OnePrinceton: How Walkable Businesses Are Supporting Princeton Non-Profits

One Princeton is here! Hooray! (Click to expand.)

One Princeton is here! Hooray! (Click to expand.)

Live Local. Work Local. Shop Local. These are key principles of Walkable Princeton. And here is a way you can help local businesses and non-profits and it will cost you absolutely nothing: It’s called OnePrinceton. It’s like a regular debit card, but every time you use it, it keeps money right here in our local Princeton community. We’ve been using it for the last couple of weeks, and we’re totally satisfied!

Why use a OnePrinceton card instead of a regular debit card? There are two reasons. First, it reduces costs on local businesses. If you’ve ever worked in business, you might be horrified to realize how much money banks suck away with every debit or credit card swipe. It can be 3% or more of every purchase. (This is one reason why some businesses are cash only.) With OnePrinceton, the cost to the vendor is much reduced. That’s because it is run by a local company (Heartland Payment Systems) instead of a cut-throat national banking corporation. Second, 1% of the total transaction goes to a local non-profit. That means if you spend $100, a local non-profit receives $1. Added up over a year, and this can be pretty significant! Especially if we all do it!

OK, so how do you sign up? Well, it’s a little bit of hassle, but not that hard. First, pick up a card in a local business (browse a list of participants here). You’ll need to go online to to activate the card. This involves a few steps:

  1. Enter the number of your new OnePrinceton card
  2. Enter the details of the bank account that you want to link to the card. (It’s secure.)
  3. Verify your bank account. Here’s how this works: OnePrinceton wires two small amounts of money to your bank account. It could be something like 24 cents and 18 cents. You check your account to find out the exact values, and then enter them in the website. It might take a day or two for the payments to be processed.
  4. Set up your PIN. Here’s how this works: you enter your phone number on the OnePrinceton website. An automated system calls you up and asks you to enter a 4-digit PIN. You’ll use this most every time you use the card.
  5. Select your non-profit! This is the fun part! Who will you choose to be the recipient of your 1% donations? Corner House? Princeton Historical Society? HiTops? Fortunately, there’s a button you can click to split your donations among all the potential non-profits. That’s what we went for!
Selecting your non-profit is the most fun part of activating a OnePrinceton card (we went for 'all of them'). (Click to expand.)

Selecting your non-profit is the most fun part of activating a OnePrinceton card (we went for ‘all of them’). (Click to expand.)

And that’s it! You’re good to go! Apparently you can set it up so that you can pay with your phone instead of with the card, but I don’t own a phone so I can’t help you with that! If you are interested in the full terms, you can access them here. Around the town, we’ve found that most local businesses are on board. The guy at McCaffrey’s had a little trouble using the OnePrinceton machine, but at Claridge Liquor, Olsson’s Fine Foods and Corkscrew Wine Market it was plain sailing. Not every local store is using it at the moment (e.g. Terra Momo Bread Company, Whole Earth Center) but we’ve already racked up $700 in purchases with the card, which means $7 for local non-profits. Every little helps!

There are also special discounts that are available to OnePrinceton users- check out their Facebook page here for an up-to-date list! This is a great scheme and we’d like to thank all our walkable Princeton businesses for supporting it. Thanks also to Heartland and the Princeton Chamber of Commerce for making this happen. It’s great to have one more reason to shop locally!

Are you using OnePrinceton already? What are your impressions? If not- are you interested to sign up, and if not, what do you see as the disadvantages? Let us know using the comment box below!

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2 Responses to OnePrinceton: How Walkable Businesses Are Supporting Princeton Non-Profits

  1. Asking shoppter to give up miles, cashback and other perks so that they can help local merchants (where they already shop) reduce their over head and donate to charities (which they may already donate to) seems a little one sided. Unless there is a direct benefit to Princeton shoppers (most of whom don’t live in Princeton) I don’t see this going very far. I think this One Princeton card needs some more incentives.

    • OnePrinceton just launched a cashback program. People who sign up before December 31 can earn up to $100 in rebates. Details of the program are here:
      I’ve already earned $100 cash back and local charities have received $10.63 in donations from my purchases.

      In a world where everything is expensive, card perks seem like a nice bonus. But the incentives are paid for by merchant fees. Merchants can’t tack on the fees as an extra, so they just increase their sticker prices to cover the cost that is being charged to them by the card company. More card incentives means higher prices, so I’m fine with ‘only’ getting $100 back from my OnePrinceton card.

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