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Best student deals in London

Being a student is tough. Sometimes it's hard to juggle deadlines, a rampant social life and a tight budget. On top of that you have to cook and do your own laundry. Growing up is just not a great deal if you ask us.

BUT being a student isn’t all bad.

The piece of plastic with that (less than flattering) photo of you isn’t just for getting into buildings or taking out library books. Flashing your student card can give you access to a bunch of great deals that will help you live your best student life.

Whether you’re indulging in some retail therapy or seeing the sights, take your student ID with you and see if you can bag yourself some money off.

Here’s some suggestions to get you started…

Apps you NEED

While in some places your student card is enough for the price to drop, most deals are accessible via dedicated platforms, designed to save students some Pounds.

Unidays

Unidays is used by tens of millions of students to access some of the best deals out there. It’s totally FREE to use, just sign up, use your student email to verify your student status and start saving some money.

With over 800 brands on the platform, there really is something for everyone.

Deals are updated regularly, so keep checking back for the newest offers. Permanent features include money off at Apple, Boohoo, Nike, Urban Outfitters and many, many, more.

Totum

Totum (previously the NUS Extra Card) isn’t free BUT, for £14.99 per year (and an additional year for FREE) you get access to over 200 student discounts (UK and international) AND a PASS accredited proof of age ID.

The age ID card means you don’t have to risk taking your driver’s licence or your passport out and about. Most retailers and businesses in the UK will recognise the PASS hologram so you can use it to get into bars and clubs, get a tattoo, take a domestic flight or watch an 18 or over film at the cinema.

Although it’s not free, there are some good deals that aren’t available on other platforms. You can get 10% of your shopping at Co-op, 15% of National Express (great for those day trips out of London) and there are some temporary offers like 15% off Google’s Pixel 4AA and 50% off at Timberland.

£14.99 a year to keep your passport and driver’s license safely stashed in your bedside drawer is a good deal anyway, but the discounts mean even the stingiest shoppers are likely to make their money back in no time.

Student Beans

Named after a student staple - baked beans - Student Beans is probably less well known than the other two.

It partners with over 650 global brands and, like Unidays it’s completely FREE.

There are loads of discounts, ranging from food to fashion and fitness. This includes amazing offers such as 20% off at Oliver Bonas, 10% off Gymshark and 35% off Domino’s pizza.

Many of the deals are also available on Totum and Unidays, but there’s no harm in signing up to more than one platform and doing some digging for the best deals. Sometimes a brand will partner exclusively with one platform, like Unidays and Burger King or Student Beans and McDonalds.

To register, fill in some basic details and log into your student learning portal via the Student Beans website. Once you verify your student status, you’re good to go.

Of course, Student Beans also has an app to make accessing discounts easier.

Travel

One of the first things you’ll learn about moving to London is that getting around is expensive. TFL is a good 75% of my expenditure, especially now that things are opening up.

That being said, you can minimise the steady flow from your bank account by tapping into some of the travel discounts available to students:

18+ Student Oyster - £20 from the TFL website, this piece of plastic gets you 30% off Travelcards and Bus & Tram passes. You can use it to pay-as-you go, but you won’t get any discount (unless you heed our advice below).

Railcard (16-25 or 26-30) - this in itself will save you some £ on train fares but it does cost £30 a year. A lesser-known trick is to link your Railcard with your Oyster card. You have to pester a member of staff to set it up for you, but you’ll get 34% off pay-as-you go off-peak fares and daily caps on the tube, overground and TFL Rail. Santander offers a Railcard as a perk of their student current account, so it’s worth checking out whether you’re already eligible without having to fork out.

If you don’t use public transport all that often then an Oyster card probably isn’t worth the £20 and, even if you do use the tube a lot one day, the daily contactless cap will mean you only spend £6.80 (within Zone 1 and 2).

Seeing the sights

Time to put your travel discounts to good use and explore the city!

A decent amount of classic attractions take pity on poor students and offer pretty good discounts - all you need is your student card!

Some of the most popular options are:

The British Museum - entry to the permanent display is free (and well worth a trip), but students get a discount on entry to special exhibitions AND 2-for-1 entry on Fridays. Under 26s can also get a discounted membership, which gives you free, unlimited access to all special exhibitions, access to the exclusive Members’ Room, a glossy magazine AND 10% off in the gift shop and cafe.

