Princeton Merchants Association Unveils New “One Princeton” Shop Local Debit Card

The Princeton Merchants Association has announced a new shop local buying card to be used at participating town merchants.

The “One Princeton” card, which is slated to launch in September, will work as both a debit card and parking card.

The card will help merchants avoid normal bank credit card fees, which can sometimes be as high as three percent. Local credit card processor Heartland Payment Systems has agreed to charge merchants a flat rate of 5 cents per transaction. Merchants will be required to donate one percent of transactions to local charities.

“There is a heck of a lot of credit card processing in Princeton and it is expensive for merchants,” said John Marshall of Main Street Bistro. “We want to keep credit card processing fees from going out of town.”

Marshall estimated that more than $600,000 in credit card fees goes to banks outside Princeton.

“This would be the first program of its kind,” he said of the card. “It would provide a new funding stream to the local economy. The Princeton Merchants Association is is happy to be sponsoring the program.”

The card would be linked to the buyer’s checking account and would act like a debit card. The debit card portion would also work on a smart phone. The plastic card would include a parking chip. Users would still have to go to the parking garage to load money on the card to pay for parking.

The merchants also hope to create a system where people can load fixed dollar amounts on the card, but that will take place at a later date.

Princeton University is issuing the cards to students.

Administrator Bob Bruschi said the card is a plus from the town’s perspective.

“The card will allow people to not worry about carrying a smart card and a separate purchasing card,” Bruschi said. “It is good for us.The more we can get done on the street, the better it is for us.”


  1. Credit cards offer users strong protections in the case of things like card theft, and allow for charge-backs in the cases of disputes. Would this
    debit system offer the same benefits to the consumer?

    And considering how many shoppers gain bonuses through their credit cards’ various cash-back or loyalty programs I have to wonder – does the One Princeton card benefit consumers at all, or is this really just in the best interest or shopkeepers?

    1. @f166a6dde64e11b557d3a3b7575a9b62:disqus I recently signed up and registered my phone to make purchases. I’m confident of the security procedures in place to protect my bank account.

      However, you do bring up some interesting points. It’s no convenient way to find out which merchants are participating ( there is a long list on the web site ), no mention of how returns/exchanges are handled, and no clear statement about how much discount a customer can expect.

  2. This sounds pretty good to me, and I will definitely consider getting it. Although I get some dollars back on my Bank of America credit card purchases, and the protection that comes with a credit card, I regularly use a debit card and it would delight me if local businesses weren’t getting ripped off with transaction fees. I tend to be more trusting of a local business, and if local charities benefit, that is also fantastic. If it can make parking easier too, so much the better. Sign me up!

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