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17 Starbucks Coffee Hacks YOU Need to Know

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I love splurging on Starbucks coffee, especially when all of the yummy seasonal flavors hit the menus! However, making frequent trips to Starbucks and paying full-price can really add up. If you’re looking for easy ways to save on these yummy treats, here are 17 money-saving tips to make note of…

1.) Sign Up for My Starbucks Rewards!

A must! By signing up for the free My Starbucks Rewards program, you’ll be able to earn “Stars” whenever you make select purchases that can be redeemed for rewards, including free food and drinks! As a member, you’ll earn 2 Stars for every $1 you spend on coffee, food, drinks, and mugs. You can also earn Stars by entering codes found on specially marked products at your local grocery store.

After signing up, you’ll automatically reach the Green Level and will qualify for the following:

  • Free Birthday reward! A free food or beverage item will be added to your account ~2 days before your birthday and will be valid for one day after your birthday. In order to receive your Birthday Reward, you will need to make at least one transaction in a store using your registered Starbucks Card.
  • Free refills of hot or iced brewed coffee and tea. You must use your registered Starbucks Card to purchase a beverage and then present that same Starbucks Card for refills of hot or iced brewed coffee or tea during the same store visit at participating Starbucks stores.
  • Early or extended access to certain promotions and offers. Starbucks may offer Rewards members early or extended access to special menu items or discounts. Members may take part in these offers by paying with their registered Starbucks Card at participating stores.
  • Personalized offers and coupons. Special offers may be distributed by email, the Mobile Inbox on the Starbucks mobile app, or by physical mail. You must opt-in to receive promotional and marketing offers from Starbucks and may be required to provide a valid email, telephone and physical address in order to receive your special offers. Special offers may be customized based on purchase behaviors and preferences.

To maintain all benefits of the Green Level, you must earn at least one new Star during each consecutive 12-month period following your enrollment date; otherwise, your Star balance will automatically reset to zero and you may no longer be eligible to receive Starbucks Rewards benefits. If you do not earn at least 300 new Stars in each consecutive 12-month period, your Stars will expire.

If you DO earn at least three hundred 300 Stars within the 12-month period following your enrollment date, you will qualify for the Gold Level, which includes all Green Level rewards AND the following:

  1. A personalized gold colored Starbucks Card. In order to receive your personalized Starbucks Card, you must provide a valid physical mailing address in your profile.
  2. One free drink or food item after every 125 additional Stars! You can redeem 125 Stars for one free food or beverage item after every 125 additional Stars earned above the 300 Stars you needed to reach the Gold Level.
  3. Double-Star Days! Starbucks will notify you of your designated Double-Star Day each month which may vary from month to month. On your designated Double-Star Day, the number of Stars you earn using your registered Starbucks Card at participating Starbucks, Teavana and Evolution Fresh stores will be multiplied by two.

2.) Download the Starbucks Mobile App

For easy access to the My Starbucks Rewards program, be sure to download the Free Starbucks app (iOS or Android) where you can quickly scan your rewards card and even pay for your order!

You’ll also be able to earn and track your Star Rewards, check your balance and add funds to your Starbucks Card (with debit/credit card, Visa Checkout, PayPal or Apple Pay), send gift cards, and more!


3.) No Time to Wait in Line? Use the App to Place To-Go Orders!

If you don’t have a lot of time to wait in line for your Starbucks order, consider placing an order ahead of time using the Starbucks Mobile app! After you open the app and enable location services, just tap the “Order” button and select the items you’d like to order and then pay for your purchase.

You can even pay using your gift cards on your Starbucks Rewards account! That means you can walk in and out without waiting in line – just ask a barista for your freshly made order at the pickup area.


4.) Members Score FREE Coffee & Tea Refills

When you use your registered Starbucks Card or mobile app to purchase any handcrafted beverage and then present that same Starbucks Card or Mobile app to a barista, Rewards members can get free refills of the same size hot or iced brewed coffee or tea during the same store visit – regardless of the original beverage! That means if you bought a coffee, you can get a tea refill and vice versa!

