COLLEGE STATION, Texas-Consider a student ID card that doubles also as a MasterCard, automated teller machine card, and even as an "electronic purse" that allows holders to purchase Cokes from Coke machines or use it as payment for meals in college dining halls.
A partnership that includes Texas A&M University, Aggieland Credit Union (a pseudo-branch of Greater Texas Federal Credit Union in Austin), Norwest Bank and MBNA provides students with just such a card, and students are happy with it.
"My daughter is over there and has the card, and she loves it," said Greater Texas FCU President/CEO Tommy Seargeant. "You can eat with it on the meal plan at the school and it keeps track of what you've taken out and what you have left. It's basically an electronic purse. You can go to a Coke machine and buy a Coke with it. It takes it right out of your account. Eventually, they'll be able to do laundry and other things like that with it."
The card is a student photo identification card on the front and a double-striped card on the back. A Diebold software card system is used for the Aggie Bucks plan that allows students to use their cards to purchase Cokes or whatever else they need.
Even merchants in nearby communities have signed onto the close-knit campus' Aggie Bucks plan, so students can use Aggie Bucks to purchase what they need with their ID card in stores off campus as well.
Students have the option of Aggieland CU or Norwest Bank for checking and ATM functions. And they can go to MBNA if they want a MasterCard.
The partnership of four is two years old and works just fine, said Mike Freitag, Greater Texas FCU marketing director. The university is near Bryan and College Station.
"These are two towns, but actually one entity," Freitag said. "The population is probably between 40,000 and 50,000. There are about 45,000 students at Texas A&M. So you're not looking at a very big town, in that area... For something like this (Aggie Bucks) to be going on, the merchants just jump in on it."
Texas Aggie Federal Credit Union went into conservatorship about 10 years ago. After it was stabilized, it merged with GTFCU. But Seargeant assured students that the identity would be kept separate. Today, parent GTFCU has more than $136 million in assets and serves more than 55,000 members, and has an "odd" partnership. But, CU and banks co-exist.
"There's no hostility there at all," Freitag said. "It's all pretty clear-cut. Everybody is still responsible for their own marketing, of course. But what it does is gives us all an opportunity to be right there on campus.We're right there in front of the students!" -