How to save money at Starbucks

How to save money at Starbucks

If you enjoy Starbucks drinks then you will find all the information on how to save more money at Starbucks useful.


There is no doubt that if you are a Starbucks lover you already have some of these tips down pat but if you don’t know your way around the Starbucks menu you will do after reading this post.

These hacks are designed to save you money on your Starbucks drink yet still allowing you to enjoy your favorite drinks by switching up your drink requests at the till.

This guide to saving money at Starbucks shares drink hacks, tips on ordering, stretching your coffee budget, and unveiling some secret drinks. Enjoy!

1. Take advantage of the Free Refills Policy.

If you are signed as a Starbucks Rewards Member at a Green or Gold level and you don’t exit the store after your original order you are entitled to free refills. This includes all brewed coffee, hot tea, iced tea, and ice coffee.  This is only available at participating Starbucks stores.  You can’t sit at the airport all day and get free coffee or tea since the majority of Starbucks at airports are not participating locations.


You must purchase the drink on a registered Starbucks card at the green or gold level.

Rewards members reach green level when they have accumulated five stars, which is equal to five Starbucks purchases. Gold level is achieved by accumulating 30 stars in 12 months.

If you bought an iced tea drink like, a Grande Cool Lime Refresher, you could ask for a Iced Passion Tea in that cup as a refill!

Keep in mind that as soon as you leave the premises the visit has ended and so has you’re your free refills on coffee or tea. You will need to purchase a new drink again if you decided to return later in the day.

Here is a link to the official Starbucks page.

2. Easy on the ice, please.

I’m sure everyone has experienced this at some point particular when out at a restaurant in the US or Canada because ¾ of the cup is usually filled with ice. There is nothing more annoying than ordering a watered down drink.


Starbucks  is no different. Request that your drink have a minimal amount of ice or light on the ice. A grande beverage is almost equal to a Venti iced drink. Next time you go to order a drink that requires ice, drop down a size in drink and ask the barista to go easy on the ice. The temperature is just a cool but you are not spending good money on ice cubes but the real iced drink that you came for.

3. Split your drink orders!

This is not a hack but it will save you 50% on your Starbucks drink. Order a Venti and split it into two tall cups. This is guaranteed to save you money and calories. It is by far the easiest way to save on a drink hand cuts the price down by 50%, it’s also a great way to spend some time over a Starbucks drink with a date or lover.

Starbucks does not charge for cups so tag along your coffee mate and instantly save. Better yet, enjoy the coffee or tea at Starbucks in their mugs and get free refills.

. Share a Coffee Press

This first time you order a coffee press the person behind the counter might not understand what you mean. This has happened to me on numerous occasions however order any coffee through a French Press and it makes 8 cups (8oz or tall) of any beans they carry.


They will even go to the extent of opening a fresh bag of beans off the shelf if they don’t have it behind the counter. This includes seasonal & small batch coffees.

Share the Coffee Press with a friend or even a few and you will all save instantly. You also will be served using real mugs versus paper cups.

The Coffee Press at Starbucks costs around $4.50 here in Canada and the coffee tastes incredible!

5. Ditch the bottled water and save with Starbucks triple filtered water.

Starbucks water is at a minimum triple filtered. This means it’s just as clean as bottled water but without the plastic waste. It’s good for the environment to drink Starbucks triple filtered water.

I love that you can walk into any Starbucks in the world and get clean water. For us living in British Columbia we take this for granted. If you have ever been ill due to contaminated water as I have you will appreciate knowing that you can always get clean water at Starbucks.

Next time you start to reach for a bottled water remember that water they give out from behind the counter is just as good or better quality than the water in the bottle and it’s free!

 6. Get creative with the condiment bar

Open bar at Starbucks! With nutmeg, chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon powders at the condiment bar as well as whole milk, skim milk for those skinny drinks along with free soy milk to top off your coffee you can make your own drink.

