Student travel discounts: How much can you save?
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College life consists of a lot of microwave meals, stealing plastic utensils (so you don’t have to pay for real ones) and shopping exclusively at the sales rack. In short, pinching pennies is more than just a hobby when you’re a student, it’s a lifestyle.
Traveling as a student can seem like an expensive and far-fetched idea unless you save-up all year for spring break. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. Students can save big on travel and go on their dream trip(s) often, by using student discounts. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways for students to save.
Student Discount Websites
There are entire websites dedicated to gathering discounts specifically for students — use them to book your travel!
StudentUniverse is a great place for students to book airfare, hotels and travel tours. Signing up for an account is free and it gives students access to exclusive discounts on travel.
In order to sign-up, you’ll be prompted to fill in this information:
It includes your school name and a verified university email address. Once you confirm that your email address is valid and active, StudentUniverse will confirm your enrollment in a university and your account will be automatically created. You can then use the website to purchase travel accommodations at a lower rate than you would find on most other websites. The website partners with select airlines, like Delta and American Airlines, to get you the best prices on airfare and provides discounts for major hotels and boutique stays.
For example, a stay at the Casa Loma Hotel in San Francisco is $62/night on StudentUniverse, but $74/night on the hotel website. If you stay for 7 nights, you’ll save $84 by booking through StudentUniverse. That’s like getting one night free! Plus, you can book directly through the StudentUniverse website, so there’s no confusing hyperlinks or other pages to visit.
Insider Secret: StudentUniverse also has promo codes, so you can get extra discounts off your flat rate for flights or hotels when you book through their website.
STA Travel allows students to book flights and hotels directly through their website for cheaper than normal fares, and they operate on the honor system to determine who is really a student. Their Blue Tickets, available to students and those under 31 traveling internationally, offer the lowest fares brought to you by partnerships between the website and select airlines. There’s even a book now, pay later option with these tickets — good for college students who need to save up a little bit before their trip but want to confirm details in advance. Fortunately, STA doesn’t charge interest when using the book now, pay later feature — all you have to do is put down a small deposit.
To find deals, simply search your travel destinations and dates on the website and book directly through STA Travel. With their Blue Tickets, an American Airlines flight from New York to Cancun during the first week in March (hello, spring break) will cost you $352.19 total (including taxes and fees).
The same exact flight, booked through Google Flights, will cost you $412.
By booking with STA Travel, your student discount will put $59.81 back in your pocket. That’s a deal!
Book directly with travel providers that have student discounts
Instead of booking with sites specifically for student travelers, you also have the option to book with specific travel providers that have discounts for students within their own websites and programs. We’ve listed a few examples below, but it’s worth browsing a hotel or airline’s website to see if they offer discounts for students.
Generation Fly is a Lufthansa Airlines operated site dedicated to getting students the best fares. Lufthansa’s student discount program offers flights to over 470 destinations. When booking with Generation Fly, the option to select “student” fares for your trip will pop-up, like on this trip from New York to Munich:
By selecting student fares for both departing and returning flights, you can get this trip for $1,346.95.
If you were booking the same flight on the regular Lufthansa website, a “student” option would not appear. Even if you selected their most basic option — economy light — for both departing and returning flights, the trip would cost you $1,381.52.
United offers discounts for “young travelers” (aka: students ages 18-22) when you book flights through their app. Their discount is a bit different than other providers, as the discount isn’t based on individual fares, but instead is just an overall 10% off. You’ll need to book by December 31, 2020, to receive the limited-time discount.
To score this student discount, download the United app, create a Mileage Plus account, and before you go to book your flight select “discounted traveler 18-22” on the bottom of your screen to see discounted fares.
Still, you’re always going to want to compare prices through United’s student portal against other more traditional methods. Fare classes eligible for the student discount may not always be the cheapest.
Show your student identification
It’s always a good idea to keep extra identification on you when traveling and having your student ID handy can score you discounts.
A great option for full-time students to consider is the International Student Identity Card. This is for any student over the age of 12 and is available as both a plastic and virtual card. By showing your card, you’ll be eligible for over 150,000 student discounts all over the world — including everything from transportation, hotels, restaurants, travel tours and more.
To sign-up, you’ll need another form of identification, proof you are currently enrolled as a full-time student, a clear picture of yourself and a credit card to pay the $25 fee. The card is valid for 12 months.
Once you get your card, you can use a tool on the website to search for travel that you’re looking for. Simply input what you’re looking for, the destination and that you have an international student identity card.
In this case, a student is looking for bed and breakfast locations in Australia.
Once you click “find me some” the website will show you participating locations you can use your discount at. The search will also provide restaurants, retailers and more that you can get a discount in the area. For this search, chain restaurants and cafes in Australia come-up with discount offers.
There are also memberships available for those under 30 years old (and not a student) and full-time teachers and professors.
If you don’t want to apply for the international student identity card, make sure you at least keep your college or high school issued identification card with you when you travel. Some independently run businesses around the world offer discounts to students. It never hurts to ask before you book a hostel or pay for a meal if the location offers student discounts!
Use Google Flights and Google hotels
Even with all of these great resources and deals for student travelers to use, it’s always important to compare prices on other websites. Sometimes, student discounts aren’t the best deal and you can get a better price just by booking regularly.
On Google Flights, input your destinations and your travel dates, then let the service show you the airline with the best price. The website will tell you if the prices you’re currently seeing are high, regular or low for your trip, and you can even set-up Google Flight alerts to inform you if there’s a significant price change in your trip.
On this flight from New York to Miami in December, you can see the price differences between airlines and that prices are typical for the trip. That $165 American flight might be a better deal than any student discount you can get for this trip.
Similarly, Google Hotels allows you to enter your destination and travel dates and compare prices on hotels where you’re traveling. They even have a “price map” showing you where different hotels are located before you book, which is super useful if you want to stay near a beach or a certain tourist attraction. This is what the hotel price map looks like for that trip to Miami:
It also gives you an easy to view breakdown of prices through all the different booking options, whether that’s direct with the hotel or through an online travel agency like Hotels.com or Expedia. Here’s a comparison of prices for a night at the W Miami:
Use travel credit cards, points and miles
Another option student travelers shouldn’t count out is investing in a travel rewards credit card. Students can earn points and miles for all spending on a card in addition to a large welcome bonus for opening a new account. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening. That’s $1,250 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
That means you’re earning toward travel every time you go out to dinner with friends or buy a textbook from the bookstore and pay with your travel rewards card. Basically, it’s free (or at least highly discounted) travel.
While you’re a student is one of the best times to travel. Sure, you may not have the most money in the bank, but you have freedom, independence and student discounts instead to guide you through your travels.
Whether you utilize student discount websites, book with discounts offered directly through travel companies, or take advantage of student ID cards, being a student makes it easy to get the most bang for your buck. The world awaits you and there’s no time like the present to start traveling.
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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)