UK Student Railcard from Abroad
If you are going to take even one long train trip while in the UK, you should get the student railcard (available for ages 16-25 with another option for 26-30 year olds). The student railcard costs £30, and often has discounts. I got mine at a 20% discount. This card will get you 33% off of every ticket you purchase for a year. That’s insane. So in this post I’m going to teach you how to get a UK student railcard from abroad!
I paid for my card with my trip to Edinburgh from London and back, easy. I even had conductors look at my ticket and go “Three pound fifty! Where did you find that?” because I even got discounts on my tickets from Oxford to London (a very short trip).
How to Get One
International students are at a disadvantage. Normally (I’ll explain how to get around this) you have to wait until you arrive to get a card. This is because they cannot send your card to an international address. I get this, sorta, but it does make it extraordinarily unhelpful for international visitors. If you waited until you got to the UK for your card, your average train ticket could be as much as double what it would have been. That means you get absolutely no advantage from the card (and it’s not worth it).
But this doesn’t matter anymore! Well, it shouldn’t, anyways. But it sorta does – they have a virtual card now. You no longer need a physical card. So there’s no problem for international people, right? Except they still want a physical address. There is a way around this, but it’s not clear/streamlined.
Getting the UK Student Railcard from Abroad
You need to call them – and of course they don’t have an international number, only a UK number. I spent $3 on Skype credit (the cheapest option, I checked with Google Voice and a couple others) for 100 minutes. I recommend getting at least 100 minutes as you will be put on hold – my call took around 40 minutes total but you never know when they’ll be extra busy or something.
Everyone is super pleasant, might I add. Anyways, I just asked if they could issue me the card over the phone/e-mail. There was a lot of back and forth because everyone I talked to admitted it didn’t make sense to require me to be in-country. Finally, someone’s supervisor agreed and I simply e-mailed them a passport photograph of myself and was given the code or whatever so I could download the app and book my tickets. They took my credit card number and discount code right over the phone, so be prepared.
I hope this has been helpful for anyone trying to get a UK student railcard from abroad!
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