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By The Auxiliary Services Team

Who doesn’t like gift cards? It’s great to receive them as a gift. They are also easy to give to friends and family – especially those who are hard to buy for.

But have you ever wondered whether you could use that Starbucks or Chick-Fil-A gift card your favorite aunt gave you as a birthday present here on campus? Or have you ever needed to buy a last-minute gift and didn't know if there was any place here at UH you could buy them?

By the time you’ve finished reading this blog post, we hope we will have answered all of your questions and straightened out any misconceptions you had. If we didn’t, please leave a comment at the end and we will make sure to get answers for you!

gift card rackBuying gift cards

We have great news for you: You can buy a whole slew of different gift cards at the UH Bookstore in Student Center South!

There is a large three-sided gift card carousel located on the bottom level of the store, adjacent to the checkout area.

This is by no means a complete list, but a quick glance of the gift card carousel shows a wide range of brands, including Starbucks, Burger King, IHOP, Domino’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, TGI Fridays, Whole Foods, Subway, Uber, AMC Theatres, Netflix, Hulu, Shell, Ulta, Gamestop, Kohls, Xbox, Playstation Plus, Google Play and iTunes, to name just a few.

It's a great place to buy a card for someone at the last minute. You can stop by between classes or on your lunch break and never have to leave campus. It's very convenient!

What about the campus retail dining locations?

Most of the retail dining locations on campus do not sell their brand's gift cards. But two of them do: McDonald's in the Student Center South and McAlister's Deli in the Welcome Center Garage.

Using gift cards

There are numerous national brand dining retail locations here on campus. Most do not accept their brand's gift cards, but a few do. The reasons why or why not differ from location to location.

Each retail location here on campus falls into one of three categories, depending on the dynamics of the business relationship each has with the campus dining program and the company that operates it, Chartwells Higher Education.

The licensed franchises

gift card chartSome of the locations are licensed franchises that are operated directly by UH Dining. Those include Chick-Fil-A, Panda Express, Freshii, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Taco Cabana, Einstein’s Bros. Bagels and Pizza Hut. While corporate-owned stores typically accept brand gift cards, licensed ones are not required to participate.

UH Dining does accept gift cards at the campus Starbucks locations, and they have invested in the additional gift card reader hardware required to participate in the brand’s popular program. While UH Dining does not participate in Starbucks' rewards redemption program, guests can earn “stars” toward rewards on the Starbucks program at the campus locations.

None of the other licensed franchises here at UH that are listed above accept their national brand’s gift cards. But they do accept Visa gift cards.

The subcontractors

A handful of the retail locations here at UH are not licensed franchises. Rather, they are subcontractors that are owned by independent business owners who have an agreement to participate in the campus dining program. Their staff are not employees of Chartwells like the licensed franchises, but rather the national brands they represent. These include McDonald's, Smoothie King, Sushic, Kim Son and Tandoori Nite. The decision to accept their brand’s gift cards is up to each of those businesses. The only ones that do here at UH are McDonald's and Smoothie King.

The lease partners

Finally, two retail dining locations on campus -- McAlister's Deli and Tealicious -- are lease partners who are not affiliated with the UH dining program, other than they have an agreement to accept Cougar Cash. Customers can use McAlister's Deli gift cards at the UH location on the ground floor of the Welcome Center Garage. 

What about the bookstore?

The UH Bookstore is operated by Barnes & Noble. If you have a Barnes & Noble gift card, it can be used at the bookstore. You can also buy Barnes & Noble gift cards at the store!



posted: Friday, Feb. 16, 2018