7 Starbucks Savings Hacks That Actually Work

By Kyle James on 16 May 2016 1 comment

Frugal folks like us tend to have a love-hate relationship with Starbucks. We love the tasty goodness of their beverages, but hate the high cost of something we can often do at home for pennies on the dollar. But I'm here to tell you that Starbucks doesn't have to be expensive if you can incorporate some clever money-saving hacks into your coffee routine.

The best thing about these tips is they won't make you look cheap, and more importantly, they won't make the barista hate you.

1. Order a Tall in a Grande Cup

When ordering a regular cup of brewed coffee at Starbucks, and not a $5 milkshake, consider ordering a Tall coffee in a Grande cup. Not only will the barista happily oblige, but once they're done filling your cup, you'll often end up with close to a Grande serving size of coffee. Then you can add your milk or cream and end up with practically a full cup for less money. This obviously works for other sizes, too. For example, you could order a Grande coffee and ask for it in a Venti cup.

So if you like to add cream or milk to your coffee, this is a great hack as you'll never have to make room for it by dumping out some coffee into the garbage can. Because no matter how much "room" you ask for, it never seems to be enough as Starbucks coffee is quite strong and many like it with a good amount of the white stuff.

2. Score Free Refills

A great hack that'll score you more coffee for less is to take advantage of Starbuck's free refill policy. To make it happen, simply sign up for their Rewards Program and get free in-store refills on hot or cold brewed coffee or tea. Be warned, once you leave the Starbucks location, you can't come back in later and get your refill. I started taking advantage of their free refills last year and instead of drinking it, I'd refrigerate the second free cup for later. Then when I needed a pick-me-up in the afternoon, I'd use it make a tasty iced beverage.

3. Ask for "Half Ice"

The next time you order an iced beverage, consider asking for "half ice." If you've ever seen a barista add ice to your cup, you know just how much frozen water they put in there. So by politely asking for less ice, you'll often end up with the next size beverage for free. While you might not always get half as much ice, must employees that I've seen will definitely add a little less to your cup.

4. Get Your Caffeine Fix With a "Short"

Most loyal Starbucks enthusiasts know the main cup sizes to be Tall, Grande, Venti, and Trenta. But are you aware that there is a fifth size called a "Short?" It's smaller (8 oz.) and cheaper than the 12 oz. Tall and an excellent way to get your caffeine fix on the cheap. For example, a Short cappuccino has the same amount of espresso as the Tall size. So if a caffeine pick-me-up is your main objective, ordering a Short is the cheapest route to go.

5. Split and Save

If you've ever ordered a "Venti" anything from Starbucks, you already know what an enormous size it is. Heck, it's so big, you can use the empty cup as a gas can if you like. So if you're driving through a Starbucks with your spouse or friend, and you're both craving the same cold drink, just order a Venti and politely ask if they can split it for you. While they'll typically not divide it for you, they'll always give you an empty cup so you can do it yourself.

Let's do the math on this hack. A Venti Cold size comes in a 24 oz. cup. So if you split it, you each get 12 oz., which is just a bit smaller than the 14 oz. Grande. A Venti iced coffee will cost you around $2.95 where the smaller Grande will cost you $2.45. So after you've added a little creamer, you've essentially gotten two Grande sizes for about $1.50 each by splitting a Venti.

6. Bring Your Own Cup

If you bring in your own cup to any Starbucks, you'll get $0.10 off your beverage, any size. They'll do the same thing if you bring in a competitor's cup, except they'll replace it with one of their own. Definitely not a huge savings, but it will add up over time, plus you keep a bunch of cups from ending up in the landfill.

7. Drinking With Friends?

The next time you're meeting up with friends at your local Starbucks, consider ordering a French Press to share. It usually comes in a 32 or 45 oz. size and the coffee beans are ground, poured, and plunged before being delivered to your table. You can typically get 6-8 normal sized cups of coffee out of a single press. Aside from the delicious fresh taste, the cost makes it a very attractive choice if everyone is drinking coffee. Expect to only have to pay in the $3.50 to $5 range, depending on the size of the press and the particular Starbucks location.

How do you save money at Starbucks? Or do you just stay home and brew your own?

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Guest

Also, Groupon $10 for $5, often available.

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Guest

...order a tall in a grande cup...YES!!!! THANKS. I always pour some out and put milk in. No more. Sweet.