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What is a Warm Card?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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A warm card is a bank card that provides restricted access to an account. The most common use of such cards is with business accounts where the account holder wants people to be able to make deposits into an account with a bank card, without being able to make withdrawals or other transactions. Many banks offer this type of card to their customers by request and it is also possible to obtain additional copies of unrestricted bank cards, if this option is desired.

When a warm card is encoded, information about the type of access options allowed is embedded into the card. Warm cards can limit people to withdrawals, deposits, or transfers, and they can restrict all three options. If a person has linked accounts, a warm card that only has access to a single account can be generated, allowing someone like a business owner to give an employee a warm card for the purpose of making deposits, without giving the employee access to information about other accounts.

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Such bank cards can also be used by parents who want their children to have access to accounts in an emergency, without allowing unfettered access. The warm card may limit the holder to a specific account and can also contain a limit on transactions, allowing people to access funds when needed but limiting the risks of abuse. People concerned about security may also opt for a warm card to limit access to their accounts in the event of a loss or theft.

Acceptance of warm cards at venues that take bank cards varies. Warm cards are usually not designated as debit/credit cards usable in any venue with a credit card machine, and not all merchants can accept plain bank cards for payments. If a merchant is set up to take bank cards, limitations on the warm card may prevent a person from running it for purchases. In other cases, a warm card allowing people to make limited transactions with merchants may be issued. This can be useful for allowing employees to purchase supplies and other necessary goods with a bank card, without giving the employees full account access.

People issued with warm cards should take care to keep them in a secure place. While the cards cannot be abused in the same way a regular bank card, credit card, or debit/credit card can be, there is still a potential security risk. If a card is lost or stolen, the incident should be reported immediately so the bank can freeze the card to prevent people from attempting to use it for transactions.

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