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Food & Drink

Best free coffee offers

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There's only one thing better than coffee, and that's free coffee. Read on to discover how to get a free hot drink at Starbucks, Costa, Caffè Nero and more.

caffe nero, starbucks and costa reusable coffee cups

Credit: Monkey Business Images (background), Chutima Chaochaiya (Starbucks) – Shutterstock

Given that you can make a coffee at home for next to nothing, we'd usually advise against heading to Starbucks, Costa and the like for your routine caffeine fix.

But it's a totally different story when, rather than next to nothing, you can get a barista-standard coffee for nothing at all.

So, put your money away and drink in these tips for getting free coffee.

Supermarket cashback apps will often have offers to get free or cheap coffee in your weekly shop, too.

How to get free coffee

Here's how to get free coffee at all your favourite coffee shops:

  1. Costa Coffee

    costa coffee logo

    Costa is the biggest coffee shop chain in the UK, with well over 2,500 outlets across the country.

    With that many branches to choose from, there's no excuse not to try these ways to get a free Costa coffee:

    Collect Costa Club beans

    As many coffee shops do, Costa has a loyalty card scheme (Costa Club) that allows you to collect stamps for every purchase you make.

    You'll get one stamp (or 'bean') for each drink you buy, including at the Costa Express machines you'll often find in supermarkets or service stations. Once you've collected 10 beans, you'll have enough for a free Costa coffee.

    However, there's an even quicker way to get your coffee for free. If you bring your own reusable cup, you'll get a bonus bean.

    At two beans per purchase, you'll only need to buy a total of five drinks with a reusable cup before you get your free coffee. Plus, you'll be reducing your carbon footprint.

    Refer a friend to the Costa Club

    We love a referral scheme here at Save the Student, and we love them even more when the reward is free coffee.

    Invite a friend to the Costa Club and both of you will earn a whopping five beans once they've made their first "bean-earning purchase" (full T&Cs). 10 is the magic number of beans you're aiming for, so you only need to invite two friends before you can get a free Costa coffee through invites alone.

    Need more than a few beans to convince your friend to sign up? Check out our loyalty card guide for the Costa Club lowdown, including the special birthday freebie.

    Earn free Costa Coffee vouchers

    With so many branches of Costa Coffee in the UK, there's a fair chance you're within walking distance of one. But what if we told you that you could use that journey to help earn a free Costa voucher?

    As we explain in our guide to making money from walking, there are a handful of apps out there that'll pay you for your steps. One of our favourites is winwalk, which converts your steps into coins. Once you've accumulated enough coins, you can purchase gift cards to use at a whole range of shops. And that includes, you guessed it, Costa Coffee.

    Check out this list of apps that pay you to walk for more info.

  2. Pret A Manger

    pret a manger logo

    Although the vast majority of their stores are in London, you can still find Prets outside of the capital. Here's how to get free Pret a Manger coffee.

    Get a free coffee from a Pret barista

    You may have heard the rumours that Pret baristas are allowed to give out free coffees to whomever they like. We're here to tell you that it's more than just a rumour: it's official Pret policy.

    We've previously got in touch with Pret and they confirmed that this initiative, known as 'random acts of kindness', allows their staff the freedom to give a customer something on the house. That could be free coffee, free cake or free anything (as long as it's on the Pret menu, of course).

    There's no rhyme or reason as to who gets the free stuff. However, the consensus seems to be that regular customers, as well as those who are polite and friendly, are most likely to get a free Pret coffee.

    Discounts on Pret coffee subscription

    Note: This tip won't get you entirely free coffee, but it will help you save money if you regularly go to Pret.

    The coffee aficionados among you may already be aware that Pret has a subscription service whereby you can get up to five drinks a day, every day, for £30 a month. This works out to 155 drinks in a 31-day month. That's why most people regard the subscription as giving you access to 'unlimited' coffee.

    Pret often runs promotions on its coffee subscription, such as half-price for the first month (£15). This means that, once you've bought £15 worth of coffee from Pret, the rest of the coffees that month will effectively be free.

    Just make sure you cancel before the first month is up, or it'll automatically renew and you'll be charged £30.

  3. Caffè Nero

    caffe nero logo

    We're big fans of Caffè Nero, and not just because of their incredible Hot Chocolate (although admittedly that helps).

    No, the main reason is because of the great ways to get free coffee at Caffè Nero. Not to mention just how generous their loyalty card scheme is...

    Use Caffè Nero's loyalty card app

    On the face of it, Caffè Nero's loyalty card app is pretty much par for the course. Buy nine hot drinks and you'll get the 10th free. But dig beneath the surface and you'll find there are loads of ways to get your free coffee sooner.

    For starters, as soon as you download the app using our link and make your first purchase, you'll get a voucher for a free hot drink.

    And if you have your own reusable coffee cup, bring it along with you. Every time you use it, you'll get a bonus stamp and bring yourself even closer to that free coffee.

    Also, if you verify your student email on the app, you can access special offers and discounts.

    Refer a friend to the Caffè Nero app

    Think one of your nearest and dearest might enjoy all the perks of using the Caffè Nero app too? Why not be totally selfless and invite them to use it?

    Every person you successfully refer to the Caffè Nero app will get a free hot drink once they've made their first purchase. And crucially, you'll get a free drink for yourself too.

    Get a free hot drink every week with Octopus Energy

    Not only is Octopus Energy currently offering a free £50 credit to customers who refer a friend, but customers can also get a free hot drink every week at Caffè Nero through the app.

    With this Octopus deal you can feel very smug in knowing you're onto one of the best free coffee offers around.

  4. Starbucks

    Starbucks logo

    Before you pop into your local branch and have them misspell your name on your cup, make sure you use one of these tips to get free Starbucks coffee.

