These 21 Starbucks Hacks Will Score You Cheap Drinks All Year Long!

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Want cheap Starbucks drinks? These Starbucks hacks can help!

woman holding Starbucks Cold Brew and Key Lime

Try these Starbucks hacks to get your coffee for less. ☕

Who doesn’t love getting cheap Starbucks drinks? This specialty coffee tastes so delicious but it’s not exactly easy on the wallet!

Did you know that those who visit the popular chain just twice a week can easily end up spending over $380 a year on their coffee habit? 😱

One way to drink that iced mocha guilt-free is by using Starbucks hacks to get it cheaper. We came across a few of these clever hacks and knew we had to share them with readers! Next time you’re headed to see your favorite baristas, give these savvy Starbucks ordering tips a try!


Want cheap Starbucks drinks? Try these 21 Starbucks hacks:


1. Download the Starbucks App and become a Starbucks Rewards member to earn FREE coffee and other discounts.

starbucks rewards sign on card reader

If you visit Starbucks even occasionally, there is no reason not to sign up for Starbucks Rewards. You can join on the website, but we recommend downloading the app because it makes ordering a breeze. You can order ahead of time and easily make customizations to your drink (this nifty feature will come in handy if you want to try some of the Starbucks hacks mentioned in this article).

There are also tons of great perks to being a Rewards member.

  • The company offers Starbucks birthday rewards. That means you’ll score a free coffee or treat every single year on your birthday.
  • You’ll also get free drip coffee and tea refills when in-store and get access to member-only games where you can win free items or exclusive offers.
  • Rewards members earn points called stars with every purchase and these stars can be redeemed for some of your favorite menu items. When paying through the app using a gift card or preloaded funds, members score 2 stars for every $1 spent, and sometimes Starbucks offers double point days! If you’re paying in-store by cash or credit card, you can still earn 1 star per $1 spent by scanning your app at checkout.

Once you rack up enough points, it’s time to cash them in!

Just check out the goodies you can earn:

  • Redeem 25 Stars – Add an extra shot, flavor, or soy milk to your drink for free (up to $1 off beverage price)
  • Redeem 50 Stars – Get any size hot brewed coffee, hot tea, or bakery item for free
  • Redeem 150 Stars – Get any handcrafted beverage, parfait, or breakfast item for free
  • Redeem 200 Stars – Get a lunch sandwich, salad, or protein box for free
  • Redeem 400 Stars – Get packaged coffee or a single merchandise item for free (up to $20 value)

2. Starbucks Rewards members get free drip coffee and tea refills.

Starbucks employee holding out Starbucks cup - cheap starbucks drinks

As mentioned earlier, Starbucks Rewards members get FREE drip coffee and tea refills. This is only for the duration you are in the store, but it’s a great way to get more coffee for less money!


3. Want a cheap Starbucks drink? Build your own Iced Caramel Macchiato.

best Starbucks hacks - diy caramel macchiato
Caramel Macchiatos are a favorite of so many people and that’s why this next Starbucks hack is genius! YouTuber Limabean Living made an entire video about how to save money by using the Starbucks app to build your own Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato from scratch.

Here’s how to do it:

The ingredients in a standard Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato are regular ice, 3 shots of espresso, 5 pumps of vanilla syrup, regular caramel drizzle, and 2% milk. To build the drink from scratch, use the app to order a triple espresso. Then, add the rest of the ingredients manually. It’s a few extra steps but it will be worth it!

Here’s about how much you’ll save:

A Venti Iced Caramel Macchiato by me is $5.95. When I built my own using the exact same ingredients, the total came to $4.65. That’s a savings of $1.30! Make your drink this way every time and those savings will add up quickly! 💰


4. Make your own Iced Latte using the milk at the condiment bar*.

Iced cafe latte with light ice - cheap starbucks drinks

This clever trick comes from YouTuber Emma Nicole. She’s worked as a Starbucks barista and often shares her best savings tips. To make your own latte, she suggests that you order a double shot of espresso and a cup of ice. Pour the double shot over the ice and then head to the condiment bar to add your own milk and sugar for free. Voila! You have a latte for the fraction of the cost.

Just check out these savings. A Grande Iced Latte costs $4.65 by me. Meanwhile, a double shot of espresso only costs $2.75. You may or may not be charged for the cup, but you can expect savings between $1.40 to $1.90.

*Note that most locations have temporarily or permanently removed their condiment bars. However, you can head to the counter to ask for milk and sweetener products and a barista will happily provide them!


5. Make your own Chai Latte using one of these three Starbucks hacks.

Starbucks Hacks - make a diy starbucks chai latte

A Chai Latte from Starbucks is basically chai tea with steamed milk. A Grande near me costs a whopping $4.95! 😬 Meanwhile, a Grande Chai Tea only costs $3.25. Scoop one of these up instead and then head to the condiment bar. Here, you can add your own milk for free. The milk won’t be steamed, but the drink tastes similar and you’ll have saved $1.70 (may vary by location).

