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Worried about spending a few extra dollars per day on coffee? Fortunately, we’ve put together a list of 25 Starbucks hacks that will help you save money. See something that’s not on the list and should be? Let us know in the comments down below.
1. Buy A Discounted Starbucks Gift Card
You can immediately cut down your spending at Starbucks dramatically when you buy a discounted gift card. All across the web, there are various gift card resellers that sell gift cards to popular stores at a price lower than their actual retail value.
When it comes to Starbucks, the gift card vendor with the best discounted rate is Cardpool, and right now their current rate is 9% off. Go to the Cardpool website, type in the retailer you wish to shop at and view their discounted rate.
When you sign-up as a new member you get a $5 bonus credited to your account. While you can order physical gift cards, we suggest only getting e-gift cards since they will only take a maximum of 24 hours to arrive in your inbox.
2. Shop Online And Go Through A Shopping Portal
If you want to buy Starbucks merchandise, you’re better off doing so online than in-store. This is because we can use an online shopping portal to get cash back on our purchase. These portals are websites that partner with thousands of retailers across the web and put their affiliate links on their page. When you use one of their links to make a purchase, they earn a commission and give it back to you in the form of cash back.
The current shopping portal with the best cash back rate is BeFrugal, giving you 5.3% in cash back on all merchandise found on the Starbucks website. Keep in mind that there are a few exceptions such as Starbucks gift cards.
When you do go the BeFrugal site, remember to type in “Starbucks Store” to get the 5.3% in cash back. You get a $10 bonus when you sign-up as a new member. It can take up to 30 days for cash back to appear in your account, but it’s usually there within just a few.
When your account balance reaches a minimum of $25 in cash back, you can withdraw to PayPal or for Amazon gift cards.
Keep in mind that you can use this portal for all retailers on the web (over thousands are partnered with BeFrugal) in order to obtain the minimum cash out that much quicker. Unfortunately, these portals don’t work in-store so you’ll have to shop at the online store in order to each cash back.
3. Get $1 In Cash Back On Starbucks Iced Coffee
If you love buying Starbucks at the grocery store, you can get $1 in cash back on an iced coffee when you use the Ibotta app. This app pays you for taking a picture of your receipt when you make a purchase on certain items.
Here are the steps you need to take:
- Browse the Ibotta app or use the search function to find Starbucks products. You can download it for free for both iOS and Android devices here.
- Hit the “unlock” button and answer one or two survey questions.
- Purchase your Starbucks iced coffee and remember to keep the receipt.
- Scan the receipt to the Ibotta app by following their instructions. Be sure to take a picture of the entire receipt, including the total, store name, store location and each individual item. This only applies to certain stores, but since Ibotta is partnered with a wide variety of stores you most likely won’t have to worry about where you shop.
- Wait 24 hours to receive your $1 in cash back. Once you reach a minimum of $10 in cash back you can redeem your money for gift cards, or wait until you reach $20 for PayPal withdrawals.
- Keep in mind that you can use this app for more than just Starbucks drinks to reach your minimum balance quicker. You can get cash back on hundreds of different grocery items.
4. Ask For No Water When Ordering An Iced Tea
Not only will you get an additional flavor boost, but ordering tea without water will give you twice as much tea for the price of one. When Starbucks makes tea, they’re double strength in pitcher and then watered down in the final recipe.
For those of you trying to watch what they eat, you can also ask for no sweetener. Iced teas at Starbucks usually are given a few doses of sweetener, and each one contains 30 calories each.
5. Sign-Up For The Starbucks Rewards Program
When you register for the Starbucks Rewards Program, you get a Starbucks card that works just like a debit card. Deposit cash in your card and when the balance is low you top it off. In exchange, you earn rewards each time you buy a coffee at Starbucks. If you don’t want to use the card they send you, you can also use their smartphone app and scan it each time you make a purchase.
Each new member to the rewards program is automatically entered into their 3-tiered rewards program. For every purchase you make, you earn one star. The more stars you have, the better your benefits become. Here’s a quick summary of each level:
- Welcome Level – 1 free drink and 15% off anything in-store on your birthday. Everyone starts off at this level.
- Green Level – You need 5 stars to reach this level. Get free refills on any brewed or iced coffee and still receive Welcome Level benefits.
