One of the best parts of being a college student – and one that you’ll learn pretty quickly, because necessity will demand it – is all of the college student discounts out there just waiting to be used. Businesses, stores, restaurants, and bars know that college students spend money (even when they don’t have it), and every one of them wants to be the one to win that business. But if you’re reading this ranking, you know value; you don’t want to be taken for a ride. That’s why Value Colleges wants to show you the Best College Student Discount Apps available.
Students Savings and Student Discount Apps
The whole philosophy behind Value Colleges is simple: college is expensive, and we want to help college students find the best return on their investment. That’s why we rank the most affordable online programs, provide guides to making the most of your money, and cover the most in-demand, job market-ready degree programs. Spending money and socializing are central parts of the college experience, but expenses for living the high life on campus can add up fast – and if you’re spending student loan money to do it, watch out, future you.
That doesn’t mean you have to live like a hermit, reading library books by candlelight like you’re in a Victorian romance novel (shout-out, English majors! You do you). It just means you have to learn to be smarter with your money: make budgets, shop for bargains, clip coupons, plan your trips wisely. And be grateful you live in the digital age, when there are mobile apps that do it all for you, with minimal input from you.
The Best Apps for University Students (Money-Saving Style)
The student discount apps Value Colleges is suggesting can get help you find the best student savings in your area, help find college student discounts, and overall help you become a champion saver. We make no guarantees that they will work for you, or that they will still be there in six months (apps come and go, you know). We can promise that they work right now, that most of them are free, and that none of them will infect your phone with Russian viruses (that we know of).
Apps are presented solely in alphabetical order; placement does not imply quality.
BTW, if you’re actually looking to become a mobile app developer, and you’re wondering where all the higher education programs are, check out our ranking of the Most Affordable Mobile App Development Programs .
AroundCampus is one of the most trusted, longest-running college lifestyle blogs on the net, published by the Durham, NC-based AroundCampus Group. For more than 40 years, the AroundCampus Group has been providing information, marketing, and advertising for local businesses and groups who want to connect with college students. The AroundCampus blog offers countless guides and rankings for college students, providing valuable information from fitness and recreation to finding work and making the most of your degrees.
The AroundCampus App, available on Google Play, provides students with instant access to AroundCampus content, guides, resources, and even coupons and college student discounts from AroundCampus’ clients and partners. The app provides campus-specific information for users, leading them directly to the content that is pertinent to life at their college. There are daily rankings, daily polls, and daily reviews from real students about the services, businesses, entertainment, and activities that are going on in their campus backyard and college town. Among student discount apps, AroundCampus has a lot to back it up.
2. ATM Hunter
Believe it or not, there are still a lot of businesses that only take cash – legal ones, even. And, not surprisingly, lots of these places are the kinds of places college students frequent, like restaurants, food trucks, bars, clubs, and farmer’s markets (for the freshest veggies, natch). Really, there’s nothing more humiliating than getting to the end of your meal and discovering that you don’t have cash to pay, or, most heartbreakingly, getting to a club and finding that you can’t get a beer because the bar is cash-only. You’re going to end up owing your better-prepared friend $20 and be branded “the one who never has cash.”
Of course, there are plenty of ATMs out there for those embarrassing moments, but they’re not always in the easiest-to-find locations. That’s why MasterCard offers the free ATM Hunter app. Obviously, since MasterCard is the sponsor, the app is going to lean toward MC, but it’s a useful tool for everyone who finds themselves always needing cash at the least convenient moment – after all, ATM fees can take a real chunk out of your student savings. The ATM Hunter app shows you the nearest ATM, tells you what company owns it, and helps you find one that doesn’t charge a fee. It’s a simple student money saver.
CampusBooks is one of the leading companies out there making college textbooks – those heavy, overpriced, instantly-obsolete relics – affordable for the average student. A huge chunk of your expenses as a college student is in the price of textbooks, but CampusBooks has a simple premise – buy, rent, and sell textbooks yourself, without the campus bookstore’s gouging and other services’ inconvenience. It’s a service that works for student savings, and CampusBooks has been covered by The Guardian, the New York Times, and Fast Company as one of the smartest startups in ages.
The CampusBooks app provides all the convenience and reliability of CampusBooks right on your mobile device. Available for iPhone and Android, the CampusBooks apps helps students find the lowest prices for buyers, the highest prices for sellers, and real copies close by. Plus, you can use your smartphone to scan the ISBN of your book so you get the right author, edition, printing – the whole shebang, for those really picky professors. It’s a real student money saver, and can help put money right back in your account – not the publishers’ deep pockets.
