Food / Groceries, Frugal, Personal Finance, Saving Money

12 Ways to Save Money at Starbucks

save money on Starbucks coffee

The words “Starbucks” and “saving money” don’t usually go together, but there are thousands upon thousands of people who swear by the coffee despite its somewhat high prices. If you’re a fan of Starbucks you probably know how pricey each visit can sometimes get. Here are a few different ways to save money during your next Starbucks trip:

Gift Cards

If going to Starbucks is a daily habit (or a regular basis of any kind), by far the best thing you can do to save money is to buy gift cards on the secondary market on sites like eBay. You can find gift cards for a 10% – 20% discount with ease, and can find cards for 25% off or more if you put a little effort into your search. A good way to look at this is that if you can score a 25% discount, that’s the same as getting every fourth drink you buy for free. This can be a significant way to save a lot of money over the course of a year.

Starbucks Rewards

Like many other businesses, Starbucks has its own membership card and smartphone app. Signing up for the Starbucks rewards membership is easy and free and grants you several wonderful benefits. If you sign up, you want to do so with your phone app and not with a gift card. Why? Because over time you earn “stars” that give you benefits. If you sign up with a gift card, you must reload it once the money runs out to retain the stars you’ve earned and you don’t get a discount for reloading like you gan get by purchasing another gift card on eBay.

Joining this program will get you a free drink on your birthday, free brewed and iced coffee and tea refills once you get 5 stars and then a free drink or food item every 12 stars (once you get 30 during a 12 month period). Opting in for special offers will get you coupons and discounts that aren’t available to non-members from time to time. If you’re a frequent visitor of Starbucks, signing up for a membership or downloading the app is an excellent way to save some extra money.

Split With a Friend

If you’re really intent on saving money at Starbucks, split a coffee with a friend. This doesn’t mean sharing from the same cup either. Starbucks will give you an extra cup free of charge and you can just divvy up the drink between the two cups. If you and your friend split the cost, you’re saving at least $1 more than if you had bought separate drinks.

Buy Coffee at the Grocery Store

If you’re a fan of Starbucks’ coffee, consider buying the ground or full bean bags of coffee from the grocery store instead of a Starbucks location. The coffee in the grocery store is usually a few dollars cheaper. Moreover, grocery stores are more likely to have sales or coupons for Starbucks coffee whereas Starbucks very rarely has sales on their bagged coffee in stores. Brewing your own coffee even with Starbucks brand beans will save you a lot over buying drinks at one of their locations.

Save Your Coffee Bags

If you do happen to buy bagged coffee from the grocery store, make sure you save the bag! Most of the bags have a coupon for a free tall coffee hidden somewhere on the packaging. If you’re a member of the Starbucks membership card, these bags are also good for one “star” code. The bags of coffee Starbucks sells in their cafe locations don’t have these coupons on them, so remember to keep any Starbucks brand coffee you buy from your local grocery store. You don’t want to throw out what amounts to a free coffee, after all.

Order a “Short”

You may not have heard of a “short” coffee before, but that’s because it’s not on the menu. But this doesn’t mean you can’t order it! The short coffee is about 8 oz, which is significantly less than the 12 oz tall size. However, if you rarely finish your tall coffee or latte before it gets cold, a short may be a nice option for you. Plus, it’s a little bit cheaper than the tall and if you stay in the store while drinking your coffee instead of leaving, you’re granted free refills.

Don’t Limit Yourself to the Menu

Starbucks will make many drinks that aren’t on their official menu in the store. Sometimes the options off the menu are not only cheaper, but more delicious. Here’s a list of some off menu items for under $3.50.

Order Light Ice

Have you ever been annoyed that your drink seems like it’s 80% ice and 20% liquid? More ice means that there’s less coffee or tea in the cup, which means you’re losing money and Starbucks is making money. Next time you order an iced drink, ask for light ice and get your money’s worth of coffee or tea instead of getting a drink that’s mostly full of ice.

Skip the Latte

Lattes are delicious and can be a nice treat, but they’re ridiculously expensive. If you’re craving a latte but don’t want to spend the money, order two espressos over ice and then pour in your own milk and flavoring from what’s offered at the bar. Then you have an iced latte for half the price!

Size Down

Do you really need that Venti coffee – and did you know that there’s the same amount of caffeine in both a Grande and a Venti? Both contain only 2 espresso shots and the only difference is that a Venti has more milk. Sometimes the larger option seems like it will be the best option, especially when it’s only a few cents more, but you don’t always need to go up a size when ordering. If you really want to save money at Starbucks, stick with a smaller, cheaper size.

Bring Your Own Cup

Though it’s not frequently advertised, Starbucks offers ten cents off your total price if you bring your own cup or tumbler. While ten cents may not seem like a lot of money, if you visit Starbucks multiple times in a week, this could save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

Break Your Coffee Habit

This is by far the most difficult option presented, but it will save you the most money. It usually takes about three weeks to break a habit. If you can get yourself not to go to their retail outlets for a few weeks, you have the opportunity to save yourself over $1000 a year. If you can’t break the coffee habit completely, there are a lot of alternative options for getting your coffee for free or saving money on coffee that you can implement.

2 thoughts on “12 Ways to Save Money at Starbucks

  1. In regard to a Gift Card, MSN recently published an article that suggest the majority of online ones were stolen. Since I’m using a credit card to purchase the occasional discount gift card, I feel somewhat protect. What I won’t buy online or from an auction site, is a card sold by an individual.

    I’m more of a Panera customer and plain old coffee.

  2. We don’t have a Starbucks here in our province, but we have a coffee shop here that the prices are similar to Starbucks. I’m a coffee lover and I always make my own coffee just to save money, but I want to splurge sometimes and goes out to a coffee shop.

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