According to an article in the UC Berkeley student newspaper, some merchants participating in the Cal 1 Card’s off-campus debit card program are less than satisfied with the results. A representative from a local bookstore that accepts the card said it accounts for less than one-percent of total sales, yet half the customers are students.
Others cited the high cost for acceptance outweighing the additional sales volume. Still, a review of the program web site suggests it has been fairly successful in attracting merchant participants.
The Cal 1 ID card added on-campus debit functionality six years ago and expanded three years ago to include off-campus merchants. UC Berkeley reports that in the 08-09 academic year there were 20,051 cardholders and that students deposited more than $2,240,000 dollars to the accounts. The program’s web site lists 26 on-campus merchant locations and 18 off-campus participants primarily eateries.
Though the newspaper article incorrectly cites a “$250 monthly processing fee,” the merchant agreements online show fees for the off-campus participants to include a one-time cost of $140 for lifetime lease of the reader/printer, $250 fee paid once each year for “marketing opportunities offered to all Cal 1 Card merchants,” a $25 monthly fee for “payment processing and other administrative costs as well as technical support,” and a transaction fee of 6% for off-campus merchants.
Merchants are reimbursed monthly for purchases made with the Cal 1 Card. Though not cited as a pain point by those interviewed in the article, this is often pointed to by merchants as a challenge in that it can be difficult for many businesses to wait up to 30 days to see the money from completed transactions.
Read more about the merchant reaction to the Cal 1 Card debit program at the Daily Californian.