I am almost certain that is has been scientifically proven that credit card users spend more money than those who spend cash. There’s something about that colorful plastic surface and the satisfying click it makes as you slide it through that raises endorphins and makes the reality of debt seem far, far away. This is never a good idea.

However, what if another type of plastic card existed that actually saved you money, encouraged spenders to invest in the local economy, and bolstered economic development in one of Baltimore’s arts districts??? It sounds like a fairy tale, but wait … this card actually exists! The brand new Station North Incentives Program (SNIP) Card is now available for purchase and can be utilized all throughout 2015.

How does it work? The card is actually a fundraising incentive for the Station North Arts District, a thank you for anyone who donates $35 (or more) at www.stationnorth.org/SNIP or stops by The Chicken Box after Monday, December 22 to purchase in person. In addition, the first 50 people to donate will also receive a free pass to the Charles Theatre.

What does the SNIP Card do? Besides encouraging giving to the Station North A&E District, a non-profit entity that does a whole host of good things, it creates a variety of different discounts and deals at almost all of Station North’s art, food, and retail establishments. For example, Bottega is offering a free dessert per table with any dinner purchase and Joe Squared is offering 10% off of everything. The Annex Theater is offering $7 discounted tickets for main stage productions and Pen & Quill is continuting Monday happy hour beer and wine prices all day for cardholders. You can check the Station North website for a complete list of details and deals.

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“We want businesses to do what makes sense to them,” said Ben Stone, Director of the Station North A&E District. “We were thrilled that almost all of the area businesses have agreed to participate.”

Stone said that the Station North team started discussion around a SNIP card about six months ago, as part of an annual giving campaign. He said that it was central to his organization that the card would be beneficial to local businesses.

“There are many people who visit singular destinations within Station North. For example, lots of people go to movies at the Charles, or eat at Tapas Teatro, or buy art supplies at Artist & Craftsman. We want people who come to buy art supplies to understand there are great bars and restaurants, theaters, and shops here. If you are coming to Station North to attend the theater, we want people to know there are lots of great restaurants and retail within walking distance.”

According to Stone, it made sense to join forces and for Station North to market the District together, with those businesses. Also, at a price of $35 if you visit Station North even a few times you will get your donation amount back very quickly.

“I think, regardless of what your understanding is of the area, you’ll be surprised by how much is here,” says Stone. “There are so many cafes operating all day, so many theaters, and so many retail spaces selling books, art, clothing, frames, and more.”

The SNIP Card will be valid at participating Station North businesses from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015, and provides discounts and benefits at Station North restaurants, bars, theaters and retailers. It will be available for purchase in person at The Chicken Box on Monday, December 22, so it could function as a last minute gift for anyone one your list that enjoys art, culture, food, and urban adventure. If you purchase the SNIP card online, it will be mailed out before the end of the year. The card will be available to purchase at other events in the future as well.

According to Stone, “The money goes directly back into the neighborhood to support events at the Ynot Lot and Penn Station plaza, the Station North CSA, projects like Open Walls, and our marketing and advocacy efforts. It is our hope that this card helps provide some extra incentives for people to spend time and money here.”

In this scenario, you can attain the same high that a shiny plastic credit card delivers, but without buyers remorse and compound interest. Instead, this card will be used to support a great non-profit organization, to encourage patronage of local businesses, and to increase awareness for opportunities to eat, drink, shop, and experience culture in Station North.

I think I might have to buy one for Thomas Dolby ! Let’s all buy him one!

More info about the Station North SNIP Card here.

Author Cara Ober is Founding Editor at BmoreArt.