How to get an NUS / Totum student discount card, even when you’re not a student

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 a Tastecard and 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 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 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 new 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, since 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 in mid-February 2024 include:

  • Global Edulink
  • 1 Training
  • Study365
  • Oxford Home Study Centre
  • Lead Academy
  • e-courses4you
  • e-careers

Prices seem to start at £12 for an online course.

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 (14/2/2024):

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 
  • 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 £34.99 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 2023 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.

300 thoughts on “How to get an NUS / Totum student discount card, even when you’re not a student

  1. Hi as at March 2024, personally tried to buy a Course from Reed offered by Lead academy, it only qualifies for Totum professional but not students. Anyone has successful experiences?

  2. Totum Alumni now only qualifies you for the Totum professional card, which doesn’t get the Amazon discount.

  3. Hi All, Does anyone know if the TOTUM Cashback card is worth getting? It seems to be a pre-loaded debit card so no credit search but gives 6% cashback in certain locations. I was wondering if this is better to use than the Chase cashback card, or does the 3.99 fee wipe that out?

  4. Co-op no longer gives the 10% discount for Totum. However, they have introduced a cash-back, top-up credit card which gives an average 6% cashback at a number of places such as Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Asda etc.
    Do you think this is worth it?

  5. As of 24/2/23 – I browsed the site, found a £12 online course with Lead Academy, which shows on the course description if it qualifies you for a Totum card, bought the course, and then you need to contact the course provider directly to get a Totum sign up code. I don’t know if all providers have the same process, but the next day Lead Academy emailed me with a one-time Totum link, which allows you to sign up and order your card.

    There are a number of cheap online course providers which qualify for Totum.

    1. Centre of Excellence have free courses and they qualify !😇

      1. Can’t see how to get the code from them

    2. Thanks for this update and tip! When you say ‘which shows on the course description if it qualifies you for a Totum card’, does it actually say about Totum on the description or is it something else like saying it’s accredited? I’ve looked at a few Lead Academy ones and I haven’t found one that says ‘Totum’ in the description or fit the Totum requirement of minimum 120 hours, as they’re self-paced..

      1. I asked the same question, did you get an asnwer?

    3. Lead academy not working.
      Centre of excellence not workin

    4. How did you filter for “hows on the course description if it qualifies you for a Totum card” ?

    5. Hi Did you receive the Totum Student + or Professional?

    6. Hi Cass, which course did you sign up for if you don’t mind me asking?

    7. Hey Cass, do you know if the course had to be a minimum of 120 hours or did they not check?

  6. (September 2020) I just managed to get another Totem Pro card without even verifying what course I was on! I logged in for the first time in years and it took me straight to a page asking me to provide them my details again to re-verify my student status. Distance Learning Centre still say they offer Totem cards so I tried typing that in and lo and behold, it came up as an option. I selected it, proceeded, and it never asked me for any further course details, just my payment method, and done. My new card is on the way.

    1. Just tried it – now says ‘no verification method available.’ and wont let me go any futher.

    2. did you get an repl?

  7. Andy – Totum are now offering a Totum Pro Card for non-students. Same discounts as the old NUS Extra / new Totum card, but without having to register as a student.
    It seems it is by invitation only as I got sent a personal code which worked fine – my NUS card having expired this year. Worth looking at Totum Pro link on the Totum website as it is targeted and “available to all previous NUS extra and TOTUM cardholders, you don’t have to be studying at college or uni to grab one”, so this might show people how to get one.

    1. does this give same benefits as totum student ? thx

  8. Just got TOTUM card without any course sign up, just select Pitman Training when ordering card.

    1. How did you select home delivery?

      1. I can only see collect in person as an option?

        1. Me too. How does it work?

    2. It now says ‘no verification method available’ and wont let you go any further now 🙁

  9. Hi i’ve Just had an email from TOTUM – they are now offering a TOTUM Pro card and that seems to ecareers as an option. Can’t test it as my card isn’t due to expire yet

    1. Thanks, Lisa. I’ve called Ecareers but they say that’s a mistake and they don’t have a partnership with Totum. I’ll keep an eye on this to see if it changes.

