Your mom, your financial advisor, your best friend, and the lady next to her on your daily bus commute have said pretty much the same every time they saw you with a Starbucks in hand.
“You know. You can save a lot of money if you stop buying that expensive coffee.” And if they don’t say so, they refer to him with this judicial outlook.
Well, maybe you can grab your coffee and save money too. Moreover, Starbucks is not just about coffee, or a million other types of coffee. It is a place to meet friends, a place to stay alone but not feel lonely, a place to walk, a place to work, a place not to drink, a place to celebrate or sympathize.
13 ways to save money at Starbucks
Obviously, cutting Starbucks out of your life isn’t always as easy as switching to home-brewed coffee. So, here are 13 lucky ways to save money at Starbucks so you can keep it in your life.
1. Join Starbucks Rewards
Join Starbucks Rewards to start getting free drinks. You earn 1 star for every dollar you spend if you pay with cash, debit or credit card. Pay with a preloaded Starbucks Digital Card on the app and get 2 stars for every dollar spent.
(You get three stars for every $1 if you use a Starbucks Rewards Visa card, but The Penny Hoarder isn’t a big fan of rewards credit cards.)
Besides getting free refills of coffee and tea, Starbucks Rewards members get a free personalized drink when they earn 150 points.
This means spending $150 or $75 depending on the payment method. Yes, that’s a big part of the change that has to be spent to get a reward, so remember that it’s very easy to collect a bill at Starbucks without even realizing it. You can also get a free drink on your birthday.
2. Buy Discounted Starbucks Gift Cards
Use CardCookie, Raise, and other discount gift card sites to expand your coffee dollars even further. Buy a gift card for less than its face value, and you’ll get more for your money at Starbucks.
As of this writing, you can save up to 9% on a Starbucks gift card at CardCookie. A $50 card costs, say, $45.50.
3. Divide one drink into two drinks
Order Venti and divide it into 2 cups of Grande. You basically get two Grande coffees for $2.10 each instead of $3.65 each. Even if you have to pay 50 cents for the extra cup, as some stores may charge, you step up. Or bring your own insulated mug for hot coffee later.
4. Reduce your usual order volume
Instead of a Frappuccino or Mocha with all the fixings, you can achieve a similar taste with something less expensive, try drip coffee with syrup and add the free and sweetened milk from the spice bar.
5. Whipped cream is cheaper than syrup
And you can make your drink cheaper by ordering whipped cream instead of syrup. Any drink is sweeter and more enjoyable with a little whipped cream, and it’s free.
Starbucks reports that sales of cold coffee will continue to grow in 2021. Make cold coffee at home, save money and love it more.
6. Happy Hour Sale
You get two drinks for the price of one during Starbucks happy hours, which are Thursdays every few weeks from 2-7 p.m. Enable push notifications on the Starbucks app to alert you to times when you can save big alone or with a friend.
7. Pump your cup
When ordering drip coffee, ask for the “Long Dripper in a Grande Cup,” which will give you extra room to add milk while still paying for the tall volume only. The small extra space also keeps coffee from sinking into the beverage hole while walking or driving. Bigger is your style the most? Do the same for the Venti Cup.
8. Light on the Ice Please
Order a light ice with your iced coffee because the cup is often so full of ice that you don’t get as much coffee as you want. It’s not necessarily cash saving, but this order will save you more caffeine and less water for your money.
9. Make your own drink
Cut the price of an iced latte in half by ordering just shots of espresso, then add as much free milk as you want from the condiment bar. You can even order two slices of espresso over ice. It’s basically the same drink as a Venti iced latte, but it’ll be less than $1 to $1.50.
Six ways to get a pumpkin latte without getting a loan. And don’t forget the free drink on your birthday.
10. Bring a glass
In a nod to the environment, Starbucks gets 10 cents off the price of every drink you order if you bring your own cup. Those dimes are piling up.
11. Don’t buy bottled water
Here’s a money-saving tip at Starbucks and elsewhere for that matter. Ask for a glass of water. The coffee maker will happily serve you that. Don’t pay $2.65 for a plastic H2O bottle.
12. Order a bowl of French press
If you’re in a group of four (up to two) order a pot of French press coffee for $5.90. It has four cups. Don’t see it on the list? Ask your coffee maker.
13. Always free treatment
This cup of whipped cream for your dog is a free dog concoction called Starbucks Papacino. Make sure to order one indoors or even by car. Usually a human drink must be purchased to get Puppuccino at home.
Veteran journalist Katherine Snow Smith is a former writer for The Penny Hoarder. It covers ways to make money, save money and other topics. Her work has appeared in the Tampa Bay Times, Charlotte Business Journal and Greenville News. Former contributor Nick Lauber contributed to this report.