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Using Your Card

In addition to serving as your University ID, your Redbird Card can be used for a variety of purposes, including dining, printing, copying, vending machines, and more. In many cases, you may need to add money to your card account in order to make purchases at certain locations.

See a copy of our Disclosure Statement for the terms and conditions governing use of your Redbird Card.

Types of Accounts

There are several "money" and Meal Plan accounts available on the Redbird Card. The account you use will depend on a variety of factors, including your meal plan, semester, and whether you are a student or faculty/staff.

Note: When you first receive your Redbird Card, none of the following accounts will be active. They become active when you deposit money into the Redbird Account, sign a Residence Hall room and meal contract, or sign a Meal Plan contract for off-campus students. *Note: Meal Plans purchased after the initial meal plan load will not be accessible immediately after contract submission.*

Redbird Dollars Option

This account is the most versatile account as it can be used at every location which accepts the Redbird Card. When you add money to your card, this is the account in which the money will be deposited, regardless of any other accounts which you may already have. The Redbird Account is available to anyone possessing a Redbird Card.

Meal Plans and Dining Contracts

Residence Hall Meal Plans (for on-campus students) or Off-Campus Meal Plans (for off-campus students or Cardinal Court residents) use the Redbird Card for purchases. Visit Dining for more information.

  • Flex Dollars

    Part of the money from a Meal Plan purchased from Dining is placed into this account. See the Location Sheet for where this account is accepted.

  • Summer Meal Plans

    Accepted only at the Dining Centers open during the summer semester. Money from this plan may not be used in the vending machines or in the Bone Student Center.

Offline Charges

When a card is swiped at a location and the system is offline due to equipment or software problems, the transaction is stored in the reader. As soon as the location comes back online, the reader will send all of the stored transactions up to the computer to be subtracted from the accounts.

If the cardholder did not have any money, or if he or she spent the remainder of the money before the transaction was loaded, the transaction goes into Offline Charges as a negative. When more money is added to the Redbird Account, the negative amount is cleared against what was added.

Where Can I Use It?

The Redbird Card is widely accepted on the Illinois State University campus, including Potbelly on Main Street, the Redbird Spirit Shop (The official bookstore of Illinois State University) in the Bone Student Center and on North Street.

The Redbird Card is not an ATM Card. You cannot withdraw cash from your Redbird Account.


Access the Location Sheet for a full list of places which accept the Redbird Card for purchases. Students may be able to use Meal Plan or Flex Dollar accounts in some locations. Faculty/staff and retirees have only one account on their Redbird Card - The Redbird Account. The Redbird Account is accepted everywhere the Redbird Card is accepted for purchases.

The Redbird Card is currently not accepted for purchases at:

  • Box Office Ticketmaster (Box Office does accept the Redbird Card for other purchases)
  • Bowling & Billiards Center (BBC)
  • CPA Box Office
  • Illinois State University Golf Course
  • Redbird Athletics events & concessions
  • Parking pay lots & event parking


There are a number of locations and events on campus that require student verification for admittance. Therefore, these locations and events have been equipped with Redbird Card readers to accomplish this task. Your card will either be swiped through a card reader, or you will be asked to show your Redbird Card.

  • Check cashing at the Cashier's Office
  • University Golf Course
  • Bowling & Billards Center (BBC)
  • Computer Labs
  • Health Services and Pharmacy
  • For purchasing tickets at the Bone Student Center Box Office at discount rates
  • Residence hall guest check-in and door access
  • Student Fitness Center
  • Red Alert Pass
  • Admittance to some athletic events
  • Admittance to some theatre events
  • Library books, materials, and laptop checkout
  • Some off-campus locations for State employee discounts
  • Free bus service with Connect Transit
  • Computer Help Desk

Adding Money

Money can only be added to the Redbird Account - not to Meal Plans or Flex Accounts, which are purchased through Dining. Redbird Account balance cannot exceed $2,000.

Funds in the Redbird Account will be used:

  • After the Meal Plan and/or Flex accounts are at a zero balance.
  • If you are at a location that does not accept Meal Plan or Flex Dollars

If you do not have a meal plan, you may still eat in the residence hall dining centers or other restaurants around campus, but you will pay the door rate for your meals.

Ways to Add Money

There are four different ways to add money to your Redbird Account:

  • Online

    Make deposits online through

    • Log-In with ULID and Password
    • Scroll down on the page to "Add Money to Card"
    • Enter the amount you would like to add (enter as 10 or 100 for example, do not use $ or .00) in either the:
      • Electronic Check Amount box: You will enter your routing and account number to pay with checking/savings account.
      • Credit/Debit Amount box: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover are accepted.

