Getting a discount with an expired student ID: ‘It just saves so much money’ 

If you’re a student, you can get a haircut at a discount, read the newspaper for less, and get free access to museums. That makes it tempting to keep using your student ID long after you’ve graduated. 

Barbara graduated last year, but is still using her UG-issued student ID. ‘I’m not sure where it is right now, but I use it to get a haircut’, she says. ‘Some shops give you quite a hefty discount if you’re a student.’ She also always takes it with her on holiday. ‘Museums abroad take a lot off the price of admission when they think you’re a student.’

Many students use their UG ID on a daily basis: to open the gates at the UB, for instance, or to get coffee from one of the many machines. When you graduate or take a break from studying, your ID is deactivated. That means you no longer have access to the coffee machines. However, you do get to keep your ID. 

No check

That means fraud is easy to commit. After graduating, Sander used his ID ‘basically everywhere’ for quite a while, he says. ‘If I knew a place was offering a student discount, I didn’t hesitate to use it.’ He was able to save money on software, for instance, since they’re often discounted for students. ‘It can make a huge difference’, he says. 

Very few businesses that offer student discounts actually check whether someone is a student. 

‘People get a second burger for free if they have the Knaek app and show us their student ID’, says Kim de Groot with the Burger King at the Waagstraat. ‘When someone shows me their ID, I assume they’re actually a student. But we don’t really check it.’

At Time Out hairdressers at the Vismarkt, all you have to do is tell them you’re a student. ‘I can’t imagine someone would abuse that system’, says Miranda Vast. ‘We can’t check it, anyway. Even if we do ask for their ID, that won’t tell us if they’re currently still a student. I always assume the best in people.’

Projected graduation date

Car rental company Avis isn’t distrustful, either. ‘Most people make a reservation using our website. When someone shows up to our front desk, all the discounts have already been taken care of. That’s why we don’t ask for people’s student ID’, says Richard Bootsman. ‘When someone requests a student discount, we assume they’re genuinely a student.’

Only at Swapfiets do they attempt to prevent abuse. ‘We always check people’s student IDs. If someone shows us an invalid ID, they don’t get a bike’, says an employee. ‘When you register with us, you have to give us a projected graduation date. When that passes, so does your discount. Other than that, it’s a good-faith system. We can’t tell if someone is genuinely still enrolled.’


Anna also kept using her ID for discounts when she temporarily stopped studying. ‘A few years ago, I unenrolled from the university for six months for personal reasons’, she says. ‘I remember I used my ID constantly for events and to get into museums.’  

She doesn’t feel particularly guilty about misusing her ID, because even though she was taking a break, she still felt like a student. ‘It’s more a matter of age’, she says. ‘Young people who don’t have a lot of money should be encouraged to do more cultural things. It’s not like my student ID gets me a discount at the pub.’


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