A new smart card program from Sovereign Bank lets students, faculty and staff at college campuses turn their ID cards into multipurpose banking and identification tools. With one card, they are able to access college buildings and services, buy books and meals, and get cash from Sovereign ATMs.
Wheelock College in Boston and Mount Ida College in Newton, Massachusetts, are pioneering the program, and the 2,000-plus populations of the two college campuses are all receiving cards at the beginning of the fall semester. Students and staff need ID cards to gain entry into college buildings, but they can choose whether or not to open a bank account with Sovereign and link their card to the account.
Linking for convenience
If students do wish to set up a bank account and turn their ID card into a smart card, Sovereign has a student checking account with no monthly fee. There is no minimum balance required to open or maintain the account, and a Sovereign ATM will be located in the student center hub at each college. ATM transactions are free of charge, as are transfers between linked accounts.
Many parents send their kids to college with prepaid debit cards or credit cards to use for everyday expenses, cafeteria fees and class materials. The Sovereign Bank smart card can be used off campus as well as on, so parents can help their children set up a bank account and link it to their own, as an alternative to giving them a prepaid card.
Stripes and chips
Their smart cards have both magnetic stripes and EMV chips—commonly used in Europe, Canada and other countries—so they have maximum security functionality and can be used overseas as well as in the U.S.
Sovereign to become Santander
Sovereign Bank is a fully owned subsidiary of Santander Holdings, and as of October 17, 2013, they will change their name to Santander. Its Santander University division has been issuing smart cards to university and college campuses worldwide since 1996, but this is the first time they have done so in the United States. They have issued more than six million smart cards in other countries.