Getting more bang for your buck: Bama Cash vs. Dining Dollars


CW/ Pearl Langley

Sarah Clifton, Staff Reporter

Learning to manage your money is an essential part of being a college student, but at the University of Alabama, there are two extra layers to your spending: Dining Dollars and Bama Cash. 

Dining Dollars and Bama Cash are two separate debit accounts that you can use by swiping your ACT card. While both accounts are stored on your ACT card, they have some major differences. 

Bama Cash is more versatile. It is reloadable from the eAccounts website and is accepted as a form of payment at dozens of businesses off- and on-campus. Dining Dollars accounts are only funded by one mandatory deposit at the start of each semester and are only accepted at Bama Dining locations and a small number of off-campus restaurants. 


Your Bama Cash account begins at a balance of zero dollars, but once you put money into the account, you can use the added funds at several on- and off- campus businesses and restaurants. 

The most common place to spend Bama Cash is at one of the several Tuscaloosa restaurants that participate in the Bama Cash program. Other businesses such as gas stations, salons, coffee shops, grocery stores and even a pet store accept it.   

Notably for freshmen, Bama Cash is also necessary to use laundry facilities in the residence halls. 

Money left in your Bama Cash account does not expire at the end of each year. You can’t make withdrawals, but you can request refunds between April 15 and July 1. 

You can find the list of businesses that accept Bama Cash here. 


Every semester, when you enroll in at least nine credit hours, you are automatically charged for Dining Dollars. The amount depends on what kind of semester you are enrolled for — for fall and spring semesters, it’s $350, and in the summer, it’s $100. 

Dining Dollars can be used at all Bama Dining locations, food trucks and vending machines. If you end up with Dining Dollars left over at the end of the semester, you can either request a refund for the remaining balance, or let the money roll over and be transferred to your Bama Cash account.  

The number of locations that accept Dining Dollars is smaller than those that accept Bama Cash, and these locations are mostly limited to campus eateries with some exceptions. 

Regardless of how you spend it, it’s important to note that the money in either account does not expire, so if you don’t spend all your Bama Cash or Dining Dollars before the end of the semester, there’s no need to go on a spending spree.

The program is designed to provide students with convenience and a variety of options. Restaurants, the University, and Aramark, the contractor that runs Bama Dining, benefit from the increased business from students and commissions collected from Dining Dollars and Bama Cash sales. 

You can find more information on locations that accept Dining Dollars here.