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The best student discounts and how to get them

Find out which shops and restaurants offer student discounts to make easy savings, as well as how to stay savvy on Black Friday.

In this article
How much can I save with a student discount? How do I get a student discount? Can apprentices get discounts? Can I use my student discount on already-discounted items?
Where can I get a student discount? Using your student discount on entertainment Using your student discount on things needed for your course Black Friday for students FAQ

How much can I save with a student discount?

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.

How do I 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 £14.99. 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.

Can apprentices get discounts?

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.

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 distinguish 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.

Where can I get a 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.

Shops offering student discount

  • Topshop and Topman: 10% via Unidays and Student Beans
  • Asos: 10% via student validation form, Unidays or Totum.
  • Miss Selfridge: 10% via Unidays and Student Beans.
  • Warehouse: 10% via Totum and Unidays.
  • Timberland: 10% online via Totum.

Restaurants, bars and cafes offering student discount

You can get a student discount for eating and drinking out, too. Places offering this include:

  • Pizza Express: 30% off your meal Thursday-Sunday, via Totum and Unidays.
  • Meat Liquor: 25% off, via Unidays.
  • Domino’s: 25% off online orders costing £25 or more via Totum, but 35% via Student Beans and Unidays.
  • Pizza Hut: 20% off full price menu items Sunday-Thursday.

Your local bars, cafes and nightclubs may also offer cheaper prices for students.

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 a 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 online orders via Unidays.

Foyles also offers 10% off for students showing a valid in-date student card. 

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.

Learn more: Best laptops for students including the top choices for different subjects

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.

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 their social media.

Black Friday for students FAQ

Black Friday takes place every November, where retailers slash prices on a range of products, to encourage you to part with your cash.

In 2019, Black Friday falls on 29 November.

This said, you can already get your hands on many products with Black Friday discounts - and these deals often hang around for a while, too.

Black Friday doesn’t fall at the best time for students - it’s been a while since your last student finance payment, and you probably won’t be receiving another one until January.

So if you are planning on taking advantage of the sales - whether that’s buying a treat for yourself, or a Christmas present for someone else - it pays to know whether you really are getting a good deal.


What can I buy on Black Friday, and how do I find deals?


Many of the largest Black Friday savings are to be found with big-ticket items, many of which are student essentials.

Is your laptop starting to conk out? Is your smartphone not so smart anymore? Are your headphones proving to be an unreliable study companion?

Lots of retailers have jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon, so you’ll likely be able to find a deal for whatever you’re looking for.

Read moreBest Black Friday TVs, laptops and other tech products.


How to sniff out a Black Friday deception


Don’t believe that something is a great deal just because you’re told it is. 

Unfortunately, there are some regular prices out there that masquerade as bargains which simply must be snapped up.

Here are our three must-remember tips to help you discover whether something is actually a deal:

  • Check the price across multiple shops.
  • Check the price history.
  • Be wary of ‘was’ prices or RRP comparisons.

Read more: How to check if a Black Friday deal is real.


Can I use my student discount on Black Friday deals?


Some shops will let you take advantage of your student discount, even on discounted products.

If you decide to brave the shops on Black Friday (rather than going online), remember your student card - you could make some big savings.

It might be worth taking advantage of sales season to reduce your Christmas outgoings.

You could also consider sending your Christmas gift list to any friends and/or family who want to buy you a present, to help them save money. 

Whether you buy Christmas gifts on Black Friday or not, we wouldn’t recommend leaving your Christmas shopping until the last minute.

It’s stressful, and you may not be able to find many good-value items.


Student shopping tips for Black Friday


Here’s how to be a savvy shopper and make the most of the big retail event:

1. Prepare prepare prepare: Try to avoid searching for the best deals on the day - lots of people will be doing the same, which means slow and frustrating browsing. Sign up to your favourite retailers’ newsletters and their Twitter alerts - they’ll be keen to publicise their deals.

2. Sign up to online accounts: As websites will be slowed down due to heavy traffic, set up accounts with your retailers, and consider pre-entering your payment and shipping details. This will help you buy things and get out of there as quickly as possible.

3. Be wary of unusual brands: It’s not that every brand you won’t have heard of will be bad, but don’t be so tempted by the price that you don’t consider whether you’re buying a good product.

4. Find out whether retailers will match prices: Some shops, such as John Lewis, will match Black Friday prices. Online-only ones such as Amazon, however, usually don’t.

5. Look at the price, not the saving: Even if something has been heavily discounted, think about whether it’s a price that you’re still happy to pay.

The above tips will help you sail through the sales, but they’re not the only ones.

Read more: Shopping tips for Black Friday.


Know your Black Friday shopping rights


We think it’s safe to assume that you probably don’t want to read consumer legislation in full, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how to use your rights when you need to.

If you’ve bought something in the Black Friday sale, only to find that it’s faulty, contact the retailer quickly - you only have 30 days to reject something that’s faulty and get your money back.

If you’ve bought something in the Black Friday sale, only to realise that you don’t really want it, your rights will depend on where you bought it. 

If you bought it in a shop, check that the retailer has a returns policy. If you bought it online, the Consumer Contracts Regulations let you cancel your online order at any time from the moment you paid and up to 14 days from the date the goods were delivered to you.

If you’ve bought something digital that doesn’t work, such as an app, ebook, game, music or movies, contact the retailer - it has one opportunity to repair or replace anything of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described.

If this isn’t satisfied, you can demand a refund.

Your Black Friday delivery doesn’t arrive

Always speak to the retailer in the first instance, rather than chasing the delivery courier. It’s up to the retailer to sort out.

Read more: Your delivery rights

You’ve been a victim of a shopping scam

Unfortunately, there are some dodgy sellers out there. If you’re a victim of a scam, check out Consumer Rights advice on how to get your money back after a scam.

Don't forget to explore our full university and student finance advice area. It covers everything you need to know about tuition fees and student loans, writing the perfect personal statement, surviving results day and more.