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Is the ISIC Card for International Students in the USA Worth It?
Is it? Not really. I mean sure, you can disagree, but the bottom line is that in the coupon-filled, bargain-hollering, student discount friendly world we live in, there’s no need for a special rebate card that costs 25 dollars you could be using for a pizza. All harshness aside, there really is no use for the ISIC card and here’s why.

Most places that offer discounts to ISIC card holders still offer them if you show your regular student ID. It’s true. Take it from me, ISIC card holder and all. You think the Zoo refused to let me in after buying tickets online and forgetting to present my card at the entrance? Nope. As I nervously fumbled through my purse and thought I’d be losing the money I spent on the tickets, the kind cashier simply asked if I had any other form of student identification- which of course, every student receives from their university, so I simply flashed it and was let inside to enjoy the smells and sights of the jungle. The student ID alone should discourage any money-scrimmaging international freshman from sacrificing a nutritious meal or necessary supplies to obtain a card that is almost interchangeable with one they already received for free.

Establishments like hotels that offer special deals because of ISIC are often even more expensive than others that offer similar discounts- sans the card. And even if these venues aren’t more expensive than others, why pay for the card and go there if you can find equally rewarding deals in different locations without it? It’s quite simple: there is an uncountable number of discounts for everything from food to cinema entrances out there that are easily obtainable WITHOUT an ISIC card. Of course, you can buy it and use it for those ISIC specific deals, but you’d be limiting yourself and paying 25 dollars for something that you ultimately don’t require for the same purpose. As a student myself, I’d opt for not.

It’s sort of hard work to even hunt for these ISIC specific deals anyway. Just imagine it; you’ve already invested 25 dollars, now your sole cause in life should be to take advantage of the card and use it. Always. This will mean spending hours going through every possible website containing grocery stores near you, and checking each and every one of them to determine whether they offer singular discounts to ISIC holders. (A.K.A you- sleep deprived, hungry, grocery-needy you.) Wait, and that’s just looking for grocery stores. Now you have to repeat the same process whenever you want to go shopping, or to the theatre, movies, museum, etc. You do want to get that 25 dollars back don’t you? Wouldn’t it be much easier to go to ANY of these and parade a regular university student ID for the same or even better deductions? (I vote yes)

Lastly, if you really want an ISIC card and can’t live without it, it’s better to purchase it outside of the US in a country where it’s cheaper. Try Mexico ($12.95), it’s pretty close, or if you’re feeling adventurous go for Thailand ($12.19) or Hong Kong ($12.90). If you happen to be traveling abroad in any of those locations, you’d be saving more than half your money, and buying it somewhere else has no effects on receiving its benefits in the United States. It’s a win-win situation just being sneaky about it.

However, I will say that although the verdict I reached states that an ISIC card is not a must-buy for international students, 25 dollars is a small amount when considering the beautiful mission that the non-profit organization abides by. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t need it, but if you’re feeling generous, it’s not a worthless donation. What students should consider, as I did, is that the ISIC is a platform that for a duration of more than 50 years has been working hard to ‘provide all bona-fide students, regardless of their nationality, race, gender or religion, with the opportunity to prove their student status in every country worldwide via an official and affordable identifier. That value is a great and necessary thing. So if supporting this cause and promoting education and equality means paying 25 dollars, well, let’s just say the pizza could wait—or not, it’s up to you.


Photo Credit: OpenClipartVectors
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