Big Issue vendors, homeless people who make their income by selling the print title, will now also offer a token giving online access to a digital version.
Masterminded by Big Issue In The North, the scheme is to be piloted in Manchester from Monday (October 29), but then rolled out across north-west England and Yorkshire if it proves a success.
The card costs £2, just like the paper magazine, and features a scratch-off panel which reveals a unique code. To see the digital version of the publication, this code must be entered on www.binorthdigital.com, or alternatively users can scan a QR code on the card with their mobile device.
Caroline Price, director of the Big Issue in the North, said that this is "not about replacing our traditional print magazine".
"It is about moving with the times and giving people a choice in how they read the magazine. The Big Issue In The North's primary aim is to provide homeless people with the opportunity to earn an income," she said.
"In order to continue to do this, we need to ensure we appeal to a broad range of readers, including people who choose to read newspapers and magazines online."