I love Starbucks. This Seattle-based coffee giant is one of those small luxuries that enriches my life. Of course, as a money-conscious individual, I definitely love Starbucks “hacks” to get items I love for free. How do I accomplish that? Well, today I am sharing 25 ways you can get a Starbucks free drink!
Note that I am not affiliated with Starbucks, so every piece of advice here is completely my own and based on my personal experience. However, they are surely useful for you to save some money on these luxurious Starbucks drinks!
1. Sign up for the Starbucks rewards program
I probably don’t need to say this further, but if you haven’t signed up for their rewards program, you should! With your Starbucks rewards account, you can earn 2 stars for every $1 spent. The stars can then be used to redeem for Starbucks beverages and food. For as low as 25 stars, you can get something for free!
What you can get for free:
- 25 stars: An extra espresso shot, a dairy substitute, or an extra pump of your favourite syrup
- 50 stars: A cup (any size) of brewed coffee or tea, or a bakery item. Yes, it is not just limited to a free tall brewed coffee. You can get any size!
- 150 stars: a handcrafted beverage (think Frappuccino®), hot breakfast, or parfait
- 250 stars: a lunch sandwich or protein box
- 400 stars: a bag of coffee, a signature cup, or your choice of select coffee accessories
Signing up for the rewards program also makes your coffee runs that much easier. With the Starbucks app, you can order ahead and pay with your phone. How convenient is that!
Last but not least, did I mention that signing up for the program is COMPLETELY FREE?!
Signing up for the program is super easy. You can simply head to Starbucks’ official website and register, or, if you already have a card (e.g., got it as a gift from a friend), you can simply register it. You will now be able to earn rewards with your registered gift card!
Don’t wait! Join Starbucks today!
2. Join Opinion Outpost and get paid for doing surveys
Opinion Outpost is a survey platform where you can get paid for taking surveys. The site is very user-friendly. Even if you are a beginner, you will find it easy to navigate. Signing up is completely free!
3. Take advantage of your free birthday drink
Another huge advantage that you have by participating in the Starbucks rewards program is that you become eligible for a birthday reward. This is, you can get basically anything on the Starbucks menu (e.g., free food or drink) every year on your birthday. You can basically get anything you like on the menu, from a luxurious Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino® or Iced Caramel Macchiato, to a Spinach, Feta & Cage-Free Egg White Wrap (my personal favourite), to even a lunch-size Chicken & Quinoa Protein Bowl! If there is an item from the Starbucks secret menu that you’d like to try, your birthday is the day!
One caveat I must mention is that the policy states that you must redeem your free birthday item on your birthday.
But what if you are super busy that day and somehow miss the chance to drop by a Starbucks?
You can try sending them an email and requesting an extension for your birthday free item.
What??! An extension on your Starbucks freebie? How is that possible? Well, if you give it a try, you may get lucky! Remember, the customer service representatives are there to provide a pleasant experience for you. For them, maintaining a healthy relationship with an existing customer is much easier than starting a new one.
4. Join Swagbucks
You can also earn Starbucks gift cards through Swagbucks! You can earn points, called SBs, by performing various online activities. They include shopping at your favourite store, searching the web, answering surveys, watching videos, or playing games.
Depending on the difficulty, the payout of the tasks can be different. These tasks are fantastic fillers in your day when you have a few minutes to spare.
An interesting feature of the Swagbucks prizes is that they go on sale too! They have days when they offer 20 – 25% off select rewards. You may want to wait to redeem gift cards on one of these days and get a bigger bang for your buck! That is even more free drinks at Starbucks for you!
5. Participate in Starbucks offers
Have you wondered why some people seem to be able to earn luxurious free handcrafted beverages with their stars quickly without necessarily spending a ton of money on purchasing items? Well, let me tell you: they strategize.
How? By participating in Starbucks’ promotions, of course!
Below are the three most common types of Starbucks promotions:
- Bonus Stars: Starbucks rewards bonus stars on specific actions, such as purchasing a specific item (or a combination of items), or making purchases for a number of consecutive days. In exchange, you get an instant 10 or 20 or sometimes even 100 bonus stars.
- Double-Star Days: these Days are held on specific days during the month. On these days, you get double the stars for everything you buy!
