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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.

It’s a great way to save – and now even “non-students” can get their hands on one for as little as £17.50.

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

Instead of enrolling at a college or university, you can sign up for an online learning course. There are a number of different course providers which have an agreement with NUS to provide the cards to their students.

These courses cover everything from baking to business and usually last a year. When I discovered this trick in 2013 I’d bought a Photoshop course. It was something I wanted to do and the NUS card was an unexpected bonus. But in subsequent years I’ve bought random courses such as book keeping and Microsoft Excel in order to get my card.

Which online courses make you eligible for an NUS card?

There are a few linked to NUS. The best if you’re not interested in the actual course is Shaw Academy as you get a 30-day free trial of a course – and no commitment to pay beyond that.

** UPDATE 6/9/17 – It looks like Shaw Academy is no longer eligible, but the other options listed below still are **

Other options to consider if you actually want to take the course include Ecareers, New Skills Academy, Of Course, NCC Learning and Digital Sea Ltd. Going direct can be very expensive. Fortunately they are all often for sale at discounted prices on sites like Groupon. I’ll list some course options below.

Get a free online learning course from Shaw Academy

If you want the free course option via Shaw Academy then 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.

It costs £35 a month after the trial ends if you do want to carry on with the course. But if you’re only signing up to get the NUS card, then you don’t need to worry about that at all! If you entered any payment details, make sure you cancel your course to avoid getting charged after the trial.

>> Sign up to a free Shaw Academy course 

Pay for a discounted online learning course from ECareers or another provider

If you’re looking for a course you want to take and willing to pay for it, then the trick is to buy your course cut-price from a deals site like Groupon or Wowcher.

The cheapest paid course I’ve seen is £4 – great as long as you aren’t bothered about the actual course content, though you might have to pay closer to £12 or £15.

If you want to take advantage of the course you might need to spend nearer to £20 or £30 – though there’s probably something for everyone.

Cheapest course I can find (10/10/17):

  • Go Groopie – £15 First Aid course with Ecareers

Other courses to check out

Have a hunt around to see if there’s anything that takes your fancy. When you do click through, do make sure the course is being offered by one of the providers listed above. Also, as we saw with Shaw Academy it’s possible some providers will get dropped by NUS – so there is a risk. I check this page from time to time (last update 10/10/17) to ensure the provider is listed on the NUS website, but to be doubly sure you can check yourself in the application process.

If you buy a course from one of the deals sites you’ll need to activate the course. The instructions on how to do this will be listed when you purchase it.

How to apply for your NUS card

Once you’ve signed up to your course, you can simply apply for an NUS Extra card on the NUS website.  You don’t need to contact the course provider at all about this.

Here’s how to apply:

  • Step 1: Go to NUS.org.uk 
  • 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 start date and end date. With most of these courses it will be just for 12 months. You then need to choose the course level (“Professional/Vocational” should be ok for most), and finally the course discipline. There are enough options here for you to find one close to your chosen course.
  • Step 5: Here you pick the lengh 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 £12 for a one year course, and £1.50 for delivery.

 

Top-ups to add to your NUS Card

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

You can choose to make a charitable donation, or you can add an annual Gourmet Society card (similar to Tastecard). This costs £3.99, making it the cheapest way to get one the cheapest special offer price.

>> Read more about dining cards in my guide.

Can you really get an NUS card if you’re not a student?

Yes. And it’s completely legitimate. I found this trick because I’d signed up to a photoshop course in 2013, and I’ve renewed it a further three times so far.

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, Superdrug and Office. Add on the discounts you can get at cinemas, theatres, galleries and thousands of shops and you should easily make your £13.50 back. Anything after that is a massive bonus.

Unfortunately, some student discounts (eg Young Persons Railcard), require a student ID, while some websites only accept a UniDays membership, which you do need to be at University to get.

Best NUS card discounts

You can search the NUS website to see where you can use it, though many small businesses won’t be listed there so ask in-store or look for signs. For example I save a few quid at my hairdressers, and also £15 on tickets to see Crystal Palace.

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. It’s worth up to 10% off, and if you buy in August and September you can usually get some free Beats headphones thrown in!

>> More on saving at Apple with a student discount

Spotify student discount

Spotify Premium normally costs £9.99. Students can get it for just £5 a month! Apple Music has a similar deal. ** UPDATE – it looks like this might now be off the cards unless you are at a university. I’ll keep looking to find a workaround **

Cinema student discounts

Most cinemas will have a discount for students, but the best is Odeon which offers an extra 25% off student prices Monday to Thursday.

>> Learn more about how you can combine this saving with other cinema discounts

Amazon Prime student discount

Students get six-months free Amazon Prime, then pay just £39 a year for three years. A fantastic deal.

>> More on getting Amazon Student

STA Travel student flights

We’ve used our ISICs which now come as standard on one-year NUS cards to get huge discounts on flights. This year though I’ve noticed a few additional restrictions. Virgin and British Airways have added an age limit of around 30 or 32 years old. I don’t know about other airlines, but it’s ruled me out! However if you can get these, the savings can be massive.

>> Look for flights at STA Travel

 

My old video on the topic – it’s a little out of date now!

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

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