Do you love to stop at Starbucks throughout the week? Whether you’re addicted to their coffee or make semi-frequent stops for a cup of joe, you know how difficult it is to get cheap Starbucks drinks. Unfortunately, it’s easy to see the cost of feeding your habit add up.
I worked at Starbucks during college as a way to make extra money and saw how expensive it is to stop at the coffee shop. However, I also learned there are numerous ways to save money at Starbucks and still get your favorite latte.
If you love coffee but want to learn how to get cheap drinks from Starbucks, read on to learn how to save money on your coffee habit.
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Best Ways to Get Cheap Starbucks Drinks
Many personal finance experts like to make you guilty for spending money on items like coffee. But, if you live a financially stable life, it’s perfectly fine to spend on things you enjoy.
That includes buying coffee at Starbucks. With minimal effort, you can reduce cost and still enjoy your favorite drink without hurting your wallet.
Here are 13 real ways to get cheap Starbucks drinks and still scratch your coffee itch.
1. Join The Starbucks Rewards Club
Hands down, one of the best ways to save money at Starbucks is to join their rewards club. Yes, it’s another loyalty program to join, but it’s a terrific way to reduce costs at the store.
The Starbucks rewards club has a few key benefits, including:
- Free brewed coffee or tea refills
- Double star days to increase rewards
- Order ahead and pay from your phone
You earn stars with each purchase. You can redeem those stars for free, or cheap Starbucks drinks, pastries, sandwiches, or a bag of coffee.
The program is free to use, and once you download the app, you can start earning points immediately.
2. Earn Free Gift Cards
If you don’t want to join the rewards club, you can always earn free drinks in other ways. One of my favorite ways is to earn Starbucks gift cards to use for coffee and food.
Here are some of my favorite apps that let you earn rewards points and get free gift certificates:
Swagbucks: Swagbucks is an app that lets you make money performing small tasks like watching sponsored videos, or using their shopping portal.
You earn SB points for each task you perform. You can redeem those points for cash or gift cards.
The app is free to use, and has Starbucks gift cards starting at $5 (or 5,000 SB points, which you can earn quickly).
Read our Swagbucks review to learn more about the platform.
Ibotta: Ibotta is an app that rewards you with cash back for purchasing your groceries or online shopping. The app is free to use, and you can redeem earnings once you reach a $20 balance.
It does not take long to reach that balance as Ibotta gives you $5 for opening an account and making your first purchase. You can redeem earnings in gift cards, or cash if you prefer.
Read our Ibotta review to learn more about the platform.
Fetch Rewards: Fetch Rewards is the last app to earn Starbucks gift cards. The app is helpful to use if you buy brand name products.
Upon scanning a receipt with your phone, the app processes it and awards you points. What makes Fetch such a useful app is you only need to reach $3 to redeem earnings for cash or gift cards.
The app is free to use, and when you use the promo code “FETCH2K” you receive $2 when you open an account.
Read our Fetch Rewards review to learn more about the platform.
3. Get A Free Birthday Drink
Did you know you can get a free birthday drink from Starbucks? One of the perks of the loyalty program is a free Starbucks drink on your birthday.
The free drink is my favorite perk of the program. You don’t need to do anything to receive the drink.
The free drink appears on your account as a reward a few days before your birthday. Just don’t let it expire!
4. Find Starbucks Gift Card Deals
You may not realize this, but it’s possible to get Starbucks gift card deals to save money at the store. It’s not that difficult, and it’s an excellent way to reduce costs.
Groupon and LivingSocial are awesome resources if you want to find discounted gift cards for Starbucks. I was recently able to find a $10 Starbucks gift card for just $5 on Starbucks.
With a simple click of a button, I was able to take advantage of a 50 percent off deal. These deals happen from time to time and sell out quickly, so keep your eyes peeled.
Lastly, Gift Card Outlets is also an excellent resource to find Starbucks gift card deals. The site sells discounted gift cards to hundreds of retailers.
Some discounted options may only be six percent or less, but it can help in a pinch.
5. Use The Starbucks App
You don’t have to be a rewards member to use the Starbucks app. However, using the app could potentially make you a gold star member if you play your cards right.
For example, Starbucks has a lot of BOGO deals and “earn X many stars just by purchasing one drink” promotions. You can also earn other deals with the app, including:
- Happy hour specials
- Order from your phone and skip the line
- Exclusive deals just for you
You can use those deals to earn more stars, thus gaining status without paying the price.
