It might seem weird to think of businesses vying for the attention of college kids — after all, students aren’t exactly flush with cash.
But businesses know that getting on your good side as you’re gaining your independence can result in a lot of money for them over time, starting in just a few years when you graduate, get your first full-time salary, and figure out how to manage your finances on your own. Plus, college students are tech-savvy and love social media, which makes them an asset for businesses.
Savvy execs know how to get your attention: discounts. So grab your student ID and your .edu email address and check out the many deals reserved just for students.
1. Movie Tickets
Movie theatre chains that offer student discounts include AMC Theatres (discounts on Thursdays), Cinemark (discounts vary by location) and Marcus Theatres ($5 Thursdays) — but independent theatres often have student discounts, too. Just call and ask.
2. The Arts
Students get discounted access to museums, including major ones such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Want to splurge on an evening at the opera, symphony, theatre or ballet? These organizations likely offer discounts, too, so make sure to check before you buy tickets.
3. Professional Sports
Some pro sports teams offer special student rates, or offer them on certain dates. Check their web sites for promotions before you go.
Also, download some of these apps that help you save money on ticket purchases — they’re not student deals, but compare to see which discount saves you more cash.
Computers, Software and Education Stuff
If you need software, you’ll probably get a great deal at your campus bookstore. (Here’s an example of what those deals might look like.)
Even as ebooks and tablets become the norm, plenty of your classes still require old-school, physical textbooks. Plenty of websites help you find great deals on used textbooks and re-sell your own when you’re finished. Barnes & Noble even has a textbook rental program.
Travel and Transportation
8. Lodging and Airfare
If you’re planning lots of travel during your college years, consider getting a student ID or student discount card (but remember, you can always try to use your regular student ID). Also, check out these websites that offer airfare and hotel discounts to students.
9. Car Rentals
10. Buses, Trains and Planes
Amtrak and Greyhound offer student discounts (although the Greyhound discount requires the purchase of a Student Advantage card). Some public transit authorities, such as the MTA in Chicago, also offer reduced rates for students. If you’re planning a trip across Europe, a Eurail train pass is discounted for travelers under age 26.
11. Cars and Insurance
Buying a used car is likely your best bet. However, if you’re in the market for a new car, check into the General Motors student discount. Also, most major car insurance companies also offer deals for students, so make sure you compare them all to find the best rates.
If you need to save for upcoming tuition or already have student loans through Sallie Mae, you can join their Upromise shopping program to earn money toward those costs. You can even share your shopping link with friends and family to earn faster.
Check out Amazon.com’s student program for free two-day shipping and special discounts on certain items.
14. Clothes and Retail
Plenty of clothing stores offer student discounts. Ann Taylor and J. Crew are just a few that can get you suited up for that first job or internship. Here’s a helpful list of student-friendly retail stores.
Banking, Budgets and Credit
If you need a new checking or savings account, you’ll find plenty of great bonus offers, and some are student-specific (Bank of America, Citi and Chase are a few banks that have programs just for students). However, pay attention to maintenance and overdraft fees — those will cost you more over the long term.
16. Credit Cards
You Need a Budget budget software is free to college students, so there’s no excuse not to use it.
Freebies on Campus
Are you paying for a campus meal plan? Make sure you get your money’s worth! Grab some fruit or cereal on your way out to take home for later. You’ll also find other free food on campus at open house events, public lectures and club activities.
You probably already know about campus entertainment opportunities like pep rallies and intramural sports, but don’t forget that you also have access to free educational events and lectures.
20. Health and Fitness
You won’t get free access to that nice campus rec center after graduation, so make sure to use it now. Also, take advantage of your college’s health center services, along with its complimentary band-aids, condoms and tissues.
21. Promotional Stuff
Here’s a weird tip: most academic departments on campus have their own promotional pens — you can start quite a collection! Also keep your eyes open for opportunities for T-shirts and other spirit gear.
Remember: You’re only a college student for a few years. It never hurts to ask if a business offers a student discount, so always keep your ID handy.
Your Turn: What’s your favorite student discount? Did we miss any good ones?
Lindsay Luebbering is a freelance writer and former journalist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She helps people and businesses communicate in clear, consistent and compelling ways.