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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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:
- Chase Student Checking (with a $100 bonus!)
- US Bank Student Checking
- Bank of America Student Banking
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.
- Ally Bank – No minimum balance, no fees, ATM fee reimbrusement up to $10 per statement cycle. (read our Ally Bank review)
- Discover Bank – $500 minimum balance, no monthly fee (see a review of Discover's online bank)
- Barclays Online Savings Account
I find that Nerdwallet always does a good job keeping their list of student checking accounts up to date.
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:
- Adobe Education
- Atlassian – bug tracking, project management, collaboration and other code related applications
- Intel Free Software Tools
- LastPass Premium – free for 6 months
- Microsoft Office for Students (and other Microsoft student software offers)
- MSC Software – Very specific engineering software
- On the Hub
- ptc – Creo free student edition
- Tableau – analytics package
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.
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:
- American Apparel – 15% off (UNiDAYS confirmation)
- Banana Republic – a 15% in-store only coupon
- boohoo – up to 55% off (UNiDAYS confirmation)
- Club Monaco – 20% off online and in-store
- Dockers – 20% off (UNiDAYS confirmation)
- J. Crew – a 15% discount for teachers and college students in-store
- Goodwill – Check your local store for the promotion day (ours have 30% off on Wednesdays for students, teachers and seniors)
- Levi Up to 40% off + 15% off full price items (UNiDAYS confirmation)
- Madewell – 15% off for teachers & college students
- Top Shop – 10% discount (UNiDAYS confirmation)
- Toms – 10% off to Students and teachers
- Vineyard Vines – 15% off in-store (military too)
- 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 valid student ID
- West Elm – 15% off your next purchase, sign up with an .edu address
Unlike clothing retailers with 10% or 20% off, electronics usually offer special educational models or pricing:
- Best Buy Student Deals
- Lenovo Student Discount Program
- Newegg Premier for Students – a free year of Newegg Premier for qualified students
- Microsoft – 10%+ discounts
- New York Times
- The Wall Street Journal – $15 for 15 weeks, $49 / year
- The Economist – look for the student option
- FedEx – 20-30% off with a student ID card!
- Spotify – 50% discount
- Sam's Club – You get a $15 gift card when you join or renew with your student ID.
- Penske – 10% off rental trucks and a few other perks (unlimited miles and no underage surcharge are huge)
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.