Who doesn’t love free or cheap stuff, especially when you are a college student consistently short on cash and stretching every dollar? And many are saddled with an average of about $30,000 owed per borrower, according to Forbes.com.
This is the ultimate guide for college students to score free and cheap stuff, saving you a ton of green while you are a student.
Freebies for College Students
College is not cheap, and Americans are racking up plenty of debt with student loans, so saving even small amounts of money is important. Fortunately, there are a lot of student discounts you can take advantage of being a college student. All you have to do is ask.
Amazon Prime Student
Students get six free months of Amazon Prime Student, then are charged $7.49 per month, which is half the regular price. It includes a lot of benefits, including grocery delivery (but only if you spend $150, so you may want to combine your grocery order with some friends.)
- You get free two-day shipping, including textbooks and rentals, with up to 90% off specific books
- Free two-hour grocery delivery if you spend $150
- Prime Gaming + one free Twitch channel subscription lasts a six-month free trial. If you renew with the Prime account after it’s over, you get one free month of Twitch channel subscription every 30 days
- Early access to deals
- Amazon Music subscription for $0.99/ month
- Unlimited Amazon photo storage
- Prime-exclusive deals
- Unlimited streaming of Prime movies, video, and TV shows
- Free eBooks, magazines, and comics
- Get a year of GrubHub+ free and unlimited $0 delivery fees on eligible orders, exclusive savings, and donation matching.
- Six months free of LinkedIn Premium
- One-month free 24/7 homework help from Course Hero
- Three months free on a Calm Premium subscription, then $8.99/ year to lower stress, anxiety, and more.
You Need a Budget (YNAB)
Free access to You Need A Budget (YNAB) for a year will help you get your finances in order, get out of debt and save more money.
Ride Public Transportation for Free
The New York Times estimates that 100 cities worldwide offer free public transit, many of them in Europe. But recently, cities across the United States have also begun to consider it. Check with your university or local transit agency for any student discount passes.
Free Admission to Museums
There are many avenues to get free or heavily discounted museum tickets, especially in museum-riddled cities like NYC. To receive complimentary access to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), and purchase a companion ticket if needed, check in at the onsite ticketing desk with a valid student ID.
NYU’s (New York University) Museum Gateway gives students free admission to some of New York City’s best cultural institutions.
And in other cities, certain museums have special offers for students and stay open late on the first Friday of every month, when admission is free.
Many restaurants offer free food on your birthday. Sign up for these programs. Many offers are valid for a few weeks. If you’re cooking for yourself, HelloFresh offers free trial boxes shipped to you.
READ MORE: Want free food? Download these restaurant apps now
You may not need to borrow as much in student loans if you qualify for tuition reimbursement through your employer.
- Walmart’s Live Better U program: covers 100% of tuition.
- Amazon‘s Career Choice program: This covers 100% of college tuition for high-demand degrees for employees in the U.S.
- Starbucks: The program pays 100% tuition and fees for eligible employees to earn a bachelor’s degree through Arizona State University’s online program (the Starbucks College Achievement Plan)
- Chick-fil-A: The company covers up to $25,000 if you win a Chick-fil-A Remarkable Futures scholarship
- Papa John’s Dough for Degrees program: This offers 100% tuition coverage at Purdue University to corporate employees after working at least 90 days and more than 20 hours a week.
- Chili’s: The chain offers a free online education program for workers who want to earn a GED certificate, or associate’s degree, complete citizenship preparation, or take advantage of tutoring. To be eligible, part-time and full-time team members must be employed for at least six months.
Free Student Checking Account
Several financial institutions offer free checking accounts for students. Here are some of the leading offers:
- LendingClub Rewards Checking: This free account offers savings of up to 1% on everyday purchases and 0.15% APR.
- Chase College Checking Account: Students get $100 for opening a free account (and has no service fees for up to five years) for students ages 17 to 24.