The London Eye - it has to be done at least once, and it’s a classic for when the family visit. In normal times your student card can get you £4.50 off standard price but it is best to check the website for any updated information.

Tower of London - another crowd pleaser, there is so much to do and see at the Tower of London, even if you don’t care about the Tower’s fascinating history. It’s worth going to see the Crown Jewels (and the Yeoman Warders or Guards in their unusual uniform). Being a full-time student gets you £5.90 off standard price.

The Barbican - if you like ‘edge’, you’ll love The Barbican. See a concert, theatre performance, film screening or art exhibition in ‘London’s ugliest building’. There isn’t really a dedicated student discount, but if you join the ‘Young Barbican’ (14-25) scheme you’ll get a discount on tickets and events and you can also bring a pal for the same price.

London Dungeon - A walk-through experience of ‘London’s most horrible history’, the London Dungeon uses live actors, rides and special effects to, well, scare you. It’ll introduce you to Sweeney Todd and Jack the Ripper, but it’s not exactly designed to be an educational experience. It’s a nice change from the lecture theatre and Student Beans gets you tickets from £16, including a free drink (alcohol or alternative).

Thorpe Park - OK, so not exactly a London sight but it does make for a great day out. Less than an hour on the train from London Waterloo, Thorpe Park is the home of Stealth, the UK’s fastest rollercoaster and the host of ‘Fright Night’, a truly terrifying Halloween event. Students can purchase discounted tickets online, in advance - including selected Fright Nights. You can go through Unidays, Student Beans or Totum, but your standard student card will also get you in.

Otherwise, Totum gives you a discount on Virgin Experience Days, loads of which are in London. Drive a supercar, enjoy afternoon tea in a fancy restaurant or take a cookery class - all with 20% off thanks to your student status!

Restaurants

Students have to eat, and sometimes you just don’t fancy another bowl of instant noodles.

Plenty of restaurants take pity on poor, impoverished students. Most of them you can access through Unidays, Totum or Student Beans, but others have their own discounts.

The restaurants offering discounts on Unidays/Totum/Student Beans include All Bar One, McDonalds, ASK Italian, Shake Shack, and Boost Juice Bars.

Otherwise, your student ID will get you 20% off at BarBurrito, 25% off Chiquito and 25% off at Gourmet Burger Kitchen when you download their app.

There are more places - too many to list - so it’s worth checking whether the place you’re going to eat is ‘student friendly’.

Studying

I hate to be a party pooper, but at the end of the day you’re in the big city to study. Luckily, there are discounts to help you get swotting.

For the bigger educational investments, Apple’s Education Store offers discounts on laptops, and iPads and Microsoft’s Student Store can save you hundreds of pounds on laptops and desktops. Plus, students get Microsoft’s Offce 365 absolutely free!

Via Unidays you can get 10% off at Paperchase, the funky stationary shop, and at Ryman, a slightly more ‘practical’ alternative.

You can also get a free 6 month-trial on Amazon, including free next day delivery and Prime Video. Once the trial ends students get 50% off Prime subscription, meaning your textbooks (and impulse buys) can be with you within 24 hours for just £3.99 a month.

In terms of reading, students can get discounts on various magazine and newspaper subscriptions such as The Economist, The Times and The Financial Times.

Waterstones also offers 10% off via Unidays, and Foyles, another bookseller, also offers 10% if you email students@foyles.co.uk with your name and course of study.

 

Entertainment

It’s not all work and no play around here. There are some really good discounts available for when you’re done studying and just want to relax and unwind…

Students get discounted tickets at most cinemas, including Cineworld, Odeon, and Vue.

If you’re either a Spotify or an Apple Music person, both do pretty decent student deals. Spotify offers a free one-month trial and then just £4.99 a month for Premium and Apple Music tries to compete with 50% off subscription fees.

Xbox offers various student deals through the Microsoft Store, such as free games with console purchase, money off Xbox live membership and a bunch of ‘bundle’ deals.

And finally, while not strictly ‘student deals’, every student ought to get to know the best ‘Happy Hour’ deals. A good one is Simmons’, where you can rock up between 4-9pm (Sun-Fri) for £2.50 drinks, £12 bottles of wine, and 2 cocktails for £10.

While being a student can be tough, there’s plenty of discounts to sweeten the deal…

(All offers and discounts were correct at the time of writing)