If you’re not a Rewards member (why not? be sure to check out all the perks listed under #1 above – you’ll want to sign up!), you can refill the same size cup you purchased for around 50¢ during the same visit – all day long. Remember, refills must be hot coffee, iced coffee, hot tea or iced tea.

Hip Tip: Like lots of cream in your coffee or want room to make an iced coffee? Order a Tall brewed coffee in a Grande or Venti Cup and you’ll have lots of room for cream without having to waste coffee pouring it out. If you want to make your own iced coffee, ask for a cup of ice on the side and you can create your own iced coffee by adding cream and sugar at the condiment bar.


5.) Play Starbucks Games to Earn Bonus Stars

Another perk of being a Starbucks Rewards member, is that they usually have a couple Bonus Star Games & Sweepstakes during the year where members can play to earn stars for making qualifying purchases (and sometimes without even needing to make a purchase!). A few previous sweepstakes and games have been this Bonus Stars Bingo and Starbucks for Life (along with the Summer Edition)!

In the past, there have been LOTS of winners from these games and you can usually enter several times a day during the sweeps period, so it’s definitely worth playing whenever they roll around!


6.) Take Advantage of Awesome Food & Drink Promotions

A great way to save on yummy beverages is to make note of the various promotions that Starbucks has throughout the year that anyone can enjoy during that designated time! For example, every May (usually around the first Friday) they tend to offer 50% off Frappuccino Blended Beverages. Yum!

Although I have not seen a “set” schedule of their offers as they do change, a few other promotions they’ve had previously are 50% off ANY Macchiato Mobile Coupon, Buy 1 Get 1 Free Iced Espresso Drinks, Buy 4 Blended Beverages, Get 1 Free Punch Cards, Free Teavana Iced Tea, and more!

Plus, during the holidays, Starbucks hosts their Merry Mondays promotions where you can score Bonus Stars when you make a qualifying purchase, 1/2 Off Frappuccinos, and more!

*We are always posting these yummy Starbucks offers whenever they pop up, so be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter AND follow Hip2Save on social media to stay in the loop!


7.) Save 10¢ by Bringing Your Own Cup to Retail Stores

Did you know that you can save 10¢ on the price of your drink whenever you bring in your own reusable cup, mug, or travel tumbler? You can also purchase a plastic Starbucks Reusable Travel Cup (Grande 16oz) for just $2 at most locations that will save you 10¢ every time you bring it in.


8.) Don’t Be Afraid to Order “Secret” Menu Drinks

Did you know that Starbucks can create a Raspberry Cheesecake Latte and even a Ferrero Rocher Frappuccino, along with other yummy “secret” drinks that aren’t on the menu!? You can visit this Starbucks Secret Menu site to check out different recipes that Starbucks fans have created and tried.

BUT it’s really important when requesting a “secret” drink, that you make note of the recipe of your desired drink and not just the name – as not all Baristas are familiar with the drink names. Also, keep in mind that depending on what drink you’re ordering and what add-ins there are, you may be required to pay a little extra for those items (such as bananas, syrups, etc). What flavor have you tried?


9.) Make Your Own Chai Latte

If you enjoy sipping on a Chai Latte (priced around $3.65 for a Grande 16oz), consider ordering a hot Chai Tea with a bag (priced around $2.15 for a Grande 16oz) and then adding your own milk or cream and desired sweeteners at the condiment bar. You’ll be saving around $1.50 by doing it this way.


10.) Know the Sizes (Order a Short Coffee or Trenta Iced Drink!)

Did you know that Starbucks offers an even smaller size than their Tall 12oz drinks? You can actually order a Short 8oz specialty beverage that has the same amount of espresso as the Tall version, but is less expensive. Planning to add cream? Order a Short beverage in a Tall cup so you’re still getting the same amount of coffee…then head to the condiment counter and add free milk or cream.

Need a large dose of caffeine on a hot day? You can also order a Trenta 31oz size Iced Beverage (available for Teavana Shaken Iced Tea, Teavana Shaken Iced Tea Lemonade, Iced Coffee, Cold Brew and Starbucks Refreshers only) for around $1 more than the Venti price – price may vary by location.


