Card design and card materials - physical and virtual

Continuing the discussion from Virtual cards:

I started this as a follow-up to the Virtual Card discussion, but as I thought about it more, it feels like a different topic.

As a matter of interest, while there is a growing demand for virtual cards on one side, there are also lots of calls in Fintech for things like Metal cards, or even other types of card materials and features.

Are these opposite elements of the same discussion, and are they complementary in some way, or is this a completely different topic?

Are those customers who want us to develop the virtual features completely different from those looking for physical innovations, or are they the very same people, … or are they maybe separate but with a bit of an overlap according to personal taste?

Whether we issue cards to all customers, or by application, and for a fee or free, we will still definitely have some kind of card (or cards) and I am wondering what options are most in demand?

What elements matter most to you? (btw, if ‘something else’ do let us know what it is in the comments)

  • material (plastic / metal)
  • technology (biometric, dynamic cvv)
  • environmental impact
  • design (colour / alignment / embossed / etc.)
  • something else

0 voters


Metal cards???

Metal cards can be a more environmentally friendly alternative to plastic, but they are expensive to manufacture and should be recycled at end-of-life. A metal card easily has a usable life well beyond the two or three years typical for plastic cards. So, is it really necessary to have an expiry date hard coded into the card? Would it be possible to renew the card periodically, e.g. via NFC and the mobile app? If not, what’s the longest expiry period supported by the payment networks? A card should outlast my pocket wallet not the other way around.

Metal is clearly an attractive proposition for some people… I’ve been tempted but resisted due to the ongoing cost.

All the metal cards I’ve seen in have contactless - which means they have a plastic layer stuck on the back. It looks cheap and it peels off (its basically a sticker) - making them possibly less durable than old-fashioned plastic ones. I believe Apple Card is all metal, and they expect you to use your iPhone for contactless…

Triodos’ card is PLA (biodegradable plastic) - its a nice idea and I’m all for reducing plastic waste, but a debit card is hardly a case of single-use plastic. Just issue cards for as long as you possibly can, and send all your customers a Dozens reusable coffee cup / shopping bag and you’d probably prevent more waste.

You could let us send expired cards back for responsible recycling (perhaps include a pre-paid return envelope with replacement cards? That would be great PR when you replace everyone’s Mastercard with a Visa one…).

I’m not sure metal cards as R*volut and C*rve use them (ie premium options to generate an income) really fits with Dozens’ approach to finance - surely you’d want your customers saving/investing the £10-15 a month? Then again, issuing (free) metal cards as savers’ awards might work well? Turns the ‘more money than sense’ aspect of metal cards right on its head :slight_smile:.


I’ve not got a metal card, but ones that I’ve held feel really nice.

But, to be honest, I do prefer a decent plastic card. Maybe it’s psychological, but I think I can feel that my Nationwide card is better quality to most fintechs.

There is definitely a variation in card quality out there.

I also struggle to shake the feeling that unembossed cards feel a bit flimsy compared to a typical “classic” design with fully embossed numbers - and I think this is why I feel the same about the cards from many of the Fintechs.

It’s very interesting what Curve have done with their new investor cards - no number on the card at all. This is obviously great for security but I would worry about acceptance a bit.

I think I would like to see, ideally, a card like Curve’s but using a different number for the magstripe, Chip and online/cardholder not present. Then, if one is comprised, you can keep using the others - e.g magstripe fraud would be a re-issued card, but your online payments use different details so no new number is needed for those. Also, for security, no card details on the card and unembossed - only the cardholder name would be shown, with no signature strip either.

It would be nice to have full card controls in the app and the Chip set to force online contactless - so contactless could be disabled in the app and you could use Apple Pay instead - with a fallback to allowing offline if required in certain situations as a last resort only (e.g. transit).

However, I see all of this as a long way off and I’d rather keep my embossed numbers for now; both because I am used to it and like the feel, and because I want to maximise acceptance across the world so I have no need to carry cash travelling.

I would rather have a backwards-compatible card (if that makes sense) than a card so futuristic I worried about acceptance enough to need backup cash all the time.


This is a good point. I’m sure i’m not the only person here who has an old-world bank card in their wallet just in case (never really had acceptance issues, but early on there were lots of stories of retailers refusing to take Monzo - an argument against distinctive branding, perhaps? ).

I actually think that Dozens already have a very important new card feature already in the pipeline - the Visa logo. Almost all fintechs are Mastercard, and knowing I’d get a Visa card is the reason I signed up for Revolut and the card is always in my wallet.

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Yes, I feel the same way about this.

Revolut doesn’t quite cover it in my opinion, since their cards are still prepaid and very occasionally prepaid isn’t accepted where full debit is. That’s why I’m looking forward to dozens becoming a fully-licensed, debit card issuing bank with Visa cards.

Just in case, particularly abroad, I like to carry at least 1 each of Mastercard credit and debit, plus Visa credit and debit. My free-to-use abroad Visa debit has, until now, been Revolut but I’m looking forward to replacing that with dozens and relegating Revolut to a backup cash withdrawal card kept in the hotel safe.

