How to Start a Membership Card Company

credit card and hand image by Warren Millar from

According to AlphaCard, one thing that gyms, movie rental stores, discount stores, casinos,and libraries have in common is their members-only access. However, for members to take advantage of everything these businesses have to offer, they need to show their membership card. Cards with encoded features such as magnetic stripes or smart chips will allow you to use software, such as Alpha Track, to keep track of your cardholders’ card use - so you can offer a points or awards program.

Decide on the type of company you want to start. Membership cards are often used for companies such as movie rental stores and libraries, and more recently grocery stores. However, bank debit cards and insurance cards can be considered as membership cards as well. The type of business run will dictate how your cardholders will use their cards.

Determine the type of card you want to offer. Membership cards use features such as printed card numbers (e.g. the number on the face of a credit card), photo ID, or a magnetic strip/smart chip – which allows the card to be read via card reader or scanning device. The type of card you select depends on the way in which the card will be used. For example, a card with a printed card number would be best for cardholders using their card for online purchases; while cards with a magnetic strip would be best for in-store purchases.

Figure out the benefits, restrictions, and obligations associated with the card. The cardholder will need to know the benefits for using their membership card. These benefits could be access to a gym or discount on gas; however, your members will only use the card if they are aware of the benefits. On the other hand, your cardholders will need to know the obligations and restrictions associated with card use. For example, AAA membership cardholders are required to pay an annual fee in order to access their services; with premium membership cards allowing more access to services, but at a higher fee.

Identify where, when, and how the card will be used. Membership cards, such as credit cards, can be used anywhere that has a credit card reader. While other membership cards, such as AAA, cards must be presented before service is provided and is only accepted by AAA service providers. On the other hand, Universal Studio’s Annual Park Pass Card must be presented to enter the theme park but the card is invalid during certain blackout dates.

Determine a process for issuing membership cards. These procedures should vary the selection of your membership company. For example, a grocery story will issue a savings card, on the spot, to any customer who completes an information form and return it to the service desk. While a credit card company issues cards by mail, after the customer has been approved post credit check.

Create a business and marketing plan. Develop or revise your business plan to detail the information you develop in steps 1 – 5. Software, such as Business Plan Pro, and websites such as and will help you develop both business and marketing plans.

Contact a membership card maker, such as CCG (Creative Card Group) or AlphaCard, for information about card printing and card reading/database software. Some membership card makers, like AlphaCard, specialize in selling the printers and software necessary for producing your own cards. However, other companies, like CCG, allow business owners to design and order their cards online.


  • Many business regulating agencies will require you to provide every cardholder with a printed copy all the terms, conditions, and perks associated with card use.


About the Author

Greenville native La Vera Frazier has been writing and directing stage plays since she was 12. Since 2009 Frazier has been writing entertainment-related articles that have been published on various websites. She holds a certificate as PCT/CNA from Greenville Tech. She is also completing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Lander University.

Photo Credits

  • credit card and hand image by Warren Millar from