Food & Drink

The Best Ways to Save Money at Starbucks

Published On 07/25/2016 Published On 07/25/2016
Starbucks cup in hand
Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Statistically speaking, you are usually within 6ft of a live spider at any given time. 

The same is essentially true of Starbucks. America is so inundated with the chain, sometimes you can see a Starbucks from another Starbucks. It's at the point where you expect to see a Starbucks located within a bigger Starbucks -- which would obviously be called "Incepbucks." Isn't it time you learn how to save a few bucks on your mocha-grande-hyper-double-shot-rainbow latte?

Yes, yes it is. Also, try not to think about that spider thing. It's gross. 

Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Snag an improvised latte for half the price

If you don't mind looking/feeling like a cheapskate -- which you obviously don't because you clicked into this article -- order a double or triple shot of espresso in a venti cup, and add your own milk from the condiment bar. It definitely works better if you act all shifty about it, too.

Get more coffee, less ice/milk

This one should be a little obvious, but we're going to lay it out here just in case you missed it (no shame). When you get an iced coffee, your 'Bucks barista will usually load that sucker up with handfuls of ice, and if they put the milk in themselves, they pour liberally. In the long run, it saves the chain money. We get it. So, simply ask them to go light on either one, or both, and they'll comply. Say please, though. It's just common courtesy. 

Order the secret drink size 

If you've listened to stand-up comedy in the past decade, you'll know "tall" in Starbucksian means small, despite sounding like it means big. But! There's a size even smaller than small -- not listed on most menus -- called "short" (an 8oz cup size, even smaller than the 12oz tall option). If you order the short cappuccino, you'll be getting the same amount of actual espresso in a tall, for less. You see guys? Size doesn't matter.

Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Buy your brew in bulk

You can actually order a full French press of coffee from Starbucks -- and if you do, you'll probably save about 50% overall (prices vary slightly by location), if compared to buying four cups individually. It will give you about four cups... so all you need is three friends, or the willpower to become very, very, very caffeinated.

Split a venti Frap

If you do have a friend -- congrats! You should treat them to a tall Frappuccino. By ordering a venti (which is only slightly more expensive than a tall) you can then request an extra tall cup -- which most baristas should be cool with -- and split your drink. Basically, the venti is 24oz, the tall is 12oz. It costs less to buy a venti and get a second cup, than ordering two talls. And if you don't have a friend, feel free to double fist. 

Use your own cup 

If you use your own cup, you'll save 10 cents on your purchase. Hey! Don't thumb your bougie-ass nose! Ten cents is 10 cents -- we just came out of a recession, people.

Drew Swantak/Thrillist

Opt for the rewards card

As a consumer, it's probably a natural reaction to avoid any and all rewards programs -- especially those involved with fast food. But, if you frequent Starbucks enough to be interested in an article about saving money at Starbucks, you should probably opt for the customer loyalty program. Starbucks does a pretty solid job of making this worth your while. Not only do you get a free cup of joe on your birthday -- the greatest present of all -- but you get exclusive coupons, free in-store refills, and a smorgasbord of other money-saving initiatives. 

Make your own chai

So you're paying about $4 for a chai latte. Instead, buy a cup of hot water/milk with a Tazo chai tea packet for half the price. It's probably not as good as a real chai latte -- but you can ask your barista to froth your milk a couple inches, and it's likely they'll just do it for free. And that's almost as good. 

Don't fill your cup up the whole way if you need milk 

This is something you can (and should) apply to any coffee shop. Ask them to leave a little room (sometimes, but not always, they'll ask) if you plan on adding your own milk. If you've spent any time in a coffee shop, you'll know that pretty much half of the trash is filled with excess coffee -- this won't save you any immediate money, but you'll get more bang for your buck. And you always want to bang your buck to the fullest, right?

Staight-up steal your coffee

Though remember, the legal fines you are liable to pay may equal out to 200 venti iced coffees. Invest in some good sneakers. 

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. His only loyalty program, is to himself. Follow him: @wilfulton.

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