UP CARD VS ZAP CARD: Pixel Meets Plastic

How to Up, Spending and Budgeting

Digital vs Plastic: Up card

For years Up's debit card weight class has been dominated by the notorious Up Plastic Card. Through and through a traditional spender, Up Plastic has long demonstrated to Upsiders the strength of the physical medium and made a name for itself as the default debit card for making purchases online and instore.

In a world class shake up, 2022 saw the entrance of the Zap Card: a fresh challenger with an appetite for digital domination. The Zap Card's instant speed advantage, ability to not require manual verification and compelling convenience has left the people wondering – Which Up Card should I be using? Will Up Physical or Digital come out on top?

It's a clash of the titans, as these two debit cards go head-to-head to determine who reigns supreme in the world of spending. We'll go through, round by round, each of these dominating debit cards unique features and considerations. It’s up to you to determine which card will reign supreme in your wallet. Let’s spend some time breaking down the action.


Originally there was a single plastic card. While Upsiders could add it to their digital wallet during sign-up, they couldn't see card details until they received the card in the mail.

This is based on security — if an Upsider could read and use their card details before they received the physical card, so too could a bad actor if they intercepted the physical card. This is why we have an activation step: it proves the card arrived safely into the possession of the correct Upsider.

Still spending from the same account, the Zap Card offers a different take. This card is instantly issued as soon as you sign up for an Up account. You'll get access to your card details right away in app and the ability to add the card to your digital wallet of choice. No activation needed and no waiting for a plastic card in the mail.

For the first time the Zap Card opened up a choice, if I’m not waiting for my card and card details to arrive in the mail, why am I waiting to start setting up subscriptions and shopping online?

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Coming out of the card creation camp at a blazing pace, Zap Cards are ready to roll with you from day one. If you’re freshly signed up to Up you’ll have a digital Zap Card waiting for you in the ‘Cards’ menu of the app. Packing speed and performance where it counts, this digital only card gives you instant access to a set of card details so it's perfect to start setting up your direct debits, shopping online, or getting your digital wallet set up fast.

Zap Cards bring a previously unseen stance to your app facing only in a horizontal orientation and always wearing the signature Zap Sunglasses logo.

Here’s the tale of the tape: A breakdown of Zap Card’s unique technique:

  • Instantly issued with Card Details available right away in app.
  • Great for bills and digital wallets
  • Expires every 5 years (instead of the standard 3)
  • Available only in app. Hard to be stolen and can be regenerated instantly if the details are compromised
  • Doesn't work with ATMs or other places you're required to insert or swipe a physical card
  • Reliant on a device. Doesn’t cope well with flat batteries
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The unchallenged veteran of swiping and inserting. Forged in a layer plastic, the Up Card is a sure fire way to ensure your spending is covered no matter what situation you’re in. Up Cards stand tall in a portrait orientation and are delivered via post to Upsiders after they sign up. Once your Plastic Up card arrives at your door, an in app activation is required to bring this reliable spender to life. An Up card can still be added to your digital wallets for in store and online purchases, making this card a real hybrid in the spending space.

In a quickly digitising world, here's how the grandmaster Plastic Up Card stacks up:

  • Works at ATMs and for in-person payments where contactless isn't accepted
  • A recommended overseas travel companion
  • Waterproof!
  • Doesn't rely on the batteries of a digital device
  • Takes a while to arrive via the post
  • Can physically be lost/stolen
  • If it's lost or stolen, all billers and other merchants need to be updated with new card details


No matter if you’re spending out of the plastic or digital corner the ‘Cards’ menu in your Up app is your one-stop-shop for all your Card Controls. Both your Zap and Up Card have complete control available at your fingertips. Set individual PINs, enable or disable all kinds of transactions and grab yourself a new card/card details if your Cards are lost or stolen.

The Cards menu in-app will give you up to date status updates on either of your day to day financial fighters. Swipe between any of your active or inactive cards to put you at the centre of the card configuration action.

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Keep it dialled in on Up for more info of a new card available soon…

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