11.) Order a French Press Pot of Coffee

If you’re headed to Starbucks with friends or are planning on staying a while in-store, another way to save money is to order a French Press pot of coffee. The 32oz pot serves a few cups of coffee and will be cheaper than ordering the drinks individually as it’s priced around $4/pot (may vary).


12.) Ask For “No Water” With Your Tea

Did you know that the Teavana Iced Tea in the pitcher at Starbucks is double-strength and watered down for your final recipe? To get the most bang for your buck, request “no water” with your iced tea and you’ll be getting twice as much tea for the same price. Also, consider ordering your drink with no ice (or asking for ice on the side) to ensure that your drink is the strongest possible.


13.) Split a Venti Drink with a Friend

Ordering two of the same drinks at Starbucks? Instead of ordering two Tall 12oz beverages, consider ordering one Venti 20oz beverage and splitting it with a friend. A Venti 20oz Caramel Latte is priced around $4.65, whereas a Tall Caramel Latte would cost around $3.65 each. Talk about big savings!


14.) Skip the Expensive Bottled Water!

I’m picky about the taste of water at some restaurants, but I LOVE Starbucks iced water – it tastes great! I always order a large cup of ice water when visiting Starbucks on a hot day since their ice and water is triple-filtered! In fact, it may be even cleaner than the Ethos bottled water that is sold in-stores for around $2 each. Just asking for a FREE glass of iced water – your body will love ya for it!


15.) Ask for a Free Puppy Cup

If you are heading to Starbucks or through the drive-through with your furry friend, consider ordering them a free “Puppy Cup” which consists of a small cup of whipped cream. They’ll love you for it! These small cups of whip may also be great for young kiddos who want a treat in their own cup too. 🙂


16.) Save BIG on Starbucks Gift Cards

If you are a Groupon email subscriber, they often send out emails with invitations to snag BIG savings on Starbucks gift cards, such as this previous $10 eGift card offer for only $5! These offers only work if you received the email directly from Groupon, so it’s definitely worth signing up for an account.

In the past, Starbucks has even offered a free $5 Starbucks eGift Card for sending a $5 eGift card using the Microsoft Outlook add-in, a free $10 eGift Bonus for loading $10 using Visa Checkout, a free $5 eGift Card when you send a $5 eGift card with Apple Pay, and even 250 Bonus Stars to Gold Members for loading $10 using Chase Pay! These are great times to purchase gift cards for yourself or friends!

Also, we often post about various Starbucks gift card deals that you can purchase online, such as this Amazon deal, this Disney Movie Rewards deal, or even this deal previously available on Raise.com!


17.) Shop at Stores with Starbucks Cafés Inside? Read THIS!

If you shop at Target with a Starbucks Café inside, you may want to download the Target Cartwheel App as they often offer various offers to save on yummy drinks and food (valid only at the Starbucks inside Target)! For instance, they previously had this 25% off Starbucks Frappuccino Blended Beverages Cartwheel Offer and this 50% off Starbucks Pastries & Warm Sandwiches Cartwheel Offer!

OR, if you shop at a Kroger or Safeway affiliate store that has a Starbucks Cafe inside, be sure to check your account for occasional free or discounted eCoupons, such as this $3 Starbucks Grande Frappuccinos Kroger eCoupon or this free Tall beverage of your choice Safeway eCoupon!


Written by Mary for Hip2Save. Mary is a proud mom to 3 kids in Austin, TX, who thrives off running long distance, bargain shopping, warm weather, a yummy latte…and a little Candy Crush from time to time. She loves quality time with family & friends and sharing great deals with others.

Join The Discussion

Comments 41

  1. rn30032

    Thanks a bunch I didn’t know about some of these hacks

  2. Amy

    I know one: don’t drink coffee u save a ton. 🙂

    • Jessica

      So very helpful. Let me guess you have no vice? You don’t buy anything special? Tissue paper ? Creamer? Shoes? To each their own…

    • Amy

      No I am weird that way. I don’t drink alcohol ever, I buy super sale clothes, I shop garage sales. I grow my own food. I try to live simply. I know people need outlets. I’m not ignorant. But starbucks just seems silly there are 5 within walking distance of each other where I live. They have a line wrapped around the store with cars all day long. It seems a little excessive.

