Use an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) to get Student Discounts when Traveling Abroad

Having just got back from Peru (the site was on auto-pilot – sorry for the delay in replies), I picked up a great money saving travel tip from my wife that I wanted to share with everyone. Even if you aren’t traveling internationally anytime soon, this one might work out to your favor.

Using the ISIC Card for Student Discounts

Planning on using your U.S. college ID card for a student discount on a train ticket in France? Think again. It likely won’t be accepted. The primary standardized card that is recognized world-wide is the ISIC card (international student identity card). If you are a full-time student over the age of 12, (no maximum age) you can purchase an ISIC card. Part-time students may want to look into this opportunity as well (wink, wink). The card, used by over 4 million students, is recognized in 120 different countries and offers discounts on:

  • ISIC international student ID cardtransportation such as plane, bus, and train tickets
  • entertainment
  • accommodations
  • restaurants
  • retail

How much does an ISIC Cost & How Long is it Good for?

The card costs $22 and is valid for at least 1 year. Depending on your situation the card can sometimes be valid for up to 16 months. You will also need to bring a photo they can attach to the card (if you are having a passport created or have your pictures still, you can use that).

Where can I Use the ISIC card?

The ISIC site has a map of all discounts within a certain location. However, you might have good luck by just showing your ISIC card at locations that offer a student discount (even if it isn’t on their map). If you are considering international travel it may be worth doing some homework to see how much of a discount you could get throughout your trip with an ISIC card. Some countries offer  more opportunities for discounts while some only have discounts on admission tickets.

ISIC offices can also help determine discounts and even help with booking cheaper flights for your trip.

Actual Experience with the ISIC Card

On our trip to Peru we were able to save $22 on a ticket to Machu Picchu (recouping the initial costs of the card) in addition to $25 for a tourist pass that got us into 15 different museums and archeological sites. That’s more than a 200% ROI on one trip, and Peru is apparently not as plugged in when it comes to offering student discounts as more developed countries are.

My wife knew about the card from a study abroad trip in Europe where she traveled to four different countries. She estimates that she saved hundreds on discounts on train, bus, and admission tickets on the trip.

And you can always use the student ID card for local movie theaters and other discounts (you might just be able to rest easy putting the old one that embarrassingly doesn’t look like you any more away).

Alternatives to the ISIC: IYTC (international youth travel card) and ITIC (international teacher identification card)

If you are not a student but you are under the age of 26 you can purchase a IYTC (international youth travel card). Full time teachers or professors can purchase the ITIC (international teacher identification card). Both offer similar discounts and benefits to the ISIC.

Student Discounts Discussion:

  • Have you used an ISIC, ITIC, or IYTC card? Did it pay off for your trip?
  • What other cards and unique travel discounts have you used?

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