5 Things To Do Before Studying Abroad:
4. Getting a Student Identification and Discount Card
In most other parts of the world, students are encouraged to “learn by doing” with huge discounts on everything from museums and galleries, to landmarks and historic sites. I can personally vouch for this as I got discounts in just about every major city I went to, not to mention I saw almost all of Paris for free. How? I used my student traveler discount card.
The ISE Card: The worry-free international student discount card
For over 50 years, the ISE Card has been recognized as an international student identification card by universities, world attractions, museums, public trains, bus and airline transportation, and various other travel hot spots. The ISE Card offers students over 100,000 different kinds of discounts in countless countries around the world.
What really makes this card stand out, though, is that the discounts are guaranteed. Basically, they guarantee that all discounts and benefits listed on their website will be granted to you by the establishments listed. If, for whatever reason, the establishment refuses the discount, ISE will reimburse you double the amount of the difference and extend the validity of your ISE Card by one year, free of charge. Now that’s service!
Besides just discounts, the ISE Card has various other benefits. The thing I find most useful is that they will pay your insurance deductable for you. If you decide to get travel insurance (which you should!) you will still have to pay a deductable or co-pay. Deductibles typically range from $50-$100, and after a few trips to the doctor that can really add up! With the ISE card you won’t have to worry about paying that, they will cover up to $100 per doctor visit and up to $2,000 total per year.
Another interesting feature of the ISE Card is their Airline Bankruptcy Protection. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about a lot of airlines and student travel agencies claiming bankruptcy lately. Students that have booked through those agencies ultimately just lose their money. However, the ISE Card will protect you against that – they will reimburse up to 100% of the amount paid for an airline ticket no longer being honored by the airline due to bankruptcy.
At $25 it is the most expensive of the three cards I am going to explain, but it has the potential to save you hundreds. Before you buy the card, check out their website. You can see the discounts offered in the city you will study in before you spend any money. But trust me, you’re going to want to have this one!
The International Student Identification Card (ISIC): The first and most well-known student travel card
The ISIC is the only internationally accepted proof of full-time student status. It is endorsed by organizations such as UNESCO, the European Council on Culture and the Andean Community of Nations. The card is recognized by universities, academic institutions, student organizations, national governments and ministries of education around the world.
The ISIC is extremely popular and is used by more than 4.5 million full-time students in 120 countries every year. It gives students access to tens of thousands of student services and benefits worldwide.
Tedious facts and figures aside, you’re probably still wondering why you should get one. Basically, as a study abroad student, you will get discounts and services on flights and public transportation as well as discounts related to museums, shopping and entertainment. I already mentioned how the ISIC can be useful for saving money when booking a flight, but it may also save you money when booking trains, buses, shuttle services etc. as you travel throughout your study abroad trip.
Where I really found the ISIC most beneficial was public attractions. I’m pretty cheap, and let’s face it - everything costs money when you’re abroad. However, with your card you can save tons of money. Take my trips to Paris and Rome as examples. I was able to go into the Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, The Louvre, and the Palace for Versailles for little to no cost.
Just bring your ISIC with you wherever you go and present it at the admissions ticket desk. If you get a discount, that’s awesome. If not, it was worth a try. The card only costs $22 and if you use it wisely, it will pay for itself very quickly.
StuCard Student Travel ID Card: the “Green” Student Travel Card
The StuCard is a travel insurance and discount card exclusively for students and teachers, and is recognized by programs, organizations and institutions all over the world.
How is it different from all the other student ID Cards out there? It’s cheaper, offers over 100,000 local and national discounts, and is the first student travel card to go “green”.
The StuCard will get you discounts in 2 different ways. First, just as with the ISIC, when you present your StuCard at the admissions window of museums, landmarks and historic sites, you will automatically be recognized as an international student and will be entitled to all student discounts. Second, StuCard offers thousands of different discounts with their partners like Samsonite, Barnes & Noble, Domino’s Pizza and many more!
StuCard also includes 24/7 travel assistance, covering travel medical assistance, worldwide travel assistance and travel emergency assistance. I’ll be honest, I was lucky enough not to need travel assistance while abroad, but it’s always nice to know you have it. You can call the international number on the back of your StuCard, and have access to services 24/7 anytime day or night, at home or abroad.
The best part about the Stucard? They’ve partnered with Blood: Water Mission to get a year of clean water to someone in Africa with every card purchased.
Again, just bring your StuCard with you wherever you go and present it at the admissions ticket desk. At a cost of $21, it’s $1 cheaper than the ISIC. Both the StuCard and ISIC are great, so it will be up to you to make the decision! Or, you can always purchase both!