    Use Starbucks Rewards

    Starbucks isn't alone in having a loyalty card scheme, but its reward card is slightly different to the others we've featured so far.

    Similarly to others, the chance is there to get coffee for free. You need 150 Stars to get a free drink, and you'll earn three Stars for every £1 spent. If we assume a coffee costs about £3, you'll need to buy 15–20 hot drinks to get one for free. Not quite as generous as Costa or Caffè Nero's loyalty schemes, but better than nothing.

    Get a free coffee on your birthday

    If and when you've signed up for Starbucks Rewards, you'll notice that one big way in which it differs from other loyalty schemes is the fact that it has tiers.

    Accumulate 450 stars and you'll be admitted into the Gold Level of membership. Being a Gold member gets you a free drink on your birthday.

    Get unlimited free refills of filter coffee

    Reckon you'll be spending a good few hours in Starbucks, perhaps writing an essay away from the distractions of your bedroom? Then this is the tip for you.

    At participating stores, if you buy a filter coffee (which usually costs a couple of pounds), you might be able to get unlimited free refills as a Starbucks member. Check in the store before buying the coffee to see if this deal is available.

    It's no great surprise that this is one of our top hacks for getting free Starbucks.

    Earn free Starbucks vouchers

    Remember earlier when we explained how you can convert your steps into Costa Coffee vouchers? Well, Starbucks are in on the fun too. Check out our guide to earning money from walking and get your hands on some free Starbucks vouchers.

  5. Greggs

    greggs logo

    Greggs is so well known for its sandwiches and baked goods that you could almost be forgiven for forgetting that it does hot drinks too.

    But it does, and there's even a way to get a Greggs coffee totally free. The perfect way to wash down that flaky pastry goodness.

    Download the Greggs app

    Another coffee shop, another app. However, unlike some of the others on this list, you don't need to make a purchase before getting a freebie from the Greggs app.

    Instead, the good people over at Greggs have decided that you deserve a free hot drink just for taking the time to download the app. Simple as that.

    And the free stuff doesn't stop there. The Greggs app has a loyalty card scheme that's split into categories, meaning once you've bought nine of a given type of food or drink (like sandwiches, bakes and, yes, hot drinks), you'll get the 10th free.

    As if all that wasn't enough, the Greggs app might also surprise you every now and again with a little treat. Exactly what you can get will vary, but we have known them to give away free coffee in the past.

    Get a free drink every week with Octopus Energy or O2 Priority

    If you're lucky enough to be an Octopus Energy customer, you can get yourself a free hot drink from Greggs every week through the app.

    O2 Priority users can also often grab themselves a free drink from Greggs including, of course, a free coffee. Just note that the offer is occasionally paused.

    If you're not on O2, worry not, as we have a hack for getting O2 Priority on any network. Or, if you're considering switching to O2, check out our mobile phone comparison tool as well as our list of the best SIM only deals.

    Find out the top ways to save money at Greggs for more great tips.
  6. McDonald's

    mcdonalds logo

    Coffee may not be the first drink you go for at McDonald's, but it certainly has its place.

    In fact, if you're ordering a Maccy's breakfast and not getting at least some kind of hot drink with it, you're simply not doing it right. Check out this tip, give it a go, and thank us later.

    Collect points on the MyMcDonald's Rewards app

    In the past, you were able to collect McCafé stickers – six of them would grant you a free hot drink. At the time, it was one of our favourite McDonald's hacks. But things have changed with the new MyMcDonald's Rewards app.

    You can now collect points on all your McDonald's purchases. Every 1p you spend is worth one point. There are also bonus points up for grabs when buying certain items. To get a free hot drink from McDonald's, you'll need to collect 1,500 points – which is equal to spending £15.

  7. PAUL

    paul logo

    If you're not in London, there's a fair chance you won't have come across PAUL before. At least not in the UK, anyway.

    Either way, it's worth knowing how you can get your hands on a free PAUL coffee, just in case you ever find yourself nearby.

    Download the PAUL UK app

    PAUL's app has a few ways for you to get a free coffee. First up is the classic points-based loyalty system: for every nine hot drinks you buy, you'll get the 10th free.

    What's more, like Greggs, PAUL also likes to treat its customers to a surprise freebie every now and again. One of which might just be a free coffee!

    Head to our deals page for more details.

  8. Waitrose

    waitrose logo

    Perhaps not one you would have expected for the list, but Waitrose has one of our favourite free drink deals, and you won't need to buy a single coffee to get your free one!

    Get a MyWaitrose card

    If you have a MyWaitrose card you can get a free coffee with any purchase. That's right, anything at all! For example, we've been known to buy a morning banana for just 13p and redeem a free coffee.

    You'll just need to take your own reusable cup and make sure you scan your MyWaitrose card when you make your purchase. You'll then be entitled to a free coffee from one of the self-serve machines, which now includes premium coffees from the Nero Roasting Company.

  9. IKEA

    ikea birthday free £5

    Another shop you probably wouldn't usually associate with coffee, yet here we have another top free coffee deal. If you happen to live close to an IKEA store (or find yourself visiting more frequently than you perhaps should), this is the deal for you.

    Become an IKEA Family member

    Become an IKEA Family member for free and you'll be entitled to a free hot drink every weekday at your local IKEA store.

    Just pop into the restaurant in store, scan your IKEA Family card at checkout and a free coffee is yours. Simple!

Now you're set for life with free coffee, it's time to discover all the best ways to get free food.

Tom Allingham

WRITTEN BY Tom Allingham

Tom joined Save the Student in 2017, initially heading up the editorial team before becoming Communications Director. He has appeared as a Student Finance expert on a range of TV and radio stations including the BBC, ITV and Sky, sharing his top tips for saving money and cutting student bills.
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