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 & travel cards that we think are well worth investing in. Want to know how to get a student discount? Here’s how:
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 and Nandos are all listed as retailers who offer a discount to students. Where you can get a discount, and the amount of discount they offer usually depends on the card you show at the 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 its site with companies who offer student discount, so for a complete list click here. If in doubt, it’s worth just asking whether they offer a student discount.
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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 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 Totum.
- 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 or student travel cards. This includes Sixth Forms and Colleges. The process is very easy and doesn’t take long at all. The process can differ between each card, but if you qualify, you’ll get tons of awesome discounts in various outlets.
Some cards even allow their users to be younger than 16. For example, the ISIC card, which we will discuss later, allows individuals as young as 12 to apply for their UK discount card. You’re entitled to this card as long you’re studying for a minimum of 15 hours a week and have been doing so for 3 months.
How to get a student discount card for free
Want to know how to get a student discount for free? Look no further than 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 their student bank account. So, keep your eye open for any of these offers.
Do you want to know how else to get a student discount? Here are the top ten discount cards in the UK to look out for:
UK Student Discount Cards – A Quick Summary
- Totum Card
- University Student ID Card
- International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
- UniDays Discount App
- Student travel cards
- 18+ Student Oyster Card
- Student Debit Card
- Tesco Clubcard
- Nectar Card
- Student Beans Card
If you are looking for more ways to save whilst at university, see our how to budget at University guide.
1. Totum card
What is a Totum card?
Totum, known initially as an NUS card, is a student discount card that gives students 350 discounts to the biggest brand names. A Totum card allows students to get money off their favourite clothing brands, tech items and dining out. There are a few options of Totum cards to choose from. Students can select a free Totum Student, which gives students access to discounts from over 350+ brands. However, the paid versions offer students many more cost-saving discounts, including exclusive online and in-store offers. At £14.99 for one year or £24.99 for three years, Totum Student+ card users can access exclusive offers and a free tastecard, giving you money off the bill at your favourite restaurants.
Can you use a Totum card as ID?
With a Totum Student + card, you can prove your student status with an ISIC digital card. ISIC is the only internationally accepted student ID, meaning that students can access over 150,000 discounts worldwide across 113 countries. When you purchase a pass ID with your Totum Student + card, you officially confirm your age and identification with photo evidence and pass hologram.
You can apply for a Totum student card on the Totum website or through their app.- https://app.totum.com/register/join. Totum is eligible for any student studying part-time or full-time at a UK institute
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 purchased from the UK.
What is UNiDAYS?
UNiDAYS card is widely popular as it’s a free student discount card that offers online and in-store discounts. However, it uses an app in place of a plastic card. If you show your profile on the app at checkout, you can receive a 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, 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 student travel card like the 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 student travel cards, 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.
Studying in London? Find out more ways to budget in our guide on the basic cost of living in London
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: How to open a student bank account
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.) You can also use these vouchers for
entertainment, dining out and holidays through Tesco’s 100+ partners, including Pizza Express, Cineworld, or Disney+. 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. Student Beans
Accessing tons of discounts on your favourite products and services. A Student Beans card can be used in-store using a physical discount card or online through a promo card at the checkout. Students can access savings on food, laptops, cinema and train tickets from the leading online and high street brands. Discounts can be redeemed in the app, and when students download the Student Bean Chrome extension, they will be notified when they can access deals on the products they are viewing.
Who can sign up for Student Beans?
This discount card is available for any student studying full-time in the UK. All you have to do is sign up through your institution’s email or your student ID number. Students can redeem their account every 12 months, allowing students over 16 access to discounts from when they are in sixth form, college, university and apprenticeships.
Let us know your favourite discount card in the comments!