The latest student entrepreneurial endeavour taking St Andrews by storm, Saintpass has been featured prominently throughout campus; on Facebook pages and Instagram adverts, outside the Student Union, and along the corridors of student halls. The words which will ring in the ears for most, after the start of this semester, more than others will be, “Have you got your Saintpass?” In response to the various questions swirling around town, The Saint sat down with some of the minds behind the initiative to uncover exactly what Saintpass entails and how students can get involved.
From the business-savvy minds that introduced Student Storage to the Fife coastal town, Saintpass is a new addition aimed at helping cash-strapped students make the most of the St Andrews social scene. While entertainment and leisure in St Andrews carry a hefty price tag, the intention behind Saintpass is to alleviate the financial costs and allow students to socialise with their friends regardless of their personal circumstances. The initiative claims to be non-profit in the sense that any profits are invested back into the business for marketing, materials, offering a cut to the people selling the cards, and other costs. Therefore, the team behind it doesn’t stand to personally gain from the business. For students who fancy making some spare change on the side, Saintpass also gives you £1 for every card that you recommend to a friend. In this way, they offer something in return to their customers.
Costing only £10 for a whole year, Saintpass offers discounts at over 50 local businesses around town from restaurants, dry cleaners and hair salons to gift shops, clothing stores and taxis. Whether treating a friend to a birthday meal, showing the family around or just enjoying a takeaway after a long week, Saintpass is a versatile, must-have accessory for any student. From high-end restaurants such as Forgan’s and The Doll’s House to fashion hubs such as Boutique No. 1, the breadth of discounts offered by the scheme is extensive. Saintpass also supports incoming and returning students moving into flats and student halls through discounts for various homeware outlets such as Cook Central and Hosies.
Having grown dramatically over the last couple of months from 14 local merchants at the start of the summer to over 50 as of September, Saintpass is also committed to giving back to the local community. In the wake of the closure of several beloved local businesses such as the St Andrews Waffle Company and Mammacitas, Saintpass supports the distinct restaurants that characterise St Andrews, allowing them to compete with the larger chains which are slowly permeating the town. For certain hotspots (such as Aikman’s Bar, for example, which does not have a website to advertise its company), Saintpass is a useful marketing too land encourages students to try new restaurants and businesses. Hopefully, this will help the town retain some of its cultural gems that are so central to its image and the experiences it offers students, locals and visitors alike.
Saintpass has come under considerable criticism over the last couple of weeks for allegedly undercutting student societies who also offer discounts at various eateries around town. It has been accused of de-incentivising society membership under the impression that students will no longer want to sign up to societies and pay their membership fees if they can receive better, or a greater variety, of discounts through their Saintpass. Moreover, the selling tactics of Saintpass have been seen as aggressive by many. Members of their team appeared across town from the Union to the Sports Fayre. For the oblivious Fresher among their newfound friends, getting accosted by someone with a card reader makes for a challenging situation.
However, this seems unjustified as society membership is normally a result of a desire to participate in a society’s activities and be surrounded by like-minded peers, not the additional perks such as discounts. For example, foodies are still just as likely to join the Fine Food and Dining Society in order to engage with other culinary geniuses and participate in various food-related activities, even though Saintpass is £5 cheaper than the society membership.
Moreover, while many of the discounts offered by societies and Saintpass overlap, there are still several that Saintpass has yet to feature, allowing societies to maintain that edge. Moreover, some societies require extremely high membership fees which may not be an affordable option for those looking for discounts. For example, the Bute Medical Society requests a £30 membership fee in exchange for various discounts at Jannetta’s Gelateria, The Saint, VIC and Northpoint Café. Costing only a tenner, Saintpass is more feasible and through its various discounts, students can quickly make the cost of the card back. Saintpass is also a more extensive option as it encompasses retail outlets, experiences such as minigolf, transportation, beauty treatments, and more. At the end of the day, the objective is to give students the best discount possible for their own benefit, and putting students first is something that remains central to Saintpass’ mission.
For certain retailers, alternative student discounts schemes offer a greater discount than Saintpass (for example, Trespass offers 20 per cent through Unidays and 10 per cent through Saintpass). That being said, Saintpass offers greater discounts for other businesses (for example, it offers a 20 per cent discount in Mountain Warehouse while StudentBeans only offers 10 per cent). Obviously, in order to save as effectively as possible, students should sign up to multiple student discount schemes, of which Saintpass can make an important contribution. In addition to this, while many alternative student discount schemes such as Unidays are limited to national chains such as Zizis and Domino’s, Saintpass is catered specifically to the St Andrews market. It offers discounts for cafés and shops unique to the town which are not covered by any other student discount scheme.
Saintpass sounds promising and offers great potential for making St Andrews more affordable. This is especially important in light of the pressure some people feel to go out and socialise, particularly as freshers. The future for Saintpass seems bright as cardholders can look forward to a greater variety of discounts, including early access to ticket sales for hugely popular sell-out events such as Welly Ball and BPM to more.
For those selling Saintpass, it is likely to be a profitable time. The team behind Saintpass remains committed to offering students the best value for money and making social activities more accessible to all students.