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What, no American Express?! :smiley:

I do carry American Express in the UK (and probably would in Japan too as they have a cross-acceptance agreement with JCB) but it’s not so useful abroad as there aren’t any no-fees cards.

They do have the international currency cards, but I don’t have one of those.

I’m torn on the subject. I am an amex customer, as my first card, and HATE their metal card, which is standard for my tier (it’s an absolute horror, inasmuch as the contactless doesn’t work well, they slaughter your wallet and other cards unless you keep them completely separate, and are not great with most machines to boot). But until this generation they offered a plastic version for customers like me (issued as a satellite card), and I always took the offer and used that instead for day to day.
Main issue is that I love the card design (esp the last generations, with no detail on the front, all on the back), but they are stopping this year the plastic versions… And that tiny detail is making me think I’ll defect or downgrade back to a basic card. So yeah, card design DOES matter.


Yes, card design does matter if it affects functionality.

The best designs are the most functional in my opinion.

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I like the idea of metal cards from the environmental standpoint. If it is genuinely true they make less impact. I’m still not sure.

Only I have two now and they both don’t have any longer dates than the plastic ones. And I’m also totally puzzled as to what to do to ‘securely destroy’ it at end of life… It’s always seemed an issue left squarely in the hands of the customer not the issuer.

So I like the suggestion above of returning for recycling if there was a secure way to do so. (I feel an envelope marked card disposals may not be the way to go :joy:)

I like the idea of a virtual, renewable expiry so you can always have the same card.

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Me too.

I think a metal card with an expiry date of about 10 years would be fine for me, as somebody who looks after my cards and often finds it wasteful to be sent a new one after 3 years when my old one could have continued working fine if not for the expiry date.

Plus we could enjoy the feel of a metal card!

I think this would only be workable if we had separate card details to use online, so if the card details were compromised online then only the separate details would need to be re-issued, not the card itself.

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If it does, its pretty negligible - and metal cards are really being touted as ‘premium’ rather than ‘eco friendly’ - a PLA card sends a better green message.

As I understand it PVC (default card plastic), PLA (biodegradable ‘green’ plastic) and steel (/other metals) are all recyclable. The issue is that the chip and wireless antennae are non-trivial to remove. In theory you should be able to get a fair amount of the base material out of the card for recycling with a little knowledge / care (look at N26’s transparent cards for an indication of this…).

But we are talking about 5g of plastic, in daily use for 3 years. I don’t know anyone for whom that would be a significant contribution to their output-to-landfill per 3 weeks, let alone 3 years.

So I’d argue that for anyone here, there are easier ways to make bigger differences. Just keep your old iPhone 7 for another year. Admit it - it still works fine. Or try not going out other than to buy food for another 3 months :slight_smile:.

If you still feel guilty, just think of all the polluting vans full of cash being kept off the road by your paying with cards instead of cash / all the trees that are still standing because you haven’t written a cheque in a couple of decades.

If want a bank that makes a lower environmental impact, you’re probably going the right way with a(ny) fintech. No branch in every city, less staff per customer, no stupid security dongles/card readers, less likely to be investing your money in fossil fuels etc, etc…

The biggest environmental impact a fintech creates is likely to be power - so ask are they using 100% renewable energy in the data centre?

As we’ve both said - accepting cards back for recycling (cut out as much plastic as you can, and at least recycle that) - would be a nice thing to do, but there are lower effort things (on both sides) that would help the environment more.


True, Co-operative Bank uses PVC-free plastic cards, and apart from being slightly less rigid than the average card, they just look like normal plastic cards.

I would be fine with this being used for dozens.

A random, but I think important, point about the new Visa cards I would like to add: please design it with only the Visa logo, not the “cutout around the logo” that some banks have. To see what I mean, look at the difference between an RBS debit card and Santander.

The “white cutout” looks awful and is always better to avoid. I like the current dozens design and would like you to just swap out the Mastercard logo for a Visa one, really.


Is there a reason people can’t be issued with a branded high quality metal card that has their name and a unique number on it but then control the actual card through the app

  • if I want to see my card details I can get them in app
  • if you need to issue me a new card number it can be done in app
  • Virtual cards remain unaffected

I’d even be willing to pay a deposit for the card and could return it if I ceased to be customer.

One of my gripes with N26 was that at the end of the year when I decided not to keep metal they automatically issue a new card which is/was a complete waste. I get they didn’t want people signing up, getting metal and then cancelling but I did have my card for a year before cancelling

Outside of this I also am quite happy with a high quality plastic card with embossed numbers.

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Sorry for missing your post and replying so much later!

This would have to be done using two sets of card numbers connected in the background to the same account.

One set of card details on your physical card, another on the app. That way, you could change what your physical card number was if you lost your card but your in-app “virtual” number could stay the same (this would be used for subscriptions and online).

The same thing would work in reverse if a website was compromised - new virtual details could be issued as you kept using your physical card.

I think this would be great!

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Hi @robert,

Can I ask if the new cards will have a similar design to our current ones, just with a Visa logo?

I really love the existing card design of both the normal card and my investor one, so I hope it doesn’t change too much!

good question!

I’m glad to hear that you like our current card designs. I’m very fond of them too, for obvious reasons.

For the new cards, all will be revealed soon