So the question is, is there something you can do to make life easier on you while you’re busy studying? Yes, you got it right. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have something up our sleeve. And that something is none other than the student discount cards that the UK offers.
For most of us, student life yields some of the most cherishable memories of our lives. More so in the 3-4 years of university life. But it doesn’t come without its costs. For instance, saving something becomes next to impossible, especially if you don’t have anyone sponsoring your studies.
Many believe that one of the best things about studying in the UK is the handful of student discount cards at your disposal. Many expats find it so helpful that they stay in the UK for good after their studies are completed.
Because, let’s admit it, saving money isn’t that easy when you’re in a foreign country. (That’s why we’ve also some great tips for you to help you save money as an expat in the UK).
Getting back to our original topic, we have rounded up 8 of the best student discount and travel cards that can help you significantly with your financial issues while you pursue your studies in the UK. But we better start with a brief introduction of what it’s all about for those who have little to no idea of what student discount cards are.
So, here you go:
- What is a Student Discount Card in the UK?
- How Much Does a Student Card Cost?
- How Can You Avail a Student Discount Card in the UK?
- How to Get a Student Discount Card for Free?
- Who is Eligible for a Student Discount Card?
- Top 8 Student Discount Cards in the UK Ranked
- What Else Can Make Your Life Easier as a Student?
What is a Student Discount Card in the UK?
Student discount cards are plastic cards similar to credit cards that entitle students to various discounts, from travelling to eating and so forth.
They are designed to make the student’s life convenient by helping them pay for their basic college needs, along with some basic luxuries.
Just show your discount card to a store employee where applicable, and you’ll get great discounts on music, food, travel, clothing, and more. They are like loyalty schemes. They will enable you to earn rebates between 10% to 90%.
How Much Does a Student Card Cost?
A student discount card can cost you around £10-30 depending upon what card you go for and will be valid for 12 months before it needs renewal. For example, the NUS Extra Card costs £12 per year compared to a yearly train card that costs about £30 per year. The fact of the matter is that each card can help you save money in different ways.
How Can You Avail a Student Discount Card in the UK?
For each provider, the registration procedure differs slightly. Most of them adopt a similar format, including a short application process that confirms where you are studying and how long you are studying. For instance, let’s look at how you can get an NUS card.
- Go to totum.com and click “Get Card” in the upper right corner of the screen.
- Enter your email address and verify it.
- Join your course provider.
- Enter the descriptions of your study program.
- Select the desired card and any add-ons.
- Attach your photo.
- Enter your personal information.
- Make payment for the card.
How to Get a Student Discount Card for Free?
Do you want to know how to get your free student discount card? Take a look at the UNiDAYS card, which offers discounts on clothing, equipment, and food without requiring you to pay a single penny.
However, there are a few other student cards that you can get without spending a dime. For example, banks sometimes offer these cards for free if you register for a student account as an undergraduate.
Some other schemes may tempt you by offering a free loyalty card or train card. So, be on the lookout for any of these options.
Who is Eligible for a Student Discount Card?
If someone is over 16 and is a part-time or full-time student in higher education, they are likely entitled to a student discount card.
Sixth Forms and Colleges fulfil this criterion. The process is quite easy and does not take long. It varies for each card, but once you qualify, you’ll receive a lot of great discounts in many places.
Some student discount cards even allow their users to be under 16; for example, the ISIC UK card will allow people up to 12 years old to apply for the UK discount card. However, to avail of this offer, the student must be studying at least 15 hours a week and has been studying for three months.
Top 8 Student Discount Cards in the UK Ranked
It’s about time we bring you the actual deal, without any further ado:
1. 16-25 Railcard
Travelling can be expensive, especially by train. So, if you use the train a lot, whether it’s for college or home, the investment is worth a student travel card, i.e., the young person’s railcard.
These cards are designed for those aged 16 to 25 and over 25 who are studying full-time.
You get a 1/3 discount on Standard Always, Premium Standard, Off-Peak, and Advanced First Class fares, limiting the costs to just £30 a year. You will also need a photo for your train card.
2. International Student Card (ISIC)
With the ISIC card, you can easily access student programs and facilities, exploring more than 42,000 student grants and discounts in more than 130 countries and more than 125,000 locations. Typical discounts include accommodation, meals, or foreign travel.
So, if you like to travel and study abroad, it is ideal. If purchased in the UK, a virtual copy of this card will cost £12. On the other hand, a plastic card costs £15.
Furthermore, applying for this card also needs your latest photo.
