How Your Business Can Benefit From Card Issuing APIs

FinTech isn't new, but the reach of its usefulness continues to spread into unexpected areas. One such area is card issuing. Card issuing is the ability of financial institutions to issue debit or credit cards—either physical or virtual. This might not seem like much, but when combined with new business needs and consumer trends we start to see interesting use cases crop up.

One use case is single-use, or temporary, card numbers that can be used to put more power in the hands of the user rather than the merchant. This started to become popular in the consumer space when credit card companies, like Apple's Apple card, started using one-time card numbers for transactions. Other banks allow customers to create virtual cards for specific purchases and subscriptions, right from within their apps. But what can your business do to offer similar capabilities? That's where card issuing APIs come in.


In this article we'll explore the big players in the card issuing API space, as well as how your business can benefit from card issuing.

Card Issuing APIs


There are a variety of players in the card issuing space. Recently in the news thanks to their integration with the password manager 1Password, Privacy offers a developer-focused card issuing API that allows you to do things like create cards locked to specific merchants, set spending limits, offer alternative payroll methods through virtual or physical debit cards, and more. If this is the first you're hearing about any of this, it might seem like an outlier in the space. The great news, is, there are many players to choose between.


Stripe, the beloved developer-friendly payments platform, also offers card issuing. Their use-cases are more business focused. For example, delivery companies can issue managed cards to drivers that allow them to handle things like parking fees, fuel costs, and more. Another market they highlight is travel. Travel agents can be given dedicated cards for booking client trips. Gone are the days of manually requesting business credit cards and having individuals report their spending. It can now all be done automatically with their API.


Marqeta specializes in card issuing. They offer many of the benefits mentioned by the previous services, but also add some interesting options like custom-designed physical cards, rewards and incentives cards, and a slew of big names as customers. Marqeta also supports business-centric needs, like built-in spending controls and just-in-time funding to manage business-to-business payments like order fulfillment.

An ever-expanding industry

Others in the space include Adyen, Airwallex, and even platforms like Hydrogen that incorporate card issuing. We expect to see even more payments and business finance companies expand into similar offerings as they pair nicely with the rest of their products.

Benefits of using a card issuing API

There's a reason many fintech companies rely on APIs, like Plaid, to manage integrations. Security is already hard enough, but interfacing with individual financial institutions makes it even harder. Card issuing APIs offer the same benefit. The power of a complex service, wrapped in an approachable API that makes sense for products in a variety of industries.

As mentioned above, one of the core benefits of all of these services is the ability to offer on-demand virtual and physical cards. This allows companies to generate new cards as needed and manage how, where, and when they are used. Delivery companies can generate cards for drivers to use on fuel expenses. Construction contractors can issue cards for last-minute resupplies at hardware stores. Even political campaigns can issue cards to staff in order to better track expenses and limit spending.

Speaking of expenses, if your product relies on expense management, many card issuing APIs have this functionality baked in. Either through granular features like single-use numbers, through user specific cards, or through cards dedicated to specific categories of expenses. Many offer the ability to create digital wallets to offer even more constraints over how funds are used.

Many providers are also global-friendly, offering currency specific cards that allow users to avoid international transaction fees. This is especially useful for business targeting remote teams, as well as customers like travel agencies that benefit from purchasing flights and accommodations in different regions instead of through a single portal.

Perhaps the greatest benefit is that nearly all companies that offer card-issuing are developer-friendly. The competition has forced an increased focus on developer experience, and now you can implement many of these APIs securely and faster than ever before. On top of that, pricing is clear and upfront for many, rather than hidden behind a sales call.

These are just a few of the key features. The suite of offers keep growing into areas like ACH deposits, wire transfers, and more all tied to the card-issuing infrastructure.

Get started with card issuing

The main platforms we've listed in this article offer the easiest way to get started. Privacy, Stripe, and Marqeta all make it easy to sign up and start using features immediately, either through an SDK or approachable REST API. You can also check with your existing payments platform to see if they offer an API-driven way to issue virtual cards.

Once set up, make sure to monitor the APIs with a tool like Bearer. API outages happen, even with reliable companies like this listed in this article. With Bearer you'll be the first to know when an issue arises, and it can even reconcile many common problems with the automated remediations feature. Are you using card issuing in an interesting way? Let us know and connect with us at @BearerSH.

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