College Students: Warnings about the Higher One Card

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We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

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.

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

  1. David Shirley says:

    BEWARE OF RIP OFF this bank is out to get your money
    lots of bank fees i got in to a class action law suit and a
    settlement from the FIDC OF $65.50 DOLLARS.
    do not bank with Higer one you will be so SORRY!

  2. Eva M. says:

    You all should consider READING the list fees or any disclaimers before signing up. If you’re unhappy with their services, simply switch to another local bank of your choosing that fits your convenience. I’ve had no problem with them so far and I’m fully aware of the charges they’ve listed. It’s your responsibility as students and clients to fully verify your banking services. You’re adults. Stop whining and take responsibility.

    • Actual student says:

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. A lot if universities offer this card as a way to get their financial aide reimbursement ASAP. You can opt not to use it, but then your reimbursement is only available after 2-3 months at times. How are students supposed to use the reimbursement for beginning of the year expenses if they get it around their mid-terms??

      Point blank, this organization is predatory.

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    • HENRY says:

      PLEASE READ!!!!
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  4. Art says:

    Higher one and Wal-Mart and few other cards are online accounts. In order to change these practice you have to goto politicians and get signatures of students in your state that can be given to you by your school and demand American banking regulation be followed. This will then lead you to Washington and you will eventually discover that it might have been discover by students but has no concern for student but rich people’s slush fund. This pays the politicians several ways and gives them a out source bank like the Camden islands where they can and will embezal your money now and in the future. The law suit money goes to lawyers that get around lawsuits and also want the banks to not be bothered. They supposible set up accounts and have a new place to hide funds so that the federal banking regulators will not bother them. To me they need to bring the money back to America and fine heavily all the corrupt individuals involved. This might have to goto Washington. It’s the way of the world though when we don’t vote and let people just do Wrong and don’t stand up to them because we benefit or it doesn’t affect us personally in the short run. This is what 101 society is all about and how the haves sanction the have not on a daily bases. We need to follow through better and hold everyone accountable for their Wrong doing before things get out of control. We need to set values and priorities first and try to fit our moral in there to. But before this will occur we need better stiffer penalties for the ones that were more capable of doing the right thing and less penalties for the one that was less wealthy and didn’t have the same options. Just like with our taxes and our system of quality going to the top 3 percent is a life of debt. When students stop paying and the government ends up with trillion of dollars in debt then school will become a true place to learn. This I’d just a small part in the process of 123 education. We are set up to goto war in our own nation soon. We just like all great nations before our time went three this time and time again.

  5. Erin Taylor says:

    I had no problem with higher one except that I wasn’t aware that you had to update your enrollment status on your account or they WILL charge you a fee of $3.95 every 5 months.

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  7. Jenny says:

    Is this money you have to pay back? They offered 2,500. The man on the phone kept telling me I didnt have to pay it back because of 0 balance. I said if there is money on it do I have to pay it back. He said no. Im confused as to what this card is.

  8. Alex says:

    Thank you so much guys, I was just about to press the enter key but then I read the fees and charges. I was still like, ‘well everyone has it’ but.. my chest kept telling me not to do it. I will be transferring it to another account. I don’t even want a check because who knows if it will ever show up. Thank you guys!! We should spread this out, schools are using it seriously!

    • Tim says:

      Need to update what you read this article is old. They were sued abs had to reimburse a lot of people. Read what is current not 6yr old article.

  9. Patrina says:

    I truly understand everybody’s frustration with higher one, I to experienced enough drama and unprofessionalism from them. I wished my school would have warned me about higher one’s bs, I would have ran so far from this so call bank.

  10. for sale says:

    It’s difficult to find well-informed people for this subject, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

  11. Missy J says:

    This company is a rip off! They charge for everything. As a college student this company is a pure example of how schools try to drain their students financially. They also have poor customer service! I recommend avoiding this company at all costs. They do not protect your money!!!

