The Good and Bad of Temp to Perm Cards


In my last article, I discussed some of the pros and cons of instant issue cards. Although instant issue is a good route to go down if your credit union is looking for options, it is not the only option out there. As an alternative, credit unions can offer their members temp-to-perm cards. So, what exactly does that mean? Well, it’s exactly how it sounds: the member would receive a temporary card until their permanent card comes to them in the mail. The temporary card will have the same card number that will appear on their permanent card, however the name embossed on the temporary plastic will be of a generic name that the credit union chooses (such as “ABCCU Valued Member”). This way, the member does not have to wait the typical 5-7 day period to start using their card at the store, gas station, or even the ATM! So, what are the pros and cons to this solution?

The positive

No extra costs

For a credit union to offer temp-to-perm it may be a cheaper option. There are no extra costs for printers or servers needed in branch to print the cards. Instead, the credit union will be sent pre-made cards from their card vendor that will have the numbers already printed on them. This is the card number that the member will have on both their temporary card as well as their permanent one. Temp-to-perm is also a great idea to do if the credit union is unsure if instant issue is even a road they would like to go down (sort of testing the water). Members will still walk out of the branch with a card in hand.

No third parties

When setting up the temp-to-perm capability for the credit union, the only people involved in the process would be the credit union, the core processor, and the credit union’s card vendor. Instant issue on the other hand requires an additional vendor, such as Datacard. Temp-to-perm is an option that is offered by the credit union’s card vendor. Please note however, the credit union will need to be sure if all parties support this option (whether it be the core or the vendor), so give them a call first if you are thinking about heading this direction. It’s better to make sure all parties are in communication and in understanding before getting something in the works.

No additional systems required

Another great perk with temp-to-perm: your credit union staff would not have to learn another site. They would still work within their core’s system as well as their card vendor’s site just as they do today. Training is simple on both ends as there may only be a new step or two. However, this is preferable to having staff log into multiple sites and having to contact multiple people if there are questions or issues. It would still be just the core and card vendor’s site.

No downtime

One other pro about temp-to-perm is the lack of potential down time that you may see with instant issue, as the credit union wouldn’t have to worry about  a printer getting jammed or any issues with communication between the different systems. The process is easy, fast, and convenient, so you don’t have to worry if a co-worker is trying to make a card for a member at the same time you are. Two or more people can take care of members — a win-win for everyone!

Like anything though, there may be some cons that go in hand with the pros.

The negative

Potential usage issues

With temp-to-perm, the member may run into some issues trying to use their temporary card due to the card name being generic, so it’s best for them just to use their cards at an ATM, gas station, or grocery store. Buying items online may cause some headaches. They may also want to wait to set up bills with this card, as the information will be changing soon, once they receive their permanent card in the mail (such as name and expiration date).

Waiting period

In addition, there is a 24-hour waiting period before the member can start using their card online. This is due to the information passed to the card vendor which is sent in the normal nightly maintenance file. In turn, the card vendor will then activate the temp card, as well as order the member their permanent card.

There is a way to get around this. If the member wants to be able to use their card right away, the credit union will need to be sure on the core’s end that they have it to not send maintenance, because the credit union will be manually inputting the member’s data and card information directly on the card vendor’s site before giving the member their card (provided your core system allows for this). That way it is on both ends – the core’s and the card vendor’s.

New BIN required

Another downside is that the credit union cannot use the same BIN for their regular card orders and temp-to-perm card orders. A new BIN must be configured before doing temp-to-perm. This helps the card vendor know how to handle the new card information coming in the nightly file. With temp-to-perm, there are different settings on their end on how to handle the card order once received, compared to doing a regular card order (one that the member would receive in the mail and not get a temporary card in the meantime).

Try something new!

Whether a credit union is smaller in size, looking to offer some type of on-demand card for their members to have, or are looking to test the instant issue route by going this way first, I recommend looking at both options and then deciding which is best for your credit union. Overall, the person who wins is the member as they can walk out of the credit union’s branch with a card in hand (which would make anyone happy in this day and age). So please, reach out to your core, reach out to your card vendor, and see what options are available. Trust me,  you will be happy you did!


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