How to Get the Best College Student Discounts

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Brian O'Connell

By Brian O'Connell

October 18, 2019

No doubt, college students and their parents need to think about the cost of college beyond tuition.

That includes cost items like housing, food, books and computers, and ancillary supplies. That short list doesn’t include entertainment, various school fees, travel to and from home, and the odd pizza and coffee to make your week on campus go easier. They are among the hidden costs of going to college.

Economists call all of the above expenses as the “out of pocket costs” of attending college, minus tuition. In that regard, any expense that can be discounted or better yet eliminated, provides good financial value to today’s college students.

That’s where college student discounts come into the picture.

After all, 10% here and 20% there in savings can really add up, as can coupons and offers for free products on services on and off campus. Finding the right discounts and deals isn’t always easy, so we’re here to lend a hand and steer you toward the best college student discounts in the marketplace.

Top Ten Student Discounts

From computers and smartphones to Amtrak and public transit, here are the top 10 student discounts that students can put to use right away and enjoy over the long haul.

Amazon Prime at a steep discount. Amazon prime is a useful “favorite” bookmark on your laptop or mobile device, as it offers a boatload of products and services that college students favor. That includes free one-day shipping, free books, music and video downloads, discounts on movies, music and books, and up to 80% discounts on things like USB adapters, packs of granola bars, ramen noodles, mobile phone cases and much, much more.

What you might now know is that Amazon offers college students a free six-month trial and a subsequent 50% discount on membership when the trial is over. New “Prime Student” subscribers can also get Amazon Music Unlimited for .99 cents per month, down from $9.99 per-month. Check it out at

Microsoft. Not be outdone, Microsoft offers a combo platter of discounts and freebies in exchange for college students using their software. For instance, any purchase of available Microsoft Surface products is discounted 10% off for students.

College students can also earn a freebie on the technology giant’s Office 365 software suite, which includes favorite applications like MS Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

That alone saves college students $70 annually. Get going on the discounts at the Microsoft Student Education website and have your college email address ready to go.

Unidays. This website, aimed exclusively at college students, offers member discounts to over 150 brand name companies, like American Eagle, Adidas, Samsung, Apple, and Zipcar, among others.

The beauty of Unidays is that by signing up, you automatically qualify for great deals, like $200 off Apple products, a free $20 gift card for joining Costco, 20% discounts for food deliveries via GrubHub, and 18 meals at EveryPlate for $250 a pop. It’s an all-in-one site that allows you to select and sign up for the deals you like best – and the deals are abundant.

Transportation deals. There is no shortage of solid deals on the public and private transportation front for college students – and that can be a big help to car-less collegians.

On the rail front, Amtrak offer 10% on tickets and bonus points for collegians who sign up for the rail service’s Student Advantage Discount Card. If you’re taking a semester in London, Brussels or another European port of call, Rail Europe offers student discounts a better discount at 23% (plus they’ll waive ticket fees) although the offers are limited to second-class tickets.

Taking a bus to visit family or a friend at another school? The Student Advantage Discount Card cuts you a 15% price break on a Greyhound ticket, for a $30 annual fee. The card also lets you save up to 40% on the transport company’s Greyhound Package Express and offers points for hotels, retailers and restaurants.

Traveling across town? Many U.S. cities and college towns offer low-cost seasonal or annual passes to take buses and subway trains across town. Los Angeles, Minneapolis-St. Paul, New York, Cleveland, St. Louis, and many other large urban centers offer discounts on local transport. Contact your city’s transportation page or ask your college admissions office about local bus and train deals.

Movie theater discounts. National movie theater chains like Regal Cinemas, AMC, and Cinemark all offer college student discounts. AMC, for example, offers discounted tickets on Thursday to any cinema buff who can show a college I.D.

Sprint. While Verizon Wireless and AT&T do offer student discounts for phone and web service, Sprint, through its Sprint Portal, seems to be the most aggressive cell service provider for the college set. There, college students can get unlimited data for an extra $10-per-month (yes, mom and dad can pay for it, too.)

Best Buy. The big box behemoth offers college students and families a wide range of deals and discounts at its Student Hub website. Check it out for great deals on electronics, school supplies, and warranty services.

Federal Express.FedEx offers college students up to 30% off of package deliveries when you present your student identification either online or at a company delivery center.

Free and discounted entertainment. Your college I.D. can act as a “get in free” card at many museums and musical venues. The Carnegie Museums in Pittsburgh and the Lincoln Center in New York are great examples of cultural institutions that either offer free admission or steeply discounted admissions. Just go to your favorite museum or cultural center’s web site to see what kind of deal you can get for daily admissions.

For diamond buffs, Major League Baseball offers student discounts in a dozen cities, including the Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta Braves, among others. The Pittsburgh Pirates offer one of the best deals in partnership with Papa Johns – $10 game discounts and discounts on food and drinks.

Call or contact your team’s ticket office for special offers.

Penske. Whether you’re moving in or out of a dormitory or college apartment, you likely know the value of a good van or truck rental. Get a 10% discount straightaway at any Penske rental location and grab an additional 10% if you book a one-way rental online.

Bonus Deal: One Stop College Student Discount Shopping at One Place

For a good “all in one” college student discount experience, try web sites like ID.Me and, which both operate as student discount and freebie aggregators, making it easy for collegians to get multiple deals in one place.

The deals at both sites can and do change all the time, so bookmark them and check in once or twice a week for the best deals nationally and in your local area.

Never, Ever Pay Full Price

The moral of the story on student discounts? Considering that half of college students need to phone home for more money mid-semester, paying full price for any product or service earns the buyer an “F” in personal finance.

Turn that grade into an “A-Plus” and take advantage of the deals and discounts listed above, and start putting more cash in your pocket and less in the pockets of local and national merchants.


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