6 Money-saving cards International students know about

After you arrive the UK as an international student, the next important and financially pertinent question is how can I travel around the UK at minimal cost. Trust me, you want to save money in anyway possible – No matter how small.  These are the six money- saving cards all international students should know about:


1.) The Oyster Card

Oyster card

The Oyster Card is a must-have travel card for anyone visiting London and it can be used for travel on the Tube, buses, trams and trains.The card is a form of electronic ticketing used on public transport services within the Greater London area of the United Kingdom. It is promoted by Transport for London. Oyster card is  the cheapest and best way to get around London’s public transport network.  Using the Oyster Card could give cost savings on Tube and bus journeys. (Ask anyone living in London!). If your university is in London, then this card is a must-have. If you intend to visit London regularly, then this card is a must-have.

When you arrive the UK, you can purchase one from tube stations, newsagents and even grocery stores.  You will need to pay £5 deposit when you get a new Oyster card. This is refundable if you return the card. Note that you can obtain Oyster card online via Transport for London  Official Website.The card is rechargeable and it is possible to recharge the card automatically online. To do this, simply register on the transport for London website by providing your personal and financial details. The good news is that the card is transferable. So you can pass your card on to friends or family to use whenever they visit London(  i.e the oyster card which does not contain a photograph).

The Oyster card is  very easy to use, simply touch the card on the yellow reader to enter the gates at the station or when boarding a bus.You can recharge the card online, at a newsagent or the various branches of the metro stations. For more information on Oyster cards visit  www.tfl.gov.uk


2). National Union of Students (NUS) Discount  student cards.

The NUS discount card ( e.g NUS Extra), could save you up to £550  a year. It gives you discounts at most high street shops, museums,  restaurants, cinema, night clubs, takeaways and other leisure activity centers etc.  Your Official student ID card would normally get you some discounts in most high street stores! However there are certain discounts exclusive to NUS Extra . You may want to get one.

Further details on NUS Extra can be found online at www.nus.org.uk. Note that 99.9 % of Discounts aimed exclusively to students can be redeemed with a valid NUS, NUS Extra or other official student ID card.

3)  Mature/ Young persons Rail card

A rail card is especially useful if you intend to move or travel around the UK by train. It cost about £28 pounds and will save you 1/3 on rail fares throughout Great Britain. With a 1-year Railcard that works out at £2.33 a month for huge savings. If you’re aged between 16 and 25, or are older and in full-time education, you can apply for a 16-25 Railcard. You can use your Railcard to make savings on both long and short journeys throughout the week.  Rail cards can be used by anyone below 26 years of age or by any one who is in full time education , including mature students ( those above 26). You can apply for one at your local student travel agency or directly at the train station.

If you’re applying at a station for the first time you’ll need to bring one of the following: Proof of age( e.g birth certificate, Passport, UK driving licence, National Identity card etc). You will also need a passport- size photo. If you are older than 26, you will need to show proof of your student status( e.g an official university student ID card). Please Visit www.16-25railcard.co.uk for more information

4) National Express Coach Card

If you’re aged 16 – 26 or a full-time student and looking to save money on travel (let’s face it, who isn’t?), then the Young Persons Coachcard allows you to save 1/3 on standard fares on coaches run by National Express throughout the UK for 12 months. The card allows you to get 10% off travel to events for new and existing card holders. It cost £10 for one year or £25 for three years.

Please note that  you can’t use the Coachcard on Hotel Hoppa, Eurolines, Ulsterbus, Third Party and FunFare tickets. However there are no restrictions on peak and off peak travel times; travel when it suits you and your plans. This includes public holidays, bank holidays and weekends – perfect if you’re at university, college or working.  If you’re registered disabled and love exploring the British Isles, then the Disabled Coach card offers a great way to save 1/3 on standard fares too. Please for more information visit www.nationalexpress.com

5.  International Student Identity Card (ISIC)

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the only student ID card recognised around the world.  You’ll use your ISIC card to save money as you travel across the world.  It gets you flexible airline student tickets and other student discounts. Any full-time student aged 12 years and over, at high school, college or university is eligible for an ISIC card. As long as you’re a student, it doesn’t matter whether you’re 12 or 112.  yThere are offices all around the world which will issue your ISIC student card straight away. You will need to show proof of your studentship and would require  a  passport-sized photo.

In the UK It cost around £16 and can be obtained from STA travel branches or by mail directly from ISIC website.

6.  Hostelling International Card (HIC)

If you intend to travel around the world on budget, then this card may just be for you! It proffers you cheap accommodation by allowing you to stay in safe and clean student hostels around the world at cheap prices. Hostelling International (HI) Membership card not only opens the door to the world’s largest network of safe, clean and welcoming hostels, but in many HI hostels, being a member gives you at least a 10% saving on the cost of your accommodation.

The card is issued by Youth Hotel Association and membership gives you access to about 4,000 hostels worldwide including access to thousands of travel-related savings at home and abroad. The cards can be obtained from STA travel branches around the world or at YHA hostels around the world. For further information  you can visit the nearest Youth Hostel Association in the UK via www.yha.org.uk


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