If you are looking at ordering an iced espresso drink, consider asking for the number of shots over ice in a grande or venti cup. Pay only for the espresso and add the milk yourself at the condiment bar. Two shots over ice in a cup versus an iced grande latte will save you a buck or two.

7. Venti vs Grande: how much caffeine?

Here is a good question and the answer you should know for anyone concerned with how much caffeine you may or may not be getting in your Starbucks drink.

There is no difference in the amount of caffeine between a Venti or Grande latte and cappuccino. That might surprise some of you Starbucks lovers but if you’re in it for the caffeine, don’t bother with Venti.  Both a Grande and Venti contain 2 espresso shots the only difference is that you will be paying more for a Venti because that’s more milk. If however you do want the extra milk, ask for a Grande in a Venti cup extra hot and add milk at the condiment bar.

8. Misto vs Latte what’s the difference?

A café Misto is simple drip coffee with steamed milk. A café latte is a shot of espresso with steamed milk. Ultimately if your habit is a latte try ordering half and half (half drip half steamed). It provides the same jolt as a latte with more savings.

9. Americano vs Drip coffee

An Americano pronounced with a French accent is similar in strength to a drip coffee depending on how many shots of espresso are added but will vary in taste. If you are looking for an added caffeine boost outside your regular coffee, an Americano has less caffeine. An American is a shot of espresso filled with extremely hot water while drip coffee has slightly more caffeine with just plain black coffee.

10. Italian short cappuccino vs Starbucks Tall Cappuccino

A cappuccino is an Italian coffee drink. It’s a shot of espresso and hot milk – 1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot milk and 1/3 foamed milk. In Italy it’s served in a 4-6 oz cup but in the North America it’s served in a 8oz cup but with more hot milk. You can order a short cappuccino the real Italian way and save money.

How? Order it made the North American way topped with extra milk.

It’s not listed on the official Starbucks menu, but you can order a short-sized cappuccino.

 So why is the short cappuccino not on the menu?

Starbucks, like most coffee shops, maintain a fine line with pricing.  If the price is too high you drive customers away, but if you price it too low the margins don’t allow sufficient profit. A short cappuccino raises the bar for the minimum drink size to tall.  This means Starbucks can charge more for a larger (tall) drink by a dollar which is a significant amount of money over all.

11. Fresher Brew

It costs just the same as regular brewed coffee but fresher. You will find yourself waiting a few minutes longer for your drink although the fresher pour over coffee is worth it. Your request should be a pour over of the bold blend.

 Starbucks Drink Hacks

1. Chai Latte Substitute

Chai Latte can easily be recreated at Starbucks for less money and less calories. Order a  Chai teabag and request to be topped with hot milk instead of hot water.  A Chai Latte is a lot more expensive than a Chai tea with the only difference of having the sugary syrup. If you are looking for the sugar punch just add some honey at the condiment bar.

The sugary syrup is boiled sugar and hot water similar to what I did when making Candied Orange peels.

2. Minty Hot Chocolate

This is not on the Starbucks Menu but you can make it so that it’s like a signature drink. It is simply a hot chocolate with steamed mild, a shot of peppermint and whip cream on top. The beauty of this drink is that you can make it a skinny by asking for sugar-free mint syrup. This syrup is normally carried or stocked during Christmas season so that mint not always have in stock.

This is a cheaper signature type drink hack that is nice over Christmas and it still gives you the taste and feeling instead of a true Starbucks signature drink.

3. Spice up Iced Coffee with milk and flavored syrups

To spice up any drink at Starbucks try adding one of the syrups below. Syrups are $0.50 and it can make a huge difference to your coffee. You can also opt for steamed milk or soy milk. Steam soy costs more if ordered steamed but not hot milk. If you want to avoid the cost of steamed soy milk you can always ask for it at the end. The barista will pass over the soy milk and allow you to fill your cup since they don’t generally keep soy milk at the condiment bar.

Here’ is the list of syrups offered at Starbucks – syrups may vary depending on location and season.

