Boo to the Boloco Passport

I’m not a fan of carrying around loyalty cards: in this day and age, it seems like we should be able to somehow have that information stored on our cell phones or one master card.

That said, I’m not thrilled about Boloco’s switch to a “Passport” app that replaces the Boloco cards. (Those who know me “in real life” can attest to my Boloco addiction.) Here’s the sticking point:

when you sign up, you’ll be asked to link a credit or debit card to your passport account. paying with the passport charges your credit or debit card, so you can order, pay, and earn rewards (and redeem them automatically!) in one easy step. boom! you’re good to go.

Call me paranoid, but I am leery of having a business store my credit card information on its servers permanently, and am even more leery of having that information somehow accessible from my phone. Not that I’m worried about a phone thief running up a burrito bill, per se, but this is the kind of thing I like to nip in the bud.



Filed under Food

17 responses to “Boo to the Boloco Passport

  1. Hey there,

    My name is Matt and I work at LevelUp (the company who partnered with Boloco to help build the Boloco Passport app). I want to clarify a few points to help ease your concerns!

    Your credit card info doesn’t actually live on Boloco or LevelUp servers. Most importantly, it doesn’t live on your phone! Your data is securely stored with our partners at Braintree (, who uses bank-grade security & encryption to protect your data. They work with thousands of companies (like uber and livingsocial).

    The only data on your Boloco app is a unique QR code. When you pay with the Boloco app, the QR code has to match a second code (which we call a “token”) in the LevelUp cloud, which then has to match a third token at Braintree. This all happens in less than a second, but is an important security feature.

    At the end of the day, if anyone were to gain access to your phone, they’d only have a QR code. I suppose they could attempt to order a burrito with it, however you’d receive an immediate email receipt, notifying you of the purchase (at which time you could contact us, we’d refund the purchase and void the QR code).

    Sorry for the long-winded explanation! I’d just hate for you to stop feeding your Boloco addiction and miss out on the rewards available through their app!


    • bridget

      Thank you for taking the time to reply, Matt, but I do not store my data with Living Social, Über, Groupon, or any other company. If I make a purchase, I immediately delete the stored card information.

      Moreover, no company that I do business with requires me to have a permanent credit card number on file – not my cell phone carrier, any restaurant I go to, AAA, etc.

      There is no need for Boloco to have my credit card number on file. None.

  2. Perfectly understandable. I think many customers find this practice convenient, but it’s certainly a matter of preference. It’s worth noting that customers aren’t required to use the app to do business. I should also point out that I’m not a spokesperson for Boloco so my comments reflect only my own opinion.

    • Oscar

      Matt, you said -> It’s worth noting that customers aren’t required to use the app to do business.
      Fair enough, but let’s not ignore the obvious flip side to that statement… to be acknowledged for rewards, you ARE required to have the app, AND store your data (tried the sticker on the card approach and had absolutely no luck with the cashier. Bye bye rewards). Not cool to force the customer’s hand like that.
      It’s a real shame, too. As I mentioned in my other post, I really do love their food. It’s hard to imagine that I’m the only one that feels this way.

  3. Oscar

    I recently stopped going to Boloco for this very reason. I had been frequenting (2-3 times a week, for a couple of years) their Boston locations until the rollout of the Passport. I agree, wholeheartedly, with Bridget. There is no reason that Boloco (or LevelUp… or ANYONE) should store my payment information. What if I prefer to pay with cash? Does that automatically make me less attractive as a customer? Whatever happened to the comical, but appropriate Futurama quote – shut up and take my money. I LOVE their food, but have a tremendous dislike of this new program. I’m sure there are other restaurants locally that will be happy to take my payment in whatever form it may be. Lunchtime is rapidly approaching.

    • bridget


      I would love to get the rewards, but cannot understand why I must pay with a stored credit card in order to do so.

      I recently switched my CC after the Target debacle. This might surprise retailers, but I have better things to do with my time than switch my stored credit card number on every establishment that I frequent.

  4. I agree with all of you too. No need to punish those who don’t want to use the Level Up/Passport app.

  5. Disgruntled former Boloco-ist

    I have gone from a steady, ultra-vibe customer to a noncustomer, because of this horrible change. And no notice at all – I loaded up my boloco card with money and two days later they started this new system and I couldn’t order online.

    • bridget

      It doesn’t make sense that we can’t put money on our cards and pay with that: we have to keep our credit or debit cards on file for payment. Boo!

  6. Lori Fanara

    II couldn’t agree more. I e-mailed Boloco at to complain about this change. A woman named Alexandra replied as follows:

    “I appreciate your concern, I really do. I wish we had a better option for you. In the meantime, do you mind sending me your existing boloco card number? I want to be sure that we find a way to thank you for coming to boloco and to let you know that we’re sorry. We will find a way, I promise.”

    She mailed me three coupons for free items at Boloco which I appreciated, but I still will not link my credit card to a Boloco Passport. If more people would complain to Boloco, perhaps they would reconsider.

    I am not media-savvy. How can we start a ground-swell of opposition to this stupidity before it spreads to more places with loyalty cards?

    • bridget

      I am not media-savvy. How can we start a ground-swell of opposition to this stupidity before it spreads to more places with loyalty cards?

      That’s a good question.

  7. Deb

    Thanks for beginning this discussion! I tried putting the sticker on my old Boloco card and though I was able to register it, I cannot log into the account now. I write to them and their e-mails keep telling me to re-download the app, but I am not using the app. I, too, just want to get my Boloco food AND REWARDS and want to pay cash or credit and not have it linked to my credit card. Why don’t they keep the passport to log in our visits and to LOAD money into, like the old Boloco card.

    • bridget

      I hear you! It’s insane that we have to hand over our credit card information, permanently, if we want rewards.

  8. Rach

    QR Codes can be easily stolen (like “paper” bitcoins) all you need is someone taking a photograph over your shoulder of the QR Code and there you go…they not only have access to your boloco credits, but can make unauthorized purchases (and since it isn’t a credit card, I doubt highly that Boloco or any of it’s contractors will honor repaying unauthorized charges).

    • bridget

      Exactly. And even if you’re “only” holding the bag for someone’s burrito purchases, it’s annoying.

      I haven’t set foot in Boloco since June. Hope this was worth it to the company.

  9. Robert

    Boloco announced yesterday that they are closing in Washington, DC, and weighing options in Bethesda.

    I, too, haven’t been in a Boloco since June, due to the Passport issue.

  10. Mac

    I’m reviewing my bank statements and I notice an 89.21 charge on my bank account to someplace called ‘levelup bol’ and the rest of it is cut off. All of your fears about having your information stored are obviously well-founded. Looks like I’ll be cancelling my credit card tomorrow. And deleting the app. Good bye, Boloco.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s