Don't Tell Anyone: 11 Secret Starbucks Saving Tips

By POPSUGAR Smart Living on 11 September 2013 8 comments

Don't despair if store-bought coffee is your biggest spending vice. Help is on its way, in the form of these smart saving tips that will work at your local Starbucks. Don't thank us — just drink up!

RELATED: How to Save at Target

1. Get Creative

Don't limit yourself to the standard drinks. There are plenty of options that are well under $4, such as iced coffee. If you think that spending less means boring drinks, think again. Check out some the most creative Starbucks mystery menu concoctions under $3.

And if you must go the latte route, try the caffe misto, which is made of of half coffee and half milk. It is not only cheaper, but also has less calories!

2. Refills for 50 Cents

Sometimes one cup just doesn't cut it. Any time throughout the day and on any size, you can refill your cup with brewed coffee for just 50 cents during the same visit. Not a bad price for an extra pick-me-up.

3. Bring Your Own Cup

You'll save 10 cents on the price of your drink when you bring in your own reusable cup, mug, or travel tumbler.

4. The Water Secret

You don't have to reach for bottled water in Starbucks, as the water at Starbucks may even be cleaner. The ice and water used in Starbucks is triple-filtered!

5. Order in Bulk Via Coffee Press

Another way to save money is to order a coffee press pot of coffee, which serves a few cups of coffee. It will be cheaper than ordering the drinks individually. Share with friends or hoard it if you plan on staying at Starbucks for a while, and enjoy the caffeine buzz.

6. Ask for "No Water" With Your Tea

According to one barista on Quora, "Iced Teas are double-strength in pitcher and watered down for your final recipe."

To get more a bang for a buck, request "no water" with your tea, and it won't be watered down.

7. Take Advantage of the Birthday Treat

If you sign up for the Starbucks reward program (registration is free), you're entitled to a free drink when your birthday comes around. Keep in mind that you'll have to redeem it in the 30 days after your birthday.

8. Get a Starbucks Card

If you're a frequent Starbucks customer, there's no reason not to get a Starbucks Card. At no cost to you, a registered card will get you lots of freebies. Here's what you can expect:

Welcome level (which you attain after using your card once)

  • Free drink or food on your birthday

Green level (which you attain after using your card five times)

  • Free refills in store
  • Welcome level rewards
  • Specialized email offers

Gold level (which you attain after using your card 30 times in 12 months)

  • Free drink or food reward after every 12 purchases
  • Welcome and green level rewards
  • Personalized offers and coupons
  • Personalized gold card

9. Order a Short

There's an even smaller size than "tall," and it's called "short." It's smaller than a "tall," but it's also less expensive. The "short" cappuccino will have the same amount of espresso as the as its "tall" version, says Slate.

10. Brew It at Home

Be your own barista at home by buying beans at Starbucks stores — they'll even grind the beans for you. Or, you can pick a bag up at the grocery store.

There are even recipes you find online that show you how to make more of its complicated drinks like this frappuccino recipe.

11. Fido's Freebie

Don't forget, your furry pal gets his own freebie, too. Order a puppy latte or puppycino, and your best friend will get a sample cup full of whipped cream.

This is a guest contribution from our friends at POPSUGAR Smart Living. Check out more useful articles from this partner:


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Guest's picture

Also, if you brew Starbucks at home, your empty bag will get you a free cup of coffee in the store!

Guest's picture

I have to admit, I visit Starbucks regularly, especially for business meetings, but I was not aware of many of these tips. With how much I tend to spend there, saving a few bucks from time to time will make me feel better about the habit!

Donna Freedman's picture

Pay for your Starbucks with a discounted gift card, bought on the secondary market. Currently they're up to 11% off; go to and look for the best deals.
Note: At least two secondary market companies, Cardpool and Raise, can be accessed through cash-back shopping sites like Mr. Rebates or Extrabux, for an additional layer of savings.

Guest's picture

Love the "birthday" secret! Frugalinda didn't know Starbucks had that one too! Victoria's Secret and Bob's have similar benefits with their rewards cards too -- would love to learn about more places that offer those as well.

If you're at Starbucks with a friend and you're a non-coffee drinker, the brownies are awesome, and really, not expensive at all.

Guest's picture

I sometimes go to Starbucks, and these are good tips! But the best tip of all: skip coffee shops most of the time, and only go when you really want to socialize or people watch. To really optimize your spending and get out of the rat race asap, move towards a lifestyle where you're always considering how you use resources, including your money.

Guest's picture

Thanks for these tips! I enjoy regular coffee as often as I can . . . cutting down on the drink "frufru" also cuts down on the price! I also am willing to spend a little more to buy the expensive bag of beans at Costco to reward myself for NOT spending as much at the coffee-shop. If I start the day with my own, I'm less likely to purchase a cup in the afternoon.

Guest's picture

Thanks for sharing these Starbucks secrets! I never considered bringing my own cup and that it would be cheaper, cool!

Guest's picture

Oh I love this post and I love Starbucks. I just wrote a post on Dinks Finance about all the things that I don't want to do because I would rather spend my money and go to Starbucks. I will take all the savings tips at my favorite coffee house that I can get.