Venti Starbucks double shot on ice

A really cheap drink is a Venti Starbucks double shot on ice.  Starbucks makes more money on cold beverages so ordering a shot of espresso over ice and traditional syrup could be a better solution savings. Alternatively skip the syrup and add your own flavor from the condiment bar.

There are also 5 shots of espresso in a venti. Request a free cup of ice and pour the espresso shots on the ice. Head to the condiment bar and add your own creamer or milk.

Instead of a latte, order a double shot of espresso and put milk in it yourself. Price difference? $1.75 versus $2.75, a savings of 43%.

Affogato-Style Frappuccino

This one probably classifies more as an in-the-know drink than a “secret” one. Order any Frappuccino “affogato-style” and you’ll get a shot of hot espresso added on top of your drink as opposed to having it blended in.

Be Green!

Bring your own cup

Starbucks provides a small discount of $0.10 on your order when you use a reusable cup instead of using a disposable cup.

Starbucks is actually initiated a long-term goal of 100% reusable or recyclable cups by 2015.


If you order 5 times at Starbucks each week – bringing your own cup would save you $26 each year!

This saves: 10 cents per drink.

Earth Day Discounts

Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Starbucks gives everyone free coffee  or tea when you bring in a reusable mug or tumbler. Any choice of brewed, hot or iced coffee and tea– it is spring after all.

This happens only at Starbucks participating stores in the United States and Canada.

Starbucks will also discount their tumblers and travel mugs on Earth Day.

This saves: A free drink!

Gift Cards

Buy your Starbucks gift card at a discount

As Starbucks is one of the most popular gift cards there seems to be a lot of these cards floating around. There a numerous sites available that sell used or second hand sort of speak gift cards. Make sure you can validate the gift card that is being sold on the a third-party website.

Here is a list of websites that let you acquire gift cards for a discount:

Starbucks recovery coupon cards

These cards are issued by the barista to anyone that receives slow or poor service.


All recovery coupon cards will have something like this written on them:
– A cup should never be half empty.

– We apologize if your Starbucks experience was anything but wonderful.
– We want to know how we can make things better and always invite you to share your thoughts with us.

– The next time we see you, please enjoy a beverage on us.  We hope your next visit is better.

These coupon cards have no expiration date and can be used for any Starbucks drink no matter what which drink or size.
You can purchased on eBay and generally people will sell 2 for $6.
To find these on eBay do a search for starbucks free drink coupons,  starbucks frappuccino coupons, starbucks free drink,  starbucks vouchers.

We have purchased several vouchers on eBay and they are always a treat because we splurge on the type of drink ordered and size which is usually a Venti that is split between my husband and I.

Check for a Treat Receipt

A treat receipt is offered occasionally throughout the year.  The requirement is that you purchase a something and the person at the till gives you a receipt with a treat receipt coupon on the bottom. By bringing this receipt back after 2:00pm you can order any drink off the menu for $2 .

I must say, I love this treat receipt coupon especially when I am travelling. No doubt I can end up at Starbucks more than once in a day when I am on the road either to check email or change my baby!

Start using Swagbucks as your Search Engine

Swagbucksis a search engine which rewards you with Swagbucks (their currency for points) for searching. You can use it for searching and you will be randomly awarded Swagbucks for searching, usually around five to 10 Swagbucks once or twice each day.

These Swagbucks can then be redeemed for a variety of different free items, such as Starbucks gift cards.

We usually receive 1 Starbucks gift card valued at $10 each month just by using Swagbucks (that uses the Bing search engine) for our Internet searches.

We previously wrote a guide to Swagbucks for Canadians – easy way to earn gift cards for free!

The Starbucks Rewards Member Program

If you drink at Starbucks once a month or even sporadically you need to join the Rewards Member Program.

Here’s how My Starbucks Rewards™ works. You earn 1 Star every time you pay with your registered Starbucks Card or the Starbucks mobile app at a participating store or online. As you collect Stars, you move up to bigger benefits.



Lina Zussino

Lina Zussino, is a co-founder of Grocery Alerts Canada. encourages real whole foods cooking while helping Canadians save money with grocery deals and coupons.


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