6. DIY Iced Lattes
Do you love lattes, but hate the price? One of the best cheap Starbucks drinks is the DIY iced latte. It sounds complicated, but it’s simple to accomplish.
Here’s how to get a DIY iced latte:
- Order a double or triple shot of espresso in a Grande or Venti cup (ask for ice)
- Take your cup to the condiment station
- Add whatever you wish
This helps you save $1 or $2, depending on how many shots you typically get in your latte. If you don’t mind DIY, this is an easy way to save money at Starbucks.
7. Order A Short
Did you know Starbucks has a size smaller than the Tall? It’s called a Short and is one of the most overlooked Starbucks coffee sizes.
You can order it for most drinks (except iced, frappuccinos, and a few hot drinks).
You can even do this if you have kids. For example, I’ve ordered a kids hot chocolate. It comes in a Short cup and is steamed at a lower temperature, so it’s not too hot.
The Short is eight ounces, versus the 12-ounce Tall serving. You still get the same amount of caffeine, just at a lower price.
8. Bring Your Own Cup
You can receive a discount for bringing your own cup, and it’s eco-friendly, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
Even if you aren’t a member, you can get $0.10 off each time you bring your own cup.
This discount isn’t a huge savings, but every little bit helps. If you don’t have a cup you like to use, you can buy a reusable Starbucks cup at many stores.
They even sell some at a discount when they’re off-season.
9. Get Free Refills
When you become a gold star member in the app, you can get free refills while you’re still in the cafe. This does not work for drive-thru orders or if you leave and come back.
However, if you find yourself studying often, or need to work at a Starbucks for a few hours, those free refills add up.
Like with the loyalty club, the free refill is only for brewed coffee and tea.
10. Split A Venti
Do you usually go to the coffee shop with a friend? If so, you can split a drink with a friend to save money. You do this by ordering a Venti size drink and ask for two Tall cups.
Just as a heads up, don’t let the barista split the drinks as they will charge you for two Tall drinks. So, do it yourself, and you can save money.
This is a great way to get Starbucks drinks under $2 if you’re wise with what you order.
11. Order A Larger Size Cup (Or Ask To Leave Room)
I don’t typically recommend this “hack” or tip, because some view it as cheating the system.
Before I get into the cheat, just know that Starbucks gets busy, and the baristas don’t always have time to change out the milk carafes right away.
So, the milk that you get at the to-go station could be old. However, if you’re willing to take that risk, you can ask for a small coffee in a larger cup or have them leave room in your cup to fill it up with milk yourself.
Whatever you do, don’t order your drink and then ask the barista to give you cold fresh milk (past four ounces), or they’ll most likely send you back to the register to pay.
12. Take Advantage Of Promotions
Starbucks has hundreds of promotions, especially when they release new drinks and during the summer and holidays.
If you don’t need coffee all of the time, but want to treat yourself occasionally, do so during a promotion. Drinks are usually half off, and you can receive details by signing up for their email list.
One of my favorite times to go is when Starbucks has their holiday deals. An eggnog latte for half the price is a good deal, and so delicious.
13. Order Coffee In A French Press
Although not particularly popular or well known, Starbucks does have the French press coffee option, and it can save you a lot of money.
For a little over $5 (in some locations), you can receive a French press filled with coffee, enough for 4-8 cups. This is perfect if you genuinely enjoy coffee and don’t need the “extras,” or if you’re sharing with a friend.
You can also ask for a “for here” cup or bring your own as well. That way, you aren’t wasting paper cups.
While Starbucks may be expensive for some, there are always ways to save money and treat yourself to a nice cup of coffee.
As a former barista, I love supporting the chain and still go from time to time, but I have to admit, I do miss my barista discount.
So, to make up for that, I use some of these hacks to get cheap Starbucks drinks without spending a ton of money.
How much do you spend on coffee each month? What’s your favorite way to save money at Starbucks? What’s one vice you don’t mind spending on?
Kim Suazo has been a freelance writer and business owner for over four years. When she's not writing for Frugal Rules, you can find her on other publications like Chime, Discovery, and Due. She also owns her own websites The Entrepremomer and Part-Time Profit, where she teaches overworked moms how to streamline their new businesses so they can scale without a team.