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Travel holiday

For students looking to cut back on costs, a little bit of plastic can go a long way.

Jessica McCormick of the Canadian Federation of Students says the International Student Identity Card, or ISIC, is a must-have in every students' wallet.

The card is free for the 500,000 students across Canada represented by the federation and can easily be picked up at student union offices.

"The card can get students deals on flights and travel, when you're shopping, buying groceries, or for entertainment on the weekend," said McCormick.

"So it's a very helpful card to have and really helps students save money."

One of the benefits of ISIC is that it's accepted around the world, says Jason Merrithew, national sales and marketing manager at Travel Cuts, a student-focused travel agency.

"It's one of the only internationally recognized forms of student identification, so that makes it a really powerful tool," he said.

An ISIC card can get students discounts or even free access to museums and tourist sites if they're going on backpacking trips during the summer or spending a semester abroad on exchange.

Through Travel Cuts, students can get advice from "travel gurus" on how to best save money, as well as buy affordable student-specific Bon Voyage travel insurance, which includes provisions for rescheduled exams and long international stays, says Merrithew.

Andrew Lau at Red Flag Deals said another good card to have is the Student Price Card, or SPC. Unlike ISIC, an SPC can be bought for $9 at a number of retail stores or online. The card is good for a year.

"The card basically provides discounts in the ballpark of about 10 to 15 per cent on a lot of retail and a lot of restaurants," says Lau.

A lot of individual retailers — Lau cites Apple as an example — also have their own student discounts. He says this time of year especially, there can be great discounts to be found on laptops, tablets and smartphones.

"It obviously varies by retailer and you'll have to do a bit of digging on that," he said, noting online deal-finding forums can be a helpful resource.

Students can also save on groceries, if they time their shopping trips right.

Some Loblaws, Zehrs and Superstore locations across the country offer a 10 per cent discount to students on Tuesdays. On Mondays, students can enjoy the same deal at some Valu-Mart and Your Independent Grocer locations.

The stores will ask for valid student picture ID, and some items are exempt, such as prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, eyewear and gift cards.

Sona Mehta, vice-president of everyday banking at TD Bank, says most banks also offer special deals for students, too. For instance, TD offers a no-fee chequing account for postsecondary students.

"They get 25 free transactions every month at no cost to them, and if you add it up over the year that's actually $300 worth of free banking," says Mehta.

Mehta recommends students seek out rewards from their banks, like discounts on concerts.

Students who open a bank account before Oct. 4 can get a cash reward, she said. "Students can actually get $50 from TD without having to mow or shovel anything."