- U.S. Bank: Students pay no ATM transaction fees with a US Bank Visa debit card and no monthly account maintenance fees.
- Bank of America: Students 25 and under get a free checking account with no monthly maintenance fees.
READ MORE: Best bank accounts for college students
Free Miscellaneous Furniture and Dorm Gear
There are many hyperlocal social networking services that you can look into that serves as a resource for people looking to buy, sell, or give away free stuff. You can check Freecycle, Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, or even your old-fashioned campus bulletin board.
Free Access to Handshake to Help with Job Searches
Handshake is the number one-way college students find jobs. Sign up to explore career options, find jobs and internships for students, and connect with employers.
Free Resume Analysis from The Ladders
TheLadders.com provides career news, advice, tools, and an online job search service. They will do a free resume analysis for students.
Free or Discounted Software
- Ableton: This software expands your skills and helps you create your music using the Ableton Live Music Production Software. You have 40% off Ableton Live’s full license if you are a student.
- Adobe Creative Cloud is a collection of graphic design, video editing, web development, and photography software, along with a set of mobile applications and some optional cloud services. The first month is free when you pay $ 19.99 per month upfront.
- Adobe Education: You can get instant access to free courses and educational resources and connect with the creative teaching community.
- Autodesk: They manufacture software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education, and entertainment industries. Students and educators can get free one-year educational access to Autodesk products and services, renewable as long as they remain eligible.
- Atlassian: is a work management tool that makes bug tracking, project management, collaboration, and other code-related applications. Academic cloud subscriptions are available at 50% off for eligible educational organizations. Eligible products include Jira Software, Confluence, Jira Service Desk, Jira Core, and all Marketplace apps. (Note: Trello, Bitbucket, Opsgenie, Statuspage, and Jira Align are not included.)
- Axure: If you are enrolled in a degree program at an accredited high school, university, or community college, you are qualified to receive a free one-year subscription to Axure RP Team. It is software for creating prototypes and specifications for websites and applications. It gives designers the UX tools that build realistic and functional prototypes offering drag and drop placement, resizing, and formatting widgets.
- Excel: They are the leading software spreadsheet program, and if you’re a student or teacher, you are eligible to get the online version of Microsoft Office for free, plus 1 TB of online storage.
- Learn how to design and develop your website as you learn the basics of web development. GitHub: Free Student Developer Pack teaches you everything you need to build your next website. All Pro features for free while you are a student.
- Intel Free Software Tools: All Intel one API Toolkits products are available at no cost.
- LastPass Premium: Keep your logins secure. Store, share, and access passwords seamlessly across all your devices for six months free.
- Microsoft Office for Students: Students and teachers are eligible for Office 365 Education, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and now Microsoft Teams, plus additional classroom tools. If you are a student or educator and your institution is eligible, you only need a valid school email address.
- MSC Software: is an engineering simulation software with subscriptions to the MSC Learning Center available to students for a low academic annual rate of $99.
- Norton gives you up to $55 off an annual antivirus and anti-spyware software plan. Student Discounts are valid for purchase through the Student Discounts page from NortonLifeLock and its partner Student Beans only.
- On the Hub: Save up to 95% off on regular retail and educational software.
- PowerPoint: Students and educators at eligible institutions can sign up for Office 365 Education free, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and now Microsoft Teams, plus additional classroom tools.
- Prezi: Presentation software that helps transform remote meetings with video conferencing tools. $3/ month billed annually with a 14-day free trial.
- Tableau: Is a data visual analytics platform analytics service. Tableau offers free one-year licenses to students at accredited academic institutions through their student programs. Students also receive access to the entire eLearning suite once verified.
College Student Discounts
Sign up for UniDays, a student-only shopping app used by over 13 million college students, where you get free and exclusive deals for students on products and services.
The Student Advantage membership costs $30 per year. They are both online and at merchant locations serving college campuses across the United States. Perks include a $100 travel credit for member hotels and 10 percent off Greyhound fares. Still, it can be worth it if your student takes advantage of the savings that provide members savings and benefits at stores, restaurants, attractions, and participating sponsors.