- Buy One Get One Free: this one is very straight-forward. You buy one drink, and you get one free! This is typically available during Starbucks Happy Hour!
According to my observation as a Starbucks rewards veteran, at any given time, there’s at least one program running.
A nice side bonus is that you can have some fun with these offers, because they always come as a surprise. Let the offers decide for you what to get that day for some much needed self-love, and you can get some extra stars to make the experience even better! It’s like playing a game!
6. Use Drop to earn cash-back awards
Drop is a free app that rewards you for shopping at your favourite brands and completing some simple activities. It is a well-established app with over 3 million members, who earn cash awards at stores like Amazon and Starbucks on a daily basis!
7. Use Fetch Rewards to earn cash back on your everyday grocery runs
Fetch Rewards is an amazing app that gives you money back on common everyday grocery items. All you have to do is check out the weekly offers, buy the items at any store and take a picture on your receipt to earn cash back. The items range from cereals to laundry detergents to shampoos to even beer and wine! You can funnel all the cash rewards that you otherwise wouldn’t have earned into a self-established small Starbucks fund. I promise me that it won’t take long before you can sip on your favourite Starbucks coffee, all for free!
8. Participate in Starbucks’ free official games
Speaking of games, yes, you should participate in their official games! Starbucks routinely host free coffee giveaway on their site. Not only are the games fun and free, they also have some pretty nice rewards. You also have a pretty decent chance of winning!
I personally have never won any big rewards, but I have won the following more than a few times over the years:
- Starbucks stars (5 or 10)
- Coupons for drinks (up to 50% off)
While the rewards may be small, keep in mind that you can play the typically month-long games every day. I am pretty confident that you can at least get yourself a free coffee at the end of it, if you play every day!
Here is probably the biggest secret of their games that you may not know of:
You don’t need to actually make a purchase to play.
If you look closely at the disclaimer at the bottom of the screen, you will notice that, in small fonts, it say “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY”:
At the very bottom of the screen, there is a link from which you can enter the game for free:
Did I just change your world? I hope I did!
9. Get free refills if you are a Starbucks rewards member
If I haven’t convinced you to become a Starbucks Rewards member yet, here’s an even better bonus. Starbucks offers free refills if you are a Starbucks rewards member. All you need to do is to pay with your registered Starbucks card, and ask for the refill with the same card during the same store visit.
If you plan to linger at a Starbucks for a while over a delicious coffee or a tea, I recommend that you order a drink one size smaller than what you normally get. The free refill will definitely provide more than enough caffeine to get your heart pumping!
Would you still be eligible for a refill even if you didn’t originally order a coffee or a tea?
The answer is YES, as long as you ordered a drink! However, keep in mind that your refill is typically only limited to the basic items such as the regular coffee or tea.
10. Ask for a larger cup
This may or may not be a well-known secret, but yes, you CAN ask for a larger-sized cup! It is such a prevalent practice that Starbucks now has included it as an option in their mobile app.
Because the Starbucks barista estimates the coffee amount, more often than not, you will end up with a bit more coffee if you order a tall in a venti cup than than if you ordered a tall in a tall cup.
As a result, you end up getting a bit of extra free coffee! You can also use the extra room for some extra milk, or leave the space empty just so your coffee is less likely to spill.
11. Bring your own cups or mugs
We know that Starbucks has been pushing for becoming a more environmental-friendly company. They have introduced various initiatives, such as greener cups and packaging.
But as a consumer and a resident of this lovely planet, we can be a part of the solution, too. Instead of using one paper cup a day, why not bring your own personal cup or tumbler?
You will also receive 10 cents off
What’s better: You will also receive a $0.10 discount every time you bring your own cup! $0.10 doesn’t seem to be a lot at first glance, but if you drink morning coffee every day, that adds up to more than $35 over the course of the year. That’s over half a month of daily free coffee!
12. Earn free gift cards with MyPoints
An awesome online money making site for you to get paid shopping online is MyPoints. Whenever you shop online at the over 1,900 top retailers, including Walmart, eBay and Amazon, available through the platform, you can earn points to be redeemed for gift cards! There are over 75 retail and restaurant partners that collaborate with MyPoints, including Amazon, Starbucks and Walmart. I am sure you will find at least one place that you shop at regularly.
