What are digital membership cards?

Digital membership cards are easily downloadable online identification that helps associations verify membership. Going digital provides an additional benefit to members, as they can access digital membership cards via their smartphone digital wallets. Cut your production and enrollment time in half with these digital cards.

A few ways digital cards accomplish this is by:

  • Instantly delivering credentials via email. This automation saves hours and hours of manual work. 
  • Simplifying necessary credential updates. Instead of manually renewing or changing hundreds of credentials, issuers can take care of this with the click of a button!
  • Eliminating the cost of printing. The option to print is transferred to the recipient if they prefer to hold a physical copy

What is the difference between digital membership cards and membership cards?

Membership cards are physical cards that members may keep in their wallet or on a lanyard around their necks. They might have a chip or magnetic strip that is used to confirm their membership or access a door, and normally display the member’s name, email address, and relation to the association. They must be printed or manufactured and then delivered to members by mail, or given manually at an event. 

Digital membership cards delivered through a digital badging platform also contain the aforementioned information but can be accessed on the go with a unique link to their dedicated credential page on the member’s smartphone or computer. Members will gain access to this link via an automated email from their issuer, making it immediately possible for them to view their page containing all credentials received. 

This detailed membership information is embedded into the image and stored on a dedicated credential page for each recipient’s achieved credential. Members are also able to embed digital badges into their email signatures which increases the visibility of their achievements. 

Digital certificate designs can contain a scannable QR code that pulls up a link to this page that contains the credential, the issuer, and member information, as well as the expiration date for the credential. 

Sharing this information is made even easier with the digital wallet cards on most smartphones. The digital card can be stored within the wallet for quick access. This provides a centralized place for it to live and will contain that QR code for the scanner to check validity. 

What benefits do digital membership cards offer?

Easily Amended Credentials

Digital membership cards offer many benefits that are all to do with convenience and ease of use. Member information can be quickly amended without having to create a new card and the fear of misplacing a physical card is removed. It is also easy to customize member information as it pertains to their ‘status’ or ‘tier level’ within the association. 


Digital membership cards are cost-effective! With physical cards, you previously had to spend time and energy creating content for each individual card, print them, and then incur shipping costs for delivery. The money for materials and staff to carry out these tasks adds up very quickly, and digital cards for members can alleviate this burden. 


On top of being a cutting-edge technological resource, digital membership cards are eco-friendly! It is so rewarding to reduce your carbon footprint, and this option eliminates all of the physical membership cards you would release quarterly, plus all of the replacement cards you would inevitably have to send when errors occur. 

How to create a digital membership card (pdf vs digital credential - pros and cons of each)

Table for Digital Credentials vs PDF Credentials Pros and Cons

Associations can design their own PDF credentials for low cost but they lack security, are difficult to verify, and are at high risk of fraud. The quality of customer care will probably be limited to rudimentary service options. 

Digital membership cards will have a higher level of customer service and robust customization options. You will often be able to speak with an account manager based on your package and can ask detailed questions about ease of use, tracking services, and fraud protection. 

Digital badges vs digital certificates for digital membership cards

Digital badges and digital certificates can be scanned to ensure validity or basic member identification. Both digital certificates and badges can be uploaded to digital wallet cards, which is an additional feature that issuers can choose. Once uploaded, they have an easy-to-scan QR code that takes the user to the dedicated credential page.

Either a digital badge or digital certificate can be used to represent membership and some issuers choose to use both. This allows them to issue a formal digital certificate alongside an easy-to-embed digital badge. Sometimes issuers choose to use digital badges and digital certificates to represent different tiers or stakes. The decision is up to the individual issuer depending on their needs! 

When should you use a digital badge?

Badges lend themselves toward the illustration of growth through a series of courses. This applies to smaller wins that add up to a cumulative achievement. A good reference for this structure is the different color belts you obtain before reaching the black belt in karate. Learn more about how associations can modernize their association membership cards using digital credentials.

When should you use a digital certificate?

While certificates also demonstrate achievement, they tend to highlight one great accomplishment as opposed to a singular class within a larger curriculum. This might apply to a digital college diploma or the completion of a license renewal.


In summation, embracing the digital approach to membership cards is a win for any association. When you demonstrate the willingness to shift toward a more technology-based world, your members will notice your enthusiasm to remain trend vigilant. 

Book a demo today with our team to discuss these benefits in greater detail!

Further Reading

The Digital Credentials and Professional Associations guide provides insight into how professional associations use credentials, and how digital credentials can better support associations and their members.

Use this guide to:

  • Identify the major concerns of associations around credentialing
  • Research solutions for secure, verifiable credentialing
  • Implement easy-to-manage, scalable digital credentials
  • Plan effective digital credentialing programs that engage members
Get the Guide