How to Change Your Name on a Credit Card
Looking to change the name on your credit card to one that aligns with your true identity? Find out how to do it here.
May 31, 2022
If you are a transgender or non-binary person, having a credit card in your chosen name can be an important step in affirming your identity.
For transgender and non-binary people, carrying a credit card or identification that doesn’t match their physical appearance can carry a lot of risks. In a survey from the National Center for Transgender Equality, 32% of people who are transgender and non-binary experienced discrimination, harassment and, in some cases, assault when they presented an ID or card that didn’t reflect their appearance. Having a form of payment that reflects a person’s chosen name isn’t just affirming, it can be a matter of personal safety.
However, historically, credit card issuers have required the name on a person’s credit card to match their legal name. The only way to get a credit card to match your true name was a legal name change. But changing your legal name, especially for reasons other than marriage and divorce, can be complicated, tedious and expensive.
Recently, some institutions have started to roll out “True Name” initiatives. This initiative allows people to choose a name for their credit card that reflects their identity, even if it's not their legal name.
Below, we tell you everything you need to know about how to change names on a credit card.
Who offers the True Name feature?
Before we explain how to change your name on a credit card, we have to take a step back and explain how credit cards work.
There are two entities involved in the credit card process:
The issuer, which is a bank or credit union.
The credit card processing network, which is typically Mastercard, Visa, Discover or American Express (although there are other smaller processing networks).
Each processor has policies in place to help users get a card with their true identity, but the availability of the card depends on the issuer.
Announced in June 2019, Mastercard's True Name® feature allows credit and debit cardholders in the U.S. to use their chosen name on some credit cards without undergoing a full legal name change.
Mastercard explains the reason for starting this program: “We believe in everyone's right to be their true self and proudly commit to play our part to make that happen."
American Express has quietly been offering something similar to Mastercard's True Name feature for decades in the U.S. When applying for an American Express card, you can use your chosen name without formal identification.
Because American Express issues and processes credit cards, there's no need to worry about the bank having a policy in place or not, since American Express is the bank. This practice is only applicable when applying for a new card, not changing the name on an existing card.
However, that’s not the case if you apply for an American Express co-branded card. It helps to double-check the policy before applying for a card.
At this time, Visa doesn’t have a similar initiative in place, meaning any credit card for which Visa is the processor will require a card to match the applicant’s legal identification.
The one exception to this policy is the Daylight Visa Card.
Which participating credit card issuers allow you to change your name?
With an understanding of credit card issuers and processors, it’s time to dive into which issuers, or banks, participate in programs that allow card holders to use the name that matches their gender identity.
In 2020, Citi became the first major bank in the U.S. to adopt the preferred first name initiative across its eligible branded consumer credit cards. According to the bank, most of its consumer credit cards are eligible to have the first name on the card changed.
However, the following cards are excluded:
Shell Fuel Rewards® Mastercard®
L.L. Bean® Mastercard®
My Best Buy® Visa® Card
Shop Your Way Mastercard®
The Brooks Brother Platimum Mastercard®
All Citi-branded American Expres cards
Other institutions that have adopted the chosen name initiative include regional banks, BMO Harris Bank (the first bank to implement the True Name card in the U.S.) and Republic Bank (for debit cards only).
How to change your name on your credit card to your preferred name
Changing your credit card name to your true name will vary from one issuer to the next.
To change the name on your credit card to your preferred name follow these steps:
Log in to your official credit card account either through your Citi Mobile App or Citi Online. If you have multiple accounts, Citi advises calling the number on the back of each of your cards.
Under the Profile section, go to “Contact Information.”
Click "Use a Preferred First Name" and enter your desired first name.
Save your changes.
You should receive your new card with your preferred first name in 4 to 7 business days, and you can also track its status online.
Citi notes that it will use this name in its communications with you. However, the bank may continue to use your legal first name in certain communications and may also request your legal name for identity verification.
It's also worth noting that you can only change your first name if you're already a Citi customer.
You must still use your legal name when applying for a new credit card account, but once your account is open, you can request a new card with your preferred name.
BMO Harris Bank
You can request to change your BMO Harris credit card name to your chosen name by visiting your nearest branch or calling 888-340-2265.
Shortcomings of preferred name programs
Chosen name initiatives are an important step toward ending the discrimination, bias and harassment that transgender and gender-nonconforming people frequently face when using their credit cards. But even with a card that has your preferred name, merchants and stores can ask for legal identification, which may not match the name on your credit card.
If merchants want to verify your identity, have them reach out to the credit card issuer to resolve the issue using the number on your card. While chosen name programs are a start, it doesn't completely solve the hassle and discrimination associated with credit cards and identity.
If your bank or credit card issuer doesn’t have a chosen name policy, consider reaching out and asking the institution to offer a policy. With enough demand, banks and issuers may make a change in order to better serve their customers.
Additionally, supporting large-scale legislation, like the Equality Act, can help ensure more choices and protections for people who are transgender and nonbinary.