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MidFirst Bank partnership to change University ID and banking

(Photo courtesy of Mike Piazza)
(Photo courtesy of Mike Piazza)

ASU and MidFirst Bank announced a new partnership Monday that will create a combination Sun Card and debit card and place dozens of new ATMs on all four campuses next fall.

MidFirst Bank signed an 11-year contract with ASU to become the exclusive sponsor of athletic events and banking products such as the Sun Card’s replacement, the Pitchfork ID MasterCard Check Card, ASU marketing manager Aaron Bryant said.

“The partnership allows ASU to offer convenience and beneficial choices to students, faculty and staff as well as products to alumni and friends of the University,” Bryant said.

It is the first time independently owned MidFirst Bank will offer an all-in-one checking and University ID card as part of a partnership with a university, said the bank’s vice president and spokesman Mike Piazza.

The partnership extends MidFirst Bank’s sponsorship of Sun Devil Athletics, which had been in place for about five years.

“We were a current sponsor and when the opportunity became available for us to be the exclusive bank for the students and alumni, we jumped in,” Piazza said.

The Pitchfork Card is a University ID that includes a MidFirst Bank checking account. It will have the same functions as a Sun Card and can be used anywhere MasterCard or M&G Dollars are accepted, Bryant said.

The Pitchfork Card will have two magnetic strips, one with the MidFirst Bank account information and the other with student or employee ID information.

“Every student is welcome to choose whichever option they want,” Bryant said.

Pitchfork Cards incur no fees at ATMs nationwide and require no minimum deposit.

Students, faculty and staff can choose to keep their Sun Card or switch to the Pitchfork Card in the fall semester, Bryant said.

If a Pitchfork Card is lost or stolen, the same $25 fee will apply to replace it.

“Treat it like any other banking card,” he said.

Sun Dollars will be eliminated by July 31 because it was an expensive program for retailers to maintain and used by a decreasing number of students, Bryant said.

“We looked at what our other options were to be able to provide similar student functionality, and this was one of our options to do that,” Byrant said.

ASU ended its branding contract with Bank of America in December 2011 and began searching for a new partner, Bryant said.

The new agreement was at no cost to the University, he said.

Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Chase ATMs will be removed from University campuses as their leasing contracts expire, Bryant said.

“We may choose to put (a MidFirst Bank) ATM where existing ones are removed,” Piazza said.

The partnership will place a MidFirst Bank branch in the Sun Card Office at the Tempe campus Memorial Union.

MidFirst Bank expects to place a branch in the University Center at the Downtown campus, but has no plans for the West and Polytechnic campuses, Bryant said.

ASU Executive Vice Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Morgan Olsen said the collaboration was the “best option” for the future.

“We think it will provide students with enhanced convenience and functions to handle their day-to-day banking and financial needs,” Olsen said.

Journalism senior Jeff Singer said it would be an advantage for incoming freshman.

“I am happy where I am at, but it looks like a good option for those who need a checking account,” Singer said.

Sustainability junior Amra Mallick said she wouldn’t switch her Bank of America and Arizona State Credit Union accounts for the new Pitchfork Card option.

“It would give too much of a monopoly for one bank,” Mallick said.


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