While university is the best 3-4 years of your life, it doesn’t come without its costs. If you’re looking to save a little money while living in student accommodation (after all, what students aren’t?!) then you’ve no doubt heard of a few cards that can help you save money. There are a surprising number of student cards in the UK, that can provide a discount on things such as travel, shopping and food. So we’ve rounded up 10 of the best student discount cards that we think are well worth investing in.
Where can you get a student discount?
Student discount cards work in a range of high street stores as well as restaurants. Not only this, but they can also get you a student discount online. Big names such as Amazon, Apple Topshop and Nandos are all listed as retailers who offer a discount to students. Where you can get discount and the amount of discount they offer usually depends on the card you show at point of purchase. However, most places offer around 10%-20% off the price if you have a student card. As well as food and shopping, you can also get a student discount on travel with a student based Oyster card or railcard. Save the Student regularly update their site with companies who offer student discount, so for a full list click here. If in doubt, it’s worth just asking whether they offer a student discount.
How much is a student card?
A student card will cost you roughly £10-30 depending on which card you go for and this will last for around 12 months before you need to renew. For example, an NUS extra card is £12 for the year, whereas an annual railcard will set you back £30. This is a minor setback in the long run as each card will help you save money in different fields.
How to Get a Student Discount Card
In general, the process of signing up to a student discount card is different for every provider. However, all follow a similar format, involving a short application process confirming where you study and how long you’re studying for. For an example, we will use NUS.
- Step 1: Go over to totum.com and click “Get Your Card” in the top right
- Step 2: Enter your email address (and confirm it)
- Step 3: Enter your course provider
- Step 4: Enter your course details (length of study, discipline, etc.)
- Step 5: Choose the card you want and any add-ons
- Step 6: Upload a photo of yourself
- Step 7: Enter your personal details
- Step 8: Pay for the card
Am I Eligible for a Student Discount Card in the UK?
If you are over the age of 16 and are a part-time or full-time student in further education, you will probably be entitled to a student discount card. This includes Sixth Forms and Colleges. The process is very easy and doesn’t take long at all. The process can be different between each card but if you qualify you’ll get tons of awesome discounts in a range of outlets.
Some cards even allow their users to be younger than 16. For example, the ISIC card, which we will talk about later, allows individuals as young as 12 to apply for their UK discount card. As long you’re studying for a minimum of 15 hours a week and have been doing so for 3 months, you’re entitled to this card.
How to get a student discount card for free
You can get certain student discount cards in the UK for free, for example, a UNiDAYS card, which offers a discount on clothing, tech and food. However, it may be possible to get your hands on other student cards without paying a penny. Certain schemes may entice you with the offer of a free discount card or railcard, for example, banks sometimes give you these cards free of charge if you sign up to an undergraduate account. So, keep your eye open for any of these offers.
Here are the top ten discount cards in the UK to look out for:
UK Student Discount Cards – A Quick Summary
- NUS Discount Card
- University Student ID Card
- International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
- UniDays Discount App
- Student Railcard
- 18+ Student Oyster Card
- Student Debit Card
- Tesco Clubcard
- Nectar Card
- VIP Backpackers Card
1. NUS card
What is an NUS card for students?
An NUS card is one of the most popular student discount cards in the UK. It’s run by the National Union of Students, so is aimed at helping students have an easier and cheaper life. Operated by the NUS is the latest NUS Extra card which will entitle you to student discounts in loads of the major high street stores. It costs just £12 for a 12-month card and it’s estimated you’ll save an average of £500 a year with this card.
Can you use a NUS card as ID?
Generally speaking, an NUS card isn’t accepted as official ID, even though it has a photograph of you and your date of birth. However, you still might be able to use it to get into your student’s union or around campus.
2. University student ID card
Your university ID card will be the free student card you’re issued with when you join. It will have your photo on and the name of your university, possibly accompanied by the starting year of your studies. You might need to carry this with you to enter campus, use university facilities or get into your student’s union. On top of this, a lot of stores will accept this as a discount card, so you’ll be able to save some money when you treat yourself.
3. International Student Identity Card
With an ISIC card, you gain access to student services and facilities internationally, with access to over 42,000 student benefits and discounts in close to 125,000 locations in more than 130 countries. Typical discounts include accommodation, food, or trips abroad. Therefore it’s perfect if you’re into travelling and if you’re studying overseas. This card costs £12 for a virtual copy if purchasing from the UK. To receive a plastic card, it’s £15.
What is UNiDAYS?
UNiDAYS card is widely popular as it’s one of the free student discount cards that offers discount online and in-store. However, it uses an app in place of a plastic card. If you show your profile on the app while at a checkout, you can receive 10%-50% discount depending on the store. This includes all the leading brands and retailers, for example, Asos, Benefit, Bella Italia and many more. For the full list visit UNiDAYS.
Who can join UNiDAYS?
Anyone over 16 years old studying at a university, sixth form or college in the UK can join UNiDAYS, To get the student discount, simply go to their website and fill in the quick registration form with an academic email address (including ‘ac.uk’.) Be sure to check out their terms and conditions if unsure.
5. 16-25 Railcard
Travelling can be expensive, especially by rail, so if you use the train a lot, whether it’s for getting to uni or going home, a young person’s railcard is well worth the investment. They’re for anyone aged 16 to 25, or over 25 and in full-time study. Get 1/3 off Standard Anytime, Off-Peak, Standard Advanced and First Class Advanced fares and they’re just £30 per year, too.
6. 18+ Student Oyster card
An 18+ student Oyster photocard offers 30% off adult-rate travelcards, bus and tram tickets. To be eligible, you must be 18 or over and enrolled on a full-time or part-time course with a school, college or university. You also have to be living in London during term-time. If you’d like to apply for the student Oyster photocard, there’s a £20 administration fee and you’ll also need a recent photo of yourself.
7. Student debit card
When starting uni, it’s highly recommended that you sign up for a student bank account. Although this isn’t one of the student discount cards, an undergraduate bank account is equally helpful, as it often comes with an interest-free overdraft. This will come in really handy and will mean you won’t get in more debt if you go a little overdrawn. Speak to someone in branch at a high street bank for some advice on the best one for you.
Related: 7 Useful Student Advice Websites
8. Tesco Clubcard
This one isn’t particularly aimed at students, but will undoubtedly help you while you do the weekly shop and is a free card. With a Tesco Clubcard, simply collect points whenever you spend money in Tesco on your essentials (and not-so-essentials.) Every 3 months, you’ll receive vouchers based on the number of points you’ve earned. This could mean £10 off the next shop! You can also use these vouchers with any of Tesco’s partners, including Pizza Express, Cineworld, or Uber. Find out more here.
9. Nectar Card
Similar to a Tesco Clubcard, a Nectar card is a free card which works with a points system. You can pick up points while shopping at Argos, Debenhams, Sainsburys as well as many other retailers. As you collect points, you receive digital voucher codes, which can be spent on places such as Thorpe Park, Go Ape, Ebay, Argos, Virgin Trains and many more. You can also just spend the points by swiping your card at Sainsburys, Vue Cinema, or Argos. 2,000 points is equivalent to £10, so you can save quite a lot of money.
10. VIP Backpackers card
Finally on our list of student discount cards is one for travellers. With a VIP Backpackers card, you get 12 months membership which offers worldwide discounts on travel, tours and international accommodation. You also get destination information, hostel guides and a mobile sim pack with an international calling card all for only £12.
Let us know your favourite discount card in the comments!