ISIC Card: How College Students Can Save Money on Travel

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Wanna know one of my secrets for saving money on travel as a college student?

It’s the ISIC Card, or the International Student Identity Card.

Thanks to my ISIC card, I’ve saved tons of money on admission tickets, restaurants, and transportation all around the world. The ISIC is a must if you’re going to be studying abroad or if you’re planning an international trip.

Plus, you don’t have to be a college student to get an ISIC – they have cards for teachers and young adults under 30 as well!

Keep reading to learn more about the ISIC and learn how you can get a card of your own!

A girl wearing a blue and white hat and a a yellow shirt looking at the Duomo in Florence Italy

What is the ISIC Card?

The ISIC card, or the International Student Identity Card, is an internationally-recognized card that verifies your student status. The card is endorsed by UNESCO and is valid in more than 130 countries.

This card entitles you to a host of discounts and benefits when traveling, including discounted prices on transportation, admission tickets, and food.

If you’re a college student looking to save money on travel, the ISIC card is a must-have. It’s quick and easy to apply, and you can have your card in hand within just a few weeks. There’s also an ISIC app that provides instant student verification.

Make sure to apply for your ISIC card at least two months before you plan on traveling so that you’ll get it in time to use on your trip.

Who is eligible for an ISIC Card?

Full-time college and university students, as well as junior high/high school students age 12 and older, are eligible for an ISIC student card. The ISIC comes with more than 150,000 discounts worldwide.

Not a student? Not a problem – you may still be eligible for an ISIC-affiliated discount card!

The International Youth Travel Card, or IYTC, is similar to the ISIC. However, you don’t have to be a student to get an IYTC – you just have to be under 30 years old! The IYTC doesn’t have as many discounts as the ISIC, but you’re still able to access thousands of similar discounts.

If you’re a full-time teacher or professor of any age, you’re eligible for the ITIC, or the International Teacher Identity Card. Similar to how the ISIC is an internationally-recognized student ID, the ITIC is an internationally-recognized teacher ID that offers tons of discounts around the world.

You can compare all three cards and learn more about each one here.

Why do I need an ISIC if I have a regular student ID?

You might be wondering why you need an ISIC card when you already have your regular student ID.

In many cases, your student ID that’s issued by your college or university will be enough to make you eligible for a student discount, especially if you’re traveling within your home country.

However, if you’re traveling abroad, museums, attractions, and other businesses may not accept your student ID as proof that you’re enrolled as a student and thus eligible for the student discount.

Many student discounts require an ID with a date showing current enrollment as a student. Neither of my student ID cards from the two different universities I attended showed a date of enrollment on the card. The ISIC cards do have dates, so you won’t have to worry about being denied a discount because of your ID not having a date.

Many museums, especially in Europe, also offer exclusive student discounts only to ISIC card holders. So, if you have an ISIC you’ll get the discount, but you won’t be eligible if you just have your regular student ID.

Overall, the ISIC is an internationally-recognized form of student identification, so attractions, museums, and other businesses all around the world are more likely to be familiar with it when using it to access student discounts.

How to Get an ISIC Card

Getting an ISIC card is quick and easy! You can apply for a card online through the official ISIC website. There are also local issuers all around the world that can issue ISIC cards.

The cost of the card is $20 (for US applicants), and you’ll need to upload a photo, proof of identification (like a driver’s license or a passport), and proof of your student status (like an enrollment letter or an unofficial transcript).

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive your card in the mail within 3-4 weeks. You can also download the ISIC global app and log in with your ISIC credentials, which will give you a virtual ISIC card to use.

The process for getting ITIC and IYTC cards is the same, except you have to upload proof of teacher status for the ITIC. For the IYTC, you just have to upload your proof of identification (to show that you meet the age eligibility requirement).

A screenshot of the ISIC website's "Get your card online" page, with instructions on how to get an ISIC card
You can get an ISIC card on the ISIC website (screenshot courtesy of isic.org)

How to Use an ISIC Card to Save Money on Travel

Once you’re the proud holder of an ISIC (or ITIC/IYTC) card, you’ll be eligible for thousands of student discounts both at home and abroad!

You can search the ISIC discount directory to see all of the discounts offered, as well as instructions for accessing the discount. There are ISIC discounts for museum/cultural attraction admission fees, accommodation, restaurants, and so much more.

A screenshot of the ISIC website's discount page, filtered to show travel discounts
The ISIC website has a directory of discounts offered to cardholders (screenshot courtesy of isic.org)

Your ISIC can also provide proof of student enrollment to get even more student discounts that aren’t listed in the directory. I was able to use my ISIC to get several discounts at attractions in Quito, Ecuador – none of which are on the official ISIC list!

When going to a place that offers a student discount, simply show them your ISIC card (or the virtual card) when asked for proof of student enrollment.

If you happen to be denied for a discount (that is listed on the official ISIC directory), make sure to contact ISIC and let them know as they take denials very seriously.

If you’re denied a discount at an attraction or business that’s not listed on the ISIC discount directory, you can try again with your regular college/university ID.

ISIC: Overall Thoughts

Whether you’re going to be studying abroad for a full semester or are just planning an international vacation, an ISIC is a must for any college student who wants to save a bit of money on travel.

Even though each discount may just be for a couple of dollars, it all adds up when you’re visiting tons of attractions each day! Plus, who doesn’t like saving money?

If you haven’t already, click here to apply for your ISIC card so that you’ll be able to access thousands of discounts before your next trip!

Pin this post for future travel planning!

Top photo: two Asian girls reading a map in Italy / bottom photo: a blonde girl in a white hat and a red backpack looking at a cathedral door / text overlay reading "save money on travel with the ISIC card"

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