Check out five easy and practical ways to save money while studying at university in the UK. The good news is that as a student there are lots of ways to save money – here are five tips to get you started.

Using UK currency

As an international student, you will need to adjust to using UK currency and what things cost, so having a budget and sticking to it is a must.

UK currency explained

  1. Use student discounts

    One of the perks of being a student is how many discounts you can get. You can get discounts on movie tickets, clothing and restaurants – to mention just a few. These discounts are not always advertised, so we recommend asking for a student discount. You might get asked to prove you are a student – so always carry your International Student Identity Card or university ID card.

    There are also discount schemes out there for students. To get cheaper train travel apply for a 16-25 Railcard and the Young Person’s Coachcard offers discounted fares on National Express coaches.

    The most popular scheme is the Totum card, which costs £14.99 for a one-year card, £24.99 for two years and £34.99 for three years. This card allows students to get access to over 200 discounts – from clothing shops to theme parks and cinemas.

  2. Buy second-hand books

    University textbooks are expensive, especially considering you will only use them for a few months. Buy your coursebooks second-hand online – or see if your local bookstore has a second-hand section. Many universities have an on-campus or local bookstore where students will usually sell their books once finished, and you'll be able to find your textbooks at a cheaper price.

    The books that have already been highlighted and written in will be cheaper, and may help you study. When you are finished with the book, you can sell it online or back to the bookstore to help pay for the next batch of books you'll need.

  3. Call home for free

    When moving to a new country, you may find yourself wanting to call home for reassurance and to keep your family updated with your studies, but avoid calling them as international calls are expensive.

    Instead, use services like Google Hangouts, Skype, Facebook, Zoom or WhatsApp. WhatsApp and Facebook allow users to make calls on their phone without charging anything, as long as the phone is connected to the internet.

    If these apps are unavailable in your home country, try apps like Viber or Rebtel.

    You should also get a local SIM to help you keep in touch with people in the UK and a low cost. And there are many reasonably priced packages that include a lot of data.

  4. Open a local bank account

    It is not advised that you use your bank account from home, as you'll incur costs each time to use your debit card. Instead open an account with a UK bank, or use a banking app to keep your money safe and easy for you to access.

    Setting up a bank account can take some time to sort out, so start the process as soon as you arrive in the UK – or before you arrive – with banking apps that are well suited for the needs of international students.

    Do shop around before you open a UK bank account – as some are free to run, and some have a monthly running fee.

  5. Be smart with food choices

    Food will take a large chunk out of your budget. Buy supermarket value products rather than well-known brands – they often taste just as good. Try shopping at the end of the day too – many items will be discounted, especially if you are someone who only picks up food to be eaten that day or the next.

    Eating in is much cheaper than eating out or ordering takeaway food every day. Plan your meals in advance with your housemates to make the biggest savings. Cooking meals in bulk for multiple people can work out cheaper than cooking for just one person. Also, you can make huge savings by taking your own breakfast, lunch, and coffee to classes rather than buying it from a café or shop.