NEC cards – What are they, How do they work, are they worth it?

On January 31st, a new bus scheme began for Scottish citizens under the age of 22. The free bus scheme comes through the National Entitlement Card (NEC) which you can apply for here.

What is it?

A NEC card is a few things! It is a valid form of identification in the UK, it is your “payment” card when using busses, and it is something of a membership card that gets you loads of discounts (when registering for a Young Scot card, available to all residents of Scotland).

How does a NEC card work?

The card works like any contactless card when you use it to board any bus in Scotland; including Mgeabus, Stagecoach and any sort of busses that take you from one city to another (within Scotland). It is not limited to just inner city travel, which I find to be amazing, since it gives young uni students to discover Scotland in a truly affordable way! You can even use it to book bus tickets online, but that is subject to a £1 booking fee. You can always board a bus without a reservation but that may be a bit of a hit-or-miss if the bus is full and you cannot board it.

Are NEC cards worth it?

Absolutely! As a student that does not live in the very centre of Dundee, I rely on bus travel quite a lot. Between July 2021 and January 2022 I spent more than £700 on bus fares! That was an insane amount of money for me and now it means that I will get to save approximately £3000 in the next 2 years (until I turn 22 and are no longer part of the free bus scheme) on bus fares within Scotland! That is so much money! The card has also given me an extra form of identification which I love, since I now don’t have to carry my passport or National ID with me, making it a huge relief for me since I’m often scared of losing them and the cost that comes to replace them.

As an NEC can also act as a Young Scots card, you’re able to get your hands on hundreds of discounts that include anything from hotels all around the world, to escape rooms, to driving lessons! Isn’t that awesome? I fully recommend you apply for the free bus scheme if you are under 22 and a Young Scot separately card if you are under 26! Enjoy 🙂

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