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Food & Drink

10 hacks for cheap and free Starbucks coffee

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Starbucks is one of our most expensive addictions – although it doesn't have to be. We've found so many tips and tricks to show you how to save on your favourites and even get free drinks.

starbucks cup in shop with hacks written on it

Credit: Shutter B Photo (foreground), Michael Gordon (background) – Shutterstock

If you're that person who waits all year long for that Pumpkin Spice Latte (or, as the real fans call it, a PSL) and can't stop yourself from ordering one, this guide is for you.

And if you only visit Starbucks once in a blue moon, this guide is also for you! Saving money has no restrictions.

Where there's a will, there's a way. And in this case, there is a definite will, because we don't want to spend £58 (approximately) on a drink every time we leave the house. But thankfully, none of us will ever have to again, as long as we use these Starbucks hacks...

If you're looking for more tasty freebies, take a look at how to get free food.

Starbucks hacks

These are the best ways to get free and cheap drinks at Starbucks...

  1. Get free Starbucks coffee

    One of our favourite Starbucks tips combines studying and coffee. Is there a better way to take the edge off writing an entire essay in a day?

    If you pay around £2.00 for a filter coffee, you can get unlimited free refills. If you turn up in the morning and pay the one-off fee, you can keep filling your cup for the rest of the day.

    We used this tip to its full potential when we were at university and the library was full, meaning we spent the whole day studying at Starbucks.

  2. Save money every time you buy a drink

    We like the sound of saving money (and the environment) every time we buy a drink at Starbucks. All you have to do is bring your own reusable cup and get them to fill it up instead of giving you a disposable one, and you'll get 25p off your purchase every time you go.

    And if you were planning on ordering a takeaway drink anyway, you'll be saving even more. Starbucks now has a 5p charge for every drink in a paper cup – so by bringing your own, you'll effectively be saving 30p per drink.

    It doesn't sound like a lot, but after you've bought a few drinks, you'll have saved enough for a free Starbucks.

    We're fans of a KeepCup and would really recommend searching for one on a deal (one of us bought one for £6, down from £22). This way, you can feel good about getting your plastic-free coffee and refrain from throwing the cup and lid away after just 30 minutes of use.

  3. Use the Starbucks loyalty card for free drinks

    The Starbucks Reward Card is one of the best loyalty cards going, and it's completely free. If you collect points with your Reward Card every time you go to Starbucks, you'll bag yourself a free drink every time you hit 150 stars.

    You'll get three stars for every £1 you spend, so once you hit this level, your next drink is on the house (hype).

    If you don't go to Starbucks that often, you could always ask your friends and family to scan your card when they visit – you'll get your free drink much quicker.

  4. Get free Starbucks on your birthday

    phone starbucks rewards app screen

    Credit: BestStockFoto – Shutterstock

    Starbucks Reward Card members who have achieved Gold status can receive a free drink on their birthday. What an extra little treat.

    To reach Gold level, you'll need to collect 450 stars. As you get three stars for every £1 you spend, you'll need to spend a small fortune to reach this milestone (£150 to be precise), so we definitely wouldn't recommend buying drinks just to reach Gold. But if you're already there (or close), it's worth knowing what's on offer.

    And in case you hadn't gathered, we absolutely love birthday freebies. Not only do you get a full day all about YOU, but you can get lots of gifts from brands too.

  5. Add free syrups, shots of coffee and whipped cream

    When you reach Gold Level Rewards (and let's be honest, some of us coffee addicts will), you'll be able to get extra shots of coffee, whipped cream and selected syrups for free.

    A freebie is still a freebie, no matter how small – and honestly, these are pricey upgrades for your already expensive drink.

  6. Get three small drinks for the price of one

    Sadly, we all know how expensive Starbucks is, especially if you fancy a Frappucino. But, as is so often the case, going for a bigger drink can work out cheaper.

    We love ordering the biggest Frappucino and asking for two or three 'Tall' cups on the side. This works well if there are a few of you getting the same drink (or can at least cope with getting the same drink), as you can decant the big one into the smaller cups. Absolute winner!

    Now all you've got to do is fight about what drink you're having this time around...

    You can earn Starbucks vouchers by answering easy surveys when you join Swagbucks.
  7. Get cheaper iced lattes

    Grande iced lattes will cost you an arm and a leg these days (around £3.85), so it's important that you get the most for your lost limbs. And as you can't quite replace the taste of coffee from proper coffee shops, getting it cheaper is a major bonus.

    We suggest ordering a double shot of espresso (around £2.60), a cup of ice (this is free) and then filling up with milk from the side counter, which is also free.

    This hack will save you over £1 each time you order, so by your third makeshift iced latte, you'll almost have saved enough money to buy a proper iced latte and for it to be completely free (kind of).

  8. Skip the queue at Starbucks

    starbucks coffee shop front

    Credit: Nils Versemann – Shutterstock

    Who wants to waste their time in line when you can pre-order the exact drink you want and pay for it on the app? Nobody – so order ahead of time to skip the queue.

    All you have to do is download the Starbucks app and use it to order and pay for your drink. You then just need to rock up and say the name on your order.

    Enter the store, collect your drink and get ready to sip in approximately two minutes flat. Bish bash bosh.

    Check out our guide to the best free coffee deals for more great money-saving tips.
  9. Get free water at Starbucks

    Don't be wasting your hard-earned Maintenance Loan on a bottle of water. Instead, ask behind the counter if you could have some tap water to drink.

    They don't technically have to give it to you at your request, but 99% of the time they will. As long as you ask with a smile (or, worst comes to worst, plead your student status and open up an empty wallet) you should be fine. Sip up.

  10. Get more drink for your money

    Have you ever considered that you're missing out on precious millilitres when you order your cold Starbucks drink with ice?

    It may only be a few sips you're missing, but if it's your favourite drink, you may be craving that extra liquid – and the best way to combat this is to ask for your drink without ice.

    If you really miss ice in your drinks, either ask for 'light ice' or, after they've poured your drink, ask for a cup of ice. Take a few initial sips and then you'll have room for a few cubes of ice. You're welcome.

Since you've saved so much money on the Starbucks menu with the best tips and tricks, take a look at our McDonald's hacks guide.

* Prices were accurate at the time of writing but may vary depending on your location.

Lauren Nash

WRITTEN BY Lauren Nash

Lauren is a deals and discounts expert, and the Digital Marketing Manager at Save the Student. She is passionate about saving money and has appeared on Channel 5 documentaries sharing her money-saving tips. Lauren's work is centred around securing the best exclusive deals for Save the Student and working with great student brands.
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