1. Housing>
  2. Dining and Culinary Services>
  3. Food Accounts

Food Accounts

University Housing residents, UW-Madison students, faculty, staff, and the general public can eat at any of our seven dining locations via a variety of payment methods, depending on their affiliation with UW-Madison and personal preference. Payment methods include Wiscard (UW-Madison photo ID card for students, faculty, and staff), credit card, and cash.


UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff may deposit funds to their Wiscard and use it to pay for dining at over 50 locations across campus, including at Housing’s seven locations. In addition, students living in University Residence Halls can use their Wiscard for convenience store items, food carryout or deliveries to their residence hall, and laundry.

How Does It Work?

Wiscard users may deposit funds online, by mail, by phone, or in person. Cashiers in campus dining locations will ring up purchases and automatically deduct the amount from the balance in the Wiscard account when students, faculty, and staff present their Wiscard. The purchase receipt and customer display then shows the account’s balance.


University Housing and the Wisconsin Union do not offer prepaid meal plans, so students are not restricted in their food options. Instead, students can decide where, when, and how much to eat and spend on food according to their own personal preferences.

Campus Discounts

All Wiscard users receive a 5% discount on food purchases at Housing and Wisconsin Union dining locations. In addition, all enrolled UW-Madison students are exempt from sales tax on food purchases when paying with Wiscard, saving an additional 5.5% at most campus dining locations.

Housing Discounts

As an added benefit to living in the residence halls during the Academic Year, and because some overhead costs of Housing dining operations are included in residents’ quarterly bills, residents who use their Wiscard in Housing dining locations receive a 30% discount on prepared food and a 20% discount on pre-packaged food. (These discounts do not apply to Summer Session residents.)


Students will need to make deposits to Wiscard to cover anticipated purchases. While each student should choose how much money to deposit for purchases, we recommend residents deposit around $300 - $350 for food to begin the first quarter. If students plan to purchase textbooks, school supplies, or course packets, with their Wiscard, we recommend an additional $400 - $450 to cover these expenses.


Residents can also use Wiscard to pay for laundry services in all residence halls. Washing machines have card readers that allow residents to pay with their Wiscard. Dryers in residence halls can be used free of charge.


The Wiscard account automatically carries forward from semester to semester as long as students, faculty, and staff are enrolled or have a valid appointment at UW-Madison, or until a Close Account and Refund Form is submitted to the Wiscard Office. Any existing balance is automatically carried forward for future use.

Lost Wiscards

Losing a Wiscard should be handled with the same urgency as losing a credit or debit card. Immediately suspend the Wiscard, which will disable it at most locations across campus and not allow anyone else to use it. Wiscard users may also contact the Wiscard Office at 608-262-3258 to deactivate the card.

Contacting other campus organizations about the loss of a Wiscard, including the UW-Madison Police Department, Libraries, and Recreational Sports is strongly recommended. Deactivating a Wiscard will disable Housing residents’ access to their hall and floor. Residence hall desks may issue a loaner key/card to provide Housing residents temporary access to their hall, floor, and Housing dining locations for a period of four days.

A new Wiscard can be obtained at the Wiscard Office for a $25 charge. Housing residents must then have their building access restored at their hall’s desk.

Cash & Credit Card

Housing residents, UW-Madison students, faculty, staff, and the general public can also pay with cash or a credit card at Housing and Wisconsin Union dining locations. However, these payment methods do not qualify for the 5% discount for Wiscard users or the 30% discount on prepared food and 20% discount on pre-packaged food for Housing residents.