Apple Education Pricing
Apple’s education pricing program is available to current and newly accepted college students and their parents, as well as faculty, staff, and homeschool teachers of all grade levels. They also usually have an exclusive back-to-school offer in late summer/early fall that can be a big savings. Previous offers have included free AirPods with purchase, or a gift card for up to $150 when buying eligible Apple devices.
Apple Music Student Subscription
You have discounted monthly fee for up to 48 months and Apple TV+ for a limited time. The site will take you to the UNiDAYS website, where you’ll need to follow the onscreen prompts to verify your enrollment. After UNiDAYS confirms that you’re a student, you’ll be redirected to the Apple Music app or iTunes.
50% Off SiriusXM Premium for Students
Students can get SiriusXM Streaming Platinum Plan for three free months, then just $4 monthly plus taxes and fees.
Some classes require newspaper subscriptions — and will even sometimes quiz students on current events. But even if the subscriptions aren’t mandatory, it can be helpful to access to coverage of significant news events.
- The New York Times: $4 a month for unlimited online access.
- The Wall Street Journal: $4 per month for all WSJ articles and podcasts
- Washington Post: $4 per month for all access when you verify your student status
- Los Angeles Times: $1 for six months for unlimited digital access
Use the Spotify student discount to get Spotify, Hulu, and Showtime for $5 per month total.
Movie Theater Discounts
There is special student pricing every day at AMC Theatres. Bring your student ID to the box office and save 15% off full-priced purchases.
Discounted Courses to Help You Build Skills
- Coursera: One free certification course; $399 per year for unlimited access.
- Skillshare: 50% off a premium membership; $7.50 per month instead of $15. Free seven-day trial.
- LinkedIn Learning: Free month-long trial, then $40 per month. You must use your school email address (.edu email address) to sign up.
- JetBrains: Their software improves code documentation, generation, and formatting. Students are eligible to use the JetBrains All Products Pack free of charge and offer a 25% graduation discount towards a monthly or annual personal license subscription.
Free or Discounted Admission to Sporting Events
Admission policies will depend on the school and sport. For some games, you only need to present your college ID for admission. For others, you’ll be able to buy discounted tickets.
Restaurant Discounts with your Student ID
- Burger King: 10% off your order
- Chick-fil-A and Chipotle: A free drink with your order
- Dunkin’ Donuts: 10% off at participating locations
- McDonald’s: 10% off your order
- Taco Bell: 10% off at participating locations
Earn Discounts with Pocket Points
Pocket Points is a mobile app that rewards students for not using their phones during class. You can redeem your points for free food and other discounted items at participating local and online businesses by downloading Pocket Points today from Apple’s App Store or Google Play.
Many retailers offer student discounts, so be sure to ask. These are just a few of the offers that are available:
- Champion: up to 20% off online
- Dockers: 20% off (requires UNiDAYS confirmation)
- Dr. Martens: 15% off online (requires UNiDAYS confirmation)
- Hanes: Up to 20% off online
- J. Crew: a 15% discount in-store
- Levi’s: Up to 25% off full-price items
- Madewell: 15% off
- ModCloth: 25% off online purchases
- Nike: Up to 20% off on most items
- Toms: 10% off for students and teachers
- Club O Gold: It’s a rewards program for students and teachers using ID.me verification.
- Pottery Barn: 15% off when you use your .edu address or show a valid student ID
- West Elm: 15% off your next purchase. Sign up with a .edu address
Cell Phone Plans
- AT&T Wireless: Save up to $10 off per month per line
- Verizon Wireless: Save $10/month on single-line plans and $20/month off two lines
Make sure to compare prices, though. Prepaid cell phone plans may offer a lower cost even without a discount.
