If you’ve recently had a Totum discount card you might be able to renew it or get an Alumni card.
It looks like this hack is back, meaning even non-students can buy a cheap online course and get access to dozens of student discounts.
Or, if you previously took advantage of this trick, or if you graduated in the last three years, then you might be able to get a new NUS card without buying a course! Here’s how:
What is an NUS Totum card?
If you’ve ever been a student, you’ll know that your ID often doubled up as an NUS (National Union of Students) card and gave you discounts in shops, cinemas and more.
A good few years ago NUS started charging students to get an NUS Extra card, which as the name suggests, gave even more discounts. It’s since been rebranded Totum.
The cards also now come with an ISIC (International Student Identity Card), giving student prices overseas and on travel.
It’s a great way to save, even if there is a £14.99 annual cost plus £1.50 delivery. It’s cheaper to get a three-year card (at £34.99), though that only has the ISIC card for one year.
How much money can I save?
Potentially a huge amount.
Of course, it depends on what you buy. There are still thousands of ways to save. Plenty of high street shops will give a 10% discount, including Co-op, Leon, Boots and Apple. Add on the discounts you can get at cinemas, theatres, galleries and thousands of shops and you should easily make your £16.49 back. Anything after that is a massive bonus.
Unfortunately, some student discounts (eg Young Persons Railcard), require a student ID. And some discounts – such as Spotify and Asos – are only available via sites like MyUniDays and StudentBeans which require a full .ac.uk email address.
Totum Alumni card for previous cardholders
If you are a recent graduate, or if you picked up a Totum card via the old version of the trick, you should be able to pick up an alumni card. This will give you all the same discounts, without you having to still be at university.
There are a few ways to get this. First you can log in to your NUS/Totum account and see if you’ve got the option to just buy a new card. I had a look at my old account and this was there ready for me to get. One thing I noticed was that this didn’t seem to be an alumni card, but it worked in the same way – as long as I didn’t change my place of study (doing this required a new verification).
It might be that your old log-in doesn’t work anymore as I recall having to change my password when NUS changed to Totum. In that case, try the following.
Follow this link to set up a support ticket with Totum. Ideally you’ll need your card number, but hopefully your email will suffice. You’ll then be sent a verification link to order your new alumni Totum card.
Or if you were an actual student who graduated within the last three years then follow the same link and upload proof of graduation.
This is the best option as you’ll only need to pay for the Totum card itself, and not an online course too.
Get a student discount card when you aren’t a student
One of the first articles I wrote on the blog, and one of the most popular for years, was a hack to get a student discount if you weren’t a student. The trick was to sign up for an online course at certain providers where you’d be eligible for the NUS Totum card.
I first signed up back in 2013 for an online Photoshop card, and repeated it a number of times until these online education businesses were all removed by NUS in 2018. Sad times.
However, in March 2023 it now looks like some online providers are offering access to the Totum card again. I’ve not tried it personally, so proceed with caution.
Which online courses make you eligible for an NUS card?
There are a few course providers, found via Reed, which promise eligibility for a Totum card. Ones I’ve spotted at the start of March 2023 include:
- Global Edulink
- 1 Training
- Oxford Home Study College
- Lead Academy
The problem is that for most of these the reference to Totum doesn’t actually appear on the individual course descriptions. Instead it appears on the search results. But I’ve cross-referenced each of these providers and they do appear on the Totum application page.
So hopefully you’ll be able to request a code from the training provider once you’ve paid for your course. You’ll need this to verify on the Totum site that you are doing a course.
Of course there’s a risk that you won’t be able to get the verification code. If that happens then you could try to get a refund on the course bought.
Also be very careful that these providers don’t try to sell you their own student discount card. A number of them have these for between £8 and £14 but they are not the NUS/Totum cards. The only people you should be giving money to are whoever sells you the initial course and Totum’s own website.
Cheapest course I can find (1/3/2023):
The cheapest paid course I can find is £12 – not bad as long as you aren’t bothered about the actual course content. These were all via Reed, though it’s worth checking sites like Groupon and Living Social.
How to apply for your Totum card
Once you’ve signed up to your course, you can simply apply for a Totum card on the Totum website. You may need to contact the course provider to get the verification or voucher code.
Here’s how to apply for your Totum Card:
- Step 1: Go to Totum.com
- Step 2: Enter your email address
- Step 3: Type in the course provider as your place of study. This should auto-populate the box after three characters. Once it appears hit continue.
- Step 4: Enter the verification code
- Step 5: Here you pick the length of NUS card you are buying and any add-ons (more on these later)
- Step 6: Next upload a photo of yourself (this will be displayed on the card).
- Step 7: Enter your personal details. You may be asked for a student number or password. You should be able to find this in the account you’ve set up for your online course.
- Step 8: You pay! It’s £14.99 for a one-year membership, £24.99 for two-years and £39.99 for three. There’s a £1.50 charge for delivery.
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Best NUS card discounts
You can search the NUS Totum website to see where you can use it, though many businesses won’t be listed there so ask in-store or look for signs.
I’ve shared a list of some of the top places to look here. However, there are a few which I think are particularly special:
Apple student discount
If you’re going to buy an iMac, iPad or Macbook then having an NUS card means you can get the Education Discount worth up to 10% off.
Plus if you buy in August and September you can get a freebie. In 2022 it was an Apple gift card worth up to £120, in previous years it’s been headphones! To use online you click through from the NUS website. More on saving at Apple with a student discount
Boots student discount
Take your Totum card into a Boots store and ask them to link it to your Advantage card. You’ll need to do this each September.
Amazon Prime student discount
Students get six-months free Amazon Prime, then pay just £47.49 a year for three years. A fantastic deal. More on getting Amazon Student here.
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