You can then use the money earned to purchase your beloved Starbucks coffee!
13. Ask for ice on the side
When you feel like an iced drink like an iced coffee or a Frappuccino, you should politely ask for ice on the side. This way, the bulky ice cubes won’t take up as much room, so you will be able to get more delicious Starbucks drinks in your actual cup!
Another added benefit for asking for ice on the side is that you can control how much ice you add. For someone like me who prefers my cup of coffee a little bit cold but not too cold, this is the perfect solution.
14. Use ibotta to earn cash-back for your online purchases
Ibotta is a popular online cash-back shopping site in the US. Yes, this means that for every single purchase that you made through ibotta, you get some cash rebates!
What can you do with the extra cash you now have? First of all, I suggest that you put 80% away into your savings. For the remaining 20%, let’s spend a luxurious afternoon with a drink from Starbucks you can purchase for free!
15. Join Rakuten to earn cash-back rebates
Rakuten, formally known as Ebates, is another popular online cash-back shopping site in Canada and the US.
Using Rakuten is very simple. All you need to remember is that if you want to make an online purchase, you go to Rakuten’s website first, from where you select the desired merchant. Rakuten will then automatically redirect you to the merchant’s official website.
After you have accumulated enough money, Rakuten will send you a cheque! You can use a portion of the free money on your favourite Starbucks drink or food!
16. Move your money into a high-yield savings account for extra interest
Do you have a $1,000 emergency fund sitting in your everyday savings account earning a dismal 0.01% interest? First of all, congratulations for having an emergency fund! However, you can go one step further, and let the money generate some extra interest for you by moving it to a high-yield savings account.
Let’s do some simple calculation. With your $1,000 earning 2% interest, you now have an extra $20, vs. the abysmal $0.10 with 0.01% before!
Again, I recommend that you put away some of the extra earnings and let compounding do the magic for you. But you can definitely get one or two extra free drinks or food items from Starbucks with the remainder. All for simply moving money to an account with better features!
17. Ask for Starbucks for your special days
Instead of getting physical gifts from your family and close friends, why not ask for a Starbucks gift card? If you want to go paperless, then an egift can be a good alternative as well.
If you think this one seems like piggybacking off your family and friends, think again! After all, they like to make you happy! Additionally, they may be secretly relieved that they don’t need to spend too much time figuring out what gifts to get for you!
Every time when you go get your free beverage at Starbucks, remember to think of the family member or the friend that makes that free trip possible.
18. Exchange rewards points from your employer
Does your employer give you rewards points for going above and beyond for your work? Congratulations! You should be proud of what you have accomplished on your job.
These rewards points can typically be redeemed for a wide variety of items, including gift cards to Starbucks.
You have worked hard, and you deserve to have some delicious drinks from Starbucks to celebrate.
19. Get a discounted gift card for yourself online
Why not get one for yourself if you can get it at a discount? Check out places like Raise.com and CardCash. The discounts seem to differ, but they generally hover around 1-2% for popular ones like those from Starbucks.
If you have other unused rewards cards that you want to sell, you can also do so on these platforms. You can then use the money earned to get your free Starbucks drink that way!
Since we have started talking about online platforms, let’s talk about some other sites that facilitate online exchanges!
Freecycle is a wonderful network of people who are giving and getting things for free in their own cities and neighbourhoods. The membership is entirely free. The network is all about reuse and keeping as many items out of landfills as possible.
Bunz is another wonderful site that serves a similar purpose. It was founded in 2013 with the goal of building stronger and more sustainable communities. Thousands people meet every day to trade everything from clothing to houseplants.
One unique feature about Bunz is that it has its own digital currency, BTZ. You can earn BTZ through trades or answering daily survey. You can then use BTZ to “purchase” items whose owners accept BTZ!
BTZ can also be used to get free drinks and food items in many local businesses. Starbucks is not a participant, unfortunately, but if you are into indie coffee shops, this is a great incentive for you to try it out.
21. Take advantage of loyalty programs you are already a member of
Are you a member of any loyalty programs? Search through the merchandise portals and see if Starbucks is listed as one of the merchants!
