Alcohol awareness groups have criticised a new loyalty card that aims to assist student loan holders.
The Feejoa card—created in conjunction with the IRD—rebates five per cent of members’ purchases as student loan repayments.
On Feejoa’s website, it claims that the loyalty card is helping with “a deeply unloved aspect of modern life”—working with the Inland Revenue Department.
Currently a few bars, primarily in Auckland, and Warehouse Stationery stores have accepted the use of these loyalty cards.
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Some alcohol-awareness groups are worried that the adoption of Feejoa cards by bars will promote binge drinking.
Rebecca Williams, a spokesperson for Alcohol Healthwatch, said that young people do not need encouragement to drink more.
“[Young people] have the highest prevalence of heavy drinking in our population, and we’re encouraging them to drink more just so they can get some kind of outcome or reward on their student loan,” Williams told reporters.
Feejoa also charges a service fee of 5.75 per cent, which is deducted off merchant contributions prior to passing to the IRD.
AUSA President Paul Smith said he saw the card as highlighting deeper issues with our student loan system, a view shared by VUWSA President Rick Zwaan.
“It will be interesting to see where it goes. Hopefully it expands within Wellington to help reduce the overwhelming debt that students and graduates face.”
Feejoa claims that 1000 people have already signed up to the card. Currently the eight bars involved in the scheme are situated in Christchurch and Auckland, with AUT’s student bar, Vesbar, also adopting the scheme.