Let’s face it. You’re tired, broke, hungry, and about to call it quits. Everyone told you that life was going to be like this, but for some reason, you just didn’t believe them. Now you’re struggling to get to class, feed yourself, buy supplies, and put gas in your car. Then you remember that little student discount card that you slipped into your wallet at orientation, and you’re wondering if it might help save you some cash – or at least stop your stomach from protesting too loudly because you haven’t eaten yet today. The good news is that there are numerous businesses and services that offer discounts to students. The bad news is that you often wind up spending money that you weren’t planning to spend otherwise. Sorting through what is a useful discount that can save you money and what is just bait to get you in a store so they can take your money can be pretty tricky. Here’s a list of some of the best discounts available, as well as the ones to avoid.
For Groceries and other “Necessities”
The go-to here is to get an Amazon Student annual membership for 50% off the regular Amazon Prime cost. It’s one of the only recommended services with a fee, but it’s worth it. Pretty much anything you find on Amazon can be delivered to your door within 48 hours, with no shipping costs. Stock up on toilet paper, ramen noodles, chips, drinks, and school supplies. If you use the Subscribe and Save option for regular purchases, you can save up to an extra 20% off the already reduced prices on some of your must-have items. When you factor in the time you save by not leaving your dorm to shop, the free shipping, and the discounts, the membership fee pays for itself quickly.
Student Checking Accounts
Most major banks offer a Student Checking and saving option, with reduced fees and charges. There are many banks that offer some sort of free or reduced cost services to students, but beware the fine print. Many of them will find ways to increase other fees. Forbes put together a list of good student checking accounts that are fairly transparent and useful for students.
Many insurance companies offer a discount to students, but it’s generally conditional upon maintaining good grades. State Farm offers up to a 25% discount to students who maintain good grades. Considering the cost of car insurance, that’s a worthwhile chunk.
Computers and Electronics
For must have, big ticket items like computers, laptops, and tablets, both Apple and Microsoft offer student pricing to help you out. Many other smaller companies offer student pricing as well, and even software packages for students.
Cell phones prices are outrageous these days, but they are essential to students. Verizon, Sprint and AT&T offer student discounts to students at affiliated schools. Check with your school to see if they have a discount with a carrier. Sprint has an unlimited data plan for students, but only if you purchase the phone from a participating Best Buy location.
Most municipal public transportation services offer a student discount on passes. Amtrak offers a 15% discount to students traveling. The Student Advantage student discount card costs $22.50 to purchase, and is generally not worth it, as many of the affiliated businesses offer a student discount whether or not you have the card. The primary exception is if you use Greyhound buses to travel between school and home. They offer a 20% discount on all fares if you use the Student Advantage card. Depending on how much you travel back and forth, it may be worth it to get the card.
If you are low on cash and in need of clothes, many Goodwill stores offer student discounts on their already cheap prices. The terms may vary from location to location; some offer a 10% discount to students all the time, some of them offer a 20% discount on a particular day of the week. Find the one nearest to you and see what they have to offer.
Things to Avoid
Otherwise known as “things that will drain your account dry.” These “discounts” aren’t here to help you or save you money. These discounts are to get you to spend money in places that you wouldn’t otherwise consider due to the face that the prices are outrageous. This includes higher-end retailers like Ann Taylor, J.Crew, The Limited, and Banana Republic. Saving %10 on an $80 shirt is still pending $72. If you’re reading this, you probably can’t afford $72 either.
Other “discounts” to be careful of are for entertainment (movie theatre discounts, concert ticket discounts) and food discounts. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if you would be buying pizza without the discount, or if you’re buying pizza because of the discount. If you’re buying because of the discount, chances are you’re still spending more than you would at the campus cafeteria or buy buying groceries. If you are absolutely going to have to see the latest action flick, by all means take advantage of the discount, but be sure not to trick yourself into thinking you can afford to go to the movies just because they offer a measly discount.
Susanne Loxton is an experienced writer with a passion for learning and education. On a daily basis, Susanne works for Aubiz, a compendium of knowledge about companies in her native Australia.