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Budget tips for new students

Make the most of your time as a student in the city and discover all it has to offer with our top budget tips.

With more than 1,000 museums and galleries, as well as historical palaces, parks, restaurants and other attractions, there are plenty of places for you to explore in London – and lots of ways to save money!

Save on transport in London

Save money on travel by picking up an Oyster card or using your contactless payment card. Both are cheaper than paying cash for your tickets and have a daily cap, which means you never pay more than a set amount per day. You can also travel during off-peak hours for cheaper fares.

Unlike the Tube, buses in London don’t work in zones, meaning you can travel across the network for only £1.50 per single journey or make several journeys for a maximum of £4.50 per day If you’re taking a trip on the bus using pay as you go, you can make unlimited bus journeys for free within one hour of touching in with your Oyster or contactless card.

Walking and cycling are the cheapest ways to travel around London, plus it’s a great way to discover the city! Hop on your bike and explore some of the capital’s cycling routes.

Plan some budget-friendly fun

There are plenty of places to visit in London if you’re on a budget. Many of the city’s top museums and galleries are free to enter and offer discounted exhibition tickets for students.

Discover some of London’s most iconic spots such as Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, witness the Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace, or head to St John’s Wood to see the world’s most famous pedestrian crossing at Abbey Road.

If you prefer the great outdoors, head to one of London’s many parks and gardens. Spot the resident deer in Richmond Park, explore Hyde Park or get up close to squirrels at St James’s Park.

Catch up with friends at one of the city’s cheap eateries or take part in free events, such as Chinese New Year, the Lord Mayor’s Show and fun-filled festivals.

Get a student discount card

Save money on food, entertainment, shopping, travel and more with the Totum discount card from the UK National Union of Students (NUS). Purchase a 1-year card for £12, or get a 2 or 3-year card for a reduced fee, and get access to hundreds of student discounts in the UK.

You can also enjoy discounted prices abroad, as the Totum card comes with a 1-year ISIC card, the only internationally recognised student ID which is accepted in more than 130 countries. Make savings all over the world with more than 40,000 worldwide discounts available.

Foodies can sign up for the Gourmet Society add-on for extra discounts and 2-for-1 meals in restaurants around the UK.

Set up a digital bank account

Keep track of your spending with a digital bank account.

With Unizest, you can open an Aspire bank account before you even arrive in the UK. The account includes some useful features for international students, such as bank statements for Tier 4 Visa applications and an integrated foreign exchange service.

Loot sends notifications every time you use your card, so you can stick to your budget. It also allows you to set up daily and weekly budgets, and its blog provides plenty of money-saving tips.

As well as sending you spending alerts, Monzo breaks down your expenses into categories, such as entertainment, travel and groceries, making it easy to see where you could save money. The app even allows you to connect with your Monzo-using friends to split the bill easily when you’re out.

For more information on free things to do in London, check out’s budget guide


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