members. The wait is not long however, and chances are you would rarely come into this issue.

Everyone will have their own opinion on instant issue: some love it while others may grumble. But like everything else, you must take the bad with the good. But in my opinion, the good here most certainly outweighs the bad. As a credit union, you will attract more members if they know they can get a new card issued that day. Whenever I speak to someone who just opened a new account at a financial institution, that is always the number one thing I hear.


  • christie#1

    April 17, 2020

    If you are considering Instant Issue, you may need to obtain the keys to your bin if you do not already have them. This was an unexpected cost and delay of project for us.


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