Unlike clothing retailers with 10% or 20% off, electronics usually offer special educational models or pricing:
- Acer: 10% off sitewide and free shipping
- Best Buy Student Deals: They offer a regularly rotating set of deals to students
- HP: Up to 35% discounts online
- Logitech: 25% off products (requires UNiDAYS confirmation)
- Microsoft: 10%+ discounts
- Samsung: Up to 30% off smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other purchases
Health and Fitness
- AAptiv: 50% off monthly and annual plans.
- Peloton: Students can try the app for 30 days and pay just $6.99/month. Visit onepeloton.com and verify your student status with SheerID.
- Headspace: A meditation app for $9.99 a year
- Objective Wellness gives 25% off health and wellness supplements by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- BH Cosmetics: 10% off online (UNiDAYS confirmation)
- bioClarity: 15% off skincare products when using the discount code STUDENT15
- Bobbi Brown: 20% off online (UNiDAYS verification required)
- MAC Cosmetics: 10% off online (UNiDAYS verification required)
- Sally Beauty: Get a free Beauty Student Savings card for exclusive monthly discounts. Cosmetology students can upgrade to a Pro card for extra savings.
- Sigma: 10% off online
Travel costs can add up, particularly around the holidays. Luckily, plenty of travel companies offer student discounts.
- Amtrak: Up to 25% discount on train travel for students
- CheapTickets: 18% off hotel reservations and discounted plane tickets
- CLEAR: $50 annual cost for up to four years (the standard price is $180).
- Greyhound: 10% off Greyhound fares and 15% off shipping
- Hotels.com: Students can save up to 40% off sitewide (requires UNiDAYS confirmation)
- Lonely Planet: Up to 20% off online
- Megabus: $3 off your next trip (requires UNiDAYS confirmation)
- Sixt: 5% off for students at least 21 years old
- Zipcar: This is a car-sharing company that gives discounts based on which university you attend.
- Ableton: 40% off music creation software
- Costco: $20 Costco shop card with a new annual membership
- Evernote: 50% off one year of Evernote Premium note-taking app
- FedEx: 20-30% off with a student ID card
- Pandora Premium: 60 days free and then 50% off to only pay $4.99 per month
- Rosetta Stone: 10% off sitewide in addition to other sales (UNiDAYS verification needed)
- Sam’s Club: You get a $10 gift card when you join or renew with your student ID.
- TickTick: 25% off task management app
- Budget Truck Rental: Up to 20% off moving truck rentals
- Penske: 10% off rental trucks and a few other perks
- SMARTBOX: Moving and storage discounts
Got a college or university email address? Check out this video to learn the top eight perks:
The Bottom Line
Many Americans lack financial literacy, but by learning to budget and save, you avoid taking on debt or graduating with high amounts of debt. Graduating with significant student loan debt can restrict your ability to rent or buy a house or car or qualify for a loan if you need to relocate suddenly for a job with a higher income. Graduating with a solid credit score and good money management skills can help you get your professional life started on the right financial foot.
Payment history is one of the factors that is used to determine your credit scores. To build your credit, you can build credit with subscriptions such as Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, etc. Netflix and other subscriptions already require an automatic monthly charge for most accounts, which means using your debit card, bank account, or credit card to pay. To build credit, charge this on your credit card or secured credit card (if you have no credit or bad credit), or sign up for a service like Experian Boost that can help you build your credit score using items you already pay for.
The best credit cards for teens to help teenagers 18-19 years old to build credit and save money are Capital One Platinum Credit Card, Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students, and Capital One Quicksilver One Cash Rewards Credit, and the Secured Stable ONE Credit Card. The best credit cards for teenagers are usually college student credit cards or cards for people with no credit, known as starter credit cards.
Health care in the U.S. is expensive. Many colleges offer medical insurance plans to students, which may be funded directly by the school or an insurance company. If your school offers a student health plan, it can be an easy and affordable way to get basic insurance coverage. And if you’re enrolled in a student health plan, in most cases, it counts as qualifying health coverage.