  12. Bill says:

    The issue started yesterday 2016, May 2nd, when we called to ask a few questions. A few questions Any BANK should know the answers to.
    1. The first person we spoke with, answered our questions, but was unsure, you could hear it in his voice, and it was later confirmed he could NOT have known the actual answers, since the Resolution Dept, a Supervisor, and a Manager also couldn’t answer these questions. How could the lowest person in the chain of command have the knowledge that others above him could not? I can’t say it’s impossible, but either way, he couldn’t even transfer us to the correct department, where he alleged they COULD take care of giving us information and altering the account.
    2. The first guy (mentioned above), said he was the wrong department to handle the issue we had, and said he would transfer us to the correct dept. However, after talking to the next person, a female, he transferred us to, for some time, she also said she was the wrong dept. She then had to transfer us to a Supervisor. She did, eventually, transfer us, after a long hold.
    3. We got on the phone with the supervisor, and went through the explanation with him as we had with the previous 2 alleged “customer service” workers. He tried to give us answers, like the first person, that were linked with words like “maybe,” “should,” etc, which was not acceptable, especially for a bank, to not know BANKING RULES/LAWS. So, he finally admitted he did not know, and we requested HIS supervisor, which he referred to as a MANAGER.
    4. We get on the phone with the “manager,” and the manager hears our explanation of our situation, and AGAIN, we could not get any straight-forward answer from him that was not linked with words like “maybe,” “should,” etc. So, we requested to speak to someone above him, as this was a very important situation, and required EXACT< and TRUE answers. Answers which not one of the previous 3 people could answer in any meaningful way. At this point, the “manager” said he would set up a “call back” from HIS “Manager” whom would be located with-in the United States, and specifically on the East Coast. The call-back time was set, and a range of 3 hours, which WE chose to allow them a long period with-in which to call, was set.
    5. The time comes, and goes, and no such call was received.
    We expected as much, considering not one person that day was from the United States, and I confirmed this by asking EACH REPRESENTATIVE where they were physically located, and the answers were “The Phillipines.” This is what you get when you outsource, ineptitude, negligence, miscommunication, lack of comprehension, inability to follow direction, and lack of desire to even ensure your customer is taken care of in the most minimal way possible. After the call was never received, we had enough, and we called and closed the account.
    Further, not one of the representatives could give us any kind of contact information for the COMPANIES/BANKS they claimed they do business with, and whom they set our account up through. This is ridiculous, and unacceptable.
    I just want to make sure people know what kind of issues they can expect. This was not a “we didn’t manage our money issue,” as we had no issues ever with any kind of over-limit, or fees, etc. No such issues, ever. We called for information, general information. This was simply a company, Higher One, whom outsources ALL of their “representative” positions, and then you end up with 3+ people which have no idea of what is going on, can’t answer basic questions that any bank “across the street” would be able to answer, and then further can’t follow through, or even transfer the call to the correct department (as mentioned regarding the FIRST person with whom we spoke).
    Just to give you a bit about my background: I have spent 4 years in the U.S. Military, am in my 30’s, and so is my wife. I have had many banks in my life, and I have a degree in Criminal Justice. Most of my jobs have been in Corrections. I don’t “badmouth” companies, unless they TRULY show they go “above and beyond” the “call of duty” to indicate they are TRULY BAD. For what my opinion is worth…THIS COMPOANY, HigherOne, and the Banks they use that they obviously have little information about that they set up our accounts through, ARE TERRIBLE. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! Further, they have already been sued, and penalized for unethical business practices by the Federal Government. So, if you think they are above this kind of behavior, I’d research for yourself, and then “think again.” Feel free to keep using them. We are DONE with them before something TRULY important is “screwed up” by them.