Here are some of the loyalty programs that has Starbucks on their list of vendors:
- Asia Miles from Cathay Pacific
- TD Rewards Points
- Etc. etc.
These programs may also offer additional Starbucks discounts, such as buy-one-get-one-free and bonus points, on top of what I just covered. How nice is it to take a flight knowing that you will be able to redeem literally tens of cups of free Starbucks coffee or teas by just clicking a few buttons at the end of the trip!
22. Enter your Star code when purchasing Starbucks items at a grocery store
If you ever want to bring Starbucks home, don’t throw out the packaging, because it contains another secret to free drinks at Starbucks!
These products available at grocery stores are also eligible for stars. Specially marked packages of Starbucks products will have a sticker on the front of the package or an insert inside the box with a Star Code. If you have a Star Code, sign in through your Rewards Portal, and you can enter the Code for some stars!
You may also earn Stars on non-marked, qualifying Starbucks products, such as K-Cup® packs and ready-to-drink products, available in select grocery stores by saving your receipt and visiting www.Starbucks-Stars.com.
See, with a bit of work uploading some codes and receipts, you can accumulate stars in exchange for free drinks!
23. Get a $5 Meal Plan instead of dining out
While some of us love planning meals and cooking, some of us don’t. And for members of the latter group, we end up resorting to take-outs, A LOT, which is quite costly. Don’t you wish for a better way to meal plan so we can curb our desire to eat out?
Here comes the $5 Meal Plan to make your meal planning as simple as possible! For just $5 a month, they will send you a delicious meal plan. Every meal costs about $2 per person, and in most cases less. In addition, the company offers a regular version and a gluten-free version of the meal plans, so if you are sensitive to gluten, just check that box!
With meal planning made simple, you will find yourself spending more time cooking at home and less time ordering take-outs. You will definitely find yourself spending less on food in general.
What to do with the money saved? As I always said, save most of it, but give yourself a treat with a Starbucks drink! It is technically free because you are spending the money you otherwise wouldn’t have any way!
24. Work at Starbucks
Of course, if you love Starbucks, you may consider working there as a barista. Starbucks offers free coffee and other perks for their employees. By working as a barista, you are eligible for Partner beverages, once before the shift starts, once after, and once per break. That is a lot of delicious free drink right there! You will also be eligible to receive a free pound of coffee or box of tea every week.
Other than free drinks, there are many other benefits and perks as well as a Starbucks employee. What I love the most is the health coverage, which is really rare among companies nowadays for part-time employees or employees on contract. Kudos to Starbucks for taking care of its employees!
If interested, check out the official website to find out about all the perks!
25. Always be nice
Well, you really should always be nice to people, but at Starbucks, the kind attitude might give you a bit of extra unexpected free perks!
According to this article,
Many baristas will “forget” to charge some people for things like syrups or milk alternativesStephanabelle
See, if you’re nice, you might benefit from a little upgrade!
My favourite Starbucks drinks
Now that you have all of my best tips to get some yummy beverages for free, I thought it would be interesting to share with you some of my favourite drinks.
- Fall favourite: Pumpkin spice latte
- Favourite caffeinated Starbucks Frappuccinos: Salted caramel mocha coffee Frappuccino with a drizzle of chocolate and caramel Frappuccino
- Decaffeinated blended beverage: Strawberry Frapp
- Lower calorie specialty coffee of choice: Cappuccino or cold brew coffee
- Favourite free add-on: a dash of cinnamon
For coffee lovers out there, Starbucks is probably one of the destinations you have stopped by. If you are a Starbucks drinker, I hope you find the 25 tips above helpful to get a free drink from there!
While I love Starbucks for its freshly brewed coffee (so much better than the instant coffee I brew at home), I also really appreciate what this coffee company has been doing for the frontline health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic. This coffee giant announced that they are offering a month of free coffee across all Starbucks locations for all the heroes who are fighting against the pandemic at the frontline.
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*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.
Bella Wanana is a freelance writer. She is the owner of bellawanana.com, a personal finance and lifestyle blog. She loves sharing with her readers the best tips and tricks on personal finance and how to live a balanced but fulfilling life. She has been featured on sites like MSN.com, Reader’s Digest, The Financial Diet, Yahoo Finance, and GOBankingRates.