If you really want steamed milk, ask for a babyccino which is just a small cup of steamed milk that Starbucks gives to kids. It’s completely FREE.

A second way to do this trick comes from YouTuber Emma Nicole. She said instead of ordering the Chai Latte, you can order a chai tea bag (30¢ near me) and a Grande of Steamed Milk ($3.25 by me). You’ll still get the chai taste you’re looking for but you’ll have spent about $1.40 less.

Emma also provided this third trick and it’s how to score a Dirty Chai Latte for less. A Grande Dirty Chai Latte is a Chai Latte with a shot of espresso and it costs about $5.95. Save money by buying a Grande Latte instead and then add chai syrup (sometimes called chai concentrate). Rewards members with at least 25 stars can get this shot of syrup for FREE.

Let’s see what those savings look like. A Grande Dirty Chai Latte costs $5.95 near me. A Grande Latte only costs $4.65 plus $.80 for a pump of chai syrup. That’s a total of $5.45. This means non-members will save $.50 and members can save $1.30.

Now, if you really want savings, use the trick from tip #4 in this post and make your own latte by ordering a double shot of espresso. Then, have the barista add chai syrup before you head to the condiment bar to add your free milk. Non-members will save $2.40 and members can save $3.20. 🙌


6. Get more bang for your buck when you order a French Press pot.

24-oz-starbucks-french-press-coffee - Starbucks Hacks

Select Starbucks locations offer French Press coffee. Mine does not, but your local Starbucks just might. If so, consider getting a pot. You’ll pay WAY less per ounce for this style of coffee than ordering a specialty drink. The blog Rather-Be-Shopping estimates you can get a 32 oz. – 45 oz. for in the $4 – $5 range.


7. Visit Starbucks during Happy Hour to score cheap Starbucks drinks.

Cheap Starbucks Drinks - Happy Hour BOGO offer

Happy Hour at Starbucks used to take place pretty regularly, but due to COVID, the company put it on pause. In 2022, Happy Hour deals began to make an appearance again but only on select Thursdays from 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. Use your app or call your local store to see if any Happy Hour specials will be offered by you in the near future. If so, take advantage! One of the popular deals is a Buy One Get One Free offer!


8. Go easy on the ice.

Starbucks Hacks - man with starbucks drink and ice

When ordering an iced drink, ask for no ice or light ice. The ice cubes take up tons of room in your cup which means you’re paying for more than you’re actually getting. You can always order the ice on the side and add the desired amount yourself.

If you really love a drink with full ice, try this next trick. Order the hot version of your drink and ask for a cup with ice. You’ll still get the amount of ice you want AND the actual amount of coffee you ordered!


9. Ask for, “no water,” when you order tea.

Starbucks Hacks - Sipping Iced Tea

I just learned that when you order tea at Starbucks, they add water to make it less strong. If you want the full flavor of tea, ask your barista for “no water” the next time you order your favorite brew.


10. Save 10 cents & get 25 stars when you use a reusable Starbucks cup or bring in your own mug.

Starbucks Reusable Cup

Help out the environment, save yourself a dime, and get 25 stars when you bring your own cup. You can use a Starbucks reusable cup or just bring your own from home. One YouTuber brought in a mega cup and Starbucks filled it all the way to the top for just $5. 🤯


11. Cut costs and split a Venti or Trenta with a friend.

Hot coffee and iced coffee - Starbucks hacks

If you and your friend were both planning on getting a Tall coffee, spring for one Venti or Trenta instead. Just ask the barista for an extra cup and you can split up the larger size at your table. You’ll save A LOT.

For example, a Venti Caffè Mocha by me is $5.45. Each Tall Caffè Mocha is $4.45. If you split one Venti instead of ordering two Talls, you’ll each save about $1.72 and end up with the same amount of coffee. 🙌

A pair of YouTubers recently tested out this Starbucks hack. They ordered a Trenta with no ice and then asked for Grande cups with ice on the side. They were able to get about four smaller drinks out of the one giant Trenta. Check it out!


12. Don’t ask the barista for a Caffè Misto. Order it this way instead.

man holding hot starbucks drink outside - cheap starbucks drinks

If you want cheap Starbucks drinks, be mindful of how you order. A Caffè Misto, or Café au Lait, is just drip coffee with steamed milk. If you order it this way, you’ll pay about $3.65 for a Grande. Instead, order a Grande drip coffee for $2.95 and ask your barista to add a little steamed milk (they usually will add a few oz. for free). This is one of the Starbucks hacks that must be done in-store and not on the app, but if you’re at the counter and want to save 70¢, this is a good trick to use.


