Student ID Cards
American citizen, European student
You're all set in Europe, and now you need proof you belong. ID cards for abroad students are necessary in case of emergencies.
What are they?
The most popular version is an International Student Identity Card (ISIC). They will be recognized across Europe as a valid student ID. Many locations across Europe actually won't consider your American university ID valid and as a result, won't pass along any student rates.
How they work
Whenever purchasing entry tickets to museums, attractions or monuments across Europe be sure to ask for the student discount. The word "student" is generally understood by cashiers all over so no need to stress over finding the word in another language. The key is to ask for the student rate--a lot of times they're not posted even though they are available.
Are they worth it?
Our personal jury is still out. After years of traveling and using it, and then traveling and not using it, we can't really remember a time where it made a substantial difference whether or not I had a current one in my wallet. WSA knows a lot of study abroad universities require getting one (and it's often included in the package), but if you're considering purchasing one independently, be sure to do your research. Find out more information here.
What about Hostelling International cards?
This is one card I would say is not worth the time, effort or money for picking up. I've never received a discount for carrying this card. Hostelling International (HI) is a governing body for hostels around the world. They do a good job enforcing standards for hostels. It's a plus for the hostels you stay at to be members of HI, but it by no means should be a deal breaker if the hostel isn't a member. Just be sure to read the reviews and check out the photos with a skeptical eye to make an educated decision. In the past, HI cards were required in order to stay at certain hostels, but I think these policies are long gone. Read more about hosteling here.
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