- Gold Level – You need 30 stars to reach this level. Keep Green and Welcome Level benefits but also receive special offers from Starbucks.
- Every 12 stars gets you a free drink at Starbucks.
You’re awarded 1 star for every transaction. With this in mind, if you’re thinking of buying two drinks it may be wise to split it into two separate purchases so you can earn 2 stars instead of 1. Keep in mind that these levels reset every 12 months.
6. Create Your Own $2 Iced Latte
Don’t order the latte served on the Starbucks menu. Instead, you can get an equally satisfying latte when you order a triple espresso over ice in a Venti-sized cup. Add milk until it fills the brim of the cup or as much as you want.
7. Bring Your Own Tea
Ordering a cup of tea can easily cost you $2 or more depending on the size. A great trick to enjoying the Starbucks atmosphere while still not breaking the bank is to bring your own tea bag. You can buy a 48-pack of high-quality tea for around $10 on Amazon. Normally ordering 48 cups of iced tea at Starbucks would cost you around $100.
Now all you have to do is ask for a cup of hot water for $.25 cents. Want to save even more? Bring your own Starbucks cup and have them fill it up with hot water for free. You can buy a reusable cup for $1 in-store or you can buy any one of their traveler mugs on their website.
8. Bring Your Own Starbucks Cup
Bringing your own cup will save you $.10 cents on every drink. As mentioned above, you can buy a reusable Starbucks cup for as little as $1 in-store. Not your thing? You can also buy a Starbucks traveler mug on their website that’s a bit higher quality. It doesn’t matter which kind of container you have – as long as you bring your own mug, you still get $.10 cents off of your order.
9. Order A French Press
Planning on staying at Starbucks for a while? Order a Starbucks press. You’ll usually get quite a few cups out of this and you can get as many cups as you need. This is especially great for large groups in which each doesn’t need a large amount of coffee.
If it turns out that you need more coffee, you can always order more or get your own individual cup. A Veinti cup on average costs $.11 cents per ounce whereas an ounce with the french press only costs $.07 cents.
10. Make Your Own Chai Tea Latte
According to a barista that we asked at Starbucks, you can add an inch and one-half to any drink for free. Any more than that and the price depends on your beverage. Instead of the typical $3.95 for a chai tea latte, order a normal chai tea for $2.15 and add your own milk.
Not only that, but your drink will have a lot less sugar and that many fewer calories. Add in cinnamon and other spices to your pleasing, and if you really want a warm tea you can always ask the barista for steamed milk. The taste may be slightly different than a chai tea latte on the Starbucks menu, but we recommend trying it at least once to see if you like it.
11. Ask For Little Ice
Ice can take up a huge portion of your drink. Ask for a light amount of ice with any cold beverage order. That iced coffee will taste just the same and you’ll get that much more drink for the same price. It can make a huge difference in what you get given the massive amount of ice placed in one cup.
12. Get A Free Drink On Your Birthday
As long as your part of the Starbucks Rewards Program, when you ask for a drink it’s automatically free on your birthday. Just show them your ID along with proof that it’s your birthday. You can order the drink of your choice of any size.
On my last birthday I wasn’t a part of their rewards program nor did I have my ID on me. Fortunately, the barista was kind enough to still give me my drink for free. It never hurts to ask! Signing-up for their rewards program will also remind you of your free drink by sending you an email on your birthday.
13. Ask For A Refill
You can ask for a refill on any cup of coffee for only $.50 cents. Keep in mind that the refill you ask for may not be the same coffee that you ordered. If you ordered a caramel macchiato, a refill means you’ll get a fresh cup of their standard brewed coffee.
You can also ask for a refill of tea for the same price. If you reach gold card status through the Starbucks Rewards Program, you get unlimited refills absolutely free.
14. Order A Short-Sized Coffee
Did you know that there are 2 extra sizes other than what’s listed on the Starbucks menu? There’s the Trenta size at 30 ounces of coffee and the short size at 8 ounces. A short drip coffee will cost you $1.65, about $.35 cents cheaper than a tall.
While the short is a smaller cup than a tall, it actually has the same amount of espresso in it so you won’t be short-changing yourself on caffeine.
