The Chronicle’s View: New UCard

Formerly just a tool of identification and questionable use to U students, the UCard has recently been revamped in hopes of making it more valuable to students…literally.

Student leaders from the Associated Students of the University of Utah have been in negotiations with local businesses, including the U Bookstore, to transform the UCard into a debit card at some locations and a discount card at others-students can put as much money on their UCard as they want and use it to pay at select businesses, some of which, like the Blue Iguana and the bookstore, offer price breaks to those who pay with their cards.

The inherent benefits to U students who choose to use their UCard as a source of payment as well as identification are several.

Maybe the most obvious advantage is that merchant fees, which consist of 3.5 percent of sales totals, will no longer go to the opportunistic credit-card companies that so frequently hassle students with claims and “special offers,” and will instead be directed back to the U itself.

Two percent of these funds would most likely go to running the UCard program and subsidizing its costs of operation in the future. The remaining 1 percent would be split between ASUU and the UCard office, the money to be used at their discretion.

But, is the newly revamped UCard really worth it? Should students actually divert funds from either their or their parents’ bank accounts onto the card? Do the benefits really add up?

The short answer is ‘yes.’

The more students who use the UCard’s new function, the more likely that more, and more importantly, cooler functions will be developed in the future.

If businesses realize that the discount incentive is actually attractive to students-and, unless all students only really like Top Ramen and Chartwells, it ought to be-they will likely make the discounts greater.

Also, if a significant percentage of students use their UCards, there is a chance that other businesses will jump on the bandwagon because they don’t want to miss out on the sizeable, highly profitable college demographic.However, the new UCard is not fault- free, and there are some associated dangers. There is no secured PIN number on the card, so if it is lost or stolen, someone other than the rightful cardholder could spend the money on the card.

Luckily, the UCard office is taking steps to counter this danger, and if students call immediately after losing their card, the funds can be suspended and transferred to a new card. As such, the risk associated with the new UCard is limited and the benefits far outweigh the possible inconvenience of losing the card.

If students give the new UCard a chance, it could take on a useful and worthwhile life of its own. As it stands now, the new card developments are worth taking advantage of, and more importantly, they hint at the potential the card has to offer students.