As a student, you may quickly find that your personal finances can be spread rather thin. Whether this is because you’re a university student living away from home and having to deal with rent, bills and other daily costs. Alternatively, you may be a college student who needs to get to and from college and also have your own money to spend. Whatever category you fall into, being able to spend a little less is always a nice bonus. One of the best perks of being a student in this way is due to the discounts you can get from it. One of the most useful kinds are travel discounts to get you from A to B for less.
Continue reading to learn more about how travel discounts work in the UK for students. This article will teach you more about the types of travel discounts available for students, especially in terms of train and bus fares.
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What travel discounts are available for students in the UK?
Transport can be rather costly and that can very quickly eat away at your budget as a student. However, there are ways for you to save yourself a few pennies when going from A to B. Without knowing what discounts are available, you won’t be able to fully use them so it’s important to know which ones you can use as a student.
Travel discounts can come in many different shapes and sizes. These includes discounts for trains, buses, trams, coaches and even domestic flights.
These discounts may come in the form of travel cards or cheaper prices. To learn more about these, check out this article by UK CISA.
While this section has given you a very brief overview of what type of discounts are available for transport. The rest of the article will zone in on the main forms of travel used by students: buses and trains.
Travel discounts in London
It’s no secret that living as a student in London can be incredibly expensive, much more so than other parts of the UK. As this can extend to all things, including transport costs, it can make finding those student discounts even more essential.
As a student in London, you will also have access to more types of transport, such as trams and the underground that aren’t available in all other parts of the UK. These added types of transport can also bring an extra type of discount.
This comes in the form of the 18+ Student Oyster photo card, which is only available in London. With this discount card, students are able to buy travel cards at a discounted price as well as cheaper season tickets for buses and trams.
To be eligible for this discount card, you will need to live in London during term time, go to a registered school, college or university or be on a mandatory work placement and pay the £20 fee. The card will then expire when your course ends.
To learn more about the travel discounts for London students, check out this guide by Transport for London.
Do students get discounts on trains?
Train fares can be pretty pricey, especially if you have far to go. Due to this, getting a discount on it can be an absolute lifesaver- especially for students.
To put it simply, yes, students are able to get discounts on their train fares. This will typically be in the form of a railcard, such as the 16-25 railcard or a season ticket, such as with Unizone.
These schemes will often have their own eligibility requirements and so students will need to meet these in order to be able to get the discounts. These will also cost a fee; however, they will still allow students to save much more than they spend.
To get more of an overview about train discounts for students, check out this guide by UK CISA. For more about the 16-25 railcard and Unizone, look at the following headings.
How to get student discount on train tickets
As mentioned above, student discounts for train tickets will typically come in the form of a railcard or season ticket. This means that in order to get their discounts on train tickets, students will very simply need to apply for them.
Due to being for students, it is likely that to get their discounts they will first need to prove themselves to be students or meet other requirements, such as age-related ones. To learn more, please refer to the following sections.
What is a 16-25 railcard?
One of the ways students can get discounts on train travel is more based on age than it is on the fact that you’re a student. The 16-25 railcard is exactly how it sounds in terms of the fact that it refers to the ages that you can use it between. However, depending on your eligibility, you may also be able to apply for one as a mature student.
This railcard allows you to save 1/3 on your rail fare. This can turn into major savings especially if you have high train fares, for example if your university is quite far from home, or if you frequently travel.
As of the 2022/23 academic year, the 16-25 railcard costs £30 and lasts for a year. Alternatively, you can get one for £70 that will last 3 years. To learn more about the 16-25 railcard, check out this article by Railcard.co.uk.
What is Unizone?
Unlike the 16-25 railcard, the Unizone is a season ticket, giving you unlimited travel at a discounted price. However, as it is done by Southern Railway it only applies for students at universities in or around Brighton or Worthing. Part of your eligibility for a Unizone season ticket is that you must have a valid ID for the University of Sussex, University of Chichester, Plumpton College, BHASVIC or another university or college in Sussex.
You will also need to have either a 16-17 Saver railcard or a 16-25 railcard before you can get the season ticket. You can either get a weekly, monthly or quarterly ticket for either the Brighton Unizone or the Worthing Unizone.
The prices of these differ between these two Unisons with the Brighton quarterly season ticket being £225.80 and the Worthing quarterly season ticket being £256.90 as of March 2022. To learn more about the Unizone season ticket, check out this guide by Southern Railway. You can also check out this guide by the University of Brighton.
Do students get discounted bus fares?
Unlike for trains, whether students can get discounts on their bus fares is much more down to your local services. However, many bus services offer students some kind of discount.
For example, First Bus for Bristol, Bath and western England offers students a 25% discount on their bus fares. In order to be eligible for this discount, they will need to show a valid student ID that has a photo of them on it. This may be their university ID or even an NUS Card. To learn more about this, check out this page by First Bus.
Also, you may want to consider investing in a student bus pass. While these can be a little more expensive, they mean that you’ve already paid your bus fare for the rest of the year.
If you use the bus often, this can end up being much cheaper and more convenient than having to pay the set fare each time. To learn more about student bus passes, check out this article by Save The Student.
Do students get on buses for free?
If you are under 16 and meet a range of criteria, then you may be to receive free school transport. You may still be able to get this if you continue with your studies, such as for sixth form or college. To learn more about this, check out this governmental guide.
In Scotland, all young people under the age of 22 are eligible for free transport. Between the ages of 5 and 21, you will need to apply for National Entitlement Card (NEC) or a Young Scot NEC and to have it with you when getting the bus to be able to get it for free. To learn more about this, check out this governmental guide.
For university students, it is possible to use bus services for free when on a university bus. Some universities, such as University of Bristol, give students who live on campus free bus passes for the university bus. To learn more about this, check out this guide by University of Bristol.
Which websites offer the best travel discounts for students?
There are many, many different websites that offer travel discounts for students. Deciding which one is the best in general can be difficult as it will mostly depend on your situation and if the discounts on offer will be useful to you.
However, at the very minimum, websites, such as Trainline or even National Rail, which sell railcards can come in handy for students. For buses, you may instead want to look at the website or app of your local area to see what discounts they offer on there.
On top of that, general student discount website, such as Student Beans and Unidays can even add to these travel discounts. For example, they may offer discounts on buying a railcard or even discounts for a coach journey.