Possibly no other retailer has made as aggressive, and smart, a play for college students over the years than Target. Always appealing to the fashionable young people, at a more affordable price than department stores and boutiques, Target has been marketing directly to college students for years, from bath towels to electronics. In the last few years, Target has also rolled out special small-format stores on and near college campuses, capturing their favorite demographic where they live.
That’s why the Target Cartwheel app is a worthwhile addition to any college student’s smartphone. Partly a high-tech version of the old-fashioned discount cards, partly a non-stop parade of coupons, the Cartwheel app is a useful tool for student savings. It’s not precisely a college student discount – anyone with the Cartwheel app gets to share in the savings, not just students – but college students are one of Target’s biggest set of buyers. Heck, you’re probably going to Target soon anyway – especially if your campus has one of those new mini-Targets.
Chegg is one of the most amazing success stories in tech startups of the last decade, starting as a small Craigslist-type of community board for students at Iowa State University. That was the beginning, but in 2005, Chegg became publicly-traded and a force in higher education, providing everything from study guides and tools to textbook rentals and even online tutoring. It’s a billion-dollar company that knows what college students want and need, and that includes student savings and discounts.
Chegg offers several mobile apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play, but the most important one for Value Colleges is Chegg Books. The Chegg Books app helps save students as much as 90% on their textbooks by carrying Chegg’s game-changing textbook rental service onto the mobile platform. Chegg is proud to get students their books on time, when they need them, and to make returning simple; students can even choose to buy the books they rented, if they think they’ll ever need them again (some day, when you’re old and gray, you’ll crack open the Differential Calculus book by the fire and reminisce). It’s a student money saver that makes one of the best apps for university students.
We’re going to make a sweeping generalization, but stick with us here – college students don’t clip coupons. Their grandmothers clip coupons, and their mothers clip coupons, but college students don’t clip coupons. There is not end to college student discounts, but they’re not to be found in the pages of the Penny Saver or the local newspaper’s circular (if such things even still exist). College students of today grew up with the internet, and they expect everything to be instantaneous and electronic – including student savings. If it’s not online, it’s not worth it.
So websites like Dealhack are a big deal for college students looking to save some money. Dealhack is a website with a terrific student discount guide that provides, and they say, more than 30,000 deals on more than 4000 brands. That means everything from clothes to car rentals, furniture to flights. Dealhack’s guide to college student discounts is currently updated every 3 months, though new deals are coming in all the time on Dealhack’s main site. For college bargain hunters, Dealhack is the place to start.
You use Amazon. Everybody uses Amazon. Amazon accounts for 44% of all online purchases, and 4% of all retail purchases in the US – closing in on Walmart. But if you use Amazon, you know that Amazon reviews can’t really be trusted – in fact, fake Amazon reviews are practically a literary genre (especially for products that are absurd in the first place). Those aren’t the ones to worry about, though; it’s the ones that are actively trying to fake you out and trick you into buying knock-offs, rip-offs, and plain old junk.
That makes Fakespot quite possibly the most important browser extension and app in the modern economy. Originally just a Chrome extension, Fakespot now has iPhone and Android apps that work alongside your Amazon account to analyze product review for signs of shady doings. Fakespot looks for tell-tale signs of fake reviews and alerts you to how reliable they look; the more unreliable the reviews, the more skeptical you should be of the product. Never again buy something that sounds too good to be true – use Fakespot.
8. FastWeb College Scholarships
College is expensive, and getting more expensive every year, and no one really wants to take out student loans that are going to haunt them for decades. The best options all around for paying for college is getting scholarships and grants. There are truly thousands of scholarships out there for students, and scholarship opportunities tailored to every major, city, college, profession, ethnic group, religion, and identity that you can imagine, but where do you find them? Much of the time, the organizations that offer scholarships don’t advertise well, and they can be hard to find in random searches.
FastWeb is one of the best tools for connecting college students with scholarships that are right for them. From the biggest to the smallest, full rides or a little help, FastWeb lists just about every scholarship offered. The FastWeb College Scholarship App is a newer feature, offered on both the App Store and Google Play, that allows students to easily search FastWeb’s vast archive of scholarship opportunities on their mobile device. It’s free, it’s comprehensive, and as a student money saver, it’s one of the best apps for university students on the market.
