Here’s one thing most of us can agree on: cafeteria food is awful.

A recent study done by an Ontario-based, non-profit organization called Meal Exchange found that 55% of post-secondary students were dissatisfied with their school cafeteria meal options.

Another fact?

Post-secondary students rarely have much spending money on hand. Combine this with the depressing cafeteria food available to them, and you’ve got to wonder…

How are students supposed to enjoy a good meal? Especially if they’re not all lucky enough to live close to go to Chez Mom and Dad several nights a week ‒ this is where an SPC card comes in.

But first things first…

Related: Student Credit Cards: My Cautionary Tale

What is an SPC Card?

Haven’t heard of the Student Price Card (SPC)? No problem. The SPC is a loyalty card created specifically to help students save money. It offers discounts for:

  • food,
  • shopping,
  • activities,
  • travel, and
  • even services like car repairs, banking plans, cell phone plans, and orthodontic visits.

Now, not all of the offers are available in all locations, some are specific to independent businesses in certain cities across Canada. Keep in mind, as well, that even the ones that are nationwide chains sometimes have restrictions ‒ so keep an eye out for that.

Where to buy SPC Card

The cost is $10 to get the card for the year, starting from August 1st to July 31st. Most discounts are a minimum of 10% off, so with just one $100 purchase or two $50 purchases, the card has paid for itself. Easy peasy.

You can buy the card online, in-store (American Eagle, Bench, Shoppers, etc) or get it for free…

Free BMO SPC card

To make this little piece of plastic even more appealing, BMO clients qualify for a free SPC card. As long as you have at least a student banking plan with BMO (a no fee plan) ‒ they will give you a card at no charge.

Two BMO SPC credit cards

BMO also offers two no annual fee credit cards that double as an SPC card: the BMO SPC CashBack Mastercard and the BMO SPC AIR MILES Mastercard.

I have always banked with BMO and had a student plan with them for several years. Somehow, even after I was finished my post-secondary education and even though I didn’t ever request it, I kept receiving the SPC card in the mail each year. And since I relish the opportunity to save a few pennies whenever possible, why not?

SPC Card stores

SPC is partnered with over 120 retailers, where you can show your card and receive a typical discount of 10% to 15%. Here’s a preview of stores you can shop, show your SPC and get a discount (check out this page for the full list):

SPC Card Stores Discount %
Aldo 10% off regular & sale priced items
AdditionElle Get 15% off online only
Aerie 10% off regular and sale prices
American Eagle 10% off regular and sale prices
Ardene 10% off regular and sale prices
Bench 10% off regular price
Banana Republic Save 15% on full-priced items and 5% on already reduced items
Bikini Village 10% off regular price
Bizou 10% off regular price
Bluenotes 10% off regular and sale prices, exclusions apply
Buffalo Get 15% off online only
Calvin Klein 10% off purchase, some exclusions may apply
Club Monaco Get 15% off online only
Columbia Get 15% off online only
Ecko Unltd 15% off your purchase
Foot Locker Get 15% off online only
Forever 21 10% off regular priced items
French Connection Get 10% off online only
Gap 10% off your purchase
Guess 15% off full price merchandise
Joe Fresh 10% off regular and sale price (only valid at Joe Fresh freestanding stores)
La Senza Get 15% off online only
La Vie En Rose 10% off regular and sale prices
Levi’s 10% off regular and sale price
Little Burgundy $10 off any purchase of $75 or more (regular and sale priced merchandise)
Lole Get 20% off online only
Naturalizer Get 15% off online only
Old Navy 10% off your purchase
Payless 10% off all regular & sale price, including BOGO
RW&Co Get 15% off online only
Roots 15% off regular-priced items at Roots stores
Sorel Get 15% off online only
Suzy Shier 10% off regular and sale prices
Tom’s Get 15% off online only
Vero Moda 15% off regular priced items
Pink 10% off one regular or clearance priced merchandise
West49 10% off regular price items

Related: 8 Loyalty Programs To Save You Money During College ‒ And Beyond

Plus a $150 travel bonus.
Only 300 gift cards available.
Offer ends October 31st, 2018.

Bring on the eats!

