Students who are living away from home have the privilege of experiencing a new culture, making new friends while enjoying life in a new environment. As a student in the UK, you will soon find that there are many advantages to your student card and it is a valuable tool in helping you save money.

First things first, all university students are issued with a standard student card that fits in your wallet or bag. It is the first proof identity when you enrol in a course. This card is free and does open the door to a host of discounts on food, products and entertainment. You are able to work its magic too on local companies and major brands – it’s proof that you are legitimate!

Be mindful where you can use them. Most of the time physical stores have plenty of offerings for students, so be sure to always ask when you make your purchases. And do your research for online deals – making sure you are not overpaying for a product or service. Plus, be aware about the fineprint or terms and conditions of certain promotions so you are informed about costs of subscriptions or additional fees when you sign up on particular platforms. But, do always keep the card on you, as you never know when it will come in handy.

National Union of Students recommendation

This organisation is tasked to look after the welfare of students, so it is a most obvious choice when starting on research on what discounts are available to you.

The union recommends students in the UK getting on to TOTUM, or TOTUM digital, which has replaced NUS Extra cards. This means you no longer have to pay membership to access certain online student discounts. A TOTUM card offers you a proof of age identification and there are varying membership fees and tiers of benefits you get out of your chosen package – so do your homework.

Certain tiers of membership also gives you a digitally issued PASS ID, which is endorsed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Security Industry Authority. The PASS ID can be used in place of your driver’s licence or passport to prove your age if needed at certain establishments.

TOTUM is available to higher education and further education students, whereas TOTUM Pro is for those studying part-time for a professional qualification or current members of a recognised professional body.

Student discounts plus more

Many shops, restaurants or major brands offer this combination of using your student ID card as well as a chance to benefit from online discounts. So be sure to take a look – you may be able to save more on groceries or maybe a takeaway or find that you can afford that favourite pair of sneakers. As an example, you can get 10% off food from Co-op with your TOTUM card and that discount can be put towards meal deals. Some establishments also offer you cashback rewards as a way to get you on board their loyalty schemes. Seasonal sales like Black Friday deals are also a steal. So pick an option that will save you most money if that is what you’re after.

But don’t just go for major brands. Do check out smaller, independent shops that offer something else for your money. There may be options around the university area and cater to local tastes, so they probably depend on student traffic. If they don’t offer any discounts, ask them and it may very well work in their favour.

Other cards you can also explore is the International Student Identification Card or ISIC which is open to students who are also in college or school levels as well. There are over 100,000 offers of student discounts so you can do a bit of research to see if this card works for you.

With virtual learning being the go-to option in the current climate, do take advantage of internet access offers from the various telecommunication companies. You could get more for your money with the varied mobile phone data plans or getting broadband access to help you with your coursework.

There is a chance of travel, so have those TOTUM or ISIC cards on you. Even transport in between cities can get your money back. Find out about railcards, student-priced tickets and more. You could find out where to get discounts of meals or access to sights – museums, theatre, event spaces, festivals be it virtual or physical – on discounted rates as students.

A last tip about accessing your student discount. Be sure you use them! The National Union of Students finds that many students tend to not use their standard university student ID card in the first place, and are unaware of the other deals offered online or in the high street. Consider your student discount as a way to save money, experience food and lifestyles in the UK, and help out the small retailers in the economy.