One of the greatest traditions in the history of American higher education is piling into a car (preferably with at least two too many passengers) and hitting the road. Whether it’s for Spring Break, Christmas, a weekend away, or a summer-long cross-country road trip, college students have been driving aimlessly since the ancient days of raccoon coats and souped-up jalopies, when gas was 10 cents a gallon, right up until now, when gas is – a few hundred times that much. Those road trips aren’t as cheap as they used to be.
The GasBuddy app can’t bring back those good old days (even though speakeasies are back in style), but it can help you find the cheapest fuel prices possible during your trip. GasBuddy is a convenient, free app on App Store and Google Play, and offers not only local prices for whatever area you’re in, but a trip cost calculator (to figure out roughly how much the whole trip will cost) and a heat map to show where the highest gas prices are likely to be (gas up before you get to the West Coast – anywhere on the West Coast). You probably won’t find a gas station that offers college student discounts, but it’s a real student money saver anyway.
If colleges were really doing their job – that is, the job of preparing students for real life, whatever that is – they’d absolutely have a class on budgeting, and it would run all four years straight. Now, a lot of schools make sure that those kinds of classes and workshops are offered, but they’re not usually required, and way too many young people (18-24 years old) do not have a strong foundation for budgeting. Thank Al Gore for the Internet, and apps like Goodbudget, that help do the work for you.
Goodbudget is one of the most user-friendly, smartly-designed budget apps out there, out of many, many competitors. Goodbudget has been out there since 2011 (forever in app time), helping users keep track of expenses, determine their priorities, and set realistic goals that they can then celebrate (frugally). Goodbudget automatically syncs between multiple devices and online, so families can stay on the same page, and it’s available on both iPhone and Android devices. For young people learning to keep to a budget, Goodbudget is one of the best apps for university students.
If you’re not doing at least half your purchasing online, you’re behind the curve – by 2020, statistics indicate that more than half of all retail sales will be online. But if you’re a college student, of course you know that, and you’re part of one of the biggest demographics buying online. The marvelous thing about buy everything online is the new golden age of discounts; you literally never have to pay full price for anything. Well, that wasn’t enough for Ryan Hudson, creator of the Honey browser extension.
If you don’t know, Honey searches, finds, and applies the best eligible coupon codes online for every item you buy. As the story goes, Ryan came up with the idea when searching for a pizza coupon online, with no luck. Now, with Honey, no one ever needs to experience the pain and heartbreak of searching Google for hours to find a coupon for what they want; if it’s out there, Honey will find it, and put it in your cart for you. Covered by Time, Buzzfeed, Forbes, and more, Honey is changing online buying. So where’s the app already?
We’re not suggesting that all college students drink; we’re just suggesting that drinking can be very expensive, with overpriced fancy cocktails and local brewpubs being all the rage. And you know that college students generally have a pretty tight budget, or else you wouldn’t be looking at discount apps for student savings. So, with those facts established, wouldn’t it make sense if there were an app that could direct college students to the best drink prices in town?
Why, yes, it would make sense, and there is – Loople, the happy hour finding app. Available on the App Store and Google Play, Loople directs users to all the best bar and restaurant deals in their area, with helpful map and list views for sorting out where to go for half-price margaritas. Fresh reviews let users know what’s going on right now, and search filters can help find, for instance outdoor seating or live music. For a night out, Loople is a must for student savings.
MoviePass is one of the hottest, most buzzworthy companies to emerge in quite a long time, and for good reason. With movie ticket prices steadily rising – and in some markets, becoming plain unaffordable for most cash-strapped movie lovers – MoviePass promised something magical. For just $9.99 a month, MoviePass lets members see one movie every day for free at any sponsored movie theater – which currently accounts for more than 90% of theaters.
There’s been a lot of talk as to whether MoviePass is too good to be true, and let’s put it this way – as long as it works, who cares? One of the favorite pastimes of tech writers since fall of 2017 has been projecting when MoviePass will collapse, and even though there was a brief bump in the road when the company stopped allowing daily movies, it’s back up to its original promise – for $9.99, members can see one movie for free every day. There’s also a cheaper option for a limited number of movies, but why bother? If you love movies, it’s a great student money saver.
14. Office Lens
Smartphones, and the smart cameras that are installed in them, have completely revolutionized how students learn. From taking pictures of the professor’s notes on the board and recording lectures, to sharing study materials easily through services like Airdrop, students have pioneered how to make practical use of mobile technology. Microsoft’s Office Lens app, available for Apple and Android, has a lot of the functions that make it valuable to students.
