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The best college student discounts: Where to find them and how to use them

College students are heading back to campus this month. Here are the retailers offering student discounts so you can save on back-to-school shopping.

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Ariel Skelley | DigitalVision | Getty Images
Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

The 2020-2021 school year was unprecedented for college students across the country, as many stayed home and did their classwork online. However, this year is looking to be more normal as schools welcome students back to campus.

But even if you're still taking classes online, it doesn't take the sting out of ever-increasing expense of college and back-to-school supplies. According to consulting firm KPMG, the cost of school supplies for college students is expected to rise to an average of $320, up 13% from 2020.

To abate the rising costs of goods, plenty of retailers are offering discounts to college students, along with several states hosting sales tax holidays. There are ways to cut costs by simply showing your college ID, on everything from clothing to food to electronics.

Here's an extensive list of discounts for college students, and a few credit card options to pair with those purchases to save even more:

Discounts on electronics

Discounts at restaurants

Many restaurants don't advertise if they offer a student discount. However, if you are in a college town or major metropolitan city, call ahead to see if they do. These are the few that Select was able to verify.

  • Dunkin: Up to 10% off at participating locations.
  • Chick-Fil-A: Free small drink with any purchase.
  • Chipotle: Free drink with a meal purchase.

Discounts on software

Software is an essential for nearly all college students, whether it's a subscription to a streaming service or a necessary program to complete a school project.

Here are the software subscriptions that give college student discounts:

Discounts on furniture and home goods

Discounts on clothing

There are an infinite number of clothing brands that give college students discounts. We've rounded up a list of the more widely known retailers currently offering discounts, but a more extensive list can be found on UNiDAYS.

Best credit cards for college students

This is not an exhaustive list of everywhere you can save money with your college ID, so be sure to call your favorite retailer to see if they offer discounts.

In addition to discounts, using a credit card can help you save even further on your purchases. Whether you decide you want to earn cash back, or to save up your miles for your next trip, a credit card is a useful tool to also build your credit score.

Here are several of the best credit cards for college students:

  • Discover it® Student Cash Back: You can earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases (on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%) at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, 1% on all other purchases. (See the full Discover cash-back calendar here.)
  • Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students: You can earn 1.5X points per $1 spent on each purchase. The points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards or statement credits to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees.
  • Discover it® Student chrome: Cardholders earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.

For rates and fees for the Discover it® Student Cash Back, click here

For rates and fees for the Discover it® Student chrome, click here

Information about the Apple Card and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards for Students has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.