Jan 272009
Authors: Jessica Cline

In this age of quick convenience, the RamCard Department is offering an alternative to ordinary debit cards.

RamCard Plus, the newest creation by the university, allows for students to include an ATM card, or debit card, feature to student ID cards through First National Bank.

“What we are trying to do with this new card is we are trying to create options for students that are convenient,” said Peter Martinez, associate director of the RamCard Department.

Fred Jacobs, marketing vice president for First National Bank, agreed.

“The biggest benefit is the one card convenience; it becomes your one card that you can do everything on and off campus with, and it is easier to carry around and use than cash or checks,” Jacobs said.

The card cost students no extra charge, and any student can either trade in their old card for the new version or purchase a new card.

Along with the existing benefits of the RamCard, including meal plans, venue admittance and RamCash, RamCard Plus allows students to open a free, no obligation checking account with First National Bank, Martinez said.

The card is the same as any regular debit card, holding the same risks if stolen.

“. Any security issues that usually exist with a regular card still exist, but the card is as secure as any other credit card because we still have to abide by the same standards as everyone else,” Martinez said.

First National Bank, the only financial institution on campus, won the bid for the rights to the card. Neal Lujan, director of University ID and Vending, said he favored the partnership between the university and First National Bank.

“We are excited about the resources that the bank is able to provide for students,” Lujan said. “They are now offering financial education for students to help promote financial literacy, such as seminars on financial management.”

Students could receive and use the new card beginning fall semester, but new incentives to use the card recently came to fruition with a monthly $5,000 scholarship giveaway.

RamCard Plus users will be entered in the monthly drawings with the purchase of the card and every time they use their card from now until May.

Two scholarships have already been given away —- one in December and one in January.

So far about 15,000 students carry the new card, but the RamCard office hopes since the card will be promoted more often, there will be more students that decide to sign up.

Also, Martinez said RamCard Department now offers the new RamCard 2.0, which features a contact-less smart chip so students can access buildings with wireless entry systems after hours.

Lujan said as new buildings are constructed and older buildings get remodeled, the wireless entry system will be added and the need for contact-less smart chips will become more prominent.

“This new (RamCard 2.0) is available to students for free, but it is on a limited time bases, so we encourage students to trade in their old card for a new one with a chip as soon as possible while it is still free of charge,” Lujan said.

“Since the school is already going through a re-carding process, it makes sense for students to upgrade their card at the time and have one less card to worry about, as well as getting the chance to win a $5,000 scholarship” Jacobs said.

Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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