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ID+ gives students a free pass to Pittsburgh

Throughout this week, first-years will be reminded often about the importance of their Carnegie Mellon ID cards and the importance of not losing that ID. Along with providing access to most of their dormitories and being a key to their room, the Carnegie Mellon ID does so much more!

Many first-year students may open a checking account for the first time, and having an extra debit card to carry around may seem inconvenient. PNC Bank offers students the option to link their checking accounts directly to their IDs. Students simply have to access their PNC checking
accounts online, and follow the directions in the Account Services section.

“This option is great for Carnegie Mellon students who want convenient access to their PNC checking accounts,” said Michelle Loppert, a PNC branch representative. “Linking their accounts to their cards essentially enables students to treat their ID cards as a debit or credit card. Hopefully first-years will be forced to realize the importance of keeping track of their belongings early, and also how to prevent fraudulent spending.”

One thing students won’t be spending money on is bus fare; our IDs also serve as a free pass for all campus and Pittsburgh Port Authority Transit buses. The white bus icon on the ID lets bus drivers know that students can ride for free. Take a bus downtown and discover that our ID also provides free access to a romantic view of the city, the historic and famous Duquesne Incline.

Along with a trip to the Incline students enjoy free access to many Pittsburgh attractions, including the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens — located just behind our campus, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Science Center, the Andy Warhol Museum, the Mattress Factory — another contemporary museum, the Frick, and the National Aviary.

The ID also serves as the students’ dining pass — all first-years are required to sign up for a meal plan. That meal plan will likely include meal blocks and DineXtra dollars that can be used anytime for food a la carte or in Entropy+ as well. Students can use this facility by simply handing over their card to food service cashiers to be swiped.

A new feature with this year’s dining is that DineX can now be used to purchase food in the vending machines of University-owned residential buildings.

Another way to spend money with the ID card is with PlaidCa$h.

“I would encourage parents to use the PlaidCa$h system with their kids since they will know exactly what the money is being spent on,” says Francisco Santiago, a resident assistant and junior mechanical engineer. “PlaidCa$h can be used basically anywhere on campus to buy food, art supplies, clothes from the bookstore, and any school supplies you need. But you can also spend PlaidCa$h at Giant Eagle [the local grocery store] too.”

There are also a few other off-campus locations that currently accept PlaidCa$h as a form of payment, such as the Starbucks on the corner and Forbes Avenue and Craig Street, and Maximum Flavor, a popular restaurant known for its good food and cheap prices.

“The only catch about PlaidCa$h is that you have to spend it where it’s accepted, and you don’t get any of it back,” said Santiago. “So it’s good for students whose parents want to give them PlaidCa$h because they never have to spend their own money on campus. All the money you work for goes to you.”

The PlaidCa$h account is accessed through the ID card and money can be added by going to the PlaidCa$h site on Carnegie Mellon’s website.

For an additional $45 students can join the Student Advantage program which provides significant discounts to various clothing stores and services, such as Footlocker and Greyhound.

The ID would have a Student Advantage number printed onto the back of the card that can be
entered in for a discount whenever shopping online or in person.

There are many other daily uses for the Carnegie Mellon ID. Along with providing access to their dorm rooms, the ID also serves as a key to most academic buildings after hours and allows students to use the laundry facilities. Students can also enjoy free use of both the Wiegand and Skibo gyms.

The ID serves as a tool for students to utilize the printing services in campus and residential clusters, and is necessary for picking up packages at the parcel pick-up office in the basement of the University Center.

Basically, the ID is valuable, especially since a lost ID means paying a $25 fee to have a new one printed. A good way to not lose it is to purchase a cardholder and a lanyard from either the Card Office or the bookstore, both of which accept PlaidCa$h.