    • cathy

      You’re actually right. Coffee has become quite expensive in my life. I luv pods but have tried several times to go back to using a regular pot but I just can’t so I am always on the hunt for sales on pods. Also nothing beats a coffee house latte or my favorite a flat white but it is very expensive. Not starting would save you a ton of money!

      • maria

        Cathy, find your favorite flavor of coffee, fill a k cup with the grounds, cover with foil and pop into machine. Rinse and reuse cup. Saves a ton of money.

  3. Dara

    Thank you, Mary! I consider myself a pretty savvy Starbucks customer, but I learned a few things from this post!

  4. Daniela

    In line with # 9, my favorite hack, order an iced doppio in a grande cup and adding your own milk or cream. Iced latte for $1.95, saving 50%. Oh and not really a hack but my favorite saving tip is only using Ibotta and Pinecone money for Starbucks gift cards. I haven’t spent my money in over a year.

    • Maureen

      Brilliant

  5. Amy

    I have tried to sign up for Groupon emails when you mentioned Starbucks deals before, but it never works. Any tips?

  6. Maite

    Can you get free refills in the Target Starbucks?

    • LindaS

      Hi Maite, yes Target Starbucks does the free refills too. Enjoy!

      • MommySpendLess

        You may have changed my Target shopping experience forever! I’m a total iced tea addict but it’s a rare treat for me to spend $3-$4 for Starbucks but I could easily down a couple of them in a shopping trip… 🙂

  7. Cassandane

    To take it up another notch, I buy Starbucks gift cards at Kroger during 4x fuel rewards promos! Redeem Ibotta cash to PayPal, then buy my own GCs…Target, Home Depot and Chipotle GCs are other favorites 🙂

  8. Nancy

    When ordering from a Starbucks inside a Target, I pay with my Target card and save another 5%, every little bit helps!

  9. Mel

    I am a Starbucks barista! I love this post. If you like iced lattes because of flavor, depending on the size, has one to two shots of espresso, flavoring, and the rest is milk. You can make a pretty close substitute purchasing iced coffee which comes sweetens but can be substituted with your fave latte flavoring for no charge and milk! My fave is toffee nut!

    • Marie

      This may sound dumb but what would I say to the barista when I’d order your favorite drink? Thank you so much!

      • Daniela

        Iced coffee with toffee nut flavoring! Make sure they hear the iced coffee part and check the register when they charge you. Sometimes they auto key latte when you say cinnamon dolce or toffee nut. Don’t add sugar! Toffee nut is a bit sweet.

  10. cathy

    My newest tip….. Depending on how strong you like your drink order a double or triple espresso over ice, and have it put in a venti cup. I ask for heavy whipping cream ( doing Atkins ) but you can go to the bar and add whatever milk you like. Boom! A venti iced coffee for $2.65!

  11. mom2bwj&pg

    My kids love the cupcake frappuccino but it has too much sugar for them to each have their own, so I order 1 and ask to have it slip into 2 cups. They also put a flat lid on it so they don’t make a mess sticking their fingers in the whipped cream. 🙂

    • mom2bwj&pg

      that should be split into 2 cups 🙂

  12. Valerie

    Former Barista here, if ordering a tall or grande Frappuccino Ask for them to put it in the next size up cup. There’s usually a lot left over in the blender after making the drink and it’s usually just dumped anyways. That way you get more ounces for the money.

    • Mel

      Thank You for that! I stopped getting the whipped cream a long time ago b/c they never pour the entire blender in the cup (I always get a grande), to make room for the dome top & whip. Always hated seeing that little bit dumped out, now I’m a happy mocha frappe girl!

  13. Teah

    They really do have great ice water! If you’ve never tried it, you should!

  14. Cappie

    I ordered an ice water yesterday and they were giving me such a hard time.apparently they want to save their cups for buying customers even thought I purchased two venti sized drinks.

  15. Ms Bailey

    The water taste good because it’s filtered!

  16. Suzy

    I downloaded the app and had gold status within a few weeks! Also, I can order a drink at my house & it’s waiting for me when I get to my local store-love it!

