This page lays out guidelines to help you craft your card program’s marketing and public-facing materials (e.g., website, press-release). It contains best practices to help you comply with laws and other obligations based on the type of message.
Bank partners and card networks share guidelines of what is acceptable in marketing materials that cite the bank or network, or highlight the program that is supported by either. Deviation from the approved guidelines may jeopardize or weaken the partnership trust established between Lithic and Patriot Bank/Mastercard.
These guidelines are not legal advice, and you should consult with your own legal counsel. Lithic’s legal team can provide fintech lawyer recommendations to customers.
Generally, you should approach public-facing materials with a customer-centric mindset. You want customers to have the best experience, and that means making sure customers aren’t confused about your products or terms.
Federal and state laws prohibit unfair and deceptive acts or practices. Generally, this means marketing materials should not be misleading or leave out important customer information.
Before submitting to Lithic, make sure all of your marketing materials:
- Are true, accurate, and consistent with how your customers will engage with your product. Some key areas to watch include:
- Accurately disclosing any important feature limitations (e.g., geographic limits, features that are restricted to subscribers or paying customers).
- Avoiding exaggerated claims or puffery that are hard to prove.
- Any competitive advertising claims should be independently validated. When providing citations for claims, use reputable sources.
- Any explanations that modify or qualify a claim should be tied to the claim —either in the same area of text or by using a footnote or asterisk. But don’t bury important information so it's hard to find.
- Avoiding unqualified words or claims like best, every, always, never, or guaranteed. Instead, consider softer framing like “among the best” or “most.”
Example: Unqualified Claims
If you discuss how fast it takes to complete an action (e.g. onboarding), don’t frame it as certain (“open an account in five minutes”). Instead, frame it more softly (“open an account in as fast as 5 minutes”).
- Use plain language that is easy to read and understand.
- Make disclosures clear and conspicuous. Use a font size and color that’s easy to read, and doesn’t appear significantly smaller than other text.
- 8-point font - paper disclosures.
- 10-point font - online disclosures.
- Superscripts and subscripts should be no more than 2 points smaller than the font size used for the body of the text.
When drafting marketing materials, do not:
- Leave out key info if it would affect how customers might understand claims about a product.
- Market products that are not available or difficult to obtain (bait and switch).
- Advertise a product as free if there are any charges, costs, or fees that may be outlined in the terms and conditions or cardholder agreement. Preferable language includes “at no cost” and “no card fee for XX service will be charged”.
- Guarantee outcomes or use implied promises.
Example: Guaranteeing Outcomes
“We guarantee your credit will improve by using us” or “We will prevent all fraud”. Instead use softer language like “reduces fraud” or “helps build credit”.
- Suggest a card can be used for purposes the card program isn’t designed for. For example, business prepaid cards should not use consumer use cases in marketing.
- Claim to be a bank if you don’t have a bank charter. Instead, consider “provider of banking services” or “business banking platform.”
- Suggest a card is accepted more broadly than it is (e.g., don’t say a card “can be used anywhere in the world” or “at every merchant.” Instead, say it “can be used anywhere [card network] is accepted.”
Any press release that mentions a card network (e.g., Mastercard) requires the network’s pre-approval. The networks will also take issue with your program, and may ask our bank partners and Lithic to halt your cards, if you do not abide by the following:
- Avoid language suggesting you “collaborated with” or “worked with” a card network to develop the card program. Similarly, avoid saying a card is “powered by” or “driven by” a card network.
- If you use the network reference, you must include a card network’s acceptance language (“The card may be used everywhere [card network] is accepted.” This does not apply to Card Art, Card Proofs, Activation Stickers, and Envelopes.
- Include the card network’s trademark statement (e.g., “[Mastercard or Visa] is a registered trademark of [Mastercard International Incorporated, or ”Visa Inc.”]). This does not apply to Card Art, Card Proofs, Activation Stickers, and Envelopes.
