Gift Cards and Carriers – a Perfect Match

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More than $134 billion is expected to be spent on gift cards in 2015, so to say that they are popular is an understatement. Each year, as the gift card market grows, more and more brands are vying for a share of this massive market. And the gift card options continue to grow as well. From simple run-of-the-mill designs to unique patented creations, brands are offering a variety of gift cards to create a broader appeal across different audiences. For example, you can now find cards that are holiday themed, hobby-centric and gender-specific. So with all of these card options (and an equal number of carrier options) the job of printing, matching and distributing these cards becomes extremely complex. If this sounds like your gift card program, having a card production vendor that understands your unique program is key to ensuring precision and accuracy. At CPS Cards, we have created a card and carrier “code” system that simplifies complex gift card programs with many different card designs and denominations while keeping your program running smoothly, even during the busy holiday season.

Why Use a Coding System?

The #1 reason to use a coding system is to eliminate errors. The coding system helps to eradicate confusion when working with a variety of cards, carriers and denominations. Many of our clients have several brands under their corporate umbrella, and with that comes not only multiple branded cards, but multiple versions and denominations of cards as well as a variety of card carriers. So, as you can imagine, it can get confusing quickly if there is no systematic approach in place. Plus, with different third-party distributors, like Blackhawk and InComm, card requirements differ, which adds to the complexity. So how can you and your card provider keep it all straight? Use a coding system.

Here at CPS Cards, we recently implemented a coding system for a large restaurant group that distributes over 60 million cards annually under several different brands. The company also utilizes multiple third-party distributors, each with their own specific card/carrier requirements. All of this equals a very complex production process with dozens of variables. However, with our coding system, we are able to eliminate opportunities for errors. By assigning specific codes to both cards and carriers, we are able to accurately match the correct card to the correct carrier. We can ensure that we are using the right materials for the project running at that time. Also, to add another layer of authentication, we utilize both camera and manual verification to ensure a perfect end product.

Decoding the Code.

We include codes on both our cards AND carriers. Why? If you are working with several different versions and denominations, the possibility of error is high if there is no way to systematically match and verify them. Our quality control system digitally compares the codes with data files to ensure 100% match. Also, using these codes, we can create an audit trail showing what product was used and paired together.

The coding system we use at CPS Cards is pretty straightforward. We use a 6-digit code for cards, with each digit representing distinct information.

The first example below represents how we code our cards.


So, as you can see, there is a lot of information to consider, however, using this information helps us to immediately identify errors during production.

Next, we apply a code to each carrier type/version. That code is a 6 -8 digit number.

The example below represents one of our carrier codes. coding2

 Using a coding system for your gift cards and carriers reduces the opportunity for errors, saves time and ensures a quality end product. For more information about how to implement a coding system for your gift card program, contact us at

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