Optimumcardsolutionslogo Originalwothergreen Whiteletters
Transtion 03 01

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Paper Cards


Is a paper card with a magstripe recyclable?

There are many unfounded objections around what a magnetic stripe added to either a paper or plastic card does to the ability to recycle. For plastic, the magstripe is almost always either buried under a thin plastic laminate or adhered to the laminate surface so its suitability to recycle is a moot point. For paper however, adding a mag stripe doesn’t necessarily affect recycling. It depends on how the magstripe is applied to the card. Optimum Card Solutions’ method removes the clear plastic liner during application leaving just the magnetic stripe material. The main component (75 per cent) is iron oxide, commonly known as rust. The rest is binder, dispersants, and lubricants. The magstripe tape thickness is about 10-12 microns. (For reference, the thickness of a human hair is 50 microns.)

A paper card with a magnetic stripe can be recycled provided that the PET has been removed. It is then merely paper printed with an ink. But unlike a lot of printed products that use petroleum solvent-based inks, Optimum takes sustainability and recycling suitability up a notch by also using only water-based inks and adhesives in their card making method.

What about adding decorative foils? Does that negate the recyclability?

Similar to the magnetic stripe application, if the clear release liner is removed during the application process, then foil stamping will not be harmful during the recycle process. Once applied, the foil material is nothing more than pigment and if metallic, a thin layer of aluminum.  Foil thickness emulates the thickness of magstripe. Optimum always removes the foil release liner.

Aren’t most inks made of oil?

In the offset printing process most, offset inks are petroleum-based. At Optimum Card Solutions, we use water-based inks and adhesives on all our paper cards keeping the carbon footprint the lowest in the industry.

Are scratch offs on paper cards durable?

While we can never fully control how a consumer treats a product in the field, Optimum Card uses scratch offs that are better suited for a paper card versus a PVC card. The growing industry pivot to paper cards has caused scratch off manufacturers to create a better solution.

• Myths regarding the recycling of plastic in the USA

Read here to learn more about the recycling of plastics in the US 

How many other retailers are using a paper card?

It is estimated that of the 3.2 billion cards produced annually, approximately 60-70% use paper as the substrate of choice. Each year more and more retailers are converting their cards to paper.

Does Optimum Card offer testing on the paper cards?

Optimum has conducted numerous tests for companies that have made the transition to paper cards. We have our own in-house testing procedures and can share reviews of independent 3rd party testing as well. Prospective clients can have a small batch of test cards printed using your art file. This will enable you to see our test results and give you samples to do your own testing if desired. We encourage field testing because we are confident of the results: paper performs just as well as plastic.

You can’t wash paper cards and they tear, right?

Paper cards have been in use for a decade now. Card holders almost always keep them in wallets. Optimum emulates washing cards in wallets and gets great results. Once dried, card serial numbers stay intact.  Paper does tear. But at its common thickness a card holder would have to tear it deliberately. Optimum’s durability testing includes bending the card numerous times. Test results typically show that a card bent back and forth over 200 times still stays intact. Remember, a bent plastic card almost always ruins the card’s magstripe readability.

We have heard that the cards start to turn yellow over time and don’t stay flat. Is this true?

All card manufacturers when using paper use stock that is coated on both sides that makes the surface smoother and brighter.  Paper manufacturers use optical brighteners that tend to yellow when exposed to light over time. Optimum Card uses paper that has no optical brighteners in its construction, so it won’t yellow over time.

Paper is made on rolls.  The curve of the roll remains in the memory of the paper.  So, over time and in high humidity situations, paper will curl.  Optimum’s manufacturing method negates the paper memory.  Card inventory made several years ago still show complete flatness.

Hot Trend in Gift Cards…SHAPES!

Hot Trend In Gift Cards…shapes!

Optimum Card Solutions Offers the Hottest Trend in Gift Card Production – Shapes!

One of the hottest design trends for gift cards is the use of shapes to accent your design and stand out against other gift cards.

Optimum Card’s disruptive patented print technology offers card shapes at a price of just $500 over the standard card cost. This technology makes any size gift card utilizing shaped cards, affordable.  Whereas the traditional print method on PVC for a quality die cut requires an investment of $20,000 or more over the standard card cost for the male/female die cutting dies.

Given the affordable price of a quality die offered by Optimum Card, our retail partners are taking full advantage of this unique print embellishment.

Email or call us today to find out how we can bring SHAPES to your gift card assortment.



PBS Frontline Report: Plastic Wars

PBS Frontline documentary Plastic Wars reviews the myth of PVC recycling, how oil companies perpetuated
the myth of recycling to sell more PVC, and how PVC waste has become a global epidemic. How can you help
solve this PVC crisis… transition your gift cards to PAPER GIFT CARDS which appear, function, and perform
just like PVC cards.

Increase Customer Engagement With QR Codes


Apple has added a feature to new and existing iPhones (with the update to iOS 11) allowing the camera to read QR codes without the need for a 3rd-party app. Just open the camera and point! The QR can finally live up to its name: Quick Response Code.

What does this mean for gift cards? An easy way for brands to bridge print with digital, direct customers to their nearest location, share company or product info or announce an event. Since the gift card is in-hand, consumer engagement has already occurred and the QR code is there to enhance the experience.

Best of all, the code doesn’t take up much real estate. Ask us for a sample card to see for yourself!

Ensuring Successful Gift Card Fulfillment

Make your holiday season brighter with better control of your gift card fulfillment.  Whether done in-house or outsourced, an effective program should consider:

  • Historical Data Tracking – Every quantity, serial number, date, version, and tracking number reported for each recipient, so no orders are lost, and fraud cases are easier to investigate.
  • Inventory – Identifying current gift and promotional card inventory levels with associated serial numbers helps determine future card orders, versions, and reinforces sales data integrity.
  • Handling – Determine if it is more cost effective to ship cards to your DC to be fulfilled, or to save the shipping expense and have orders fulfilled through your card production house.
  • Holiday Shipping Strategy – Use historical data to deploy gift card shipments prior to the holidays to avoid delayed shipping times and expedited shipping fees.

If you would like to explore ways to make your unique fulfillment system more efficient, please contact us.  Together, we can ensure your card fulfillment runs smoothly this holiday season and all year round.

Gift Card Production

When it comes to paper gift card production, most companies are still using the same equipment originally designed for plastic cards.  Optimum Card Solutions has taken an innovative approach to the entire process from start to finish.

Read on to see how our process compares to the competition.


Gift Cards: PVC vs. Paper Sourcing

There’s a lot of talk about sustainability and gift cards, and it all begins with the material chosen to make the cards. This infographic highlights some environmental differences between PVC and FSC® certified paper for you to consider.