I never really worried about figuring out what my meal plan meant until it was time for me to move out and start my freshman year at Ohio State. It was then that I realized I had no clue what the differences were between swipes, dining dollars, and Buck-ID cash. It took me a few days to get everything figured out, so here are the basics:
Every time you eat in a dining hall (Traditions at Kennedy, Morrill or Scott), you’ll use a swipe to get in or to fill up a to-go box. Dining halls are like buffets, so if you don’t get a box you can eat as much as you’d like. Depending on which meal plan you have, you’ll have a certain number of swipes to use per week. However, your swipes aren’t limited to the dining halls. You can use them at any on-campus dining location, such as Oxley’s or the Union Market, where they’re worth $8 each. Alternatively, you can spend your swipes at a C-Store for things like milk and snacks, but they’re only worth $5 per swipe instead of $8. Your swipes will expire at the end of every week, so make sure you use them!
If you get the unlimited meal plan, you can swipe into the dining halls as often as you’d like but you won’t be able to exchange them at the other on-campus dining locations.
2. Dining Dollars
You can also spend your dining dollars at any of the on-campus dining locations. They come in handy if you’re purchasing a meal that costs a little over $8 because you can use dining dollars in combination with a swipe (for example, if your meal costs $8.50, then you could spend one swipe and 50 cents in dining dollars). Dining dollars roll over from semester to semester so you don’t have to worry about spending them right away.
3. Buck-ID Cash
You can use your Buck-ID at a variety of off-campus restaurants, such as the vast majority of those on High Street. You can also use Buck-ID cash at stores like CVS, so you’re covered for when you run out of toothpaste. Don’t spend it all at once, though — you’ll need it to pay for other things like printing and laundry. Like dining dollars, your Buck-ID cash will roll over each semester.