Get More Starbucks Drinks for Free

by Ashley Eneriz · 12 comments

starbucks coffee
If you missed the news, Starbucks raised their prices once again this summer, for the third summer in a row. The obvious solution to save money at Starbucks is to avoid the coffee shop altogether. However, if Starbucks is your crutch – like it is mine, you just have to learn how to get more creative about getting drinks for free.

Here are four such hacks you should try if you want to score free drinks.

Check Your Grocery Loyalty Card

The Starbucks in Vons, Albertsons and Barnes & Noble are all separate businesses, meaning they do not operate under the same umbrella as a Starbucks franchise. That means that they can offer different opportunities for Starbucks discounts and free drink offers.

My Vons’ card had four free Starbucks drinks on it last month. I also received multiple offers for discounted drinks and pastries in the past too. It seems that whenever Starbucks introduces a new drink, my Vons’ card has a free drink promo to entice me to try it.

You can check your Albertson’s card too, along with any other grocery store that has a Starbucks in it. Keep an eye out for special coupons or discounts for the Starbucks in Target and Barnes and Noble. I have seen a few, but not as many specials through the two retailers.

Volunteer to Be the Errand Drink Getter

I am usually the first person to volunteer to get a group of friends Starbucks, because they will usually pay me in cash, and I can just pay for everything on my card. This means I get the bonus points without personally having to spend more.

This can work great at your workplace too. Many of your co-workers will want coffee, but they don’t necessarily want to waste their lunch hour getting drinks. You can spend your lunch hour and enjoy the bonus stars. Be sure to manage how you are going to get paid though. You don’t want to deal with IOUs from co-workers.

Partake in Bonus Promotions

While I miss the old star program, I also enjoy the extra bonuses the new program offers. If you aren’t receiving regular emails from Starbucks, then be sure to change your spam filter settings.

Starbucks sends out a promotional earning email about once a week, but you need to open it and add the bonus deal to your account. Usually the emails are for double star days, 100 bonus points for ordering a specific thing, or extra bonus points for their “star dash,” which consists of going several days in a row.

Stick Around for a Few Minutes More

If you regularly get coffee or tea at Starbucks, you might as well get the tall size and stick around for a few minutes. Drink your tall quickly, then get a free refill to go. Obviously this tip isn’t ideal for those in a hurry, but you can cut the wait time by mobile ordering your drink ahead of time.

Let me know your tips and tricks for saving money on your favorite Starbucks (or other coffee shop) beverages. Have you ever received a free drink on your grocery loyalty card? What other tips do you have?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Hank says:

    My daughter whom is a widow, works as a waitress/bartender. We usually go out to eat once a week (another pooh-pah from financial advisors). The 3 of us paid a total of $105.00 including tip for a meal. Mine was a chicken salad (diabetic) no dressing. Then we sat on our porch talking about her plans to adopt the ‘tiny home’ concept, how she has to watch her money. I pointed out to my wife how ridiculous that whole scene played out for me.

    We buy a cup o’ joe once or twice a week at the kiosk paying $6-7.50 for the privilege with a projected expense is $300-400 annually (include 10% dis.) not going to break me & I do enjoy the interaction. As for my neighbor he comes over with his personal/financial information & asks for an opinion, which I give willingly & he never heeds. His financial advisor/beneficiary whom I suspect is abusing him financially stopped him going to his favorite restuarant to have breakfast (oatmeal & coffee) because it was too costly, so he opts for the daily $4+ frappe instead.

  • While it isn’t the same as Starbucks, one might consider free coffee as a perk with the bank you choose. I bank at a branch one block from my office. I go in the bank at least once if not twice a week. While there I often use the self-serve Keurig, with which they have standard coffee along with hot chocolate, tea and special coffee blends. And of course, all of it is a free bonus for my simply banking there.

    • David Ning says:

      Ha good use of your free perk! I often take advantage of coffee machines at car dealerships, but for some reason I’ve never used ones offered at my bank.

      I should make a trip there soon 😀

  • Toni says:

    Sometimes it’s just nice to treat yourself, though.
    Anyone buying a large frappe every day of the week is completely insane in my eyes (or probably has disposable income) but once a week, once a month even, if you get a craving to treat yourself to that sugary, overpriced coffee drink, then go for it.
    It’s just not realistic to never indulge.

  • Bert says:

    Hanks is absolutely correct. For the life of me, I am unable to understand the success of Starbucks, etc. Are the vast majority of American consumers really this unaware of basic money management, or are they simply stupid?

    • David Ning says:

      I wouldn’t go as far as to call them stupid, but it’s true that Americans as a whole spend a ton of money on these seemingly small purchases. If only they knew how everything adds up to huge amounts, then everybody’s finances will be much better off.

  • Hank says:

    It’s not that I’m getting more frugal in my senior years rather than more in tune with my fixed income. I had an revelation about coffee purchases from our local kiosks. I usually make my coffee at home but occasionally I stop along the way & partake of a purchased cup from one of my favorite kiosks. I end up paying $2.70 average for a 20 oz serving including approx 1/3 C of half n half. I never buy the flavored, caramelized, sugary kind (O’lays or Frappes) just lightened Arabica ground.

    My calculations work out @ the kiosk @ $.135 per ounce. @ home buying whole beans from our local WinCo grinding my own brewing up a 48 oz pot adding in 1 C of half n half my cost averages $.03 an oz. Quite a difference when you figure I drink on average 36 oz daily. So a home brewed coffee will end up costing me $395 annually, versus $1,775 buying it at the kiosk. Both coffee & half n half (whole dairy products) are purported to slow down the process of glucose production for a diabetic, thereby benefiting my numbers.

    My very frugal neighbor came over yesterday carrying a plastic 12 oz C of a sweetened slushy mixture from the VA hospital, ‘Starbucks’ has that franchise, I questioned him based upon his conversations over the years about paying more than he should for various items. He said the cost was $4.25 which got me thinking about the above scenario. What we pay for in convenience & fees can quickly erode any savings you derive from using your rewards cards to make purchases. I really need to get a life!

    • David Ning says:

      Ha no worries about getting a life, because you already have one! 🙂 I suspect you enjoy these calculations, so that’s a source of joy for you too.

      As to the coffee, do what works for you and let your neighbor do what works for him. Just make sure not to rub it in if you retire with more money than him!

  • ESI Money says:

    I was just in a grocery store this morning (King Soopers, owned by Kroger) and looked at their prices compared to other Starbucks. The same. But I’ll check into your tip about looking on their app to see if there are any offers there.

    A related saving tip: by Starbucks gift cards at the grocery store. You can often earn 5% or so cash back on grocery store purchases, so why not get an extra 5%?

    • David Ning says:

      Nice deal with the gift cards, and do check the apps. I’m sure they won’t have a permanent discount, but there are certainly promotional deals every once in a while.

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