UCard discounts stagnate

For the past two years, the Associated Students of the University of Utah has worked to generate money for the school by selling the UCard as a credit card to local businesses.

However, ASUU has not yet seen the success it has hoped for. Last April, former UCard Coordinator John Poelman said his board would be adding businesses to the program continually, and would have been happy to see 50 enrolled by the end of 2004. The program has nine off-campus businesses accepting the UCard.

“I’ve never used it off campus,” said Jessy Poole, a graduate student in the MFA fiction program. “I do use it to get discount on books at the beginning of the semester.”

A problem with getting businesses to participate is the $1,400 it costs to buy in. This was a factor in Subway choosing not to join the program.

“It’s a big investment for businesses,” said Jordan Spain, a student director currently in charge of the project. “It’s a tough sell because it’s getting them to buy another credit card.”

Marna Kopytkovskiy, a freshman majoring in civil and environmental engineering, does not use her card that often because she says that the choices are too limited.

The UCard has had some success according to Spain, saving students $8,000 at the bookstore this past year. The bookstore began accepting the UCard and giving users a 5 percent discount last fall.

Poelman modeled the UCard expansion plan after George Washington and Georgetown Universities student card programs. Currently, more than 100 businesses accept George Washington’s student card, and the school pulls in more than $1 million per year in transaction fees because of it.

However, students at George Washington who live in the residence halls are required to participate. Freshmen must put a minimum of $1,500 on their student card, which they cannot withdraw.

The U’s card currently doesn’t have any security measures, such as a PIN, so if a card with money on it is lost or stolen, students can’t get the money back if someone else spends it. However, if the card is lost, students can call the UCard office, and the money will be locked down on the card. Students can also transfer that balance to a replacement card.

Many students choose a more secure route.

“I don’t use the UCard because I have a debit card that does it,” said Brody McBride, a senior majoring in philosophy and political science.

There is no plan for required student participation at the U, Spain said. The current plan is to combine the Hook-up card with the UCard in hopes to make it easier for students to get discounts, but also as a selling point to get more businesses to participate.

“It has potential and is just waiting to take off,” Spain said.

Poelman said that if the UCard generated money at the U, it might be possible to lower student fees or subsidize other costs.

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Businesses currently accepting the UCard

Blimpie145 E. 1300 SouthBlue Iguana165 S. West Temple Papa John’s369 S. 400 EastPapa Murphy’s302 S. 700 East2100 S. 2286 EastThe Pie1320 E. 200 SouthSpring Communications248 S. 1300 EastVillage Inn910 E. 400 South