Physical Cards Setup

Learn how to set up a physical card program.

Overview: How To Stand Up A Physical Card Program

Creating a physical card program involves several third parties: a card manufacturer, a network, and a sponsor bank. Before you can create physical cards, you’ll have to complete these three steps:

  1. BIN Setup: You’ll need to acquire a new BIN(s) in coordination with a sponsor bank and a card network (unless you’re using a BIN pre-established by your Program Manager).
  2. Card Manufacturing Setup: Then, you’ll need to set up your BIN for use with the card manufacturer and share your physical card program details with Lithic or the card manufacturer.
  3. End-to-End Development and Testing: Once you’ve set up your BIN with a sponsor bank, the network, and the card manufacturer and received your card stock, you’ll want to test your whole physical card issuance process.
    1. Validate your card package, including the card (and its transacting functionality), envelope, and card carrier (the paper the card comes attached to), with a test package from your card manufacturer.
    2. Test your end users’ physical card issuance workflow end to end (e.g., from triggering issuance from a mobile app to card delivery).
    3. When all the above steps are complete, you can start issuing physical cards using the Lithic API! See How to Issue a Card Programmatically.

Physical Card Implementation Types

Lithic offers two types of card implementations:

  1. Templated cards: Templated card programs use standardized black or white cards, but the logo, card carrier, and card text can be customized within the bounds of a template. Lithic manages the card inventory and manufacturer relationship.

    • Lithic also offers generic black/white card options with no customization for customers prioritizing speed to market.
  2. Custom cards: For custom cards, you’ll contract directly with our partner card manufacturer (we're happy to provide an intro!) and fully manage your physical card program (e.g., managing card stock, working with the manufacturer on design and pricing).

    • This fuller management enables broader customizability, including options like choosing unique card art or packaging. Cards will still be issued and managed via the Lithic API. Note that physical card programs will still need to be approved by the bank and network.

How to Issue a Physical Card

  1. Request your card_program_token and product_id from your implementation manager.

  2. Send a POST request to the https://api.lithic.com/v1/cards endpoint:

    curl https://api.lithic.com/v1/cards \
      -X POST \
      -H "Authorization: YOUR_API_KEY" \
      -H "Content-Type: application/json" \
      -d '
    {
         "memo": "example card",
         "type": "PHYSICAL",
         "card_program_token": "1234abcd-ef5g-67h8-ijkl-m90n1a54f3d6",
         "product_id": "1",
         "shipping_address":{
            "first_name": "John",
            "last_name": "Appleseed",
            "address1": "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW",
            "city": "Washington",
            "state": "DC",
            "postal_code": "20500",
            "country": "USA"
    }
    '
    
  3. Once your request is sent successfully, a new card will be created with the status PENDING_FULFILLMENT. Once the card manufacturer receives and confirms your order, the status will change to PENDING_ACTIVATION.

  4. Once your customer confirms receipt of the card, set the card’s state to OPEN.

  5. Prompt your customer to set a PIN to further secure their card after receipt.

How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Physical Card

While our Reissue Physical Card functionality enables customers to generate a new card with the same PAN (i.e., to replace an expired card), customers can also create a flow to replace physical cards, generating a new physical card, PAN, and associated expiry and security code.

This flow could be useful to replace a card whose number has been stolen, for example. To set up a card replacement flow:

  1. Use the Update Card endpoint to update the state of the existing card to CLOSED. Note that this status change is irreversible.
  2. Issue a new physical card to the customer as you would normally.