End of Sun Dollars could hurt nearby businesses

Sun Dollars will be phased out this summer, and some local businesses worry it could hurt sales.

The Sun Dollars program, an ASU staple for 15 years, will be phased out by July 31.

Many restaurants and shops near each of the four campuses accept Sun Dollars, which allow students to pay for food or other items using their Sun Cards.

Purchases made with Sun Dollars make up large portions of some businesses’ profits.

Dimitri Soris, owner of sandwich shop Pita Pit on University Drive and Forest Avenue, said about 20 percent of his store’s sales came from Sun Dollars.

“It will hurt,” he said. “The fact that we can’t take M&> affects us too.”

Maroon and Gold Dollars can only be used on campus, but otherwise function like Sun Dollars. Funds can be loaded onto the card but cannot be withdrawn for cash.

M&>, which are tied to meal plans, will remain next year. Sun Dollars are being phased out to prepare for the new Pitchfork ID MasterCard Check Card, offered through new partnership between the University and MidFirst Bank.

Starting this fall, students and faculty can choose to keep their Sun Cards or use the Pitchfork card, a combination student identification card and bankcard.

Mike Jennings, owner of Campus Corner on College Avenue and Seventh Street, said Sun Dollars make up about 15 percent of his sales on school days.

“I hope that people will still come in and use their debit cards instead,” Jennings said. “But I’m worried they won’t.”

No new deposits can be made to Sun Dollar accounts after July 1, and students can continue to use their Sun Dollars at off-campus businesses until July 14.

On-campus services that take Sun Dollars, including laundry and printing at campus computer labs, will continue accepting the currency until July 31.

Remaining Sun Dollars will be transferred to students’ ASU accounts by August.

Biology in society junior Melissa Brisbin said Sun Dollars and M&> are mostly used by freshmen, and the loss of them would not hurt upperclassmen.

“I mostly just used mine for laundry,” Brisbin said. “I don’t think this will really have an impact.”

Incoming microbiology sophomore Kevin Bushway said he had both Sun Dollars and M&> this past year, and he was often confused by which were accepted where.

“It would be a lot simpler to just use cash or one card,” Bushway said. “Sometimes, when parents don’t give you regular money, it’s hard to make sure everything gets to the right place.”

Reach the reporter at julia.shumway@asu.edu or follow @JMShumway on Twitter.

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