13. See if your location is willing to give a military or senior discount.

US military service person reaching for Starbucks drink

This past November, Starbucks honored veterans, active service members, and military spouses with a discount on Veteran’s Day. If you’re part of the military or were, keep an eye out next year for a similar promotion!

Starbucks does not seem to have a corporate-wide policy regarding everyday military and senior discounts. However, it doesn’t hurt to ask when ordering. You might just score 10% off if your local Starbucks is willing.


14. Take advantage of Starbucks gift card deals.

woman taking Starbucks Gift Card

If you know you’re going to visit a Starbucks in the future, it might be wise to buy a discounted gift card when they are available. There are often deals where you can get a gift card valued at $25 for only $20. This means you get $5 worth of Starbucks for free.

Costco and Sam’s Club sometimes offer gift card discounts. Other places to buy them include GiftCardGranny, CardCash, GiftCardMall, or Raise.com.


15. Pamper your pooch with a FREE Puppy Cup.

little brown and white puppy eating out of starbucks cup

Get a FREE snack for your pup. Starbucks gives out Puppy Cups or Puppuccinos which are small containers of whipped cream that dogs go wild over. If you want to score this free treat for your pup, all you have to do is ask!


16. One of our favorite Starbucks hacks is to use whipped cream to sweeten your drink in lieu of syrup.

row of Starbucks drinks on a table

If you aren’t a Starbucks Rewards member, this hack is for you. If you want to sweeten up your drink, skip the syrup. One single pump of syrup will cost you $.80. You can get the whipped cream added for FREE and it will add a little sweetness to your drink.


17. Play Starbucks games to win prizes, like Starbucks For Life!

starbucks for life on iphone

Starbucks often offers instant win games for Starbucks Rewards members to play. Try your hand at these fun games and you can win free items and offers from Starbucks. The current game going on right now is Starbucks for Life. Two lucky winners will get their coffee FREE from now on! Hurry up and test your luck. This particular game is only available until January 1st of 2023.


18. Try these ways to save when you shop at a Starbucks located inside a Target.

Starbucks Hot Coffee at Target

Have the Target app? Sometimes there are coupons to save at Starbucks! Give the app a look before you purchase that Caffè Americano. If you’re a Target RedCard holder, make sure to use your card to pay for your coffee. The barista will take 5% off your Starbucks order.


19. Check the ingredients before ordering a Short.

Man in car going through Starbucks Drive-Thru
A lot of websites will tell you to save money by buying the Short size which is 8 oz. I disagree. Near me, the Short will only save you a dime and you’ll get 4 oz. less than the Tall. Plus, many times the Tall and Short have slightly different ingredients.

I recommend that you use the app or online website to double-check the ingredients of the drink before choosing a Short. This way you know exactly what you’re getting or giving up. For example, the Short Caffè Americano only has 1 shot of espresso. The Tall size has 2 shots of espresso. I say pay the extra ten cents to get the Tall size which gives you more bang for your buck as far as caffeine.

If you’re getting drip coffee or a Caffè Latte, the ingredients in the Tall and Short are the exact same. If you want to save that dime and don’t mind getting fewer ounces, this might be an option you want to consider.


20. Get money back when you scan your receipt to a cash-back app like Fetch Rewards.

target starbucks coffee reciept

There are several cash-back apps you can use to get a little money back on your purchases and we made an entire list of them for your reference! One of our favorites to use is Fetch Rewards. Just snap a picture of your receipt and upload it to the app to start earning your cash back. Using apps like Fetch Rewards is a simple way to save a little money on your purchases.


21. Become an employee and take advantage of your perks.

Starbucks Holiday Drinks

If you’re a true coffee lover, you might want to consider getting a full or part-time job at Starbucks. Each week, employees can score a free pound of coffee or box of tea. They also get 30% off drinks, food, and merchandise.

In addition to free coffee and discounted goodies, Starbucks offers a very competitive benefits package. They offer 100% tuition coverage, health benefits, parental leave, a 401k retirement account, and more!


Want the latest Starbucks coupons? We’ve got them!


About the writer:

Kara is a writer and photographer from the Midwest. Her creative work has appeared in various publications over the past decade. With a background in finance, she loves to be money-savvy.