  10. As of 18 July 2019 I can confirm that the hack using Darlington Borough Council combined with Home Delivery does work to purchase a Totum card, but only for one year at a time (the three year option is not available). £12 for the card, £1.50 for delivery, a tidy total of £13.50 for a year’s worth of discounts.

    1. Michael Mitchell August 4, 2019 at 11:46 am

      How do you sign up to Darlington Borough Council? So free to sign up to them, and then £12 for the totum card?


    2. Which course did you sign up for and how much did the course cost ?

    3. please can you explain how this works?

      1. Sadly this loophole closed in 2018

  11. As of June 5th, I can confirm that putting in “Darlington Borough Council” as your place of learning, or “Learning & Skills” (both same thing) will allow you to select Home Delivery as part of the ordering process.

    For £1.50, they will deliver the card to your home address. Couldn’t see an option for taking this over more than a year though, so may need to revisit the issue next year!

    1. Hi JC,
      Do i need to enrol on a course at Learning & skills to get the nus card?

      1. Hi managed to get a totum pro card a few months ago. YouTube premium student membership is up for renewal, redirects to SHEERID to verify student ID 🤔. Unsure how to progress 🙁

    2. Neither of these work now 🙁

    3. Sadly this doesn’t work as of 6th June 2019

    4. These are no longer available

    5. Hi JC, Thanks for the info. Do you need to register for one of the courses at Darlington Borough Council before you apply for the NUS card? Will they deliver the NUS card to my home address when I have applied for the NUS card?

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

      Does this trick still work with the online courses ??
      As i need a NUS extra card to get discount on joining a gym membership

      1. Hi Arif, no the main trick no longer works.

    7. As of August 1st 2019 I can confirm this hack no longer works

  12. GUYS, as of today (29th May 2019), “Learning for Life” course accepts online sign-ups through NUS Extra.

    I just managed to renew my card for 3 years for £32. Given that ASOS now accept NUS Extra as proof for a 10% discount, I estimate I’ll make that money back within a couple of months!

    Happy saving!

    1. Thanks JC. I’ve checked this out and Learning For Life seems to be a charity helping adults with learning disabilities in Durham. It’s not possible to buy an online course to be eligible for the NUS Card, so I’d hate for people to take advantage of this option in case it impacts the company and its legitimate students.

      1. Good point Andy, apologies!

        I found another which accepts home delivery of your card — I will update the thread accordingly!

        Cheers mate, love the website

    2. But do they post to your home address?

  13. Do you know of anyway of getting student beans if you’ve got a student card and a course?

    1. Afraid not, you need to be a “proper” student

      1. No you do not. There is still a way to get one.

        1. John; Can you share how?

          1. Goto sign up.
            Enter your correct email when signing up.
            Enter – LCBT LTD as collage. This is the only one which lets you get the card delivered to your home address.
            Choose home for card delivery.
            Make sure to choose 3 year card as it’s getting harder to obtain one.
            Pay via PayPal or card and job done.

          2. Ricky Facchinello May 28, 2019 at 3:53 pm

            LCBT LTD does not work now

        2. What do you fill in for the course details thought once you have picked LCBT LTD ?

  14. I can confirm that learndirect (all one word) does appear on Totum

    1. Did this work then? Did you sign up to a course ?

    2. learndirect does not come up on totum website anymore 🙁

    3. learndirect , oes not come up on totum website anymore ?

  15. Just signed up using learndirect who do free ‘life skills’ courses. All comes up OK on the NUS website. I was renewing a card, not sure if that makes a difference but payment was processed and I have an email confirmation from NUS

    1. Learndirect does not come up when you enter it in place of study

    2. Hi I’ve looked on the website but can’t find any free courses? Hope you can help!

    3. Just to confirm, got my TOTUM card today, using learndirect. Just sign up with them for free.

      1. hi, Simon . just tried , can’t find learndirect anymore .
        I suspect someone from TOTUM check this page always . hahahaha

      2. I was able to renews NUS for 3 more years using learndirect free courses. Thank you!

        1. I can see that they do not recognise learndirect as a place of study. What place of study you need to put in order to get TOTUM card?

