College students need all the discounts they can get, and this fall, Edhance, Inc. is giving them a new way to get them.
The Boston-based company is offering students across the country a free discount program that works through existing debit and credit cards. Students can register up to five cards online at Edhance.com by entering basic information, including a university email address and the name of the school.
Once they’re registered, they can use those cards in-store and online with registered merchants. They pay full price upfront, Edhance software verifies the consumer is a student, and when the money saved on various discounts reaches $10 or $25, that money is deposited back into their bank accounts.
“Today’s young consumers are more demanding than ever before, and asking them to pay for having a discount card mailed to them didn’t seem like something that would fly in a couple of years,” said Bjorn Larsen, president of Edhance, in an email. “So, we developed a free service where students don’t have to show anything, and merchants know that discounts are only given to verified students.”
Stores can customize their discount rates and even create specials offers like a “Tuesday Night Special” or “Back-to-School” promotion, Larsen said. The Edhance website will also utilize Google Maps to help students locate participating stores in their area. An Edhance iPhone app is also in the making.
Edhance is also beneficial to the merchants who sign up to offer discounts. Currently, stores can’t always trust a student ID card or university email address as verification – alumni can use old IDs, students can share their email address with non-students, and so on. Edhance automatically verifies the card holder is a student when the card is swiped, and it’s done without any additional machines for the store to buy. Plus, it’s free for them to sign up too.
“We only charge a commission when we drive business to our merchant partners, so everything is pay-for-performance. If it doesn’t work for them, it doesn’t work for us either,” said Larsen.
The first in-store discounts will be offered in Boston in September, but they will then expand nation-wide.
“We recently signed a deal with a national financial services company that issues debit cards to over 700,000 students,” said Larsen. “These are located at schools across the country, but we’ll focus on cities like Boston with a heavy college concentration, such as Ann Arbor, MI and Austin, TX.”
Some companies that have already signed up are Apple, Barnes&Noble.com, Toshiba, Puma.com and select New England locations of Qdoba.
Matt Weiss, marketing director for Chair5, the company that operates Qdoba in New England, said they’re going to start offering discounts within a few weeks at some college locations in Boston.
“It’s a really seemless way to engage with this demographic. There’s no heavy lifting on our end,” he said. “The nature of it is just so simple and easy, not only for us but for the customer.”