3. 18+ Student Oyster Photocard
Oyster Photocard offers a 30% discount on student travel cards, bus, and metro tickets for all students over 18. To qualify, you must be at least 18 years old and enrol in a full-time or part-time school, college, or university program.
You must live in London during this period. If you want to apply for an Oyster Student ID, you will have to pay a £20 administration fee, also providing the latest photograph.
4. NUS Card
One of the UK’s largest and most popular student cards is the NUS card. The National Union of Students runs it, so it aims to make life easier for students.
The latest NUS Extra Card, which entitles students to discounts in many, many high street stores, is managed by the NUS. A 12-month card costs just £12, and with this card, you can save around £500 a year.
Can you use an NUS card as an ID card? Yes, you read it right. It enjoys so much popularity that people often come up with this question.
Even though it has your photo and date of birth, the NUS card is not recognized as an official ID card in the UK. However, you can still use it in your student union or university.
Also known as the NUS Extra Card, TOTUM is the official student card in the UK. It enables you to avail of coupons, vouchers, and discounts of up to £500 a year for various products and services. Different types of deals on laptops, fitness packages, and class equipment are a part of the latest offerings.
Currently, it’s also allowing you to get a three-year membership for just £25. You’ll need to download its dedicated app to get the most out of your subscription.
Oh, and here’s the bonus: the card comes with a free one-year ISIC subscription that entitles you to thousands of international discounts, in addition to the hundreds available in the UK.
6. University Student ID Card
Upon registration, the university identity card will be the free student card authorized to you. Your photo for your student ID and your university name will be on it, possibly accompanied by your first year of study.
You may need to take this with you to enter the campus, use the university facilities, or join the student association. Many stores also accept this as a discount card to save some money when you transact.
The UNiDAYS card is famous for being one of the free discount cards for students, offering online and in-store discounts. However, instead of a plastic card, use an application. You will receive a 10% to 50% discount, depending on the store, if you reveal your photo in the app upon completion.
It includes, for example, Asos, Benefit, Bella Italia, and almost all major retailers and brands. Go to UNiDAYS for the complete list of places you can avail discount with this card.
Anyone over the age of 16 studying at a university, sixth form, or attending a college in the UK can join UNiDAYS. You can conveniently access their student discount page, providing your essential details along with an academic email address (one with “ac.uk”). If in doubt, be sure to review the terms and conditions.
8. Student Debit Card
We highly recommend creating a student bank account before you start college. Although this is not one of the discount cards for students, a licensed bank account is just as valuable as it comes with an interest-free overdraft.
It will be beneficial and ensure that you will not be in debt if you are a little over budget. Talk to someone at a bank branch to get some good tips for you.
You can use student discount cards in many shops and restaurants on the main street. Big names like Apple, Amazon, Topshop, and Nandos are some of the major retailers offering student discounts. And the amount of the rebate they offer usually depends on what card you show up at the point of purchase.
However, most places offer a discount of around 10-20% off the price if you have a student ID. You can also get a student discount with the Oyster card or the student-based train card.
Sites like Save the Student regularly update their sites with companies that offer student discounts, student discounts on the river islands. If in doubt, it is better to ask if they offer a student discount or not.
What Else Can Make Your Life Easier as a Student?
Though these cards can contribute significantly to piling up discounts for you, if you believe only discounts would suffice for you through your student life, you’re wrong. It becomes even more evident for students who have to move from somewhere where they have spent most of their life till that point.
Their sense of deprivation towards money becomes secondary as compared to their sense of deprivation for their family, friends, and loved ones. And the worst part is that they’re mostly unable to connect with them because of high international call rates.
So, what do you do when you find yourself in such a situation while studying in London (or anywhere in the UK for that matter!). You find cheap calling alternatives. It can be anything, from the best SIM-Only deals to the cheapest international calling cards or even the best international calling app.
And if it confuses you which is the best international calling option, we’ve found this resource to be the most helpful one. Go through it and get all your queries resolved on the subject.
You cannot turn a blind eye to how the world has changed since the COVID-19 outbreak. We’ve seen some pretty well-established businesses go bankrupt and millions around the world lose their jobs.
Yes, what’s going on with the world is far beyond your control, but what you can do pretty much remains in your control. You’re the one who can make or break it for yourself. If you make the most of your student life, gain the right kind of knowledge, and build the right kind of skillset, you’ll find life offering you plentiful opportunities.
But if you turn up broke or under a heavy debt by the time you complete your studies, you’ll be making the matters worse for you. We hope this information about different types of student discount cards in the UK can help you save some money so that you can survive through any tough times ahead.
We wish you all the best for your future and your savings.