Wallet Hacks

42+ 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!

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! Who wants to pay more than they need to?

Not me either.

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

You Need a Budget

Budgeting is much simpler then 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

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.

I find that Nerdwallet always does a good job keeping their list of student checking accounts up to date.

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 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 discount! (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, which 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:




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



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.