15. Buy Starbucks Coffee In-Store
Maybe you enjoy the taste of Starbucks coffee and don’t really care for the atmosphere. If this is the case, you can buy a bag of Starbucks coffee grounds for as little as $13 on Amazon, and most grocery stores will sell it for even cheaper.
16. Order A Veinti And Ask For An An Additional Cup
If you go with a friend to Starbucks, order a Veinti cup instead of two Talls. Ask the barista for an extra cup and give half of your coffee to your friend. This will easily save you $.50 cents if not more on two cups of coffee. The only downside is that you and your friend have to want the same type of beverage for this trick to work.
17. For Caffeine Fiends, Go With A Grande
For those looking to get the highest amount of caffeine, you may think that the Veinti size gives you the highest amount of caffeine. It actually turns out that both the Grande and the Veinti have the same amount of caffeine in them, 2 shots or 150 mg. If caffeine is your goal, you’re wasting a tiny bit of money opting for the bigger size.
18. Get a Puppychino For Free
If you’re looking for a place to get a free drink for your dog or puppy, Starbucks offers the Puppychino. Bring your dog in and get a small cup of whip cream for free for your pet to enjoy. Unfortunately, there’s nothing yet available for you cat lovers out there.
19. Turn Your Americano Into A Latte
An Americano doesn’t cost much more than a standard coffee, and it’s a lot cheaper than a latte. Turn it into a latte by adding however much milk you want. Don’t forget that an Americano is an espresso drink, so it’s going to take much better than a cup of coffee as well. Add as many spices as you want to taste.
20. Get Cash Back By Using The Yaarlo App
Yaarlo is another mobile app that pays you each time you take a picture of your receipt. Instead of applying to specific purchases or at specific places, this app can be used on all purchases no matter where you shop at. You’re automatically given .25% of your total purchase price in cash back.
It may not be worth it if you’re making a small purchase, but for those larger purchases on their website or in-store, it definitely can come in handy. Use promotion code JASON799 to get a $1 bonus on sign-up. The Receipt Hog is another app that also pays you for scanning receipts anywhere you shop.
21. Latte Lovers Should Order A Caffe Misto
For you latte lovers out there, order a Caffe Misto at $2.25 instead of your Veinti latte at $4.15. Mistos consist of one-half a cup of coffee and one-half a cup of milk of your choice. Still missing that chai flavor? Add a pump for syrup for only $.50 cents more, and you’re still saving money.
22. Use Foursquare To Find Bathroom Codes
Ever walk into a Starbucks just because you need to use the bathroom, but then feel obligated to order a drink in order to get the restroom code? Check on Foursquare and find the bathroom code to a particular Starbucks restroom without having to order anything.
23. Ask For A Cup Of Water
Feeling thirsty and is it just so happening that you’re passing by a Starbucks? Go inside and ask for a cup of water. They won’t charge you anything, and they’re willing to fill up your water bottle with a fresh cup of ice as well.
24. Get A Free Cup Of Drip Coffee
If you order a drip coffee when supply is running low, Starbucks employees will give you a free cup of coffee in compensation for having to make you wait for a fresh pot to brew. This can be sometimes difficult to get since you have to wait for exactly the right moment. Keep in mind that this doesn’t always work, but more times than not an employee will feel bad for making you be extra patient.
25. Make Your Own Coffee
There’s tons of different ways to save money at Starbucks, but your best bet is going to be not going to Starbucks at all. If you absolutely need to go, try to limit the amount of coffee you buy from there and try making coffee at home instead with just a french press and coffee grounds. A few extra dollars can go a long way.
You should never be spending 100% when you go and order your next coffee. A lot of these hacks can be combined with one another, so you can often double or even triple your savings. At the very least, we recommend hack #1 in which you buy a discounted gift card to save around 10% on every purchase.
We hope these 20 hacks will help you save money at Starbucks. Do you see something that’s not on the list and should be, or perhaps you tried one of these hacks for yourself? Let us know down below – we’d love to hear about it! Thanks for reading and happy coffee drinking.
My name is Jason Wuerch and I'm currently located in Madrid, Spain running a personal finance blog called Frugal For Less. My goal is to help everyone and anyone willing to make and save money through easy and simple ways that don't require much effort. Just because you're frugal doesn't mean you have to give up life's luxuries.