  17. Cindy

    I get 30 cents off for using my own cup not 10 cents. This has been the rule at every Starbucks location I have visited. Did they change it to 10 cents?

  18. gatormomx2

    It’s been 10 cents for bringing your own cup forever. Seems I have to remind them for the discount every single time too.

  19. C_Pgh32

    In tip #10 you have the sizes listed as well as the cup ounces but then in tip #13 you suggest sharing a 24 oz Venti with a friend instead of buying 2 Grande sized drinks, umm.. A venti is 20 oz (as listed in #10) not 24 oz (listed in #13.)
    This is the only place that has coffee that actually wakes me up in the a.m. I can have 1 sometimes 2 cups here compared to 3+ at home or elsewhere! I sometimes get a Grande white choc. Mocha w/light foam & no whip (seems more coffee when getting no whip & light or no foam) curious if there’s tips to save from spending $4.93 on this besides the bringing your own cup tip?

    • Mary (Stellar Sidekick)

      Whoops – thanks for catching that! The 20oz Venti size is for hot drinks and the 24oz is for iced drinks. I updated the post! 🙂

    • Dannielle

      My fav. Drink is a iced venti white mocha w. 4 shots espresso, light ice. Or a hot venti white mocha w. No whip & no cream w. 4 shots of espresso. My drink is 6.55 w. Tax. I found a new cheaper love by ordering a quad iced espresso (3.19 w.tax) or a triple espresso is (2.89 w. tax) and I add my own sugar and milk and its almost like drinking a white mocha. Or order 3 or 4 shots espresso and then you can buy a white chocolate sauce at the store for 3$ & u can add ur own white mocha flavor then add milk

  20. Raedev

    Cotton candy frapp is so yummy. It’s just made with raspberry flavor or w-e the recipe should be on the secret list. Just make sure you have the recipe saved incase the Batista doesn’t know some of the secret ones 🙂

    • Kayleigh

      I didn’t click the secret menu link, but our favorites are a Snickers frapp & a Kit Kat frapp. We aren’t coffee drinkers so we have to be careful on which frapps we order

  21. Allyson

    Need suggestions: I love the Iced Chai Tea Lattes, and I’ve tried ordering with light ice or no ice, but it seems they add extra milk or water, it doesn’t taste the same when I order it regular. Any suggestions of what I could say when placing my order? Or are the milk based drinks different then the water based and can’t be “hacked” so to speak to save a few dollars?

    • Rachael

      I always ask for extra pumps of Chai. I ask for no ice, and extra pumps of Chai and its not extra. Anything that is included in the recipe, you can add as many pumps of it as you like.

  22. A

    FYI…Some of the ‘secret menu’ items can’t be made because they no longer carry the ingredients (flan) or they’re seasonal. And you pay more for all of the extras that you add. So it could get pricy. And per Starbucks standards they should NOT be splitting drinks into 2 cups. It’s against policy.

  23. Katie T

    Starbucks recently changed their policy on the free birthday drink (when you are a rewards member). It’s now only good on the day of your actual birthday!

  24. erika

    New deal going on (June 2018) – buy a prepaid Starbucks card (i think its like a prepaid visa card) and use it to pay at Starbucks. They are giving free gold status to people who purchase/use them. They can be added as a form of payment on the app too. (this started 2 weeks after i earned gold status the hard way LOL) Below is the blurb with a better description than i just gave 🙂

    When will I receive the Gold Status benefit that comes with being a Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Prepaid Card member?
    Published 04/12/2018 02:08 PM | Updated 06/11/2018 06:46 AM

    Your account status should change to Gold shortly after your application is approved.

    Your Starbucks Rewards™ Visa® Prepaid Card account qualifies you for Gold Level status for as long as your prepaid card account is open. You will lose Gold Level status if your prepaid card account is closed and you do not otherwise qualify for Gold Level under the Starbucks Rewards™ program Terms of Use.

    You will not automatically be sent a Gold Card when you receive Gold Level status. If you would like to have one, please contact us here.

  25. kass B

    so if you are ordering a french press, is there a way to get flavoring for the coffee? I really enjoy toffee nut….

  26. Savingpoint

    Starbucks Gift card could be the best ever gift that you can send someone to on their birthdays.

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