How do I use my Northwestern cat cash?

As a student at Northwestern University, you have access to Cat Cash, which is a prepaid spending account that can be used at many locations on and around campus. Cat Cash provides a convenient way to make purchases without having to carry cash or your credit/debit card. Understanding how to check your Cat Cash balance and where you can use your Cat Cash is important to get the most out of this resource.

What is Cat Cash?

Cat Cash is a prepaid spending account associated with your WildCARD student ID. It functions similarly to a debit card account, allowing you to deposit funds that can then be spent at participating on and off-campus merchants. Rather than paying with cash or your bank debit/credit card, you simply swipe your WildCARD and the purchase amount is deducted from your Cat Cash balance. Some key facts about Cat Cash:

  • Managed by the WildCARD office
  • Funded by deposits made to your Cat Cash account
  • Accepted at many on and off-campus locations
  • Used by swiping your WildCARD student ID
  • Balance can be checked online or at Cat Cash kiosks

Where can I use Cat Cash?

Cat Cash can be used at a variety of on-campus and nearby off-campus merchants. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Dining halls
  • Restaurants and cafes on campus
  • Select vending machines
  • University bookstores
  • On-campus convenience stores
  • Printing and copying services
  • Laundry facilities
  • Movie theaters
  • Coffee shops
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Pharmacies
  • Grocery and convenience stores

Many local merchants display a “WildCARD Accepted Here” decal. Anywhere displaying this decal will accept Cat Cash as a form of payment. The full list of participating on and off-campus locations can be found on the WildCARD merchants page.

How do I check my Cat Cash balance?

You can check your available Cat Cash balance in a few ways:

  • Online – Log into your CAESAR account and select “My WildCARD” to see your balance
  • Cat Cash kiosks – Swipe your WildCARD at any campus kiosk to view your balance
  • Mobile app – Download the WildCARD Services app and log in to check your balance
  • At point of sale – Your balance will display when making a purchase with Cat Cash

Checking online or via the mobile app allows you to view your transaction history and add funds if needed.

How do I add funds to Cat Cash?

Adding money to your Cat Cash account can be done in a few convenient ways:

  • Online – Log into your CAESAR account, go to “My WildCARD”, and use the Deposit Funds link
  • Cat Cash kiosks – Use cash or credit/debit card at a kiosk to add funds
  • Bursar account – Arrange for scheduled deposits through the Bursar
  • Mobile app – Make deposits right from the WildCARD Services app

Online deposits can be made with eCheck (no fee) or credit card (2.85% fee). Kiosk deposits can be made with cash or credit/debit card (credit has 2.85% fee). Parents can also login to CAESAR to deposit funds for students if granted proxy access.

How much does it cost to add Cat Cash?

There are no fees when adding funds to Cat Cash using an eCheck via the online CAESAR system. If using a credit or debit card online or at a kiosk, there is a 2.85% service fee applied to the deposit amount. So a $100 deposit would incur a $2.85 fee and yield $97.15 added to your Cat Cash balance. There are no fees for cash deposits made at the kiosks across campus.

What are the advantages of using Cat Cash?

There are several advantages to using Cat Cash as a student:

  • Convenience – Make purchases on campus without cash/cards
  • Speed – Faster checkouts than handling cash
  • Security – Don’t need to carry as much cash around
  • Budgeting – Deposit lump sums and track spending
  • Accessibility – Accepted both on and off-campus
  • Discounts – Get discounts with Cat Cash at some locations

Since your WildCARD serves as your Cat Cash payment card, you don’t need to fumble for bills and coins to pay for items on campus. It’s an easy and quick way to make purchases.

Are there any disadvantages to Cat Cash?

The disadvantages of using Cat Cash include:

  • Must have WildCARD to make purchases
  • Need to maintain a positive balance, no overdrafts allowed
  • Fees to add funds with credit/debit cards
  • Not accepted everywhere off-campus like major bank cards

You need to remember to bring your student ID any time you want to use Cat Cash. Also, you will need to deposits funds in advance – you cannot spend more than your available balance. Off-campus, acceptance may be limited compared to major credit cards.

Can I get a refund for unused Cat Cash?

Unused Cat Cash funds will roll over year to year as long as you remain enrolled at Northwestern. If you graduate or withdraw from the university, you can request a refund of your remaining balance by submitting a request form to the WildCARD office. Proof of withdrawal or graduation will be required. Any refund will be returned to the original source of payment if possible.

Does Cat Cash expire?

Cat Cash does not expire as long as you remain an enrolled student at Northwestern. Your balance will remain available year to year. If you graduate or leave the university, your Cat Cash will expire after one year of inactivity on your account.

Is there a limit to how much I can deposit?

You can deposit as much as you want to your Cat Cash account. There are no limits. However, very large deposits (over $500) may take 1-2 business days to fully process and become available for spending.

Can I view my Cat Cash transaction history?

Yes, you can see your Cat Cash transaction history by logging into your CAESAR account and selecting “My WildCARD” or by using the WildCARD Services mobile app. This will show all deposits, withdrawals, fees, and purchases associated with your Cat Cash account.

What happens if my WildCARD is lost or stolen?

If your WildCARD student ID is lost or stolen, you should immediately report it to the WildCARD office. They can suspend your card’s ability to make purchases, protecting your Cat Cash balance. You can request a new WildCARD and transfer your Cat Cash balance to the replacement card after paying a small replacement card fee.

Can I lend my WildCARD to friends or family to use my Cat Cash?

Your WildCARD and Cat Cash account are intended only for your personal use. Lending your student ID or Cat Cash funds to anyone else is prohibited. Misuse of your WildCARD can result in suspension of your card and Cat Cash account privileges.

Are there any merchant discounts or specials if paying with Cat Cash?

Some participating on and off-campus merchants may offer discounts or special promotional prices when paying with Cat Cash. This includes items like meal combos, beverage specials, or percentage discounts off certain products. Look for posted signs near registers advertising any Cat Cash discounts available.

Can faculty and staff get Cat Cash accounts?

At this time, Cat Cash accounts are only available to currently enrolled students at Northwestern. Faculty and staff are not eligible to open and use Cat Cash accounts of their own, but can make deposits to existing student Cat Cash accounts if they have been granted parent/proxy access in CAESAR.

Where can I learn more about Cat Cash?

You can get additional information about Cat Cash by:

  • Visiting the Northwestern Cat Cash website
  • Contacting the WildCARD office by phone at (847) 467-3111 or email at [email protected]
  • Stoping by the WildCARD office located at Centennial Hall, Room 101
  • Speaking to staff at WildCARD kiosks and service desks across campus


As a Northwestern student, understanding how to use your Cat Cash allows you to get the most convenience and value from this prepaid account. Check your balance frequently, take advantage of on-campus discounts when offered, and consider depositing lump sums rather than small amounts each time to avoid fees. Being an informed Cat Cash account holder ensures you can seamlessly make purchases using your WildCARD. With a little planning ahead, you can enjoy all the benefits of using Cat Cash during your time at Northwestern.

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