The ultimate guide to student discounts
As we all know, being a student is only getting more expensive. Make sure every penny of that maintenance loan stretches by maxing out your student discounts!
You only get to use this baby for a certain number of years, so making the most of your student discounts should be a top priority.
After all, you're paying £9,250 a year for the privilege, so you deserve to get at least something in return (other than the education, of course)!
In order to really rip your student discount for all it's worth, you need to develop an eagle-eye for a good deal and a strong thirst for a bargain when you're out and about.
Or, if that sounds like too much effort, sign up to our weekly newsletter and you'll get the week's top 20 deals sent straight to your inbox!
11 tips to max out your student discount
Over the years, we've become very well acquainted with the ins and outs of maxing out our student discount, and now we know just about every trick in the book!
Here are our top tips on how to make the most of your discount whilst you're a student (or until your student card expires, whichever comes later!).
Make sure you've grabbed your NUS card
Every uni student should have a bog standard NUS card in their wallet. Your NUS card is the ID card you're given when you first enrol at uni (you know, that thing you use to get into the library twice a year?), and you probably just call it your student card or student ID.
Your student card is free and entitles you to a whole host of discounts. You'll often find it works its magic on local companies as well as bigger stores, as it's bona fide proof that you're a student. This card isn't so widely accepted for online student discounts, but you should be able to use it freely on the high street.
Keep your student card with you at all times, as you never know when the opportunity to save some pennies will crop up!
Want to find out if your chosen retailer accepts the standard NUS card? Check our student discount directory.
Decide whether to upgrade
Just to keep you on your toes, there's an additional NUS card that you can upgrade to in order to unlock a ton of extra discounts – the NUS Extra card.
You'll have to stump up a bit of cash to get your hands on one (£12 a year, to be exact), but it'll give you access to heaps of exclusive discounts on hundreds of big name brands – for example six months free Amazon Prime (50% off thereafter), 40% off Pizza Express and 10% off Co-op.
Just make sure you ask yourself first if you're likely to use the discounts available on NUS Extra before paying out for one – otherwise it's not really gonna be worth your cash!
You can also now opt for a two or three year card, as well as a yearly card. There's a discount for buying multiple years at once, so a two year card (£22) will save you £2, and a three year card (£32) costs £4 less than buying three separate cards.
Like it's free cousin (the standard NUS card) NUS Extra tends to have more success for offline discounts, despite some stores still accepting your NUS Extra card number online.
Actually use your discount
Ok, so you might think this tip is a bit of a cop-out, but you wouldn’t believe the number of students we speak to who don’t even use their standard NUS student card for discounts on a frequent basis.
Think of it this way – student discounts have been implemented nationwide solely to get students to continue spending when money is tight (let's think about the economy, right?).
Also, whilst a quid here and there means very little to businesses in the grander scheme of things, to a student on a budget it can mean the world! Every little helps, and all that.
If you don’t see a discount advertised, ask!
Just because a brand doesn’t shout from the rooftops that they offer student discounts, it doesn't mean they don't!
For whatever reason, some places prefer not to advertise student discounts, but are still happy to dish them out.
Of course, not everywhere will comply, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Stack your student discount with deals
A lot of stores that offer student discount also allow you to use it in conjunction with other deals and discounts.
For example, at Co-op you’re able to use an NUS Extra card for a 10% discount on meal deals. This is a rarity in itself as discounts aren't often available on deals, but you can also earn cash back through their loyalty scheme at the same time.
This is a novelty that students should take full advantage of, as it's often the case that you're expected to choose between a good deal and a student discount.
If you do ever have to choose between the two, remember to always do the maths so you know which option is cheapest!
Use your discount online
Annoyingly, your standard student NUS card won’t always work for a discount online, and even the NUS Extra card can be limited at times.
If you do have an NUS Extra card and plan to use it online, your unique card number is generally what’s required on a lot of major sites in order to get a student discount.
You can also sign up for a free UNiDAYS account while you're at it – you'll need one of these to get your online discount at Apple, Urban Outfitters and ASOS amongst others (although you can also use your NUS Extra card number at ASOS).
Use your discount abroad
If you're planning on doing a year abroad somewhere, or are lucky enough to get away on holiday during your studies, make sure you take advantage of student discounts there too.
Nowadays, most major cities will accept your regular uni ID for student discounts, but having an internationally-accepted student card will have you totally covered.
Previously, you could pay £14.99 for an International Student Identification Card (ISIC) or pay an additional £2.99 on top of your £12 for an NUS Extra card to get an ISIC card as part of the package.
However, as of March 2016 you'll now get a free ISIC badge on your NUS Extra card that means it's automatically certified and you get access to all discounts for both cards.
Don't let student discounts dictate where you shop
As we always advise regarding any discounts or loyalty schemes, don’t just assume that your student discount will get you the cheapest price available on something. Shop around!
Opting for a brand that has a 10% student discount over another brand that is doing a 15% off sale obviously makes no sense.
Don't let the novelty of student discounts lead you astray, or make you shop where you wouldn't shop normally, or buy products that you wouldn't be interested in otherwise!
Remember it's not just the big name brands that are willing to cut students some financial slack when it comes to payment!
In fact, a lot of smaller independent businesses in university towns or areas are really keen to get more student custom, so asking them about student discounts should prompt them to think about the money they could be making if they did offer them – so you might be doing them a favour by asking!
Keep an eye out for boosts
Some bigger brands often choose to double their student discount percentage at certain times of the year, which can involve some serious savings (in the past, Pizza Hut have briefly doubled their student discount from 20% to 40%!).
These boosted discounts are only for a very limited time, and unfortunately it's just a matter of keeping your eyes peeled.
Get free Amazon student prime
If there's one student perk we recommend that every student takes advantage of, it's the 6 months free Prime offered to students by Amazon.
You get almost the same perks as a regular-priced Prime account (except, ironically, access to the Kindle library as this is pretty useful to students) free for 6 months, then 50% off afterwards (so £39 a year instead of £78). Oh, and once you're a paying customer, you'll get the Kindle library access.
The speed and convenience of Amazon Prime gets super addictive – you have been warned!
In addition to Amazon Prime, some of the best discounts going for students at the moment include 25% off tickets for Odeon cinemas, 10% off at ASOS, a free burger or McFlurry with every McDonald's meal and 50% off Spotify Premium (some require NUS Extra).
Looks like it's time to have a gander and see what savings there are to be made!
Our student discount directory is a frequently updated list of the best student discounts available in the UK, and don't forget to consult our student deals page too (or sign up to our weekly round-up newsletter of the best deals if you'd prefer).