Shopping is fun, but food is non-negotiable. So, back to caf food…

With an SPC card, it’s much easier for students to enjoy non-cafeteria food by providing discounts at restaurants and cafes across the country. A budget-friendly, guilt-free way to eat out. Just look at these food deals offered for SPC-holding students:

SPC Card Dining Deal & Discount
Alcove Coffee 10% off pastries and drip coffee
Booster Juice Free Super Booster with the purchase of a 710 ml smoothie
Boston Pizza 10-15% off regular price food items (location dependent)
Burger King 10% off any combo meal
David’s Tea 10% off regular and sale price
Extreme Pita Free 355ml can drink with purchase of any Pita or Flatbaked Pita
Harvey’s $3.99 Poutine & Drink
Jack Astor’s 15% off SPC Card Member’s food only. Excluding Beverages
Jugo Juice Free Regular Xtra Benefit with the purchase of any smoothie
KFC 10% off any KFC Big Box Meal
Kernels Free Upsize: large Kernels popcorn for the price of a medium
Keurig Get 15% off online only
Manchu Wok 10% off regular priced menu items
Marble Slab 10% off purchase
Montana’s 15% off regular price food items (valid for SPC Card holder only)
Mr. Sub Get $2 off a Large sub combo or $1 off a Small sub combo
New York Fries Buy any size fries & a drink and receive same size fries Free and/or Buy one, get one Free premium hot dog
Orange Julius 10% off regular price Orange Julius Beverage
Pita Pit Free can of pop OR chips with the purchase of a reg 9″ pita
Pizza Hut 10% off regular price
Pizza Pizza $3.99 Cheese/Pepperoni Slice Pop Dip
St. Louis bar and Grill Free Poutine Upgrade: upgrade your regular fries to “Poutine” with the purchase of any meal including fries
Subway 10% off regular priced menu and combo items at Airdrie Subway, 108 Edmonton Trail
Taco Bell Free Upgrade To Fries Supreme with purchase of any combo over $6.69
Thai Express 10% off any combo meal
Timothy’s Coffee 10% off all food and beverage purchases
Yeh! 10% off regular priced menu items
Yogen Fruz 10% off regular price yogurt products only

Even at home

And if you’re the type of student who enjoys eating at home? Sweet.

Because if you have access to your own kitchen, you can save money on groceries simply by checking the weekly flyers and creating meal plans. (Here’s an open secret: eating at home will is always cheaper than eating out.)

Then there’s also the Hello Fresh $25 off discount to SPC cardholders on their first and second boxes. They deliver pre-cut and ready-to-cook ingredients along with recipes at your doorstep. So you can skip meal-planning and grocery-shopping, and still enjoy a home-cooked meal.

Related: Credit Card Frequently Asked Questions

SPC savings for the travellers

When I had my frequently-used SPC, I used it mostly to save when shopping for clothes or shoes ‒ but it came in handy a few times when I was traveling too. Very handy, actually.

Currently, with SPC you can save at these hotel chains:

SPC Card for Travel Deal & Discount
Best Western Get a $10 gift card when you register for Best Western Rewards
Boooking.com Up to 50% off online only
CheapOair.ca Get up to $36 off online only
Choice Hotels Canada 15% to 20% off
Contiki Get 10% off online only
Flight Centre $15 off on USA & Canada flights with Air Canada
$50 off international air & hotel packages
$150 off Contiki or G Adventures trips
Hotel.com Get up to 30% off online only
Interchange Currency Exchange Free nationwide shipping through Canada Post with all online orders
K Jamson Luggage Save an extra 10% off the lowest ticketed price (not in conjunction with any other offers and not applicable during Boxing week sale)
Motel 6 Get 5% off online only
Priceline.com Get up to 40% off online only
Zipcar Get $25 free driving credit

Combine these offers with the restaurant deals listed above, and your vacation (or trip home to get your mom to do your laundry) suddenly becomes nice and cheap!

SPC Card apps for your iPhone or Android

For those of you who are like me and misplace your loyalty cards alllllll the time, SPC has an app for both iPhone and Android users that makes things a lot simpler.

After downloading the app you simply register your card number and voila! Savings at your fingertips.

You can search the app for discounts by genre ‒ and all the details you need will pop up. Just show your SPC app to the cashier.

Related: Credit Cards & Sliders 101

The bottom line

For $10 for the year ‒ or free with BMO banking or the SPC CashBack Mastercard or the SPC AIR MILES Mastercard ‒ it’s hard to ignore the potential volume of deals, discounts and savings students can take advantage of.

Your professors might think it’s a non-essential, but they’re not the ones paying for your pizza, now are they?