Office Lens allows students to take pictures or scan with the phone camera, trim and adjust those pictures, and turn them into PDFs, Word documents, and more – right in the phone. But Office Lens isn’t just useful for classes, lectures, and meetings – it’s also a handy way for students to keep track of their spending. With Office Lens, you can scan your receipts and save them for the future, keep up with expenses, prep your taxes, and more. It’s not the most thrilling app ever, but it has the potential to be a great student money saver.
There are those of us – we won’t name names, but you know who you are – who are constantly going over their data limit, and have to swallow overage charges on their bill every month. And those charges can add up, especially for college students who are already living on a very tight budget – or for their parents, who are tired of spending extra for their grown child’s carelessness. “But it’s not my fault,” you (the data overager) may say; “I don’t know how much data I’m using!”
Since 2010 (the Ice Age, in mobile app history), Onavo have provided a unique solution to the problem of data overages. Available on the App Store and Google Play, Onavo compresses active background data to help users control how much data they are using at any given time. Onavo monitors data usage and sends users notifications when a background app is using too much, so users can turn it off, limit it to wifi, or delete it. With Onavo, you never have to wonder how much data you’re using, and avoiding overage fees or switching to a lower-price plan is a real student savings.
16. RoverTown Student Discounts
One of the first things you learn as a college student is that there are some sweet college student discounts out there. Movie theaters, museums, concerts, products – all kinds of companies and businesses offer discounts to grab those much-in-demand 18-24 year olds away from the competition. RoverTown Student Discounts finds them all, and compiles them into one helpful location – discounts from Amazon, Apple, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, and dozens more.
The RoverTown Student Discount app takes all that, and goes one better – or two, or three. Downloading the RoverTown app to your iPhone or Android not only gives you access to all of the discounts, but provides all kinds of extra convenience features, like the ability to follow businesses that offer discounts (to catch new deals right away), to display coupons on your phone (so you don’t have to print), and even to save and show your student ID on your phone. You can even earn bonuses for using discounts, making RoverTown a great student money saver.
Scoutmob is an innovative Atlanta-based startup created to give independent artisans access to a wider audience. With their curated offerings, Scoutmob points customers to handmade products and the skilled crafters who make them, from leather goods to pottery to jewelry. All sorts of high-quality gifts (for your loved ones, or for yourself) are immediately at hand – all hand-made niceties hand-picked by Scoutmob’s expert eye.
The Scoutmob mobile app, available on iPhone and Android, is a perfect choice for college students, because it pulls together local deals and events that students will be very interested in. The Scoutmob app offers college student discounts for restaurants and bars, and overall acts as a helpful expert on everything going on in your area, all in your pocket. Keep in mind, the local deals are only available in a handful of select locations right now, including Atlanta and Austin, Dallas and Denver, and several other cities that aren’t alliterative.
Speaking of deals and discounts, ShopKick is another consumer app with some unique and innovative approaches to online shopping. Founded in 2009, ShopKick has been partnering with companies like Target, Starbucks, CVS, and many, many more to offer their customers specials and discounts. For college student discount hunters, ShopKick may not provide special students savings, but its gamified approach to shopping makes buying necessities fun.
The feature that college students may like the best is ShopKick’s “kicks” system – the reward points that shoppers earn toward gift cards to their favorite businesses. ShopKick offers reward points for all sorts of activities, from walking into a store to scanning particular items to viewing ads – and, of course, actually buying things. It’s a model that is working – more than $2.5 billion in sales prove that folks love a rewards program on their smartphone.
19. Student Beans
Every student discount app has its own gimmick or hook, whether it’s a rewards system or a local focus or exclusive brands. Student Beans is one of the most popular sources for college student discounts for one simple advantage that isn’t a gimmick – there’s a Student Beans for not only the US, but Canada, the UK, France, Germany, and most of the rest of the European Union (sorry, as usual, Luxembourg). That gives students in 14 nations access to all of the college student discounts they have coming to them.
The Student Beans app, which is available on iOS and Android devices, brings all of the Student Beans discounts to your smartphone (or iPad, if you’re one of those people who walks around with an iPad all the time). Plus, students get a digital student ID (for those moments when you don’t have your real one on you) and alerts when a new discount from your favorite vender comes out. Best of all, Student Beans charmingly tells users to show their discount coupons “at the till,” just like they say in all of those amusing British TV shows.
