Guide to Applying for a Student Card

a red-haired girl in a white striped T-shirt smiles and holds orange and brown notebooks, ready to apply for a student card.

While college is the best 3-4 years of a student’s life, it doesn’t come without expenses. Fortunately, there are a few student discount cards that can help learners save money. Keeping the bills down is crucial while living in student accommodation. 

In the United Kingdom, there are at least 8 (eight) main student cards available. Each provides discounts on items like transportation, shopping and food. 

In this article, we’ve identified the best student and general discount cards that scholars can save with. Readers will learn how to apply for these student cards and be able to start saving immediately.

Who is eligible to apply for a UK student discount card?

Young people will be eligible to apply for a student discount or travel card from the age of 16 (sixteen). In some cases, applicants will be required to prove their status as part-time or full-time students. 

The application processes are very straightforward and do not take long at all. The method can vary for each card, but usually only slightly. It’s always worth it because cardholders can get loads of incredible discounts in a wide selection of outlets. 

Some cards even allow students who are younger than 16 (sixteen) to hold them. The ISIC card, for instance, enables kids from the age of 12 (twelve) to apply for their UK discount card (see below for more details). 

Students are entitled to this card as long as they fulfil a couple of conditions.  Applicants must be studying for at least 15 (fifteen) hours a week and have been doing so for 3 (three) months or more.

Will I need a photo for my student discount card?

While applying for a student discount card, students will often be required to upload a recent picture of themselves. 

Our application, Passport Photo Online, gives users the option to take a digital photo for any document within a few seconds. This can all be done from the comfort of users’ own homes! 

Just get someone to take a photo of the applicant. Then, upload the picture and wait for the AI to automatically adjust the image to the required size and crop the background. 

Where can you use your student discount?

People can use student discount cards across a wide selection of high-street stores and restaurants, both in the UK and abroad. Not only that, cardholders can get discounts with online retailers as well. Big names such as Amazon, Nandos, Apple and Topshop are all listed as retailers offering students a discount. 

The shops, restaurants and online retailers students can get discounts from, and the size of the reduction will usually depend on the card. 

How can I get a student discount card for free?

Want to know how to get a free student discount card? Take a look at the Student Beans app, which provides deals on apparel, technology and food. It may be possible to find, and apply for, other free student cards, as well. 

For example, banks occasionally give students these cards for free if they register for an undergraduate account. Some schemes may even offer a free discount card or railcard. So, students should definitely keep their eyes open – a free discount might appear where they least expect it.

How to apply for a student card?

For each provider, the process of registering is different, although many will adopt a broadly similar format. These cards usually have a straightforward application process confirming where the applicant is studying and how long. Once the applicant’s student status is verified, the card will be issued. 

Read on to find out how to apply for 10 common discount cards used by students.

University student ID card

When joining a course, a university ID card will be the free student card everyone is issued at the start of the term. 

A student’s photo for a student ID card, as well as the name of their institution, will be on it. This will usually be accompanied by either the first year of studies or the date the course ends. 

Students must have registered for a course before receiving a university ID card. After that, the collection process will depend on the policy of the individual university. Some institutions require their students to collect ID cards on campus when they arrive. Others post cards directly to students before term starts.

It’s essential to check the relevant university’s website to see how they issue cards. Remember, the processes may differ for international and distance learning students.

International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

An ISIC card is the only internationally recognised ID card for students. It proves the holder’s student status in countries all over the world. 

With an ISIC card, holders are easily granted access to student programs and facilities. Additionally, students can take advantage of over 150,000 student benefits and discounts. These cover over 125,000 locations across 130 countries. 

Typically, the discounts include overseas accommodation, trips, food and more.

Thus, for those into travelling or studying abroad, it is ideal. If bought from the UK, this card costs £12 (twelve) for a virtual copy. It is £15 (fifteen) to obtain a plastic card. Also, if students wish to apply, they will need a photo for an ISIC card.

To get an ISIC card, students must apply online through the ISIC website. Select the ISIC card and give the necessary personal details. Next, select the services required and the preferred delivery method. Once the price for the card has been paid and the photo uploaded, ISIC will deliver the card to any UK address.

TOTUM Card (NUS)

The NUS Extra card has been replaced with the TOTUM Card. It remains one of the most popular and most frequently used student cards. The National Union of Students (NUS) operates it, so it is designed to help students have an easier and cheaper time at university. 

The TOTUM card allows learners to gain access to student discounts from loads of major stores. For a 3 (three) year card, it costs just £24.99 (twenty-four ninety-nine), and users can expect to save an equivalent of £12.75 (twelve seventy-five) per week. 

