College Students: Warnings about the Higher One Card

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By Consumers Union on Friday, September 10th, 2010

Campuses across the nation have been adopting the Higher One card for their students. While these cards may be providing cost savings to college institutions, students are finding huge problems. One of the biggest complaints: students are finding they may be laden with fees. For instance, the inactivity fee is $19 a month, to use a non-network ATM is $2.50 and to use the card as a PIN debit transaction, it’s $0.50 a pop.

Just what is the Higher One card?

According to a recent article in The Oregonian::

“This official student photo ID is branded with the MasterCard logo. It can double as a debit card. Students can have their financial-aid refunds — the money leftover after the school deducts its tuition and fees — automatically deposited into a bank account linked to the card. They can then tap the money at an ATM or wherever a merchant takes MasterCard.

The company behind these cards, Higher One Inc., has integrated them across hundreds of college campuses”

Meanwhile, here are some numbers to show who is benefiting from these fees:

“These fees obviously sustain Higher One. Last year, it took in $66 million on merchant swipe fees, ATM fees, overdraft fees and student “convenience fees,” the company says. It did so well last year, the company handed out $1 million in bonuses to employees. In June, it raised $38 million in a public stock offering on Wall Street.”

If you have a HigherOne card, consider yourself warned—watch out for the fees you might be paying to use your money. Consider other alternatives to use your money, such as a traditional debit card from a bank or credit union.

For additional advice for college students, click here and here.

10 responses to “College Students: Warnings about the Higher One Card”

  1. Alisha says:

    IM ABSOLUTELY FED UP WITH HIGHER ONE, I CANNOT GET ANOTHER BANK ACCOUNT DUE TO SOME FRAUDULENT ACTIVITY ON MY CREDIT SO MY IDENTITY CAN NOT BE VALIDATED. TWICE IN ONE MONTH MY CARD HAS BEEN DUPLICATED AND USED AND WIPED OUT. NOW ALL MY MONEY IS GONE AND THEY DONT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. THEY ALSO WANT ME TO PAY FOR A REPLACEMENT CARD $20. SOMEONE HAS MY INFO AND DUPLICATED MY CARD BUT “I” HAVE TO PAY THE FEES WTF??? I WANT TO CANCEL MY CARD BUT THEN MY FINANCIAL AID WILL GO WHERE??? THIS SHITTY BUSINESS NEED SOME REAL TLC AND UP THEIR SECURITY SYSTEM A LOT BETTER.

  2. marander spencer says:

    I’m wondering, did any of you read the information about usage fees and another charges associated with the card before activating? Also, based on the above comments none of you have deal with, the exception of maybe one person, prepaid credit/DEBIT cards. My school gave the option, Higher One card or direct deposit to my personal account, I chose Higher One. Always read the banking institutions fee schedule, they all have them and they all are disgusting to some degree (especially Credit Unions – which I love – when traveling out of state or if your banking institution is not within the area you have traveled). I’ve not had any bad experiences with the customer services so I cannot make any comments there. Sorry for the bad experiences (and no I do not work for them, I’ve just not had the experiences you all have had).

  3. Carol Lehrer says:

    I agree with all of the above. This is a horrible card to have. I am shocked that the universities offer it. If you don’t confirm that you are still a student every 5 months they charge your account a monthly fee. I am trying to get a refund of 9 months of charges, and it is IMPOSSIBLE. I have called 4 times already, and am on hold again trying to get a dispute created because they refuse to give back the erroneous charges.

  4. Danielle Grand says:

    DO NOT SIGN UP WITH HIGHER ONE. I wish my school would stop using them. I think it puts a tiny dint in the schools’ credibility. For the most part, banking with them was OK – not too much better or worse than anywhere else in terms of fees, speed of service, etc.; though the online-only thing is a bit of a pain, and not something I would choose to do again.
    BUT… when I had a problem and had to go through customer service… it’s HORRIFIC. I literally don’t even have the energy to tell the tale of what I’ve been through with them the past two days. I have never experienced anything like it. You will potentially sit on the phone for hours, or wait days for confirmation of a resolution via email, for the TINIEST, SIMPLEST thing. All the customer service agents are extremely difficult to understand, and supervisors and management seem just as useless as the associates. They are not remotely personable and the way the system is set up is ridiculous and wastes massive amounts of time. The online customer service section is convoluted and not user friendly.

  5. Theresa Dickson says:

    I have been trying since November to get a replacement card that HIgher One Cancelled due to some fraud….not one card has made it to me and they keep telling me the same story. They won’t let me transfer money to another account so that I can access it unless I want top pay a $35 wire transfer fee…. This is BS and the worse place I have ever worked with. I will be cancelling my account and I will telling everyone not to go there. Its has been an absolute nightmare!

  6. Suzanne Mark says:

    This is aggressive marketing to get you in credit card DEBT. I was shocked that it comes with a “This is your official student ID” note. The marketing piece also says, “Activate to get your refund.” That is what tipped me off, I am taking only one class and I am certainly not due any refund. Do not use any card that uses such underhanded marketing to take advantage of the financially naive. No one should ever open a line of credit for you without an application. Bank at a Credit Union and save money.

  7. Danielle Shorey says:

    I hate higher one with a passion and cannot stand that my school is dealing with them. I have been on the phone with customer service 3 different times today and they did absolutely nothing to help me. This is the worst company I have ever dealt with and do not wish anyone ever has to deal with them.

  8. Sophia Aiiiiii says:

    You can go on to the higher one website and have your financial aid deposited into a bank account of your choosing. I do not use the higher one card for this reason: it’s a ripoff and takes advantage of young students who do not understand banking as an elder student would. Go to their website and have your refund choice changed to outside bank and get yourself a regular bank account!

  9. Akiba Kiiesmira says:

    Higher One charged fee of $17.50 for teller withdrawal. To withdraw from ATM the fee is $2.50 Higher One and $2.50 from my credit union.

  10. stacy northrop says:

    DONT USE HIGHER ONE..THEY WILL NOT DEFENT STUDENTS FUNDS WHEN FILING DISPUTES WITH MERCHANTS!!

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