Smart Cards for Students

Ever want to consolidate the number of credit cards, debit cards, and ID’s you have on hand as a foreign student? Now, many colleges and universities are offering another payment method called the Smart Card. Smart Cards for students are being made available through many higher learning institutions and are often incorporated with student’s school ID or room key card, so that students can make purchases, show ID, and gain entrance with one card in hand. These cards are supplied by many colleges and are used to purchase many goods and services on campus or nearby vendors.

Smart cards for students work differently than a credit card or a debit card. Instead, smart cards do not use a magnetic stripe to store information, but rather an integrated computer chip or microprocessor. When the chip is inserted into a vending machine or card on the same network, information stored on the chip is transmitted to the vendor. To put money onto a smart card, the student must insert the card into a payment station, and then insert bills into the machine. Many smart card services have websites which allow the student or the student’s family to put money onto the card online.

These cards are most often used for laundry facilities, vending machines, and small shops on campus. The school’s benefit of offering these smart cards  is that they can limit their services for their students alone. The benefit of using the smart cards for students is that they no longer have to carry coins or cash around to buy small items or use services on their campus.

Additionally, local shops or restaurants often accept payment from university smart cards, allowing students the ability to purchase food or school supplies with their smart card. However, most shops outside of the immediate neighborhood of a university’s campus do not accept smart cards. To buy food or other items at stores that do not accept smart cards, a student will need another payment method at their disposal.


Exchange Rates for ESL Students

If you plan on leaving your home country to learn English, one important subject that you’ll want to become an expert on is exchange rates. In other words, how much is your home currency worth compared to your host country’s currency?

You might have asked yourself what this has to do with your upcoming trip to an ESL school. It’s relatively simple: if the value of your home currency increases (or appreciates) in value again your host country, you will have more money to spend while you are there.

There is a big exception to this, though.

If you’ve already exchanged all of your money in the beginning of your trip, you will not reap the benefit of the exchange rate fluctuations unless you’ll be exchanging your money back to your home currency. So in effect, you may be able to reap the benefits of such a change and literally increase the amount of money you have.

With all things good, there may also be risks involved. In this case, the opposite is true if your home currency loses value versus the value of the currency of your host country.

We’ll use Australia and Japan as an example. If Australian Dollars lose value compared with Japanese Yen, a Japanese ESL student would have less money in Yen when they attempt to change their currency back to their home currency. Even though our Japanese student would be exchanging the same currencies as they did initially, they’re now losing money in real terms on this transaction.

To avoid impacting your wallet too heavily one way or another, you should consider keeping a reserve of your home country’s currency which you haven’t exchanged for the currency of your host country. Just like stocks or other securities, it is ideal to “buy” currency when the price is low, and “sell” when the value is higher. World exchange rates have been relatively stable historically, but international exchange rates do fluctuate, and you can gain or lose money based on exchanging currencies alone.