- Envelopes and mailers for your cards should be plain, nondescript to disguise the fact there is a card inside.
- Follow naming conventions for when card network name is used (e.g. “ABC Prepaid Mastercard®”, “ABC Debit Mastercard®”, “ABC Visa® Prepaid Card”, or “ABC Visa® Debit Card”).
- The card network name (e.g., Mastercard or Visa) should be followed by a superscript registration mark (®) the first time it is mentioned, and exclude it after that.
- Don’t use the network brand name in plural, possessive, or verb form.
Do not use: Mastercards, Mastercard’s, or Mastercarding
- For additional Mastercard network rules applicable to use of logos, images, and text please check out: Mastercard Branding Rules.
Each piece of marketing should clearly and accurately identify the issuing bank with proper FDIC designation used, when applicable.
“The XXX Card is issued by Patriot Bank: Member FDIC.”
- Do not claim a card or account is eligible for FDIC insurance if it is not.
- If you disclose that a card or account is eligible for FDIC insurance, you must identify the relevant insured bank.
- Patriot Bank requires the Issuer Statement to identify Patriot Bank as “Member FDIC”.
- The M in “Member” should always be capitalized.
Rules for card art, which consists of text and images (e.g. logos) must be clearly followed as both our bank partners and networks strictly review these.
- Card Front – Approved Program Name must appear in the Issuer Identification Area, which Mastercard defines as located on the Card Front.
- Card Back – Approved Full Program Name.
- 6-point font - Disclosures and Disclaimers on Card Plastics.
- Since there are no distinctions with prepaid cards, the words “Gold”, “Platinum”, or similar are not permitted within the full approved Program Name.
- No “Debit” and “Stored Value” Card references.
- Do not use the word “debit” when referring to a prepaid Mastercard card. The only times a card may be referred to as a “debit card” is when the card is accessing a DDA or Savings account.
Disclosures must be clearly visible on websites and applications (aka apps).
- Content required on websites:
- Cardholder agreement
- Fee schedule
- When using hyperlinks to lead to a disclosure:
- Make the hyperlink noticeable
- Ensure links are working
- Whenever a customer is prompted to leave the website to an external website the below disclaimer should be used:
“Patriot Banks does not endorse or guarantee the products, information, or recommendations provided in linked sites and Patriot Bank is not liable for any failure of products or services advertised on those sites.”
Any graphic design element that might reflect poorly on or might engender hostility toward or might cause derision of or might bring into disrepute Patriot Bank or Mastercard®, Visa®, or Discover® card brands is not permitted.
- Images must not contain, infer, or portray:
- Offensive racial/prejudicial/religious subject matter of any nature
- Sexual/obscene/profane subject matter of any nature
- Partial or full nudity
- Political subject matter of any nature
- Depiction of violent acts or death imagery
- Depiction of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, or firearms
- Depiction or reproduction of currency
- Solicitations, including telephone numbers or services of any nature (e.g., 900 or 800 numbers URLs)
- Competitive card brand or institution marks or names when no relationship exists between you and that card brand and institution
- Copyrighted material of any nature
- Branded products/services, including abbreviations and/or symbols of any nature
- Celebrities/musicians/athletes/entertainers/public figures/cartoon characters, etc., of any nature
- Reference to any Mastercard®, Visa®, or Discover® card brand sponsored properties/events
The foregoing shall not apply to the use of any company image, copyrighted material, branded products/services, including abbreviations, acronyms and/or symbols of any nature, trademarks, personalities or names to the extent legally owned by or licensed to the cardholder.
Social media is used to engage with customers and the world at large. When executed inappropriately, social media creates legal, reputational, compliant, and operational risks to Patriot Bank and Mastercard, as well as Lithic. Social media posts that reference Patriot Bank, Lithic, Mastercard, or the cards or programs need to be submitted for review.
- All postings should be respectful, courteous, and non-offensive.
