Campus ID News
Card, mobile credential, payment and security
Harvard CrimsonCash logo

Harvard to end longstanding declining balance program starting July 1

CrimsonCash to be phased out in stages over next 12 months

CampusIDNews Staff   ||   Jun 07, 2024  ||   , ,

Harvard’s CrimsonCash – a declining balance program that enables students to use their campus card to make payments on and off campus – will be sunsetted in phases beginning July 1, 2024 and finishing July 1, 2025. The announcement was made in an email sent to account holders and a posting on the university’s website.

At one time, CrimsonCash was widely regarded as one of the industry’s most successful, pioneering declining balance programs. Millions of dollars flowed through the system and the off-campus merchant program was a model for other campuses.

Over the years, the prevalence of open system payment methods took a heavy toll on CrimsonCash and virtually all declining balance programs. Today it is the norm for students to arrive on campus with a bank account, debit card, and credit card.

CrimsonCash was widely regarded as one of the industry’s most successful declining balance programs with millions flowing through and a model off-campus merchant program.

According to the announcement, the decision to end CrimsonCash was “made in close consultation with University partners and stakeholders and based on significantly reduced utilization of the program due to the evolving purchasing habits of the Harvard community.”

In the first phase, July 1, 2024, four key areas will stop accepting the payment method:

  • On-campus undergraduate residential dining
  • Vending machines
  • Harvard athletic gyms
  • Off-campus merchants (note GrubHub merchants will still accept CrimsonCash until the following year)

In each of these venues, cash, credit, and debit cards will be accepted – with the exception of residential dining. Dining will not accept cash but will continue to accept mealplans and the BoardPlus dollars that are provided with mealplans.

On January 1, 2025, phase two will see CrimsonCash eliminated from all retail dining locations on campus.

The trickier applications include laundry and on-campus print and copy services. These locations only accept CrimsonCash today, so a wholesale change is required.

On July 1, 2025, the final phase will end the program entirely. A new Grubhub agreement will define the new payment options, though credit and debit cards will certainly continue. Student grilles will accept the BoardPlus account and other payment options to be determined.

Harvard CrimsonCash merchant sign

CrimsonCash signs to come down across Cambridge as off-campus merchant program ends

The trickier applications include laundry and on-campus print and copy services. These locations only accept CrimsonCash today, so a wholesale change is required.

The announcement stated that for these services, the future payment and funding model is yet to be determined.

An article in the Harvard Crimson noted, “the email did not describe how or if Crimson Cash would be replaced (for laundry and print) but added that the program team would share more information over the coming academic year.”

“Leadership is looking at options to streamline laundry, print, and copying funding and payment methods,” states the email.

All this seems to leave the door open to new models that could eliminate fees for residence hall laundries and could include a dedicated account for printing and copying. Both approaches are common on campuses today.

On many campuses across the country, declining balance and off-campus merchant programs are constricting. For Harvard, it seems the cost to maintain the program ultimately outweighed the operational efficiencies and student convenience considerations.

Farewell CrimsonCash. You’ve had a great run.

Related Posts

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter


Photo ID camera webinar
Jul 18, 24 /

How do I select the right camera for my campus card office?

When it comes to getting a photo onto a campus card, a lot has changed in recent years. In many offices, high-end SLR and video cameras have been replaced by web cams or other technologies. There are many options, so how do you decide what is right for your environment. In a recent episode of […]
HID Access Control Survey

Access control survey shows continuing rise in biometrics, mobile, AI

HID’s 2024 State of Physical Access Control Report showcases significant market changes since the last report was issued two years ago. In partnership with IFSEC Insider, HID conducted their study from November 2023 until January 2024, distributing the survey to users through email, media outlets, social media, and internal teams. In all, more than 1,200 […]
Hiring student workers
Jul 17, 24 /

Tips for hiring student workers for your campus card office

Many campus card offices rely on students to supplement their full-time staff, but interviewing and hiring student workers can be challenging. Many have little or no prior work experience, and the current generation of young people have different drivers than prior generations. So how can you best approach the process in your office? Alicia Todaro, […]
CIDN logo reversed
The only publication dedicated to the use of campus cards, mobile credentials, identity and security technology in the education market. CampusIDNews – formerly CR80News – has served more than 6,500 subscribers for more than two decades.

Attn: friends in the biometrics space. Nominations close Friday for the annual Women in Biometrics Awards. Take five minutes to recognize a colleague or even yourself.

Feb. 1 webinar explores how mobile ordering enhanced campus life, increased sales at UVA and Central Washington @Grubhub @CBORD

Load More...
CampusIDNews is published by AVISIAN Publishing
315 E. Georgia St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301[email protected]
Use our contact form to submit tips, corrections, or questions to our team.
©2024 CampusIDNews. All rights reserved.