13 Clever Starbucks Hacks That Can Save You Big Money

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

A woman drinks Starbucks coffee
Boyloso / Shutterstock.com

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

Your mother, your financial advisor, your best friend and the lady you sit next to on your daily bus commute have all said pretty much the same thing every time they see you with a Starbucks cup in hand.

“You know, you could save so much money if you would just quit buying that expensive coffee.” And if they don’t say it? They imply it with that judgmental look.

Well, maybe you can have your coffee and save money, too.

Besides, Starbucks isn’t only about the coffee — or a million other variations of coffee — it’s a place to meet friends, be alone but not feel alone, go for a walk, work, avoid drinking alcohol and celebrate or commiserate.

Clearly, cutting Starbucks out of your life isn’t always as easy as just switching to home-brewed coffee. So, here are clever ways to save money at Starbucks so you can keep it in your life.

1. Join Starbucks Rewards

Man using Apple iPad at Starbucks Store
designs by Jack / Shutterstock.com

Join Starbucks Rewards to start getting free drinks. You earn one star for every dollar you spend if you pay as you go with cash or a debit or credit card.

Pay on a preloaded digital Starbucks Card on the app, and get two stars per $1 spent.

(You get extra perks from partners, too, such as Delta SkyMiles when you link your accounts. However, here at Penny Hoarder, we’re not a fan of too many rewards credit cards.)

Along with getting free brewed coffee and tea refills, Starbucks Rewards members get a free handcrafted drink when they earn 200 points.

That means spending $100 to $200 depending on how you pay and if you use double-star days to your advantage.

Yes, that’s a good chunk of change to spend to get a reward, so remember that it’s pretty easy to rack up a bill at Starbucks without even realizing it. Still, you do get to enjoy a free drink on your birthday.

2. Buy Discounted Starbucks Gift Cards

Retired man Happy mature with urban lifestyle man holding credit card paying online laptop payment. Asian senior male smiling shopping online
By Chaay_Tee / Shutterstock.com

Use CardCookie, Raise and other discount gift card sites to stretch your coffee dollars further. Buy a gift card for less than its face value, and you’ll get more for your money at Starbucks.

As of the time of this article, CardCookie is out of Starbucks gift cards, but you can sign up for their email list and get notifications when they’re back in stock.

Raise has them in stock now for a maximum of 2.6% off — that’ll save you $1.26 on a $50 gift card.

3. Split One Drink Into Two

pio3 / Shutterstock.com

Order a Venti latte and divide it into two Grande cups when grabbing a drink with a friend. You’re basically getting two Grande coffees for around $2.07 each instead of $4.15 each.

Some stores will ask you to pay extra for the additional cup (25 or 50 cents), but you’ll still come out ahead.

No one wants to go to Starbucks? Bring your own insulated cup for a second hot coffee later.

4. Scale Back Your Usual Order

A Starbucks Frappuccino blended beverage seen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
HeinzTeh / Shutterstock.com

Instead of the frappuccinos or mochas with all the fixings, you can achieve a similar taste with something that costs less.

Try a drip coffee with syrup and add free milk and sweetener from the condiment bar.

5. Whipped Cream Is Cheaper Than Syrup

Mocha frappuccino topped with whipped cream in a to-go cup
M. Unal Ozmen / Shutterstock.com

You can make your drink even cheaper by asking for whipped cream instead of syrup. Any drink is sweeter and more fun with a dollop of whipped cream, which is free.

6. Visit on National Coffee Day

Woman drinking coffee
Shift Drive / Shutterstock.com

Starbucks gives away free brewed coffee at all participating locations when you bring in your own reusable cup on National Coffee Day.

The company gives away any hot or iced brewed coffee in all sizes up to 20 ounces.

7. Supersize Your Cup

Coffee poured into three sizes of to-go cups
Big Pants Production / Shutterstock.com

When ordering drip coffee, ask for a “tall drip in a Grande cup,” which will give you extra room to add milk while still only paying for the tall size.

A little extra space also keeps the coffee from sloshing through the drink hole as you walk or drive.

Bigger is more your style? Do the same for a Venti cup.

8. Light on the Ice, Please

Two cups of iced coffee, with coffee beans scattered on counter.
Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com

Ask for light ice with your iced coffee. If you don’t, your cup could be so full of ice that you don’t get as much coffee as you’d like.

It’s not necessarily a cash saver, but this request will get you more caffeine and less water for your money.

Want your drink to be cold without the ice? Bring a chilled tumbler with you as your own reusable cup.

9. Assemble Your Own Drink

Woman drinking iced coffee
Day2505 / Shutterstock.com

Slash the price of your iced latte in half by ordering just one or two shots of espresso, then add as much free milk as you want from the condiment bar.

You can even order two shots of espresso over ice. It’s essentially the same drink as any other iced latte, but it will be $1 to $1.50 less.

Remember, this won’t work for hot drinks, since the milk at the condiment bar isn’t heated.

10. Bring a Cup

Man with a reusable coffee mug driving
Lithiumphoto / Shutterstock.com

In a nod to the environment, Starbucks takes 10 cents off the price of each drink you order if you bring in your own cup. Those dimes add up!

11. Don’t Buy the Bottled Water

Paper water cup
Pakasit Chuaysri / Shutterstock.com

Here’s a tip that saves money at Starbucks and everywhere else, for that matter: Order a cup of water.

The baristas will happily give it to you — and you won’t pay $2.65 for that plastic bottle of H2O.

12. Order a Coffee Traveler

A group of friends drinking coffee and taking a selfie
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

If you’re in a group of two to 12, order your coffee in bulk with a “coffee traveler” of Pike Place Roast, Veranda Blend, Dark Roast, or Decaf Pike Place Roast.

At around $20 each, these convenient carriers filled with 96 fluid ounces of coffee can be a great money saver — you’ll get the equivalent of 12 8-fluid-ounce coffees as well as cups to go.

Since a normal short coffee is around $2.50 plus tax, paying $1.66 per serving is a great cost savings.

13. A Treat That’s Always Free

Dog sitting in the car
KAZLOVA IRYNA / Shutterstock.com

This cup of whipped cream for your dog is a free concoction for canines that Starbucks calls a Puppuccino. Be sure to ask for one inside or even in the drive-through.

Usually, a human drink needs to be purchased to get the Puppuccino on the house.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.