- False and defamatory statements should be removed promptly.
- This includes retweets and shares of content.
- User Comments
- Respond to correct any inaccurate info posted by a user/commenter.
- Refer posters to applicable website pages, FAQs, or customer service as applicable.
- Review responses and remove inappropriate content, SPAM links and comments, or any comment containing personally identifying information.
- All complaints should be acknowledged and referred to a support email or number.
Blog Posts that reference Patriot Bank, Lithic, Mastercard, or the cards or programs that hold a relationship with us, our bank, or the network must be submitted for approval.
- Posts must reflect honest opinions, findings, or beliefs and may not make a statement that is untrue about the product.
- For editorial blog posts, the following disclaimer should be included:
Disclaimer: “The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Patriot Bank”
Promotional email marketing campaigns are subject to review because they are a regulated email marketing activity.
CAN-SPAM Act divides emails into either:
- “Promotional emails” – primary purpose is to convey a business ad or promote a product or service
- “Transactional emails” – primary purpose is related to an existing customer’s transactions or use of your service. These emails are not subject to most CAN-SPAM rules.
For both promotional and transactional emails, best practices include:
- Do not use misleading email subjects.
- Accurately identify the sender of the email, including the originating domain name.
For promotional emails, best practices include:
- Give recipients a way to opt-out of or unsubscribe from future promotional emails.
- Honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days.
- Clearly and conspicuously disclose that the message is an advertisement or solicitation.
- Include the sender’s physical address.
Any testimonials, endorsements, or case studies related to the cards or program with ties to Lithic, Patriot Bank, or Mastercard must be submitted for review before being made public.
- Any testimonial is from a voluntary user and they give permission to use their name.
- Disclose any affiliation with or compensation paid to anyone providing a testimonial or endorsement. (e.g. “A paid actor was used[…]” or “This is a paid endorsement.”)
- Online reviews must be honest and true. Do not draw from a sample that involved artificially suppressed negative reviews.
- Any experts used should have relevant expertise, and approve any quotes and use of their name.
- Maintain records of actual testimonials, endorsements, or quotes used.
- If a statement about the product/features cites data, statistics, or studies, you should include the sources. For example, claiming “our product cuts down [X] by 30%” should explain how the number was determined.
It is important to ensure you have the copy rights or permissions to use any image, logo, artwork, etc that is on your card, website, or any marketing materials.
- All content (writing, images, video, etc.) should either be created by you or you should have permission or a license from the author(s).
- All images should be properly licensed.
- If a contractor created the work, your agreement with the contractor should allow you to use the work.
- If you use any third-party logos, trademarks, or designs, make sure they are correct and not distorted.
- If submitting a collateral piece in multiple languages, the English version must be submitted first.
- Only when the English version is approved, will the review commence for the non-English version using the English version as a template.
- When translating into a foreign language equivalent the Collateral may need to be sent to Legal.
- Don’t defame or make disparaging comments about other companies, brands, or people.
- If you make claims that certain categories of products are better than others (e.g., claiming prepaid cards are better than credit cards), you should ensure they can be supported with evidence if you are questioned.
- Include necessary disclaimers, as applicable (“not investment or legal advice”).
- Don’t advertise anywhere that promotes unlawful activity or could cause reputational risk to Lithic or our partners.
- Do not market a Patriot Bank product in connection with pornography, obscenities, gambling, religion, politics, violence, hate speech, known spammers, drugs, and other illicit/illegal activities that may create a safety and soundness concern.
- Proofread for punctuation, spelling, and grammar.
- The full program name should be used the first time the program is mentioned. E.g., “ABC Brand Prepaid Mastercard®” or “ABC Brand Prepaid Card.”
Consumer credit cards have particular regulations that may apply to marketing materials. If you’re interested in creating a consumer credit card program, we recommend talking with an experienced fintech lawyer. Lithic’s legal team is happy to make recommendations.
Updated 10 months ago