    4. Simon,

      What free course did you select? I cannot see one. Did you receive your card ok?

    5. Kimberley Derbyshire November 21, 2018 at 11:03 am

      I’ve managed to get Learndirect to work on the NUS site but I cant find the free life skill courses. Any ideas on how to find them?

  16. The best option might be one of the on-line courses at London Skills & Development Network (who are definitely on the list!). They offer a Level 1 Certificate in IT User Skills which I can’t imagine would be very expensive. No prices on their web site though!

    1. Just tried it but I’m unable to see ” London Skills & Development Network”

    2. Hey Not able to see the London Skills and Development Network form the List of colleges .Please advise

  17. Hello!
    I’ve just bought a course on e-Careers but it is not available in the list of options on NUS. Do you know anything about this?

    1. Hi Adriana, yes if you look at the top of the article you’ll see the update showing that NUS has removed all e-learning providers from the system and the loophole is sadly closed. If I find any way to get a cheap course I’ll update the article accordingly. But I don’t hold out much hope.

  18. Any news on this anyone found any other cheap courses

    1. I’m still looking but not found anything yet

  19. this is a shame – was a great hack!

    1. does anyone know if it still works?

      1. Afraid not right now

    2. Hi all and any updates if NewSkills academy are looking to get the NUS card affiliated anytime soon?


      1. It looks like NUS removed all online learning companies. If it does change I’ll update!

        1. I have just enrolled with Skillsnetwork and they have saud I can get an NUS card.

          1. Hey Chris, did you manage to get your card?

  20. It seems there is a chance we can renew an existing NUS card.

    ** Full disclosure: I have not tried this yet **

    If you search for an institute that does not have an academic email address, an example being “The Edinburgh Academy”. It does not ask you to verify.
    (because High schools don’t normally have emails or academic portals)

    I clicked through all the way to the last step where I can confirm and pay the card.

    As my card is valid until February, I don’t need to renew yet, but I would be interested to see if anyone can using this method.

    Also, there is a chance you can just buy a new NUS card with this technique.

    1. Unfortunately, if you don’t verify your email, the card is sent to the school, with this example it shows:
      “Deliver To The Edinburgh Academy”
      as the only option for delivery.

    2. I’ve just tried it, they will send the Totum card direct to your chosen academy.

  21. Hopefully a useful update for everyone.

    This just in from New Skills Academy:

    “Chris replied
    Aug 15, 12:02
    Hi Helen,

    Sorry about the issues you are facing with your NUS Extra Card.

    They are in the middle of changing their name and system to TOTUM and they’ve paused lots of online suppliers, while they manually check all details.

    This is taking much longer than anticipated and have told us it can take up to 2 weeks.

    Please can I ask you to check back in one week, when this should be sorted by and you can claim your NUS card.

    Sorry for the inconvenience again, this was caused by NUS Extra and without any warning to us 🙁

    Kind Regards

    Chris Morgan
    Customer Service


    So it seems if people wait a week, it should be sorted.

    Best wishes


    1. Hi Helen, I have just bought a New Skills Academy course too. Do we need to apply for an NUS Extra card? I can’t see anything for a plain and simple NUS Card and it seems as though the “Extra” is for apprenticeships etc?

      1. Hi Nick, sadly it looks like this hack is over. If it does return I’ll let you know. It’s worth seeing if you can get a refund from New Skills Academy if you don’t want the course

    2. Bad news. Probably all online providers were removed for good from NUS list:

  22. All options now seem to have been removed

    1. Hopefully we’ll see some of those course providers return in the next week. I’ll keep an eye out and update the article when there’s any news

  23. Hi,

    New Skills Academy seems to have been removed. Are there any courses/places of study available at the moment?


    1. I’ve just spotted this too. Sadly I can’t find any. I’ve contacted New Skills Academy as it still states on its website that you get an NUS card with its courses. Hopefully it’s just a technical error.

