May 29, 2020

Mastercard to Offer Cards Aimed at Transgender and Nonbinary People

The initiative reflects growing awareness of the needs of transgender and nonbinary people. Mastercard doesn’t want customers to feel insecure or worried about potential discrimination when using its cards, said Cheryl Guerin, executive vice president for marketing and communications at the company, which announced plans for the feature in June.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary people may encounter discrimination in the financial world. A study by the University of Iowa, for instance, found that lenders are less likely to approve mortgages for same-sex couples.

“We’re focused on inclusion,” Ms. Guerin said. “If any community has a pain point, we want to do something about it.”

People will apply for card accounts using their legal name, she said, since banks are obligated to collect that information to verify the customer’s identity and, in the case of credit cards, to report the application to credit bureaus. But there is no requirement, she said, that the name on the card be the holder’s legal name. So the card-issuing banks will adjust their application processes to allow customers to request a card with their preferred name. Their legal name remains on the account, “in the background,” she said.

Some banks already allow wiggle room on names printed on credit and debit cards. Chase, for instance, allows flexibility as long as the name on the card is a “reasonable” derivation of the legal name — like a middle name that appears on government documents, or an initial instead of the full first name, which is an option that could help transgender people as well. But printing an entirely new name, and one that is commonly associated with a different gender, is new.

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