In response to the number of Mcards that turned into nothing more than tattered plastic remains, the University introduced an improved, more durable, Mcard earlier this year.
“The University was aware of the delamination problem,” said Fred White, associate director of financial operations for special projects. “We issued replacement cards free of charge to students who turned in their problem cards. The composite of the new card is comparable to a Visa or MasterCard and we do not anticipate this problem with the new card.”
The color of the card has created distaste among some University students, who find the new design worse than its white predecessor. However, others believe that the new card won”t be as easy to lose.
“It”s bright. You can”t lose it,” said Art and Design freshman Kevin Zaloga. “But when I left it at home the other weekend, when I came back I was out of luck. I couldn”t get into the dorms, get meals, or anything. If we had a database rather than a card, or something you already have on you, that would be more convenient.”
The design introduced this year replaced the white background model in place since the Mcard was created in 1995. With more than 108,000 faculty, students and visitors holding active Mcards, the old version may still be scanned across campus for building and library access, dorm meals, Entre Plus and identification.
One notable difference of the new yellow card is the elimination of the cash chip a concept similar to a debit card that failed to take among Mcard holders and local retailers.
The gold cash chip feature in the old Mcard has been discontinued due to the “limitations of the current chip technology and equipment, as well as financial reasons,” said White.
The cash chip equipment was in need of expensive repair and upgrades, which exceeded the revenue and benefits provided.
Getting rid of the cash chip also made sense financially. Cards without the chip cost 33 cents per card, but those with the cash chip cost $3.16 per card.
“There may be other technologies than the chip that we”re going to look into,” White said.
The cash chip “never developed like they thought it would,” said Jim Decker, owner of Decker”s Drugs on South State Street. “With debit cards and everything else there wasn”t a great need for it.”
“With the ease of students acquiring the Visa or MasterCard, and since they have reward programs, the other card certainly wasn”t able to do anything they couldn”t,” said Bud Van Der Wege, owner of Moe”s Sport Shops. “I think it was a noble effort, but Visa and MasterCard area attuned to the college community the purchasing power would never equal that.
“If the University would start another card program in the future, we would surely participate.”
Mcard holders who did not spend the money on their cash chip may visit the Mcard Center in the Student Activities Building this fall for a refund. Termination of the cash chip will not affect the Entre Plus plan.
For a $20 replacement fee, a “free” TCF Bank checking account along with various bank perks is provided for all carriers of the new card. TCF has joined with the University of Minnesota, Northern Illinois University and other colleges with similar card programs.
“TCF Bank had demonstrated a high degree of expertise in campus programs,” White said. “The Mcard program has been impressed by TCF”s commitment to provide quality customer service and financial products to the University community.”
The account allows access to ATMs throughout campus, but many of the non-TCF machines have a $2 per-use access charge. There are only four machines on campus currently.
“We”re definitely looking at additional machines on and around campus,” said Jennifer Daugherty, regional manager of TCF Bank.