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The best student discounts and how to get them

Make sure you're clued up on which shops and restaurants offer student discount in the UK, to make easy savings

Whether you’re going out for a pizza with friends or treating yourself to a new pair of jeans, it’s a good idea to check whether you can pay less with student discount.

Discounts can range from around 5% to 40%, so there are some big savings to be made. This could come in especially handy if it’s been a while since you last received a student finance payment…

How to get a student discount

If you have an ID card from your university or college, this will be accepted by many places for student discount.

However, for online discounts - and access to other exclusive discounts - you may need another card. For example:
  • Totum: this is the new name for the NUS extra card. It offers more than 200 UK discounts on big and small brands. A 1-year card costs £12, a two-year card is £22, and a three-year card is £32. Totum comes with a free one-year International Student Identity Card (ISIC) too - more on this, below.
  • Unidays: this is an app rather than a plastic card, and it’s completely free to use. Anyone who’s 16+ and is studying at a university, sixth form or college can use it.
  • Student Beans: this is also free, and you access discounts via the app.
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC): this opens up tens of thousands of discounts in more than 130 countries. It costs £12 if you’re happy to hold it on your phone, but £15 if you also want a physical card.

It’s worth noting that each service offers its own exclusive online discounts, so you’ll get different deals with each. It makes sense to use Unidays and Student Beans as they’re free.

And you may want to research and compare the discounts offered by the paid-for Totum card with the other options - whether it’s worth buying will depend on what you tend to spend your money on.

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Discounts for apprentices

If you’re doing an apprenticeship, you may want to get your hands on the NUS Apprentice extra card. It gives you a range of discounts - this includes 10% off at The Co-op, a cheaper Amazon Prime subscription, up to 40% off at Las Iguanas, and more. The card costs £11 for a year.

Bear in mind that the NUS Apprentice extra card won’t necessarily give you the same discounts as offered by Totum.

If you’re doing a degree apprenticeship and have a university email address, you should be able to access other student discount schemes.

Learn more about apprenticeships including student stories and subject-specific guides

Can I use my student discount on already-discounted items?

Don’t feel like you’re being too cheeky by asking if you can use your student discount on items in the sale.

Indeed, many shops let you do this, meaning there are even bigger savings to be made. For example, a dress may be on sale for £20 from £30 - and a 15% student discount means you’d pay £16.50.

How to sniff out rotten deals

It’s probably no surprise that prices for products and experiences change a lot. Your student discount may help offset higher prices, but you can save even more money if you’re a savvy shopper.

Here are our three must-remember tips to help you sniff out the good prices from the bad:
  • Check the price across multiple shops.
  • Look at the price history. Many Which? reviews feature a Price Predictor, which shows you a graph of the historic price of a particular price. For pricing data for other products, try sites like Pricerunner and CamelCamelCamel (this one only shows Amazon prices).
  • Be wary of ‘was’ prices or RRP comparisons - these tend to exaggerate the discount.
Also, don’t always trust that something’s a deal just because it says it is. In fact, in November 2018 Which? found that 87% of Black Friday prices aren’t actually deals.

Shops offering student discount

We can’t list every shop that offers a student discount, but here are a few of the kinds of discounts you can expect:
  • Topshop and Topman: 20% via Unidays and Student Beans
  • Asos: 10% via student validation form, Unidays or Totum.
  • Miss Selfridge: 20% via Unidays and Student Beans.
  • Warehouse: 20% via Totum and Student Beans.
  • Timberland: 10% online via Totum.


 

Restaurants, bars and cafes offering student discount

You can get student discount for eating and drinking out, too. Places offering this include:
  • Pizza Express: 30% off food and drink Monday-Thursday and Sunday, via Totum and Unidays.
  • Meat Liquor: 25% off main menu food Sunday-Thursday, via Unidays.
  • Domino’s: 25% off online orders costing £25 or more via Totum, but 35% via Student Beans.
  • Pizza Hut: 20% off food in any branch Sunday-Thursday, with any valid photographic student ID card.

Your local bars, cafes and nightclubs may also offer cheaper prices for students. Check out the top unis for nightlife and our university city profiles for some top student tips on cheap nights out.

Using your student discount on entertainment

Did you know that students can save 50% on Spotify Premium, so its costs £4.99 a month? And that, even though Odeon offers cheaper tickets for students, you can use a Totum card to save an additional 25% Monday-Thursday?

All of this just goes to show that it’s really worth checking if you can get student discount for whatever you’re doing.

Using your student discount on things needed for your course

If you need or want to buy some books for your course or for some escapism, you may be interested in Waterstones’ 10% discount on orders over £25 via Unidays. Foyles also offers cheaper books for students.

If it’s software or other techy stuff that you’re after, there are savings to be had with Adobe Creative Cloud services, HP products, Microsoft Office and Apple products, too.
  • Best laptops for students: the tops laptops for uni courses focused on essays and research, as well as for production and design.

Can’t see a discount for your favourite shop?

If we haven’t listed your favourite shop or restaurant above, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer a student discount. It’s just that we can’t list each and every discount that a student can get their hands on, especially as they can change quite a lot.

Set your mind at ease by checking the website of your favourite shop; if it offers student discount, it will probably be clearly signposted. If not, there’s no harm in asking in-store or on social media (don’t ask, don’t get!).

Other things you can do to save money at uni

We’re sure you’ll agree with us when we say that you shouldn’t spend more when you can pay less.

This is why it’s really worth arming yourself with as much shopping and spending savvy as possible, so you’re not scrimping too much in the run-up to your next student finance payment.

As well as student discounts, think about railcards, food shopping, and how you manage your money. Get started with our article on six ways to get money-ready for uni.


Watch now: How to boost your student budget
 

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