Half the fun of travel is the esthetic of lostness. ~ Ray Bradbury
Whether or not you buy International ID cards is a personal decision. Your decision should be based on your use for the card, and specifically its benefits. Most foreign universities will give you a student identification card for the institution. However, there are several commercial cards that come with other incentives, like insurance and discounts.
The International Student Identification Card (ISIC) can be purchased online, through various travel agencies, and in many study abroad offices. It provides valuable discounts in the US and abroad (100+ countries), including discounts on airfare and a mobile communications package. It also provides some basic health insurance as well as emergency evacuation and repatriation of remains. Finally, it carries travel insurance for lost documents, baggage and delays, as well as 24-hour assistance. The cost is $22 for a year, and it is produced by the international Student Travel Confederation.
INext is a newer card that offers similar benefits to the ISIC. They don’t seem to have the discounts of ISIC, but there are two levels of insurance coverage you can choose from (basic and premium). The basic level of coverage is almost the same as ISIC; the emergency medical evacuation is a bit better but there is nothing for travel delay and baggage/personal effects. The premium level of coverage is quite a bit better than ISIC for not a lot more money. The basic is $25 per year and the premium is $45 per year. If you are looking for discounts, then I’d go with the ISIC. However, if coverage is important, INext premium might be a better choice (although ISIC is now offering a premier option, too).
The International Student Exchange Card (ISE) offers lots of discounts, as a well as a guarantee on its discounts, $2000 medical, $5000 in evacuation fees(not enough for major medical), worldwide assistance service, $2000 of bankruptcy protection on your airline ticket, and a global phone card.
Decide carefully based on your unique situation and needs. Different cards have very different benefits. Always read the fine print, and try to get the most for your money.
This is a partial excerpt from the latest updated edition of Study Abroad 101 by Wendy Williamson.