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Anyone can get an NUS card student discount when you’re not a student with this simple trick. Without a doubt, the best money saving hack I’ve written about.

One of the first posts I wrote for the blog explained how I managed to get an NUS card, even though I wasn’t actually studying at a university or college. Well, a lot of people won’t have seen that post, so it’s time to revisit it!

What is an NUS Extra 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 few years ago NUS started charging students to get an NUS Extra card, which as the name suggests, gives even more discounts. They also now come with an ISIC (International Student Identity Card), giving student prices overseas and on travel.

How to get an NUS student discount card when you’re not a student


Anyone who signs up to an online course at e-Careers is eligible to buy an NUS card. These courses cover everything from baking to business and usually last a year.

*June 2017 update – It looks like eCareers have stopped supporting NUS cards. I’ve checked and it’s still listed on the NUS website, but it’s not on the eCareers website anymore. However, I’ve found a new FREE course option from Shaw Academy which is also listed on the NUS website. More on this below*

Get a free Shaw Academy course

Instead of eCareers courses, you can pick up a free course from a company called Shaw Academy. There are dozens of choices, from nutrition to photography to financial trading. It won’t cost you a thing to start the course, and that makes you eligible for the NUS card.

If you choose to take an exam at the end of the course, you have to pay for that. This costs around £35, but if you’re only signing up to get the NUS card, then you don’t need to worry about that at all!

>> Sign up to a free Shaw Academy course 

How to get a cheap eCareers course

ECareers courses aren’t cheap – so the trick is to buy your course cut-price from a deals site like Groupon or GoGroopie.

The cheapest I’ve ever seen is £4 though £10 to £12 is most common – great as long as you aren’t bothered about the actual course content!

If you want to take advantage of the course too you might need to spend nearer to £20 – though there’s probably something for everyone.

>> Right now (updated 6/6/17) the best I can find are

In the past there have been deals on Wowcher and Living Social, but I’ve not seen any there recently.

How to apply for your NUS card

Once you’ve signed up to Shaw Academy, you can simply apply for an NUS Extra card on the NUS website.  You don’t need to contact Shaw Academy at all about this. Here’s how to apply:

  • Enter your email address
  • Type in eCareers Shaw Academy as your place of study. This should auto populate the box after a few characters
  • Choose the category that is most similar to the course you’ve bought, the level (something like “professional” should be ok, and the length (probably one year).
  • Next you’ll need to enter a “password” but you can make this up.
  • Finally upload a photo of yourself (this will be displayed on the card).

With this all done you simply need to pay. The NUS Extra card will cost you £12 and be valid for 12 months.

You can also apply for a two year or three year NUS card, but the free ISIC add on is only for one year.

Top-ups to add

There are a couple of options to add before you checkout.

The ISIC add on is now free, and it’s brilliant. I’ve used it to save hundreds on flights abroad, as well as get discounts for museums.

A Gourmet Society add-on (similar to Tastecard) will be £3.99 – but that’s a lot less than the full price, and even the cheapest special offer price. Read more about dining cards in my guide.

Is this trick legitimate?

Yes. I found this trick because I’d signed up to a web design course in 2013, and I’ve renewed it a further three times.

How much money can it save?

Potentially a huge amount.

Of course, it depends on what you buy. One of my biggest savings is £15 a go on tickets to football matches. Add on the discounts you can get at cinemas, theatres, galleries and thousands of shops and you should easily make your money back on normal spending. Anything after that is a massive bonus.

The biggest savings have been on flights where airlines offer student prices if you have a valid ISIC, though this seems to cap out at 30 or 32 years old depending on the airline. The best site for this is STA Travel.

Unfortunately, some student discounts (eg Young Persons Railcard), require a student ID.

Some of the main discounts

There are thousands of ways to save. Here are the highlights:

  • Up to 15% off at Apple, though the rate varies
  • Reduced prices at most cinemas, and an extra 25% off at Odeon (Mon-Thurs)
  • 10% off at places like Superdrug, Co-op, ASOS and Office
  • Six months free Amazon Prime, then half-price for four years (save £39 a year)
  • Half price Spotify Premium (save £5 a month)

Deals sites to check

I’ll always try to highlight a cheap e-Careers deal up above, but if you want to look for a course you might actually find handy, try these sites.

This is an updated version of an article written in May 2015.

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