  13. mccart says:

    hi there

  14. Dee says:

    I’m still a student and they’re charging me $3.95 a month in fees. (Which, according to THEIR fee schedule should be $0 because I’m still a student.) My account had me listed with a graduation date of May 2016. I’m not graduating until next year so when I logged in, I changed it to May 2017. That’s when I noticed “Hey, what’s that?” and realized they’ve been charging me the $3.95/month “non student fee” for MONTHS! I called to complain, was told they’d reverse the charges. Got an email saying they wouldn’t. I”ve now spoken to two “customer service” people in India who are telling me it’s MY FAULT they’re charging me because I didn’t keep logging in and telling them I’m still a student. Since the graduation date they had on file hadn’t passed, wouldn’t a rational human being think that they KNOW I’m still a student? I’ve now been on hold for twenty minutes to wait for a manager to talk to me.

  15. CDUFFEY says:

    I began working at a job in early February, after a few rough patches we finally (my HR rep and I) got my direct deposit set up. All was right with the world. Unicorns, rainbows, all that bs. Then payday comes around, everyone else has money in their accounts. I spent an hour on the phone with customer service, and although the young lady was very lovely she didn’t help me with squat! My problem: I’ve gone to two different schools and gotten a HigherOne account at both, when i was at my last job I only had the one, now I have two that seem to have merged. Same routing number, same account number, same ZERO balance where my direct deposit should be. I’m switching banks, because I don’t need the added stress of my bank maybe deciding to give me the money I have worked for and need sometime THIS DECADE. And to hell with the added charges!

  16. Malik says:

    The worst thing known to man. Customer service is absolutely terrible, they’re no help at all. This company needs to be sued and shut down Immediatly. Even there supervisor is terrible they will repeat the same thing over and over again. They say they will do this but just pass you on for the next person problem

    • Malik says:

      No were not hard to deal with. We’re in college getting a education that were paying for and that crappy higher one plans to ruin it. Your customer service is so bad, of course you’re gonna get furious people

  17. Sukimoggy says:

    I am a former Customer Care Representative who unfortunately lost my job due to the outsourcing of the call center abroad. Although sad to lose my job last year, I am now much happier working for another company with a customer base that does not hurl abuse at me on a daily basis. Higher One customers were extremely difficult to deal with, and I actually feel sorry for the foreign representatives who not only have to deal with the abuse based on Higher One’s banking practices, but they also have the added problem of language difficulties. Happy to have moved on!

    • Candy anonymous says:

      Actually higher one has changed a lot you no longer pay for a new card you no longer have to pay for swipes if you read the terms and fees you can run your card as credit and it will still work just like a debit except no charge and now am fees are only a 1.75 but if you need to take money off take what you need and only pay that one fee you guys just want to be able to use your card for free if that’s the case get a real bank account and wire transfer your money the number is on your account.

  18. Presli says:

    DO NOT USE HIGHER ONE! It’s supposed to be a “student account”….well what type of student account charges you for everything ?? $20 EVERYTIME I need a new card? Absurd. They just wanna get all the money they can. There’s only one ATM in my whole city which is on the campus of my school. You have to pay $20 AND THEN wait a whole week & a half for the card to come in the mail. they could atleast expedite them if you’re gonna charge $20 for a new one. I call customer service and I get people from overseas that can’t even speak English. I hate this company & I always take as much as I can out of my account every chance I get so that I won’t have to worry about the bs fees they charge!!

  19. I have HigherOne and have had to replace my card 4 times. I always watch out where I spend money with my card. I try not to use my card online. But I need to pay my half of the electric bill and half the cable bill. But that’s all I use it for. If I want to purchase something on line I use another card. I use it for gas also but. I found myself hacked 4 times I fought all 4 times and received my funds back in my account. But students shouldn’t haft to worry about this. We already have enough shit on our plate’s. Our colleges or our governor should find out about all of these cases maybe even a petition so we can get a better more secure debit card. That has less student charges we need new student account cards. I will sign how many others will?

