Once upon a time, getting the NUS card was free for all students. It was gained through the university and entitled you instantly to discounts. In 2006 this all changed. Suddenly you had to buy the NUS card – starting off at £10 per student year. That meant whether you bought it in September or December or even in the New Year, it would only be valid until June of that academic year.
The cost of the NUS card has since gone up. The last I saw it was £12, but this was for a full 12 month period, regardless of when you bought it. There was also the option to buy it for a 3-year period for £30, giving you a £6 saving.
The question is whether it is worth buying this card for the sake of student discount.
So, here’s a look at why the NUS Extra Card may be worth buying.
University Student Cards Aren’t Accepted Anymore
Most stores and companies will only offer student discount to those with the NUS Extra Card. They need the number of the card and to see the expiration date, and will not accept the cards that universities issue.
This puts those students who rely on their own university’s card at a disadvantage. If your university ID doesn’t have an expiration date, there are high chances that it won’t be accepted as proof of being a student in stores.
I’m not entirely sure why the companies have opted for NUS Extra Cards only. Maybe it’s a ploy for NUS Extra to gain money. There was the theory that students who dropped out of university wouldn’t have to hand in their student cards and would be able to gain student discounts. However, my 3-year NUS Extra Card was valid for the three-year period, despite me not studying for the last 12 months of it.
Can Use the Card Online
When buying online and using the discount, many will ask for the card number. This is not available on university cards and only on the NUS Extra card. You cannot gain the discount through online retailers without this number to prove that you are a student.
If you shop online a lot, make sure you have that NUS card at the ready.
However, other sites will also ask you for a university email address. This is something Amazon Primes asks for when getting their student membership. The NUS Extra Card is useless in this case.
Soon Gain the £12 Back
But is there any point in paying for the NUS card? I’d say yes, but only if you were going to the right stores anyway; and only if you were buying something anyway.
It doesn’t take long to get the £12 back. In my case, it took me a couple of months to get the £30 back for the 3 year card. After that, I made a profit on it each time I used my student discount.
In my opinion, the NUS card really is worth the money. You can apply for everything online and the card is sent to you in the post. You can use it as soon as you get it and it doesn’t matter if you apply during the year or at the start of the university year – you get 12 months for your money.
You can get your own NUS Extra Card right here.
Note: This post was originally publised on January 8, 2013. I’ve updated it with a link directly to NUS Extra and with extra information on May 26, 2017.