Glossary

A glossary of Plaid terminology

Tokens, identifiers, and keys

Plaid tokens are in the format [type]-[environment]-[uuid], where the type may be public, access, link, or asset-report, and the environment may be sandbox, development, or production; a token will only ever be valid within the environment it was created. The UUID is a 32 character hexadecimal string in the pattern of 8-4-4-4-12 characters and conforms to the RFC 4122 standard.

Access token

An access_token is a token used to make API requests related to a specific Item. You will typically obtain an access_token by calling /item/public_token/exchange. For more details, see the Token exchange flow. An access_token does not expire, although it may require updating, such as when a user changes their password, or when working with European institutions that comply with PSD2's 90-day consent window. For more information, see When to use update mode. If compromised, an access_token can be revoked via /item/access_token/invalidate.

Client ID

Your client_id is an identifier required by the Plaid API to uniquely identify yourself. It must be provided for most API calls. Your client ID can be found on the dashboard.

Item ID

An item_id uniquely identifies a Plaid Item. The item_id is part of the response for API endpoints that operate on a specific Item, including most product endpoints, as well as /item/get and /item/public_token/exchange.

Link token

A link_token is a token used to initialize Link, and must be provided any time you are presenting your user with the Link interface. You can obtain a Link token by calling /link/token/create. For more details, see the the Token exchange flow. A link_token expires after 30 minutes.

Link session ID

The link_session_id is a unique ID included in all Link callbacks. For faster issue resolution, the link_session_id should be included when contacting Support regarding a specific Link session.

Processor token

A processor_token is a token used by a Plaid partner to make API calls on your behalf. You can obtain a processor_token by calling /processor/token/create or /processor/stripe/bank_account_token/create and providing an access_token.

Public key

The public_key is an identifier used for making certain API calls and initializing Link. As of July 2020, the public_key has been deprecated. For more information on migrating your application away from the public_key, see the Link token migration guide. For information on maintaining an existing public_key-based application, see Maintaining a public-key based integration.

Public token

A public_token is a token obtained from Link's onSuccess callback. This token can be exchanged for an access_token by calling /item/public_token/exchange. For more details, see the Token exchange flow. A public_token expires after 30 minutes.

Request ID

A request_id is a unique ID returned as part of the response body for every Plaid API response (except for API endpoints that return binary data, in which case the request_id will be found in the header). The request_id can be used to look up the request on the Activity Log and should be included when contacting Support regarding a specific API call.

Secret

Your secret is used to authenticate calls to the Plaid API. Secrets can be found on the dashboard. Your secret should be kept secret and rotated if it is ever compromised. For more information, see rotating keys.

Environments

Development

Development (https://development.plaid.com) is one of three Plaid environments on which you can run your code, along with Sandbox and Production. Like Production, the Development environment uses real world data, but like Sandbox, API calls in Development are not billed. You can create up to 100 Items in Development, and these Items cannot be moved to Production. For more information, see Testing with live data using Development.

Production

Production (https://production.plaid.com) is one of three Plaid environments on which you can run your code, along with Sandbox and Development. While Sandbox and Development are intended as test environments, Production is intended for production code. It uses real world data, and API calls are billed.

Sandbox

The Sandbox (https://sandbox.plaid.com) is one of three Plaid environments on which you can run your code, along with Development and Production. Sandbox is a free test environment in which no real data can be used. The Sandbox environment also offers a number of special Sandbox-only capabilities to make testing easier. For more information, see Sandbox.

Other Plaid terminology

Account

An account is a single account held by a user at a financial institution; for example, a specific checking account or savings account. A user may have more than one account at a given institution; the overall object that contains all of these accounts is the Item. Each account is uniquely identified by an account_id, which will not change, unless Plaid is unable to reconcile the account with the data returned by the financial institution; for more information, see INVALID_ACCOUNT_ID.

Plaid will automatically detect when an account is closed, and will no longer return the account_id for a closed account. If an access_token is deleted, and the same credentials that were used to generate that access_token are used to generate a new access_token on a later date, the new account_id will be different from the account_id associated with the original access_token.

Dashboard

The dashboard, also known as the Plaid developer dashboard, is used to manage your Plaid developer account and to obtain keys and secrets. It can be found at dashboard.plaid.com. For more information, see Your Plaid developer account.

Item

An Item represents a login at a financial institution. A single end-user of your application might have accounts at different financial institutions, which means they would have multiple different Items. An Item is not the same as a financial institution account, although every account will be associated with an Item. For example, if a user has one login at their bank that allows them to access both their checking account and their savings account, a single Item would be associated with both of those accounts. Each Item linked within your application will have a corresponding access_token, which is a token that you can use to make API requests related to that specific Item.

Two Items created for the same set of credentials at the same institution will be considered different and not share the same item_id.

Link

Link is Plaid's client-side, user-facing UI that allows end users to connect their financial institution account to your application. For more information, see Link.