100 Best Freebies & Discounts for College Students

When I was an undergrad at Carnegie Mellon, I knew all the ways my student ID got me a student discount or freebie. Whether it was a 10 percent discount at a store or free bus rides, I knew them all. My student ID was great!

A few years later, when I started an MBA, I got another student ID and had to re-learn all the places I could use it!

Fortunately, my work is your gain – here are some of the best freebies available for college students.

First: Always Ask for a Discount!

Not every merchant lists their student discounts online and there might be tons of local places near you that offer student discounts that I'll never know about – so as accurate as I can try to be on my list, nothing beats asking.

Anywhere you go, remember to ask if there is a discount for students. If the answer is yes – whip out your student ID. Win! If the answer is no – no harm in asking! 

Amazon Student

You can get Amazon Student for 6-months absolutely free – which gives you a lot of the same benefits as Amazon Prime without the $99 a year price tag. You get instant video, music, plus free two-day shipping.

When the trial ends, Amazon Student is 50% off the price of Amazon Prime.

Get Amazon Student

Apple Student Discounts

It’s possible to save money on Apple devices and subscriptions. You can save $100 on MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, and iMac Pro models. There’s also a discount of up to $50 for any iPad model.

The Apple education pricing extends to AppleCare service and support plans. Students and faculty are eligible for the computer and AppleCare discounts.

Trading in your current Apple devices lets you get a trade-in credit for extra savings on your next Apple purchase. For instance, you might get up to $670 in Apple credit for trading in a MacBook Air.

Apple is also offering free Apple TV+ with your Apple Music Student Plan. You can qualify for the Apple Music Student Plan for up to 48 months. As a student, you pay $4.99 per month instead of the standard $9.99 per month for Apple Music.

It’s possible to claim these discounts online and in-store. You will need to verify your email address and student status for online orders. For local purchases, bring your student ID or school acceptance letter.

You Need a Budget

Budgeting is much simpler when you're a student. Very little income, very few expenses, and all the numbers are much smaller.

It's also the best time to start budgeting because it is so simple! And because You Need a Budget is free for college students!

Email them at student@youneedabudget.com with proof of registration and you'll get a license good until the end of the academic year. At that point, if you're still in school, email them again and you'll get a new key.

Learn more about YNAB Student

50% Off SiriusXM Premium for Students

The Sirius Streaming service is normally $13 a month but as a student, you can get it for just $4 a month. You get over 300 SiriusXM channels and you don't need a satellite equipped car.

Sirius has partnered with SheerID to verify that you are a current student. You just have to provide your University or College's name, your name, your birthday (for verification), and your email address. FYI, a student is defined as currently enrolled in a United States-based, degree-granting, Title IV-accredited school of higher education.

Get SiriusXM Premium for Students

Free Museum Admission

Check your local museums because they usually offer discounts or free admission to local area universities with a valid student ID.

For example, in Pittsburgh, I could bring my Carnegie Mellon University ID to get free admission to any of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh – including the always cool Carnegie Science Center.

Discounted Tickets

Almost every sporting event will have discount student tickets. It might be for a less than premium game, like when the division basement dwellers come to town (unless your team is the basement dweller – then it's cheap all the time!), but if you're a sports fan you probably already know when the $7 tickets are.

If you want some culture, especially if you're visiting a major city – look for student tickets at orchestras, aquariums, theaters, etc.

For example, let's say you're in New York City – go to this page for the Lincoln Center Student Discounts. It contains links to all the major affiliated institutions and how their student tickets work.

Want to go to the Met Opera? Here's information on the Met Opera Students program

Your best bet is to search the institution and “student tickets” to see their policy (if they have one).

If you happen to be in Washington D.C., all the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are free!

Free Student Checking Bank Accounts

Many banks offer free checking for students, including:

If you are OK with online banking, you can often get a better deal with an online bank – higher interest rates, lower fees, low or no minimums. No student requirements here.

Here is a full list of the best student bank accounts.

Free Software

Companies love to give free software to students because it introduces you to their software at a time when you're least able to pay and most likely to form your usage habits.

Start by going to your school's IT department to see what software they have available (for example, here's the free software page of the University of Pittsburgh students). Many universities have a large number of seat licenses that enable you to use the software like you would borrow a book from the library. It'll cost you nothing and you can get access to a lot of great (and expensive) software packages.

Here are a few companies that give out free software specifically to students:

Movies

Movies are fun! Movies are expensive! Movies are discounted if you're a student!

Call your local movie theater and find out how much the discount is, what day you can go, and what movies it applies to. Some movie theaters, like Cinemark, share a morsel of generic and somewhat useless information on their site. Others make you call.

But they do give discounts! (so call your local theater)

Big Student Discounts

And here's my best shot at collecting all the student discounts available at nationally represented stores or service providers.