20. Student Edge
Student Edge began as a membership group for Australian high schoolers and university students, founded in 2003 by four teenagers from Perth. Their insight: that high schoolers needed better resources for choosing their classes and career paths, including learning essential life skills, money management, and all of the pitfalls of adulthood. For 15 years now, Student Edge has been providing that content for more than 900,000 young people worldwide.
The Student Edge app is a helpful tool from Student Edge that points young people to the best college student discount and student savings in their area.. Available in the App Store and Google Play, the Student Edge app includes all of the deals and bargains that the Student Edge website features, as well as a clear and simple map function that can literally lead them to the nearest money-saving businesses and offers. It’s one of the best student discount apps out there, for Australia and beyond.
The University Network (TUN) is one of the biggest and most comprehensive guides for colleges students on the internet, and that’s saying a lot. This New York-based, global media company for college students delivers an enormous amount of content geared toward helping college students make the most of their experience, from encouraging news about developments in technology and advocacy, to advice from thought leaders, to job and internship listings.
TUN is, of course, also a clearinghouse for college student discounts and student savings, aggregating tons of bargains and special offers from well-known brands. The TUN Student Discounts app helps students locate all of the local discounts in their area. More than 13,000 businesses across the US list with TUN, offering exclusive deals, and the TUN app reward system lets students earn reward points for free stuff. A real student money saver makes TUN one of the best apps for university students.
It might be a stereotype, but we’re going to go out on a limb and say that college students love nightlife – bars, clubs, restaurants, stargazing (maybe not stargazing). And nightlife, among other things, is expensive. Nothing hits the pocketbooks of college students harder than 2-drink minimums, overpriced appetizers, parking fees, and all of the other incidentals of going out. If there was just some way to find deals and discounts on nightlife!
You know where this is going – of course there is. It’s UConnection, the app that gives college students exclusive discounts, student-centered reviews of night spots and restaurants, and so much money in savings you’ll – well, probably just go out more. UConnection was originally concentrated in North Carolina, but when it was bought out by AroundCampus in 2016, it went national, so students from North, South, East, and West can get college student discounts on appetizers from one of the best student discount apps out there.
UNiDays, a global “affinity company” for college students, is one of the leading names in content marketing to the newest wave of students. Specifically targeting Generation Z (which includes current college students, and all of the Digital Natives born in the dot.com era), UNiDays maintains a massive lifestyle blog for young people with information and tips about fashion, food, technology, and other topics. UNiDays also offers many exclusive college student discounts from their brand partners.
The UNiDays: Student Deals app brings all of UNiDay’s student savings to any iPhone or Android. This student discount app provides exclusive content, deals, bargains, and advice, and is available in many international versions as well. Besides online deals, UNiDays offers in-store discounts as well from many aligned brands like Urban Outfitters and Ray-Ban. A half-price Apple Music Student membership is one of the perks that sweetens the deal, in a field crowded with competing student discount apps.
Venmo didn’t invent mobile money transfer, but it sure has changed the playing field. Starting in 2009, with the first version sending money through text messages, Venmo made transferring money much simpler than other products. But where Venmo really revolutionized money transfer is in incorporating a social media aspect to payments, allowing users to treat the app as a social media feed; all transactions are keep in the feed, simultaneously making the payments a record of a social interaction.
Venmo has become a basic necessity of life for college students, who can use the app to pay each other back for dinner, send birthday gifts, or make purchases with select businesses. Setting up Venmo groups can help roommates split up utilities and pay bills, for example. Payments can be made publicly, between friends, or privately, making Venmo a sort of Twitter of payments. Heck, you can even use emojis. It’s become one of the best apps for university students, and much easier than hunting down the roommate who won’t pay his share of the light bill.
25. WiFi Finder
It seems like a simple thing – there’s wifi everywhere, right? But when you’re lost in a new city, draining your data and you know that there’s going to be a big, fat overage charge on your next cell bill, finding a wifi hotspot is going to feel like a life or death crisis. Free, open wifi can be hard to come by in an urban environment, but save yourself the drama – if you’re a cable customer, the Time Warner Cable/Spectrum WiFi Finder App will lead you straight to the nearest hotspot.
If you’re a cable customer, you can download the WiFi Finder, save your username and password, and automatically connect to any Spectrum WiFi Hotspot in the area. The app also has a search feature that shows users where to find a hotspot, and even to request that TWC put in a new hotspot at a particular area. Users can even track how much they’re saving by avoiding 3G or 4G data usage when they’re using wifi. If you’re always on your phone, it’s a real student money saver.