Student Advice

What is a student railcard?

Ben Maples  · Jan 4th 2024  · 5 min

With the price of inner-city travel rising all the time, it's good for students to have a cheaper, more affordable means of travelling.


We’re always looking for cheap and easy ways to travel. Whether it be by bus, coach or by car, as a student, cheaper is always better! But what about the train? With the student railcard, cheaper and easier travel is just what you’ll get.

Student Railcard Scotrail

What is a student railcard?

A student railcard is a railcard that is intentionally designed for students who are looking for more affordable transportation solutions. A 16-25 student railcard saves students a lot of money on their travel (as much as 30%) and transport costs, which is essential if you're aiming to keep within your student budget.

How much is a student railcard?

A student railcard costs just £30. This basically covers the cost of about three journeys straight away! You could save around £159 every year, depending on your travel amount. Although the price is reasonable, it can only be taken advantage of online on the 16-25 Railcard website and cannot be taken up at stations or other railway-related outlets.

The student railcard is only available for those who live in the UK. You will be required to prove that you live in the UK, which usually means providing a driving license or a valid UK passport. It is also possible to sign up for a three-year railcard, which costs £70 and is available up to the day before your 24th birthday.

Can mature students apply for a student railcard?

A mature student can also purchase a student railcard too. A student railcard gives you a 1/3 off your rail fares, if you are outside of the 16-25 age categories. This is occasionally referred to as a 16-25 Railcard mature student.

For mature students to be eligible for a student railcard or a student railcard discount, they will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Attending a recognised university or college (minimum of fifteen hours per week, twenty weeks a year).
  • Have the “mature student” section of your 16-25 Railcard student application completed by your university or college (not applicable if you are using a 16-25 Railcard Mature student form).
  • Have an NUS Card, TOTUM Card or college/university photocard available.

If you meet these criteria, you can fill out your mature Student Railcard application. However, those attending the Open University will not be able to qualify for a mature student railcard.

Valley Student Railcard

Where can I go with a student railcard?

A student railcard works like a normal railcard, so you can go anywhere that accepts them, which is basically everywhere that isn't Eurostar, Charter Services and Heritage Railways.

The student railcard can be used across England, Wales and Scotland and will entitle you to various railcard student discounts on prices for train fares. The railcard cannot be used abroad, hence why services such as Eurostar do not accept the use of a student railcard or a mature student railcard.

Do I need to renew my student railcard?

Most student railcards come with an expiry date on them, and you will be able to renew the railcard within thirty days of the expiry date.

In order to renew your Railcard, you will need to log into your Railcard account online, click renew on the card you're looking to renew, make sure all the details are correct and then pay the £30 fee.

Are there any other rewards available with a student railcard?

A student railcard doesn’t just give you money off your travel; you can also use it to get discounts in certain partnered hotels, shops and restaurants.

Rewards include:

  • 20% off Virgin Experience Days.
  • 5% off Hoseasons lodges, parks and boating breaks.
  • 5% off bookings at
  • A year’s YHA membership for £5 (75% off).
  • Free 3-month tastecard membership.
  • Free grüum shampoo bar, worth £8.
  • Save on sightseeing tours.
  • Savings at over 6,000 restaurants with Gourmet Society.
  • Up to 50% off theatre tickets.

You can see a full list of the partners on the 16-25 Railcard Website.

16-25 Student Railcard

What types of tickets can a university student save money on with a railcard?

A university student railcard can get you a third off all standard anytime and off-peak fares as well as first-class tickets. Plus, there is no limit to how many times you can use it! Do note, tickets must be £12 or more.

These are the tickets that you can save money on:

  • General standard anytime singles and returns tickets.
  • General standard off-peak singles and returns tickets.
  • General super off-peak singles and returns tickets.
  • First-class tickets.
  • Rail Rovers fares tickets.
  • Aeroplane tickets: Gatwick Express, Heathrow Express and Stansted Express.
  • Oyster off-peak: Journeys for Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Underground and National Rail.
  • Anytime Day Travelcard: Zones 1-9 (minimum fare of £19.10).
  • Caledonian Sleeper tickets.
  • PLUSBUS tickets.
  • Occasional rail or sea journeys on the Isle of Wight and ferries to the Republic of Ireland (ROI).

What is the difference between a student railcard and a Santander student railcard?

There isn’t much of a difference between a student railcard and a Santander student railcard, as they operate the same way, however, a Santander railcard student tends to last longer. A Santander student railcard lasts for four years, whereas a regular 16-25 student railcard generally lasts for a year.

You can only apply for a Santander student railcard if you meet the following criteria:

  • You’ve opened a 1I2I3 Student Current Account with Santander; those who do not have a Santander account will not be allowed to apply for a Santander Railcard.
  • Use the aforementioned 1I2I3 Student Current Account as your main account, paying in £500 per academic term.
  • Register for Santander’s Online Banking service.

You should still consider what the best student bank accounts is for you to use before rushing into a decision.

undergraduate Uni's

Get your questions answered by sending them an enquiry now.