Savings tips and discounts for the college-bound – Times Union

Heading to a restaurant, museum or movie? Need a hotel room or rental car? Chances are there is a special rate for students. 
You don’t need to be a card-carrying member of a high intelligence society to ascertain that college can be very expensive.
Before you stroll onto campus, you’ll lay out a lot of  money for tuition and supplies. But the flow of funds doesn’t cease after you settle in, because there are textbooks, cellphone bills, transportation and food fees to consider, as well as social activities and entertainment.
The good news is there are a host of discounts available to college students. The trick is finding them. 
One way to tap into the plethora of penny-pinching offers is to join a third-party discount website, like UNiDAYS, or SheerID. These sites aggregate hundreds of exclusive discounts and deals on shopping, dining and travel  but require you to create a unique ID and verify higher ed attendance. 
Sometimes, you need only ask. If you’re unsure whether your favorite local coffee shop, bookstore or cafe caters to students, simply ask. Although not always advertised, many businesses provide discounts to students who show a valid ID. 
With a quick web search you can uncover lengthy lists of discounts specifically for college students. has a solid roundup. The savings may not be always be significant, but every little bit helps. Here are a few that are more exclusive to this area.
Downtown Troy restaurants: Dozens of downtown restaurants have partnered with the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District to offer discounts ranging from 10 to 15 percent off. Visit to see a complete list. 
Honest Weight Food Co-op: Show your current, valid college ID at checkout and save 8 percent off your entire purchase on Sundays at Albany’s homegrown grocery store. 
National chains: Many national fast food eateries will give you a 10 percent discount, including Dunkin’, McDonald’s, Subway, Burger King and Dairy Queen. Others, like Chipotle and Chick-fil-A will give you a free drink with your next food purchase. Just be ready to show your college ID. 
Saving money is great, but making sure your money is safe is just as important. The Better Business Bureau recommends watching out for these financial scams. 
Fake credit cards: Offers to apply for the first credit card are tempting to many students. Not only could this create credit problems down the road due to unchecked spending, but some of the deals could be phony offers designed to access personal information. Research the offers from the credit card flyers and the banking institutions before applying. 
Too good to be true apartments: It’s hard not to jump on a convenient apartment so close to campus, especially if it advertises affordable rent. It’s tempting to hand over credit card information online to lock in a great spot, but it’s always worth seeing the apartment in person before a money transfer. This also applies to Craigslist and social media ads from other students looking for roommates. 
ID theft: It’s a good idea to start practicing healthy money habits, and one such habit is regularly checking your credit report for unusual activity and possible ID fraud. The official government website to do this for free is 
Scholarship and grant scams: Be wary of phone calls guaranteeing help to reduce loan payments or offering a hefty grant. Search the company’s name online for scam alerts or negative reviews from other consumers. Read reviews and complaints about the company at and contact the school’s financial aid office for advice and help regarding financing your education. 
Online shopping scams: Online purchase scams can be especially effective when set up through social media platforms and apps. Be careful when those offers are too good to be true.
Awareness of current scams: As tech-savvy as current college students can be, a surprising number of scams reported to BBB’s ScamTracker are from students who learned their lesson too late. Use BBB’s Scam Tips to learn the latest trends and read local reports of specific incidents. 
Amtrak: Students age 13-25 with a valid student ID are eligible for 15 percent off the lowest Value or Flexible Fare when purchased at least three days in advance. Savings can be used on fare via the Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express and Maple Leaf trains in New York. Verify that you are in fact a college student through UNiDAYS and receive up to 40 percent plus an extra eight percent your next hotel stay when you book via . 
Megabus: Enjoy $3 off any ticket when you book with Megabus online at Sign up for a free UNiDAYS membership to access this discount. 
Zipcar: Several colleges and universities, including the University at Albany, partner with to offer students discounted rental car services. You’ll pay a discounted rate of $35 per year to become a Zipcar member and then a small fee each time you rent a car — by the hour or day. The rental includes gas, secondary insurance and roadside assistance.
Albany Symphony: The capital city’s premiere orchestra offers a variety of discounts to students, including $15 premium seats to select shows. Join the Student Access Program and receive invitations to master classes, meet and greets, rehearsals, along with e-alerts about special student offers. 
The Egg: Students with a valid ID may purchase tickets at half off the regular adult rate one hour prior to show time for select events. Student rush tickets are not available in conjunction with any other discount offer, are limited to two tickets per ID and are subject to availability. 
Regal Cinemas: ​​Student pricing is offered at the Crossgates Mall location box office with a valid student ID.
Digital subscriptions:
Amazon: Prime Student: College students can score six free months of Amazon Prime. After that, the discount fee is $7.49 a month and includes fast delivery, Prime Video, Amazon Music, free food delivery and more. 
Spotify Premium Student + Hulu: Pay just $4.99 — after a free one-month trial — and not only will you have access to Spotify Premium, but also Hulu and SHOWTIME. 
Apple Music: Students receive a discounted monthly rate for up to 48 months. Rather than $9.99 a month you’ll pay $4.99. If you have an student subscription, you also get Apple TV+ for a limited time. 
GrubHub: Sign up for a and get free delivery on orders of $12 or more from select off-campus restaurants.
Pandora Premium: The discounted rate for students is $4.99, half off the standard monthly fee. You’ll receive Pandora’s ad-free music option, unlimited skips and a free 60-day trial to test it out. 
Apple: Receive a discount on a new Mac or iPad for your studies with The offer is available to students, teachers and faculty. You’ll also receive a $150 gift card on select purchases.
Bed, Bath and Beyond: Sign up for a free and save 20 percent on all purchases made through Sept. 30. 
J. Crew: Get 15 percent off in-store purchases when you show your student ID. 
Kate Spade: Join Kate Spade’s student program through UNiDAYS and save 15 percent on your purchase.
Target: New this year, Target is offering college students 20 percent off a one-time purchase through Sept. 3, an increased discount from 15 percent last year. 
Under Armour: The retailer is giving students an exclusive . Just register amd verify your student status with UNiDAYS.
Shannon Fromma is a life-long Capital Region resident currently residing in Wilton with her husband and two rapidly-growing children. She received her degree in Communications and Journalism from the University at Albany in 1999. Before she had a chance to mount her diploma, she accepted a part-time gig writing obituaries for the Times Union. Her role has transformed over the years. Fromma currently pens Shopportunist, a frugal-living column and award-winning blog. As Coordinator for Engagement she also helps conceive and host live journalism programs at the Hearst Media Center. Contact her at or 518-454-5340.


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