The Saving Power of Student Discount Cards

21st November 2021
A student on their bed using their laptop to view online discounts.

One key advantage of being a student is that almost everyone wants to give you discounts. That includes most retailers, restaurant chains, big entertainment companies and most other brands you would do business with.

The trouble is, rather than simply asking for a student discount or the brand advertising them, some are now tied into discount cards. Cards you sometimes have to pay for.

That’s the subject of this article. We’re going to discuss the various student discount cards, how to get one, what kind of discount to expect and anything else you might need to know about them.

What are student discount cards?

Student discount cards are usually physical cards but there are also apps that serve the same purpose. They tend to come at a cost, usually between £10-£30 per year and offer a range of discounts from selected brands.

They are designed to save you a little money when times are tight. But they also help bring brands to your awareness in the hope you begin feeling loyalty towards them for being so generous when you were a student.

While you get to save money, that’s their intent really. A cheap form of marketing and a method of building brand loyalty at a young age.

A loyalty the brands hope will repay the discount many times over as you stick with them throughout your life.

The benefits of student discount cards

The headline benefit of student discount cards is the money off products and services.

Anything from 10-40% in discounts all year round or specific set discounts for certain products or services, depending on the card.

You’ll get discounts on:

  • Products
  • Services
  • Student accommodation
  • Travel
  • Fitness and leisure
  • Books and study materials

Student discount cards also have a secondary benefit of being able to prove your ID. They won’t always work when you’re carded in a bar, but if you need to prove your identity to the police or on campus, it should work fine.

You can also use student discount cards online, which is nice.

How to get a student discount card

You can get a student discount card by applying for one. As long as you’re attending a recognised institution with an applicable course, you’ll get one.

To be eligible for most cards, you’ll need to be over 16 and be a student. You can be part-time or full-time but you need to be registered at a known institution for the period you hold the card.

Discount cards for students

That’s the what, how and where, so now let’s get into specifics.

What cards can you get?

TOTUM

Totum is the NUS student card. It’s regarded as the ‘official’ student discount card and can save you money on everyday expenses as well as technology and other products and services.

You’ll need to pay for the card, £14.99 per year or £29.99 for 3 years. There is a card for digital purchases only that is free, but we think the Totum + Age ID card is well worth buying. It won’t get you into every bar but it helps around campus!

UNiDAYS

UNiDAYS is a student discount card but it’s an app. It’s also free and offers decent discounts on some of the UK’s leading brands. It won’t work as ID or anything else, but you will save money.

The UNiDAYS ‘card’ is immensely popular thanks to being free and offering anywhere between 10-50% discount on some of the leading high street and online brands.

International Student Identity Card

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is another popular card but mainly for international students or those who will study or work abroad during study.

If you’re going to be travelling abroad for your course, as part of your course or work placement, you should get ISIC.

It offers discounts in over 130 countries for everything from accommodation, food to travel and insurance. ISIC costs £12 per year but is a small investment if you’re going to be travelling while a student.

16-25 Railcard

The 16-25 Railcard is an essential discount card for students who get around by train. It gives you up to a third off all non-peak train tickets. Which, given how expensive rail travel is in the UK, can be quite a saving!

This is the most expensive student discount card at £30 per year, but if you do travel by train, you could save more than that on just a couple of journeys.

18+ Student Oyster photocard

The 18+ Student Oyster photocard is a similar option for travel in and around London. The Oyster card covers bus, tram, tube and rail and offers up to 30% discounts on fares.

You’ll need to be studying in London or resident there, be enrolled in a London institution and be a full time student but otherwise, the card costs £20 per year and can be applied for at the link.

Tesco Clubcard and Nectar Card

These two discount cards aren’t specifically for students but if you shop at Tesco or Sainsbury’s, you’ll save a lot of money with either of these.

These are rewards cards that award points every time you spend. They also entitle you to special discounts, event offers and money off future shopping trips. They are data capture devices but they do make life a little cheaper if you’re a student!

What brands offer student deals?

It would be easier to ask who doesn’t offer student deals through one of these cards.

Brands have long known that attracting brand loyalty when people are young can last well into adulthood. That’s why so many of them offer student deals, either through one of these cards or independently.

Brands that offer student discounts include ASOS, Boohoo, French Connection, New Look, Office, River Island, Schuh, Topman/Topshop, Domino’s Pizza, ASK Italian, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Krispy Kreme, The Cooperative, Yo! Sushi, Pizza Express, Odeon Cinemas, Cineworld, Spotify Premium, Apple Music, EE, Virgin Experience days, Boots Opticians, Supercuts, Superdrug, Toni & Guy, Foyles bookshop, Waterstones, Paperchase, Amazon and many, more brands.

Smaller independent shops and outlets also offer student discounts. Don’t let the big brands blind you to the valuable independent stores in your local high street. They need you more than ever!