Join The Discussion

Comments 26

  1. Justina

    new article soon on #1 rewards? changing coming before mid feb

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for the heads up, Justina!❤️

    • Mel

      Yes. Just read the new terms & conditions email that came out today. Effective Feb 13th, all points to redeem for stuff will double. For example, a regular hot tea or coffee which now costs 50 points will cost 100 points instead. Might want to spend those points now while they’re worth more. Thanks Starbucks. 🙁

      • Justina

        oh I already knew what they were, just didn’t have time to break down all the details, Michelle M did a great comment below on the details, the bags of coffee pts reductions is nice I had heard that, but had not seen the basic plastic cups going down to 100 pts, that’s nice, but yes i was debating using all pts by my birthday when i get a free item also, I don’t visit there much, but we enjoy a few items from there, had seen a post yesterday maybe on the changes on another deals page

  2. Ana

    Can someone tell me if I can use stars and a gift card for one drink?
    I have 75 stars and a $1 gift card haha

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hey Ana! I did check with my location and they didn’t think that would work. You could always double check with yours to be sure on how they may honor that for you. ❤️

      • Ana

        Thank you!

        • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

          You bet! 🤗

  3. Jessi

    I love the vanilla sweet cream cold brew. I order a venti and then save half for the next day, which is basically like getting two tall size drinks for around $5 total. You could get even more by ordering it without ice and adding your own!

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Great idea, Jessi! Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks! ☕️❤️

  4. mimi123

    Stupid question, but I can seem to find How to add milk on the Starbucks app?

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Hey there! When you’re on the “Order” screen of the app and choose your coffee, click “Customize” to be able to choose options, like adding milk! Hoping this helps! 💖☕️

      • mimi123

        That’s exactly what I did, and there is an option for everything else on that list to add, even creamer, but no milk 😞 I don’t know what I am doing wrong

        • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

          Darn! What drink are you trying to customize? I can check on the details a bit more for you! ❤️

          • mimi123

            That caramel macchiato! 😃

            • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

              I spotted the milk option under “Add-Ins” with “Add splash of nonfat milk.” Hoping that helps! 💓

            • Amanda T

              I was confused on that too! I also couldn’t find the ice.

              • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

                So sorry for any confusion, Amanda! I pulled up my Starbucks app and here’s what I came up with for you! Search and add an Iced Espresso > Click on “Size” and change to “Triple.” Change the “Cup Options” to Venti size. Click “Customize.” Under “Flavors” click on “Add Syrups” > “Vanilla Syrup” and then change to 5 pumps. Under “Toppings” click on “Add Drizzle” > “Caramel Drizzle.” Under “Add-ins” click on “Add Creamer” > “Splash of 2% Milk” and then click on the drop down arrow next to where it says “Splash of 2% Milk” to change the amount to “Extra Splash of 2% Milk” if you’d like! The “Ice” option is also under the “Add-Ins.” Hoping this is helpful! ❤️

  5. Michelle M

    25 stars will get you a drink customization, like an extra espresso shot, dairy substitute, or a dash of your favorite syrup; this is remaining unchanged
    100 stars will get you a brewed coffee, bakery item, or tea; currently this costs 50 stars, so pricing is increasing by 100%
    200 stars will get you a handcrafted drink, hot breakfast item, or parfait; currently this costs 150 stars, so pricing is increasing by 33%
    300 stars will get you lunch sandwiches, protein boxes, or salads; currently this costs 200 stars, so pricing is increasing by 50%
    400 stars will get you select merchandise or at-home coffee; this is remaining unchanged
    Fortunately there’s a little bit of good news. Some items will be changing “tiers” for the better:

    Iced coffee (not cold brew) and iced tea will now be available for 100 stars (the same as hot coffee or hot tea), while previously this cost 150 stars
    Packaged coffee will decrease in cost from 400 stars to 300 stars
    Select merchandise (including plastic to-go cups) will decrease in cost from 200 stars to 100 stars

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for mentioning that, Michelle! We have the details on this upcoming change in this post, if you wanted to check it out! 💞

  6. themayofamily

    I have the Fetch App and I get a lot of Starbucks but I always order ahead so there is no receipt. Is there a way to get a receipt if you use mobile ordering?

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Hey there! On my Starbucks app, when I first open it on the “home” page, there’s a little receipt icon in the right-hand corner to click on to see those! I also logged into my account on their site here, and went to “Account” and “History” to click on my mobile order and pull up the receipt. You might be able to print it from there to redeem on Fetch. Hoping this might be helpful! ❤️

  7. Lora

    Learned this drink idea that tastes like a Caramel macchiato from weight watchers …I usually just get 2 shots of expresso in a venti cup with ice and add a caramel flavored premier protein drink. A delicious drink with 1 gram of sugar 😁😋

    • Claudette (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing a recipe for a Caramel macchiato, Lora!❤️

  8. Jessica V.

    A trick I’ve done for awhile now is with the 50 Stars (soon to be 100) to get the brewed coffee. You can order a caffe misto using these points and add in all the custom items like syrup, sauces, toppings etc. I like to do this when the PSL comes around. Add in Pumpkin Sauce and add the PSL topping and it tastes JUST like a PSL but only cost me 50 points!

    • Claudette (Hip Sidekick)

      SWEET! Thanks for letting us know, Jessica V!❣️

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