First, some of these require that you join Student Advantage. It's a discount card for students with an annual fee ($22.50 as of this writing) but gives you access to a litany of discounts.

Others may have a relationship with UNiDAYS, similar to Student Advantage except it's free. You need to confirm that you are a student (either logging into your university account or via your university email) but otherwise, you get access to discounts and cashback rewards.

Lastly, you may have read elsewhere about getting free drinks, discounts, what have you; at various quick-service restaurants. These are highly region-specific, but it's a case where it doesn't hurt to ask.

Onto the list:

Clothing

Furniture

  • Club O Gold – It's a rewards program for students and teachers, using ID.me verification.
  • Pottery Barn – 15% off when you use your .edu address or show a valid student ID
  • West Elm – 15% off your next purchase, sign up with an .edu address

Cell Phone Plans

Most cell phone carriers offer business, educator, and military discounts. Your university or insurance provider might offer a special discount. Prepaid cell phone plans might offer a lower price even without a college student discount.

See our FreedomPop review and Republic Wireless review to find a good service.

Electronics

Unlike clothing retailers with 10% or 20% off, electronics usually offer special educational models or pricing:

Knowledge

Health and Cosmetics

  • AAptiv – 50% off monthly and annual plans. This is a fitness app that can help you lose weight or improve your health with audio guided programs (UNiDAYS confirmation)
  • BH Cosmetics – 10% off online (UNiDAYS confirmation)
  • bioClarity – 15% off skincare products when using the discount code STUDENT15
  • Bobbi Brown – 20% off online (UNiDAYS confirmation)
  • MAC Cosmetics – 10% off online (UNiDAYS confirmation)
  • Objective Wellness – 25% off health and wellness supplements by emailing objectivewellness@inseev.com. You can get anything from Vitamin C supplements to “chocolate-y sleep squares” to help you rest well
  • Sally Beauty – Get a free Beauty Student Savings card for exclusive monthly discounts. Cosmetology students can upgrade to a Pro card for extra savings.
  • Sigma – 10% off online

Travel

  • Amtrak – Up to 25% discount on train travel for students ager 13-25
  • CheapTickets – 18% off hotel reservations and discounted plane tickets
  • CLEAR – $50 annual cost for up to four years (standard price is $180).
  • Greyhound – 10% off Greyhound fares and 15% off shipping
  • Hotels.com – 10% off sitewide (UNiDAYS confirmation)
  • IKON Pass – Discount on Rocky Mountain SuperPass for Colorado ski resorts (nurses and military qualify too)
  • Lonely Planet – Up to 20% off online
  • Megabus – $3 off your next trip (UNiDAYS confirmation)
  • Sixt – 5% off for students at least 21 years old
  • StudentUniverse – Discounts on flights, hotels and tours

Miscellaneous

  • Ableton – 40% off music creation software
  • Costco – $20 Costco shop Card with a new annual membership
  • Evernote – 50% off one year of Evernote Premium note-taking app
  • FedEx – 20-30% off with a student ID card!
  • Norton – Up to $55 off an annual plan for antivirus and anti-spyware software
  • Pandora Premium – 60 days free and then 50% off to only pay $4.99 per month
  • Rosetta Stone – 10% off sitewide in addition to other sales (UNiDAYS confirmation)
  • Spotify – 50% discount (Spotify Premium now includes Hulu and Showtime)
  • Sam's Club – You get a $10 gift card when you join or renew with your student ID.
  • TickTick – 25% off task management app
  • Budget Truck Rental – Up to 20% off moving truck rentals. Use discount code TRUKU.
  • Penske – 10% off rental trucks and a few other perks (unlimited miles and no underage surcharge are huge)
  • SMARTBOX – Moving and storage discounts
  • Zipcar – Discounts for car rentals at participating universities. There can be big savings if you’re renting under age 25 – some rental agencies won’t rent, period.

And if it's your birthday, check out this list of restaurants that give you free food!

If you know of a discount not on this list (or one that is on the list but no longer offered), email me and I'll update this.

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Jim Wang

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of three who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says

    Yes, I remember those days! I used to look up the words “pizza” and “free food” in my Inbox to see which event/meeting I should go to in college & grad school *grinning*

    I loved Amazon 6-month free subscription, laptop discounts, and anything that has student discounts. One time I even got a dress for $10 (original price: $12) from Forever 21 thanks to Mr. FAF’s student ID 😀

  2. Jim @ Route To Retire says

    I swear I don’t remember all the discounts and freebies available back when I was in school!

    Great list – I think your first point is the most important though… ask! I would bet a lot of folks are just too shy to step up and ask, but snagging one nice freebie or discount could make anyone change their tune from that point on.

    — Jim

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