    A minimum of $10 is required for all My Illinois State deposits. Deposits are available in your Redbird Account within approximately 20 minutes.

  • In Person

    Redbird Card Office (Bone Student Center) - Monday through Friday 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (See Contact Us for details).

    • Cash
    • Check (made payable to ISU)

    Cashier's Office - M, T, W, & F 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM & Th 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM

    • Cash
    • Check (made payable to ISU)
  • Cash-to-Card Machines

    Deposit money into one of our cash-to-card Machines. The machines accept cash only ($1, $2, $5, $10 and $20 bills). Cash-to-Card Machines are located at:

    • Cardinal Court Lounge
    • College of Business Computer Lab, Room 22
    • Linkins Basement
    • Milner Library, 2nd floor across from Circulation Desk
    • Vrooman Center
    • Watterson Lobby
  • By Mail

    Mail a check (made payable to ISU) to:

    Illinois State University
    Redbird Account Deposit
    Campus Box 1250
    Normal IL 61790-1250

    You should also complete a deposit slip to mail with the check. You can also simply include the information requested on the deposit slip with the check.

New / Lost / Replacement Cards

  • Your First Redbird Card

    The first Redbird Card is free. A government issued photo ID (i.e. Driver's License, State ID, Passport, or Military ID) must be presented to obtain your first Redbird Card. Your photo will be taken.

    • Faculty/staff members must have a UID number (assigned to you when your paperwork is processed) and be a current employee.
    • Students must be registered for at least one class for the current or upcoming semester.
  • Replace Your Redbird Card

    Come into the Redbird Card Office during business hours. It helps if you have a photo ID, but if all your identification has been lost or stolen, you will still be able to get a new Redbird Card. A new photo will be required at re-issuance. Redbird Cards are replaced for free if the card is four years old or older (must be a current student, current employee, or retiree to receive a replacement ID).


  • Free Cards

    There is no charge for a new Redbird Card if:

    • You are getting your first Redbird Card or replacing an old style (red banner at the top) for the new style ("smartcard" with Reggie or Campus image at the top).
    • You need to make a status change. A status change would be, for example, changing from a faculty/staff member to a retiree.
    • You have changed your Legal Name (must be updated with the University) and it results in a Preferred Name change.
    • Your Redbird Card is broken or lost, but it was four years old or older.
  • $5 Charge

    There is a $5 charge for a new Redbird Card if:

    • Your Redbird Card is broken or damaged and less than four years old. NEVER punch a hole in your Redbird Card, it can damage the internal antenna and/or magstripe.
    • You have updated only your Preferred Name with the University. However, if a legal name change causes a preferred name change, the replacement fee is waived.

    Your current Redbird Card must be turned in to the Redbird Card Office at the time of replacement.

  • $15 Charge

    There is a $15 charge for a new Redbird Card if:

    • Your Redbird Card is lost or stolen and less than four years old.
    • A replacement card is requested, but the cardholder does not have old Redbird Card to turn in to the Card Office.

Card Security

  • Secure Your Redbird Card

    Your Redbird Card may not be held by campus departments for any reason. Your card is very important. Keep it in your possession at all times.

  • Unauthorized Redbird Card Use

    Unauthorized use or use by a party other than the person identified on the Redbird Card, as well as tampering or alteration, warrants confiscation and possible disciplinary action by the University.

  • Lost or Stolen Cards

    To report a lost or stolen Redbird Card:

    1. Login to
    2. Scroll down towards the bottom of the page
    3. Select "Report my Redbird Card Lost"

Found ID Cards

  • Your Own

    If you find your card you reported lost, you may re-activate it online:

    • It must be your current/most recent Redbird Card
    • Login to
    • Scroll down towards the bottom of the page
    • Select "Report my Redbird Card Found"

    You may also call the Redbird Card Office at (309) 438-2273 during office hours to re-activate.

  • Another Student or Staff

    If you find someone's lost Redbird Card, please contact the Redbird Card Office at (309) 438-2273 as soon as possible. We can put a note in the cardholder's record indicating the card has been found so that they do not purchase a new Redbird Card.  You can copy our office ( on any communication to the cardholder as well.

    If possible, please drop the card off at the Redbird Card Office, located on the first floor of the Bone Student Center. Otherwise, please email us the cardholder name and UID along with your contact information so we can let the cardholder know how to contact you to pick up their Redbird Card.