  20. Jennifer Schneider says:

    I WAS ON THE PHONE WITH HIGHER ONE 4 DIFFERENT TIMES TODAY, AND AM FURIOUS! THE FIRST CALL, THE “RESOLUTION CENTER” TOLD ME THAT I HAD TO CANCEL MY CARD, AT WHICH TIME I TOLD HER THAT I HAD TO PAY MY RENT TODAY, COULD I RUN TO THE ATM AND THEN CANCEL MY CARD DUE TO A FRAUDULENT CHARGE FOR 144.00 THAT IVE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF. SHE ASSURES ME NUMEROUS TIMES I WILL BE ABLE TO ACCESS MY FUNDS AND CANCELS MY CARD. I GO TO THE SITE TO “ACCESS MY FUNDS” AND THE ONLY OPTION IS WIRE TRANSFER. HAVING TO PAY MY RENT I SAY SCREW IT, ILL PAY THE FEE. BUT – NOW AFTER HAVING TO DEAL WITH THEM ALL DAY TRYING TO GET THINGS FIGURED OUT, ITS PASSED 3PM ON A FRIDAY AND IT WONT BE PROCESSED UNTIL MONDAY. AND I AM TO EXPECT A NEW CARD IN 5-7 BUSINESS DAYS.. FUCKERS!!!! IF YOUR ASKED TO SIGN UP FOR ONEACCOUNT… RUN!!!!!! FAST!!!!! THEY ARE THE BIGGEST, LAMEST, NO GOOD MOTHERFUCKERS YOU WILL EVER COME INTO CONTACT WITH. GRRR

  21. Jennifer Schneider says:

    I WAS ON THE PHONE WITH HIGHER ONE 4 DIFFERENT TIMES TODAY, AND AM FURIOUS! THE FIRST CALL, THE “RESOLUTION CENTER” TOLD ME THAT I HAD TO CANCEL MY CARD, AT WHICH TIME I TOLD HER THAT I HAD TO PAY MY RENT TODAY, COULD I RUN TO THE ATM AND THEN CANCEL MY CARD DUE TO A FRAUDULENT CHARGE FOR 144.00 THAT IVE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF. SHE ASSURES ME NUMEROUS TIMES I WILL BE ABLE TO ACCESS MY FUNDS AND CANCELS MY CARD. I GO TO THE SITE TO “ACCESS MY FUNDS” AND THE ONLY OPTION IS WIRE TRANSFER. HAVING TO PAY MY RENT I SAY SCREW IT, ILL PAY THE FEE. BUT – NOW AFTER HAVING TO DEAL WITH THEM ALL DAY TRYING TO GET THINGS FIGURED OUT, ITS PASSED 3PM ON A FRIDAY AND IT WONT BE PROCESSED UNTIL MONDAY. AND I AM TO EXPECT A NEW CARD IN 5-7 BUSINESS DAYS.. FUCKERS!!!! IF YOUR ASKED TO SIGN UP FOR ONEACCOUNT… RUN!!!!!! FAST!!!!! THEY ARE THE BIGGEST, LAMEST, NO GOOD MOTHERFUCKERS YOU WILL EVER COME INTO CONTACT WITH. GRRR

  22. Tiffanie ferndablaq says:

    Ach processed on the 11. It’s the 13th and nothing is posted in my bank account. I hate higher one. They wait to the last minute.

  23. Karen Rentz says:

    HigherOne is the worst! I’m so glad that this is my last semester of school because I’m tired of dealing with their incompetent and poor English speaking representatives as well as their outrageously high fees. They make all of the mega bank corps look like saints!

  24. Karen Rentz says:

    HigherOne is the worst! I’m so glad that this is my last semester of school because in so tired of dealing with their incompetent, poor English speaking representatives as well as their outrageously high fees. They make all of the mega bank corps look like saints!

  25. 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.

  26. 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).

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

  33. 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.

  34. stacy northrop says:

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

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