Students can apply for one by filling out a TOTUM (National Union of Students) card application form. Here’s the process applicants need to follow:

Step#1: Go to the TOTUM website and click on the “Login” button in the top right corner of the page.

Step#2: Create an account by clicking on the “Get your card” button in the top right-hand corner of the page.

Step#3: Type in a university email address and verify it.

Step#4: Join the main provider for the relevant course.

Step#5: Enter descriptions of the program.

Step#6: Select the required card, as well as any suitable add-ons.

Step#7: Attach the picture.

Step#8: Enter the required private information.

Step#9: Pay for the new card.

Although it has a picture of the holder and their birth date, a TOTUM card is not an official ID. Holders might, however, be permitted to use it to enter the campus or student union. 

TOTUM can also offer customers a TOTUM + Age ID card. This is accredited by many government and non-government authorities, including the Home Office, that can be used as ID.

UNiDAYS

The UNiDAYS card is famous because it is one of the free student discount cards that provide online and in-store discounts. However, instead of a plastic card, it uses an app. 

Depending on the shop, users can get a 10-73% discount if they show their picture on the app when at checkout. This includes, for example, Samsung, Reebok, Pizza Express and plenty more major retailers and brands. Access UNiDAYS for the complete list.

Anyone over 16 (sixteen) years of age and currently studying at a university, sixth form or college in the UK can sign up for UNiDAYS. 

Simply go to their webpage to get the student discount and fill out the quick and easy registration form. Remember to use an academic email address (including ‘ac.uk’). If uncertain, be sure to review their terms of use.

Student Beans

Students Beans is a free student discount application that works in a similar way to UNiDAYS. 

Simply download the app on a mobile, register for an account using a university or college email, and start saving! Student Beans offers their customers discounts on over 10,000 shops, including Topshop and Apple. Members can even apply for a free plastic card!

Users can even save money on the 16-25 Railcard that we mentioned earlier! People can either use the app to get discount codes or sign in directly from the websites of participating retailers. 

To apply for Student Beans, create an account on the website or the mobile app. An active account automatically makes students eligible for the free card, which can be applied for at any time. Applicants must enter the required personal details, including an academic email address. 

Once Student Beans have verified the applicant’s student status, they can start saving.

16-25 Railcard

A student railcard (such as a young person’s railcard) is well worth the investment. This is especially true for those who use trains a lot, e.g. for heading to university or returning home.

Anyone 16 to 25 years of age or over 25 and in full-time studies is eligible for a 16-25 railcard. Get 1/3 off Standard Anytime, Standard Off-Peak, Standard Super Off-Peak, and First Class Advance, among others, for only £30 (thirty) a year (with 1 and 3-year options available). xxx

Students will also need to take a photo for a railcard – check out the Passport Photo Online website to get one quickly and easily. 

Anyone interested in a 16-25 Railcard can apply either online or at any staffed station ticket office in the UK. Remember that 3-year 16-25 Railcards can only be applied for online.

Cards bought online will be sent in physical form in around 5 (five) working days. Users may also select a digital card, which can be accessed via the Railcard app immediately after purchase.

When applying at a station for the first time, applicants must fill out an application form. These can be printed in advance or completed at the station. Stations will not always have forms available, so we recommend filling one out at home. 

Applicants will need to provide proof of identity for this card. This could include:

  • a birth certificate
  • a driving licence
  • a passport
  • a National Identity card.

18+ Student Oyster card

An Oyster photocard provides 30% off adult-rate student Travelcards, along with bus and tram season tickets for any 18+ students. Applicants must be 18 (eighteen) or older and enrolled on either: 

  • a full-time or part-time program at a school, college or university (for 15 (fifteen) hours or more a week)

OR

  • a work placement, e.g. with an apprenticeship. 

Being a recipient of government financial aid as a student, for example, an NHS Bursary would also help with eligibility. Applicants will need to be living in London during this period. 

All applicants will need to apply online and provide the following:

  • an active email address (preferably an institutional one)
  • a Student enrolment ID from the relevant school, college or university
  • a digital photo (that is less than 6MB in size and either a jpg, bmp or gif format)
  • an address inside a London borough (if applying as a school, college or university student)
  • the £20 (twenty) administration fee (payable by credit or debit card)
  • a work placement start or end date (if applying from a work placement)
  • a letter from the school, college or university that confirms the applicant’s work placement (if on a work placement).

