Crimson Cash Expands Range of Options

Crimson Cash, the Harvard ID card debit system that can be used to pay for laundry machines, library copiers and food at 18 Square eateries, has received six new feature enhancements in recent weeks.

The Graduate School of Education and the Countway Medical Library at the Medical School have also this week committed themselves to the Crimson Cash program, meaning that this fall will mark the first time all of Harvard’s graduate schools will participate in the service, Harvard University Dining Services Assistant Director for Business Applications Jeffrey B. Cuppett wrote in an e-mail.

Cuppett wrote that the upgrades are the first to the program—implemented in 1996 for undergraduate use at laundry machines—since the website that allows students to add value electronically to their Crimson Cash accounts was launched in 1998.

The improvements are generally focused on making it easier for Crimson Cash users to maintain their desired balance.

Cuppett said he hoped the changes would lead to more local venues accepting Crimson Cash.

One new feature of the system allows users to view their Crimson Cash balance on the internet.

A second, corresponding service allows users to designate parents and other guests who can also view a Crimson Cash statement online.

“We’ve had a few parents phone over the years to request statements of their child’s accounts,” Cuppett explained in the e-mail. “The Guest/Parent Access features addresses the few inquiries we get a year from (typically) first-year parents who want to know how much is left on their student’s account before they further replenish.”

Cuppett wrote that student ID numbers and PINs would be secure in the new system.

Another new feature for graduating students will enable them to download a form to request a full refund of their remaining balance of Crimson Cash.

A fourth new enhancement is the “Request Money” feature—a standardized e-mail that can be sent to parents asking for an addition to the Crimson Cash account—which Cuppett wrote could be an advantage for parents.

“If mom gets paid every other Friday, it’s now easier to request money every other Friday,” Cuppett wrote.

But Leanna L. Boychenko ’06 expressed skepticism over the utility of the automated e-mails.

“I would love for my parents to get an e-mail about Crimson Cash and maybe, in some surge of missing their dear daughter, give me all their money,” Boychenko wrote sarcastically. “This never could have happened before.”

A related feature is the “Low Balance Warning,” which can be sent to designated e-mail addresses after the Crimson Cash balance falls below a predetermined threshold.

Finally, the new “Auto Refill” ability allows students and their parents to charge a credit card automatically to replenish a Crimson Cash account once the balance falls below a preset level.