Becoming an apprentice is an exciting opportunity, the start of a new stage in your life. However, especially with new modern apprenticeship systems, understanding the support systems in place and how things work while you are an apprentice can be difficult. Student discounts, bank accounts, NUS cards, and many other financial considerations are important to think about, and in this article, we will explain all about student discounts while doing an apprenticeship, as well as which apprentices are eligible.
Apprentices can get student discounts on key sites such as Unidays and Student Beans, as well as an NUS Apprentice Extra card, which is made specifically for apprentices. They can also get a 16-25 railcard (known as a student railcard) even if they are over 25 with proof of study, for 30% of rail and tube travel in the UK.
While this should have given you a short answer to your questions, please read on for full details about apprenticeships and student discounts, including key information about exceptions and rules around this topic.
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Can you get an NUS card as an apprentice?
An NUS card is a discount card created by the national union of students. It is a form of identification, and can be used as proof of age, as well as a discount card for many different businesses. NUS cards are also now commonly called TOTUM cards, but they are the same charity and offer the same benefits.
While it is more common to have an NUS card as a university student, they have created an additional option to allow apprentices to access the same benefits as students do. This card to is known as the NUS Apprentice Extra card and entitles you to the same benefits as other students.
The card enables you to access discounts on travel, sport, entertainment media, technology, fashion, and even broadband and phone contracts. It is a great resource for apprentices, especially as it can also be used as ID to purchase age restricted products.
NUS cards are also proof that you are a student, so they can be used for things like applying for student TV licences, or council tax exemption, as proof that you count as a student during your apprenticeship.
You are eligible to have this card while you are enrolled in and completing an apprenticeship. You can apply as soon as you are accepted onto an apprenticeship placement, but your card may not become active until you have actually begun work on your placement.
The card costs £13 for 12 months of use. To apply, you need a recent photograph, an email address, and the name of your apprenticeship provider. More details can be found here, on the helpful Apprentice Extra website, including a form to fill in if you want to apply for a card. Another helpful article which explains all of the benefits of an NUS card can be found here, from University Compare.
For more information on NUS Cards, please visit this helpful Think Student article.
Can any apprentice get student discount?
In theory, any apprenticeship should make you eligible for a student discount, as it is not a job but a position where you are still in education. Apprenticeships in every field and subject can be eligible, including if the subject is more practical. All levels of apprenticeship are also eligible, including those doing degree apprenticeships.
However, some apprentices do have difficulty signing up for certain discount websites and codes due to not having access to a student email. While they are registered as still in education, the teaching part of their qualification may be undertaken at an affiliated training centre, and they may therefore struggle to find proof that they are an apprentice.
If this is the case for you, make sure you contact your course provider and employer. They will have had this kind of question before and will be willing to help you. The benefits of student discounts are well known and can really help when you are struggling for money (which is a well-known fact of life for most apprentices and students), so they will always be willing to help you.
Furthermore, if you do not have a student email address, there are often other ways to prove your identity as a student. For example, letters from a university associated with your course (for degree-apprenticeships), or proof from your employer that you are an apprentice with them (again often in the form of a letter) can usually be accepted to prove that you are a student.
How long can you have an apprentice discount for?
Apprentices are eligible for a student discount for as long as they are a student, that is as long as they are in an apprenticeship. Most people will be in an apprenticeship for a few years, especially if it is a degree apprenticeship, so it can be helpful to have the consistency of a student discount throughout this time.
Most discount cards and memberships are available to purchase for 1 year at a time, or sometimes even 3 years, as this is typically how long people spend at university. However, if your apprenticeship lasts longer than this then you should be able to renew your card or membership for more time.
What are the best student discounts for apprentices?
As already mentioned, the TOTUM (NUS) extra card is a great option, offering discounts for 350 shops and brands, and only £24.99 for 3 years of membership. It also comes with a free Tastecard (loyalty dining scheme with deals like 50% off some pizza delivery companies), and a free Student Identity Card. This is created specifically for apprentices, so it is designed to work for you and should give you the best benefits.
Secondly, Unidays is an app which offers many discounts on lots of brands for students. It is completely free, and anyone who is over 16 and studying at a university, sixth form, or college can access it.
Therefore, if your apprenticeship is affiliated with a further or higher education provider, you should be able to quickly and easily sign up to Unidays for free and get access to great discounts. To learn more about Unidays and apprenticeships, click here to go to the Unidays website.
Student Beans is another app and website which is free to use and has many discounts available to students. They also have some great advice articles posted, from topics such as revision to budgeting tips. To learn more about apprenticeships and Student Beans, click here to go to the Student Beans website.
Finally, an ISIC card, also known as an international student identification card, is available for either £12 digitally, or £15 for a physical card. This is an amazing option as it means that students can access discounts in over 130 countries across the world and can be used as ID in these countries too.
If you travel a lot, or want to move around during your apprenticeship, then this option could give you better options than in other places. To learn more about an ISIC card, click here to visit the ISIC website.
Can you get a student railcard as an apprentice?
Any student in full time study can access a railcard which gives them 30% off rail travel across the UK. This includes both those on apprenticeship schemes under and over the age of 25. The railcard is known as a 16-25 railcard, but any full-time student or apprentice can apply for one.
This railcard gives you access to 30% off all national rail fares, and also 30% off TFL oyster card price cap and pay as you go, which is on the tube. It is a great option for those who have to travel or commute to their apprenticeship.
A railcard is £30 per year, or £70 for 3 years, and saves on average £190 per year in rail fares. You have to provide proof of address or study to get one, but as above this can be done through a letter from your associated college, employer, or university. To learn more about the 16- 25 railcard, click here to go to the 16- 25 railcard official website.
If you want to learn more about travel discounts for students, check out this Think Student article.
*Please note that all information is correct at time of writing (June 2023) and that figures may have changed by time of reading.