  24. Hi,

    I’ve just followed the guide and bought an ecareers course. Unfortunately they tell me they do not provide NUS Extra eligibility. They sell their own Supercard for discounts etc.

    1. Me too. Got ecareers as recommended and NUS say it is not eligible.

      If it is too good to be true…..

      1. Hi Cheryl, the article has been updated with other options. But as I mention above, I think it’s worth checking on the NUS website (via the card application) that the course provider is still valid.

        1. Any hope/info that Ecareers might be re-added?
          Just activated my account to try and get the NUS but it hasn’t worked 🙁

          1. It looks like all online course providers have been axed by NUS. It’s such a shame

  25. Looks like the NUS doesn’t work any more for Apple 🙁
    the only option for apple discount will be unidays
    £17.50 wasted 🙁

    1. Yes it looks like it stopped today or yesterday. Fingers crossed it’ll come back, but I think it’s unlikely. However, you’ll still be able to use your discount elsewhere so it’s not a total waste of cash

      1. I looks like Ecareers does not show up anymore on the NUS site when selecting a place of study, can you guys confirm? Any other way around this?

        1. This is a real shame. However it looks like New Skills Academy courses are still valid. NCC Home Learning also still list NUS card eligibility in its website but I can’t get it to appear on the NUS website. So it’s looks like the courses for New Skills Academy are the best bet for now. I’ve linked in the article above to the cheapest ones I’ve found so far.

    2. I just purchased Macbook Air on apple website with NUS yesterday bought an online course for excel through Wowcher then signed up just clicked through the link on the NUS website got 10% discount plus free beats worth £249.99 on 09/08/18.

  26. Are we required to have a UK postal address to register on NUS website?

    1. Hi Guillaume, Yes you do need to be a UK resident.

      1. I got my card fine I signed up for a pro card typed chartered accountant and had a code sent to me by email my own email entered the five digit Number you need and filled in the card from sent to payment paid and go my card the other day with picture

  27. Ecareers no longer works guys. I signed up and then the chat told me they know longer work with NUS.
    Who knows what is working right now as of July 19, 2018?

    1. Was this the chat with NUS or eCareers? It was still listed yesterday on the NUS application so should still work fine

      1. Hey. It was chat with learn-accounts which was the site I was sent to for the accounting and bookkeeping course, which was sold under the Ecareers name.
        UPDATE: I said I would need a refund, and the customer service rep told me the Student Password to try. And it worked. So, no refund requested 😀
        And yes Ecareers was still listed on the NUS extra sign up page when I signed up on Friday. Got my card today. 🙂

        1. I too just finished signing up with the eCareers coucher and had no problems fillling in the NUS extra application. I managed to pay just fine and the card should arrive in the next few days. Many thanks for this brilliant little tip!

        2. so what was the password then?

    2. I couldn’t get “ecareers” to work this morning. Added email then it asks for place of study, every time I added it, I got the same response – it appears your place of study is not recognised. Am I doing something wrong?

  28. Great tip – my card arrived this morning – valid for 3 years!

  29. worked with ecareers, 16th May 2018. Thanks Andy!

    1. Is that the Microsoft course?

    2. What course did you purchase to do it?

      Thanks in advance

    3. Any update on spotify? mine has just run out and jumped up to £9.99.

      1. Sadly not. You can get three months for 99p at the moment if you’re a new user

        1. Anne Marie Stagg July 9, 2018 at 6:51 pm

          Hi Andy
          Just to let you know that NUS no longer recognise Of Course as providers.
          I wanted to renew my NUS Extra card with another Of Course offering; unfortunately I had bought the course before finding it wasn’t valid.

          1. Thanks Anne Marie

  30. Hi, Unfortunately this is not working for me. I have followed the instructions to the letter but am currently stuck on the Order Summary screen (Step 4) where you press Continue. It is just refreshing the page after clicking Continue button. Have tried changing course titles, lengths etc. Nothing is allowing me to continue past Step 4. Very frustrating. Wasted £4.00.