If the applicant is required to submit a confirmation letter, it must be submitted to this address:

Transport for London

Admail 4141

London 

SWIP IAT

Once everything’s been approved, Transport for London will post the new Student Oyster Card. This can take at least 2 (two) weeks, so allow enough time. Once it arrives, just use it when travelling around London and watch the savings pile up.

Student debit card

While this is not specifically a discount card for students, an undergraduate bank account can be equally valuable. Notably, it comes with an interest-free overdraft. This will ensure that if a user goes a little over budget one week, they will not incur more debt – very helpful for a busy social calendar. 

Speak to someone in any local high street bank branch for some advice on which is the right one for the job.

Tesco Clubcard

This free card is not intended exclusively for students but will certainly help out when doing the weekly shopping. Simply earn points with a Tesco Clubcard by spending money on necessities at Tesco.

To get a Clubcard, sign up for an account from the website. From there, members can order a new card from the Account Management menu. It’s best to allow 7-10  (seven to ten) days for the new card to be delivered.

Nectar Card

A Nectar card is a complimentary card that works in much the same way as a Tesco Clubcard. Customers gain points when shopping at Argos, Debenhams, Sainsbury’s and several other supermarkets. These points entitle them to computerized voucher codes. 

These can be used at attractions such as Thorpe Park, Go Ape and Vue Cinema. They can also be used when travelling with Virgin Trains or shopping at Sainsbury’s, eBay, Argos and more. 

The easiest way to get a Nectar card is to register for an account online. After using the given card number for a Sainsbury’s online shop, members will get a card within 15 (fifteen) days. Alternatively, it’s possible to pick one up at Sainsbury’s stores or Esso petrol stations.

Want to know if a shop has a student discount? Just ask!

If one doesn’t ask for something, they’re unlikely to get it. Just because a company doesn’t advertise their student discounts doesn’t mean they aren’t there. 

In many cases, the best thing to do is to ask someone who works there if they offer a student discount. Not everywhere does, of course, but asking is the only way to know for sure.

Dos and don’ts when applying for a student card

There are a few essential dos and don’ts that anyone applying for a student card must remember. Following these will allow applicants to get their student discount cards quickly and easily.

Do

  • Take the time to perfect the ID photo;
  • Use an institutional email, and get a confirmation letter when necessary;
  • Check the discounts on offer, and make sure they’re shops the holder will use.

Don’t

  • Use an old, out-of-date photo; the applicant must still be recognisable.
  • Use a personal email – most student cards need an academic email address.
  • Sign up for cards randomly during Freshers’ Week – do the research first.

Need a photo for a student card? Passport Photo Online can help!

Many student cards, for example, the ISIC and TOTUM cards, will require applicants to submit a standard passport-size photo

To save time and money on getting this photo, consider using Passport Photo Online! Simply follow our foolproof three-step process to getting the perfect student card picture:

  1. Find and prepare a setting, making sure it has good lighting and a clear background with a neutral colour. Applicants also need a friend to take the photo for them (selfies are not recommended).
  2. Using a phone’s camera or our own mobile app, take the photo and upload it to our software. Then, let our AI photo generator turn it into the perfect biometric picture for student discount cards.
  3. Repeat the process with as many pictures as needed to be satisfied. Just upload the final photo to the application and submit it. 

In just 3 seconds, anyone can have the perfect photo ready for a student discount card. This will leave more time to spend hanging out with friends and family before term starts. 

1 million satisfied customers agree that Passport Photo Online answers every problem faced while taking a biometric photo. Student card photos are no exception.

A 5-star review of Passport Photo Online from a satisfied customer living in the UK.

FAQ

Below, we’ve answered some of the burning questions our readers may still have about applying for student cards.

Who can apply for a student discount card?

Anyone over 16 (sixteen) and currently studying in further education can apply for a student discount card. It doesn’t matter if the applicant is studying part-time or full-time.

Can I get a student discount card with the Open University?

Yes! Every student of the Open University receives an academic login. This means that they are all able to sign up for student discount cards, such as TOTUM, and discount apps like UNiDAYS.

How do I apply for a student discount card in the UK?

The process of applying can vary slightly depending on the card. However, in general, the main steps are common to every card:

1. Find the relevant website.
2. Fill in the required personal details.
3. Add in a valid institutional email address (and get a verification letter if needed).
4. Attach a picture (where necessary).
5. Select the required benefits.
6. Order the card.

Applying for a student discount card: summing up

In conclusion, applying for student discount cards is really easy, and the benefits reaped are enormous. It’s fast, too, making it convenient to apply for more than one. 

If students use Passport Photo Online to get a student card photo, it’s possible to save even more time! Once they’ve got their chosen student discount cards, it’s time to start collecting those benefits! 

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