There’s a reason Starbucks is one of the most popular (and ubiquitous) coffee places around — their drinks and food are tasty and their service is pretty quick. Plus, no matter what city you’re in in the world, you can count on consistency in the drinks you've come to love at most locations. But those tasty drinks and food can add up in cost quickly, and if you’re trying to cut back on your expenditures, spending cash on fancy coffee is probably not going to make it to your budget.
Before you have to walk away entirely from your favorite Starbucks drinks, consider these ten hacks that can save you money and allow you to indulge.
Last updated: June 8, 2021
Join the Starbucks Rewards Program
The simplest and most obvious answer for saving money is to download the Starbucks app and sign up for their rewards program. Not only does it make mobile ordering super simple, you earn points on anything you purchase. And, from time to time, they offer additional deals and incentives through the app to get you to spend more and earn more points. These points can be redeemed for free drinks and food.
Starbucks Free Refills
Starbucks also offers incentives to register a Starbucks card or use their app by offering you free refills of brewed coffee (hot, iced coffee or cold brew) and tea (hot or iced) during a single store visit. Once your visit is over, so are your free refills for that day, and the offer does not apply to drive-thru locations.
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Free Food or Drink on Your Birthday
One of the few times during the year when you can truly get something free from Starbucks is to go in on your birthday. You do need to be signed up for Starbucks Rewards at least seven days prior to your birthday, and provide that information. You should receive an email two days before your birthday with a reminder to come and enjoy a free piece of food or beverage (almost anything on the menu), and present your app or a registered Starbucks card.
Take Advantage of Promos
Starbucks loves a good promo, and rewards members will be the first to know about most of them. These can include treat receipts, happy hours and holiday promotion, according to The Spruce Eats, but also include Starbucks Bonus Bingo and other fun ways to help you satisfy your urge for coffee with your need to spend less.
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Split a Venti
A venti is Starbucks’ second largest drink size, at 20 oz (the Trenta is 31 oz). Splitting a venti coffee between two people means 10 oz of delicious drink for both of you at less than half the price of a grande. According to Fast Food Menu Prices, a grande latte is $3.65. A venti is $4.15. If you split it with a friend, you each pay less than $2.10 for the same number of oz as a tall.
Order a Short
If you thought you were limited to the three main cup sizes at Starbucks -- tall, grande and venti -- there’s actually a secret size that might just hit the spot and save you some cash. Introducing: the short. At 8 oz, that short isn’t too short — and not only do you save cash, you save calories. While prices vary according to region and location, the short is even cheaper than a tall.
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Make Your Own Iced Latte
Depending upon location, most Starbucks leave out a carafe of cream and milk on the condiment station (COVID-19 rules may have changed this, so check locations). You can hack this to make your own iced latte, according to The Spruce Eats, by ordering an espresso over ice in a grande or venti cup, and add as much complimentary milk as you like.
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Go Light on the Ice
While this hack might not save you money, per se, it will get you more drink for your buck: If you order an iced drink, ask for light ice, which will leave more drink in your cup. If it’s not cold enough, stick it in the fridge for a few minutes at home.
Share a French Press
Some Starbucks locations will allow you to order a 32 oz French press of coffee, which is 8 8oz oz cups of coffee for you and/or you and some friends. As of 2017, according to Today.com, you can order this press for just $8.00, making each cup around $2. The offer may vary based on location.
Upsize Your Cup
When you order your cup of coffee, Starbucks baristas typically fill that sucker to the top, which is great, but it often means you have to dump out coffee to add your milk. Instead, you can order your smaller size in a bigger cup. So a tall coffee in a grande cup, or a grande coffee in a venti cup, so that you won’t have to dump in order to add milk or cream. Why throw away what you paid for!