College Student Savings – How to Get the most out of Student Discounts

August 14, 2008

If you’re a college student there are a wide variety of discounts available to you every day. You can use them to save money on books, computers, haircuts, pizza, airfare, and everything in between. Here are a few ways to make the most out of your student discounts:

1) Always ask for a student discount – Carry your student ID on you at all times, and any time you buy something, take a second to stop and ask if you can get a discount on it. The only other time in your life you will be eligible to save this much money is when you become a senior citizen. That’s a long time to wait, so take advantage of it now, while you can! A quick Google search with your city + “Student Discount” will return a list of companies in your area that will give you a discount when you show your student ID card.

2) Check your University – Most colleges offer their own discount programs that can net you sweet savings on everything from the local Laundromat to the on-campus restaurants and bookstores. Depending on the school, you may have to pay $20 or $30 to enroll. Call or visit your student resource center to get more information on your school’s student discount program, a list of participating stores, and how much it costs to join.

3) Apple offers computer discounts for college students –
This is a 20% discount on computers for students, so if you know you will need to buy a computer before you head off to college, check out Apple’s Student Discounts before you pay full price!

4) Greyhound offers discounted student bus fares – If you need to travel, you can always “Go Greyhound!” To find out more about Greyhound’s student discount program click here.

There are also a several national student discount programs you can join.

These programs are not free but they are pretty cheap, and they offer good discounts on everyday and specialty items.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common student discount programs to see how much they cost, and what types of discounts you can get from them:

The Student Advantage Card – This is by far the most popular national student discount program. For $20 a year you can sign up to get the Student Advantage Card. If you decide to purchase this card you can get discounts between 15% and 40% off at places like:

  • Verizon Wireless
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Target
  • Office Depot
  • Foot Locker / Lady Foot Locker
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Linens ‘n Things
  • Pearle Vision
  • People Magazine
  • And a ton of other discounts at stores nationwide.

If you frequently shop at any of the listed stores, then you will make back your initial $20 investment quickly. You can see a full list of retailers and student discounts here. For more information on the Student Advantage Card, or to sign up, click here.

Student Advantage Card

The International Student Identity Card – The ISIC is $22 a year and offers discounts to students who travel. You can find deals on airfare, hotel rooms, rental cars, local entertainment, and restaurants. They have a searchable database that allows you to view the discounts in the city or country of your choice.

The ISIC card is recognized internationally, so if you are planning to travel abroad it is probably worth the $22 investment. If you are not planning to travel overseas and just want to see what discounts are available in your area you can click here.

International Student Exchange Card – The International Student Exchange Card is similar to the ISIC. It costs $25 dollars a year to participate, and they seem to have a wider selection of discounts than the ISIC does. In addition to offering travel discounts like hotels, plane tickets, rental cars, and discounts at local stores, the ISEC also includes a complete calling card plan and travel insurance.

If you plan to travel overseas, or if the ISEC program offers discounts in the city you live in, then purchasing the International Student Exchange Card might be worth it. You can click here to search their database of student discounts to see if their program might work for you.

The best tactic for maximizing your available discounts is to join your school’s student discount program first. After all, the food courts and stores on campus are going to be the ones you use the most anyway since they are the closest.

College is a time for learning, and growth, and fun. You are managing multiple classes, possibly a job, and juggling extra-curricular activities. When you throw money management on top of that, well, things can get difficult! No one wants to live on Ramen noodles for four years, so if you can get a discount – definitely take it. Twenty or thirty dollars to join a discount program might seem like a lot up front, but you have to weigh it against the actual value you will get from the program throughout the year.

If you haven’t had a chance, check out the other articles in this series; they cover ideas for decorating your dorm room on a budget, saving money with student discounts, how you can make extra money in college, the best checking accounts for college students, and the best student credit cards.

Check back tomorrow for a review of student health insurance options and how you can compare them with eHealthInsurance.

This list of ways college student can save money with student discounts is part of the College Student Money Guide.


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