The Higher One debit card is created for students and is a prepaid debit card. Higher One has partnered with over 1,200 colleges and universities across the United States to provide students a debit MasterCard.
This debit card is called the one account, we have also seen each school give a unique name to the card such as; Hinds debit card, Valencia, Wildcat, Webster, etc. According to the Higher One website it is “a bank account designed for students, by students.”
One of the key features of the Higher One debit card is that students receiving financial aid payments, can have those funds deposited directly to their card. However Higher One has been called into question because of some fees related to their debit card.
We are surprised to see colleges again team up with any type financial instrument for students. As with all financial tools, often there are fees involved with using them. According to a spokeswoman for Higher One the “one account could be used free; carries no monthly service fee.”
She also went on to say the company is upfront about the fees they do charge. And cited a video on their website that describes how students can avoid paying a $0.50 fee every time they use their card by choosing credit instead of debit, when checking out.
We’re a bit shell-shocked to see any company charging students potentially $0.50 for every purchase! And simply for choosing debit instead of credit at the cash register. Just a brief example of two purchases, five days a week, and in a month you’ll pay $20 in fees!
As to be expected there has been controversy, and student complaints about these fees. There is a Facebook page that has been created by students at Western Washington University, to inform other students to avoid and ignore the Higher One debit card.
Unfortunately this reloadable prepaid debit card is uniquely branded for many universities and thus other students are unaware. For instance we have seen this debit card also called: hinds debit card, webster, kctcs, avc, bcc, wildcat, and many more. Typically it is the universities name.
The Higher One account is FDIC insured. And they do offer an online bill pay program, which will enable you to pay bills from your computer. This is a debit MasterCard so you will be able to use it everywhere you see a MasterCard logo.
You can also get refunds from dropping a class for example, deposited directly to your Higher One debit MasterCard. You will be able to use a Higher One ATM to withdraw cash without any fees, however if you use another ATM you will have to pay some fees.
We don’t doubt that the Higher One debit card will provide you some convenience. It will also make it easier to get financial aid, and reimbursements or refunds from your school. However we are dismayed that students could end up with a shocking amount to pay in fees, just because they choose debit instead of credit.
In our humble opinion, and despite the Higher One website clearly showing how to avoid paying these fees, we feel it is less than ethical. There are a number of other prepaid debit cards that are just as easy to be approved for and with minimal to no fees, including the American Express debit card.
This is the lowest fee prepaid card we have seen. And it is issued through a much more well known and trusted brand and company American Express Prepaid. If your a student, the Higher One debit card may be your first step as a financial consumer.
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