Calif. City's ID Card Would Double as Debit Card

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Oakland is moving forward with plans for a municipal identification card that is being touted as the first in the nation that would double as a full-fledged debit and ATM card.

The goal is to help any city residents, including illegal immigrants, who may have difficulty obtaining a state-issued ID prove their identity.

Card holders would also be able to load money onto their cards and use them wherever ATM cards are welcome.

Oakland officials say that would allow people without bank accounts to avoid high check-cashing fees or the need to carry large amounts of cash.

"This will probably be the most advanced municipal ID in the country," Councilwoman and Mayor-elect Jean Quan told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The City Council this month awarded a contract to a private company to issue the cards and administer the program. It would not cost the city any money.

The company would charge a fee of $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and youth to set up the cards. The Oakland Tribune reports that the debit feature would cost an additional $6.95.

The cards could be replenished with cash or checks at a cost of $2.95. They could also be set up to receive direct deposits.

To avoid ATM fees, users could use the cash-back feature when using the card to make purchases.

Oakland officials say the cards could begin being issued as soon as March.

"It's a card that can serve all Oakland residents," said Elias Enciso, director of business development for SF Global Group, the company awarded the contract for the cards. "Because it's a debit card, it would serve many U.S. citizens who have been kicked out of the banking system."

San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are among the other cities that offer municipal identification cards although neither includes a full debit option.