As any Starbucks lover will tell you, there is a real cost to a true caffeine addiction. With menu options that range from your basic drip coffee to elaborate espresso concoctions — as well as choices that don’t even contain coffee — America’s top purveyor of gourmet coffee drinks knows how to make money. Consumers often sabotage their savings by overspending and letting their buyers’ impulses override their saving goals.
Click through and cut down on your Starbucks bill with these money-saving restaurant tips.
1. Order an Espresso and Create Your Own Latte
A Starbucks iced latte includes milk, ice and brewed espresso. While it’s faster to order a latte with these ingredients already mixed for you, you’ll also pay more for this convenience.
To save money, make your own iced latte using ingredients at the condiments bar. Order an Americano or a double-shot espresso over ice with room in the cup. Then, add your own milk.
Check out some of the best and worst deals on the Starbucks menu.
2. Skip the Chai Latte and Order a Chai Tea
The same concept works if you’re not a big coffee drinker, but in the mood for a Chai Latte instead. If you order a Chai Tea, you’ll receive a cup of hot water and a Chai tea bag. Simply brew the tea yourself and then head to the condiments bar. There, add your own milk to create a less expensive version of a Chai Latte.
3. Register Your Starbucks Loyalty Card
Join Starbucks’ loyalty rewards program to become eligible for freebies and discounts on food and drinks. Signing up is easy. You can register a Starbucks gift card online, or download the Starbucks app to your cell phone. Each time you use your gift card or app to make a purchase, you’ll earn reward points toward free food. As a bonus, you’ll receive a coupon for a free menu item on your birthday.
4. Skip the Water When Ordering Iced Tea
When ordering an iced tea from Starbucks, the coffeehouse pours your drink from a pitcher of double-strength iced tea and then waters down the beverage. To get two iced teas for the price of one, ask for your iced tea without water. Once you have your order, split the drink into two glasses and add your own water. Drink one glass of iced tea now, and save the other for later.
5. Get a French Press to Share
Starbucks has a lot of menu items to choose between. One item you might not find on your local menu is the French press, but it does exist. Even though sizes and prices vary, you can usually order a 32-ounce French press for under $5. Split the drink and cost with another person and get more coffee for your money.
6. Brew Your Own Starbucks
Paying $1.85 for a tall freshly brewed coffee each day on your way to work will cost about $9.25 a week. This might not seem like a lot until you consider that a 12-ounce package of Starbucks House Blend Ground Coffee costs around $7.99 at Target for 24 servings. Brew your own, and get a much cheaper coffee without leaving your house.
7. Split a Venti Frappuccino
A tall Frappuccino at Starbucks is 12-ounces, whereas a venti Frappuccino is 24-ounces. Even though a venti gets you an extra 12-ounces of coffee, you’ll only pay a dollar more for the size difference. So if you’re in Starbucks with a friend, instead of ordering two of the same tall Frappuccino, it only makes sense to share a venti. Make sure you bring your own cup and split the drink yourself, or else you’ll be charged for two tall drinks.
8. Buy Discounted Starbucks Gift Cards
Gift card resale sites such as Raise, Cardpool and Gift Card Granny are ways to get your hands on discounted Starbucks gift cards. Along with these sites, Groupon will sometimes run offers for half-off eGift cards for Starbucks. So check frequently to see if you can snag a deal. Also, stop by Starbucks’ promotional page for current deals. The coffeehouse recently offered a $10 bonus when buying a $10 Starbucks gift card with Visa Checkout.
9. Convert Spare Change to Coffee Money
Taking your rolled coins to the bank is old school. Coinstar is a faster, easier way to turn your coins into cash. Simply dump your loose change into the machine for a cash voucher, or exchange your coins for an eGift card to Starbucks or a variety of other stores or restaurants.
10. Don’t Forget Your Free Refill
Starbucks reward members are also eligible for free refills on coffee and tea during their visit. Whether you’re at Starbucks working, studying or catching up with friends, pay for your coffee with the Starbucks card or your mobile app, and request refills of the same drink until you leave. Unfortunately, the coffeehouse doesn’t honor refills on drive-thru orders.
11. Order a Short
Tall, grande and venti are known Starbucks coffee sizes. Although these might be the only sizes on the menu, these aren’t the only sizes you can order. Starbucks also has secret sizes and drinks. And for those who drink less — or those who want to save money — there’s the 8-ounce short. The price difference between a short and tall varies depending on location and the item, but you might save between $0.20 and $0.30.
12. Get Filtered Water Instead of Bottled Water
When a cold drink of water seems like the perfect chaser to your Starbuck’s order, don’t grab a pricey bottled water at checkout. Because Starbucks uses filtered water to brew its coffee, a cheap alternative is requesting a courtesy cup of filtered iced water at no additional charge.
13. Bring Your Own Cup
Starbucks’ white cardboard coffee cups and clear cups are standard, but you don’t have to receive your drink in one of these. It might come as a surprise, but Starbucks allows its customers to bring their own cup for a $0.10 cup discount regardless of size. Here’s how it works: Present your own cup, and based on the size of this cup, the coffeehouse charges either the short, tall, grande or venti price for your beverage.
14. Redeem Credit Card Rewards for a Starbucks Gift Card
Check your credit card reward options to see if you can redeem your points for a Starbucks gift card. Depending on the rewards program, you might receive a $10 gift card for every 1,000 credit card points. The more you use your rewards credit card, the more points you can earn toward free coffee. Just make sure you pay off your credit card in full every month to avoid debt.
15. Work Part-Time at Starbucks
To earn extra money and free coffee, consider part-time work at Starbucks. You might be eligible for the company’s benefits package if you work 20 or more hours a week, or the Starbucks College Achievement Plan which offers tuition assistance toward a bachelor’s degree. As an added bonus, Starbucks employees receive 30 percent in-store and online discounts, plus one free pound of coffee or a box of K-Cups weekly.
16. Ask for “Easy Ice”
When ordering an iced coffee, the barista might fill your cup with ice first and then add the coffee. And sometimes, ice fills the cup to the brim, resulting in more ice and less coffee. The good news is that Starbucks lets you customize your drink. So request “easy on the ice” and get more coffee for your money.
17. Get a Free Pup Treat
Starbucks doesn’t only have a secret drink size; it also has a secret menu item for dogs called the Puppuccino. It’s a cup filled with whipped cream designed specifically for pups. So the next time you head to Starbucks and order a drink for yourself, don’t forget to order up a sweet treat for your furry best friend.