Student money saving tips

Following on from the article by Annabel Brayshaw on the 5 Ways to Save Money at Uni, I would like to share some more money-saving tips for 2020.  Opening a bank account, signing mobile phone contracts and general money management are a few of the things that will help you adjust to life in Aberdeen.

I hope these money-saving tips can help you enjoy the city while you are living here.


Consider investing on Annual bus pass:

I believe most students will find themselves using public transport a lot. Buses are by far the most convenient way to get around in Aberdeen so I would recommend investing in an annual bus pass which allows you to hop on and off without worrying about cash. The annual bus pass will cost you around £340 for the whole year and it might sound quite a lot but it cheaper than you buy an individually day/ monthly tickets. (For example, if I were to get the bus twice a day from home to work it would cost me £5.00).


Student discount/Online discount:

There are several different ways to get discounts when you shop online or in-store. Sometimes you might find you can’t use your student ID to get you a discount so you might consider applying for a TOTUM Lite card (previous known as NUS Extra card) which can get you more discount in different shops and online. It costs around £15 for a year.

Unfortunately, you might find a bit irritating that your standard Student ID card from the university won’t always work when you shop online so there are two sites you can look for which are UNIDAYS and Student Beans. You can go on these sites to verify your student status and then you can get various discount code to use online for shops such as Apple, ASOS, Papa Johns and House of Fraser.


Shops loyalty cards/ Reward schemes:

Nowadays, more and more shops offer loyalty card and reward schemes and I know it can be annoying carrying all of the cards which take so much space in your purse or wallet!  If it is becoming a problem, check to see which ones can be saved on your smartphone.

Here are the top five loyalty cards that I find to be the best:

  1. Boots Advantage card

Every four points for every £1 you spend. For example: if you have 300 points this can be used to pay for an item worth £3 and when it comes to your birthday month, you can get double points whenever you are purchasing during that month.


  1. Nectar card

Nectar is a loyalty card scheme which allows you to collect points when shopping with Nectar partner companies such as Sainsbury’s, eBay, Argos etc. Points can then be redeemed against the cost of purchases.


  1. Costa Coffee Club Card / Starbucks Rewards Card

If you are tea/coffee lover, definitely pick up a card or download their app on your phone. Register to become a member.

For Costa Coffee you will receive 100 bonus points when you sign up then you will get five points for every £1 you spend. (100 points are worth £1)

For Starbucks, you will earn one star for every transaction you made. Unfortunately, you will not get any free stars when you first sign up to become their member. There are two loyalty levels.

Green Level: Once you use your card or app to sign up, you will automatically become a Green Level member and for every 15 stars you earn, you will receive a free drink reward.

Let’s says if you buy 15 Café Latte’s at approx @ £2.60 each giving a total cost of £39.00 will earn you one Latte for free.

Gold Level: After you have made 50 transactions, you will be upgraded to Gold Level. What benefits will you receive once you reach Gold Level? At this level, you will get free extra’s which include extra shots of espresso, selected syrups etc.


  1. Waterstones Plus Card

If you sign up to the Waterstones Plus scheme you can get priority for limited edition books, entry to their prize draws also discounted tickets to events. For every £10 spent online and in-store, you earn a stamp, with one stamp being equal to £10 when shopping with Waterstones. The Plus card is open to Student and non-students alike.

Students get an extra benefit of a 5% discount on every purchase made!


  1. Superdrug Health and Beauty card

Superdrug offers student discount and like most loyalty cards, you will earn one point for every £1 you spend.  You can simply save up these points then get money off your next purchase.


How to open a student bank account?

Most banks offer student bank accounts. These are similar to normal current accounts, but the student bank accounts are designed for those in higher education and offer additional benefits such as interest-free overdrafts. When you decide to open a student account, do some research online and pay attention to the term and conditions. For example, make sure you know exactly how much you can overdraw as some banks will try to entice you by offering an overdraft “up to” a certain amount which can mean you may not receive the full amount initially advertised.

Most banks such as Barclays, Nationwide, HSBC and Halifax are very easy to find in Aberdeen since most have branches on our main street, Union Street. You don’t have to wait until the academic term starts to open your account because it can take a couple of weeks to process the application so it’s best to do as soon as you can. Once you decide which bank you want to go for, you should contact them to set up an appointment. Most banks will ask you to bring along:

  • Your passport or ID card (Visa permit if you are an overseas student)
  • Proof of UK address such as a tenancy agreement or utility bill.
  • A document to prove you are a student which can be an Offer Letter from your university or a matriculation card


Set up your mobile phone contract:

Nowadays, SIM-only plans are very popular for consumers to pick because they are flexible, do not tie you into long term contracts, and you only pay for what you use (minutes, texts and mobile data).

Plans are provided by numerous networks in the UK.  With the most popular being EE, O2, Vodafone, you should do some research to find the best deal for you. Many of the networks will offer student discounts too! Monthly payment plans do usually work out cheaper than the sim only deals and sometimes you can find a good deal which includes a new phone but not always.

If you decide to go for a monthly payment plan, it’s important to work out the total cost of the contract for the entire length of the contact then you compare it with the SIM-only contract, with the cost of buying a phone considered separately.

Whichever network you decide to go for, remember to bring along your proof of address which could be your utility bill also a card you would like to pay for the contract with.


I hope these tips can help you with settling in Aberdeen quicker. I understand moving to a new city is a major change in your life. It can be both stressful and exciting but do not worry, you will soon settle in. After a few months, you will find you have a new favourite spot, running route or favourite café to go to.

我的花名叫可可, 已經住在阿伯丁十多年了,老公是這裡的土生中國人,所以我從香港來了這裡了!現在我們有一個23個大的女兒 😊 我寫這个BLOG的原因是因為我明白到一个陌生的环境学习生活,刚开始都有那么一个适应期, 所以我想 打一些资料, 希望帮助你很快融入這裡生活

My name is Yuen Ni, originally from Hong Kong, I have been living in Aberdeen for more than ten years. I came to Aberdeen because I married with a Scottish 😊 and I’m a mummy of 23 months old daughter. The reason I write this blog is that I understand moving abroad is very exciting and you barely realise how quickly the first six months/year fly by. I remember there was definitely an element of a culture shock going from Hong Kong to Aberdeen. Believe me! soon you are constantly out exploring new places in your new city: bars, restaurants and activities so I hope this information can help you adapt a little bit quicker 😊

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