Discount cards get revitalized

A new, more streamlined discount card plan that will offer UAA students reduced rates on goods and services around Anchorage is scheduled to be released within the next month.

The new plan, which allows students to use their existing university-issued identification cards to take advantage of the discounts offered through the program, will mark a departure from the flimsy, easy-to-lose discount cards that students received in the past. The advantage of using the ID card _” other than it being readily available _” is that the program will now be run on an ongoing basis rather than having new cards issued each year, which will help to reduce the program’s operating costs.

Amy Voss, a sophomore majoring in hospitality and restaurant management, said she didn’t use the card last year, but thinks the use of student ID cards for the purpose will make the cards more practical. However, she was reluctant about the $5,000 price tag on the program that will be covered by student fees.

“I would have to see what all the benefits would be before I make a decision on that,” she said in reference to whether the cost was justified.

USUAA President Anthony Rivas said the cost of the program was appropriate, and that it will likely not eat up all of the fees that have been earmarked by USUAA for the project.

“I should be coming in way under budget because, unlike last time, I don’t have to print out 15,000 cards,” he said. “Any student who uses the card once or twice has already paid for their student government fee of $6 (because of the money they save).”

Rivas said USUAA will list participating businesses on its Web site when the plan is unveiled, and that these businesses will place decals in their entryways to alert students to their participation. Businesses will then participate for as long as they choose without having to be solicited each year.

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Megan Geraghty, executive assistant for Play It Again Sports, which participated in the program last year, said the company is participating in the program again and plans to continue doing so in the future.

“Lots of people would present their cards at the time they checked out. It always brought people in,” she said. “We always like to participate in community-based programs.”

The program will begin once Rivas is able to find at least 20 willing participants, which he expects will occur in the next month. He says he intends to gather as many as he can in order to build a sustainable, attractive program for students.

Some of the best deals the program has are with Major Marine Tours and Play It Again Sports, both of which offer a ten percent discount, he said.

Nick Braman, a senior with a dual major in philosophy and biochemistry, said he only used the card one time last year because the participating businesses were not diverse enough and did not offer attractive discounts.

“I think $5,000 could probably be spent on more useful stuff,” he said. “I mean, the discounts are nice, but considering the fact that I’ve forgotten to use them the entire time I’ve had the card – you know, 25 cents off of a cup of coffee, or whatever, who cares?”