International Student Guide: Shopping as a Student
International Students

International Student Guide: Shopping as a Student

Managing your money is vital as a student, and, depending on your budget, may require some thriftiness. Thankfully, there are lots of special deals and discounts you can take advantage of as a student, so you can enjoy a little guilt-free spending. This guide covers everything you need to know about shopping as a student, from how to get the best deals to the cheapest places to do your grocery shopping.

student shopping tips

With a budget to manage and bills to pay, shopping as a UK student requires some thriftiness and forethought. However, provided you manage your money well, there’s no reason why your funds shouldn’t stretch to enjoying a few of the finer things in life during your studies – be it eating out or indulging in the UK’s legendary retail opportunities.

In this guide, we offer tips on shopping as a student, from the best places to buy your food to the discounts you should be taking advantage of.

Student Discounts

student shopping online

Students enjoy a range of discounts on all manner of goods and services in the UK, from fashion and food to travel and eating out. Accessing these exclusive savings and offers is easy, with many retailers just needing to see your in-date student ID card to knock money off your bill.

To access some savings, however, you’ll need to show a valid student discount card. As an international student, there are two types of cards you can buy which grant excellent savings at a number of retailers and outlets, and we’ve listed these, along with their perks, below.

  • NUS Extra – The flagship student card is NUS Extra, which gets you special privileges on over 200 products and services across the UK, including 20% off at Pizza Hut, 10% off online ASOS purchases, and 50% off Microsoft products. The card costs £12 for the year or £32 for three years, but its cost will almost certainly be offset by the savings.
  • International Student Identity Card (ISIC) – If you haven’t already got yourself an ISIC, now’s the time. This discount card is specially developed for international students, and gets you discount and promotions on over 150,000 goods and services worldwide – so you can enjoy special offers at home and abroad. The card costs £12 a year.

Remember – to purchase student discount cards, you’ll need to have a valid student ID given to you by the university.

Where to Buy Cheap Books and Stationery

student shopping for books

Books and stationery can swallow a large chunk of your student funds, so it’s always better to shop around for the things you need. Below, we list some of the best places to source cheap university textbooks and affordable stationery:

  • Amazon – Remember to look at the preowned section for the very best deals on books.
  • eBay – Rivalling Amazon on affordability, eBay has a vast collection of university textbooks at rock bottom prices. If you can’t find it here, you won’t find it anywhere.
  • Book fairs – No university campus is complete without a weekly book fair, and this is often a good place to find cheap textbooks without paying delivery charges.
  • Discount stores and charity shops – The high street is home to a number of discount booksellers, including The Works, while charity shops are also worth a look.

The Cheapest UK Supermarkets for Students

students shopping at supermarket

If you’ve recently arrived in the UK and are wondering where’s best – and cheapest – to do your food shopping, here we rank the major supermarkets in order of affordability.

  1. Aldi
  2. Lidl
  3. Asda
  4. Tesco
  5. Morrisons
  6. Sainsbury’s
  7. Waitrose

Source

Of course, convenience often wins over price as a student, and it is still possible to find good deals in large retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda. However, for those big weekly food shops, we reckon it’s always worth jumping on the bus to pop to your local Aldi or Lidl for the best savings on food.

Many of the major supermarkets above, including Asda, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s all offer a home delivery service. Additionally, Ocado is an online-only supermarket which offers high-end groceries. With delivery costs usually between £1.50 and £5, the cost isn’t much greater, and you don’t even need to leave the house.

Shopping Information for aparto Residents in Dublin

If you are preparing to study in Dublin, it is worth noting that some shops and shopping habits are slightly different in Ireland. Please refer to our dedicated studying in Ireland page, here.

International Student Guide

>Go to Before You Arrive

>Go to What to Expect on Arrival

>Go to Organising Your University Life

>Go to Staying Safe and Healthy

>Go to Settling In and Meeting People

>Go to Working While Studying

>Go to British Culture

>Go to Studying in Ireland

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