Expanding Your Credit Card Options

The value of diverse acceptance methods

In Brief:

  • An Equifax study in 2016 found that 70% of students own a credit card.
  • 75% of U.S. American Express Card Members say they’d prefer to use their American Express card to pay for school-related bills.
  • When you offer more payment options for parents and students, your institution is more attractive to families.

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Author: Nelnet Campus Commerce

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Sometimes universities are hesitant to allow students to pay tuition with their credit card. Staff don’t want to encourage students to carry large balances on a credit card that typically carries a higher interest rate than a private educational loan.

In addition, many students pay each other with apps like WhatsApp and Venmo. Administrators may wonder if a student would even use a credit card to make a tuition payment.

The credit card landscape

According to a 2016 Equifax study, roughly 70% of students owned at least one credit card — and interestingly enough, 72% of the 600 students who participated in the study paid their monthly credit card balance on time and in full. Students are clearly using credit (and, perhaps, more responsible than previously suspected).

Students and parents are faced with a wide array of choices when it comes to credit cards. According to the Ascent, Visa and MasterCard are considered useful for their convenience and wide acceptance, while American Express offers advantages in the form of big rewards for spenders with a higher-than-average budget.

Cater to reward-savvy parents and students

Many parents — and some students — use credit cards specifically because of the rewards programs associated with them. When they have an opportunity to use their credit card for payments like tuition, event tickets, or meal plans, they will. For example, 75% of U.S. American Express Card Members say they’d prefer to use their American Express card to pay for school-related bills. It might be worth exploring the impact of offering this as a payment option.

Bring in additional revenue

When you offer more payment options for parents and students, your institution is more attractive to families — and the benefits of expanding the amount of credit cards you accept extend beyond tuition and fee payments. At online or on-campus stores, you won’t have to turn away potential sales because you don’t accept the credit card a student is trying to use.

When rethinking campus payment policies, it’s important to consider the evolution of the payment industry to make it easy for students and parents to make tuition payments, pay for campus goods, and invest in the future of your institution.