Woman using contactless Mastercard
Courtesy of Mastercard

For many, the name listed on their credit card doesn’t warrant much thought. However, for those in the LGBTQIA+ community, the name listed on their card might be a source of stress, anxiety and even harassment.

Mastercard is teaming up with issuers to help alleviate some of the challenges transgender and non-binary individuals experience throughout the payment process by introducing True Name™ cards. These cards will allow applicants to use their chosen or true names without requiring a legal name change.

A step toward inclusivity in the financial industry

Mastercard plans to roll out True Name™ cards starting in 2020. Many transgender and non-binary individuals have endured harassment and discrimination due to their gender presentation (the physical manifestation of one’s gender identity through things such as clothing, hairstyle, voice, mannerisms and more) not matching the name on IDs or payment cards. This new initiative aims to address that pain point.

Mastercard has urged other financial institutions to follow suit. The company is currently working with issuers to develop “a sensitive and private process, free of personal questions” to allow customers to choose what name they would like on to the card. However, the implementation of this initiative relies heavily upon banks and issuers to bring the True Name™ card to customers.

Randall Tucker, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Mastercard, gave a statement in a press release, saying “We are allies of the LGBTQIA+ community, which means if we see a need or if this community is not being served in the most inclusive way, we want to be a force for change to help address and alleviate unnecessary pain points. This translates not only for our Mastercard employee community but for our cardholders and the communities in which we operate more broadly. Our vision is that every card should be for everyone.”

Potential roadblocks for True Name™ cardholders

This is certainly a good step toward inclusivity, but there is the potential that True Name™ customers will have additional challenges to overcome.

For example, airline and hotel loyalty programs typically require you to use the name listed on your passport or government-issued ID. In order to transfer points and miles from a rewards credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or American Express® Gold Card, cardholders will need the name on their credit card account to match the name associated with their frequent flyer or hotel loyalty member account.

Some airlines, such as United Airlines and Air Italy, have taken steps toward more inclusive booking processes, including more gender options; however, those new policies don’t address the possibility that the legal names and chosen or true names of transgender and non-binary individuals may not match.

It’s also possible that True Name™ cardholders will face difficulties at sporting or entertainment events. An ID and payment method are often both used to verify identification when picking up will call tickets.

The same might apply for those who make purchases with credit cards. Retailers might request ID to complete transactions, and if the name on the card doesn’t match the name on the ID, there could be difficulties.

The bottom line

Ultimately, this a big first step toward eliminating discrimination in the payment process for transgender and non-binary individuals. However, it is not an overarching solution.

Ted Rossman, credit cards industry analyst for Bankrate, explains that Mastercard’s True Name™ Cards are “more about the social/emotional benefits than the financial nuts and bolts” — at least for the time being.

The long-term impact of this initiative will depend on if the rest of the industry (and the government) will choose to follow Mastercard’s example. Industry experts, including Rossman, believe that other businesses and financial institutions will do just that.

“I think we will probably see other networks and issuers following suit,” says Rossman. “This feels like a good common-sense initiative that others can and should get on board with.”