5 Money-Saving Hacks Starbucks Doesn't Want You To Know

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Update: It will be a little tougher saving money at Starbucks starting in April. The coffee chain is overhauling its rewards program, so you no longer receive a free drink so quickly. Under the old program, you earned one star with each purchase. Rack up 12 stars and you had yourself a reward. With the new system, you earn two points for every dollar you spend, but there's no reward until you rack up 125 points — or, as Eater points out, spend $62.50. Ahead, five easy ways to save at the 'Bucks before you hit that magic number.
Original story was published on September 9, 2015.
Advertisement
It’s official: We are living in the age of $6 Starbucks coffees — not to mention pricey scones, Strawberry Acai Refreshers, and cold-pressed juice. And now that we're heading into pumpkin spice latte season, how in the world are we supposed to save money in the midst of all this madness?

When it comes to saving on coffee, the obvious answer is make it at home. But maybe there’s a Starbucks right down the street from work and you just cannot stand the thought of another cup of watered-down Folgers from the office kitchenette. Work is tough enough some days, right? Maybe you’d just really like to get outside and tweet while someone makes you a latte. It’s understandable.

If that’s the case, there are a few Starbucks savings hacks to try when you need to save a buck (or hell, even 15 cents). For starters, you can sign up for the Starbucks Rewards Program and get free birthday drinks and refills along with special discounts. Every penny counts, especially when you’re blowing 75 of 'em on something as ridiculous as coconut milk. Try them out next time you find yourself ordering a venti soy vanilla chai concoction.

B.Y.O.C.
This isn’t as fun as B.Y.O.B., obviously, but if you stroll into Starbucks with your own cup, you’ll save 10 cents. That might not sound like a wad of cash, but if you get five drinks a week, every week, that’s about $26 a year. That could pay for one fancy spin class — or you could, you know, save it.

Don’t Buy Water
You’re dehydrated, you’re in line, and a cold bottle of water from some mountain spring is just sitting there, beckoning you to buy it. Don’t do it! Just ask the barista for a cup of water instead. It’s free and it’s filtered. Good enough. A bottle of water will set you back about two bucks ($2.50 for sparkling!), so if you’re buying their fancy water every weekday for a year, that’s $520! You could go on a mini weekend getaway with that cash or put it toward your student loans, which is important, but not nearly as fun.

Budget Iced Latte
You can get a venti iced latte for $4.45 ($5.05 with soy milk) or you can do a DIY iced latte and save yourself some bucks. Just order two to three espresso shots over ice (that’s about $2.45 for two shots, $3.05 for three) in a venti cup, then head on over to the condiment counter and pour in some milk. Done. You just saved two bucks.

Split a Venti
If you’re with a friend and you both happen to want the same drink, split a venti instead of getting two smaller sizes. Just ask for an extra cup and you’ll save a little money.

Skip the Snacks
Obviously if you’re in a rush, you’re starving, and a Edamame Hummus Wrap is two feet from your face, you might need to just grab it and go. It’ll set you back $5.95 plus tax, and let's be honest, that's not the most delicious six bucks you can spend. Plus, the food might LOOK tempting when you're facing a 3:00 p.m. crash, but it never tastes that great. The sugar-coated scones are $2.45 — and aren't exactly homemade. So skip the snacks and save yourself some cash. (And if you're really jonesing for a sugar fix, hit the newsstand on your way back to the office and spend $1 on a Snickers bar.)

There you have it: Five Starbucks savings hacks you can try next time you’re tempted to order a venti triple soy caramel latte.

Note: Price of drinks are subject to change and vary from store to store.

More from Work & Money

Four years ago, my life was exactly where I wanted it: I was working as a senior editor at a major glossy magazine. My first young adult novel had just ...
After months of waiting and countless discussions about what the future holds for our favorite television characters, Shondaland shows are finally back. ...
Just after my son’s first birthday, I was on the phone with my mom, grappling over a gut-wrenching decision. I was scheduled to go on a business trip but...
Refinery29 joined the Clinton Foundation for a tour of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to get a firsthand look at the experiences of the women and girls who live ...
I get so nervous before job interviews — sweaty palms, dry mouth, butterflies in my stomach. It’s really not fun. But once I’m sitting down with the ...
Fifty percent off your purchase here. 1,000 free miles there. When it comes to credit cards, the benefits are easy to see — while the downsides are often ...
As the host of RIOT's Woke Bae, we already know comedian Phoebe Robinson is funny AF while getting serious about major issues like feminism and ...
You know what's easy? Spending money. It's the best way to get what you want right now. Except...this is not sustainable. Those little luxuries add up ...
If the new phrase for the office BFF is the "work wife," then is a good boss or mentor your "work mom" or "work dad"? Part authority figure, part dispenser...
12:45 p.m. — I have a dryer, rare in Shanghai, so my friend runs home to get his laundry and then does a load at my place
Ah, the job interview. Getting one always feels like a win — your résumé passed the test, and you've moved on to the next round. Writing the cover letter...
Working in the service industry is an easy way to get an (often unwanted!) glimpse into other people's personal lives. Whether you waited tables at a ...
Recently, I was reminiscing about my financial education. Or maybe I should put that in quotes: “financial education.” In 10th grade, we created a budget ...
11 p.m. — Make some more bad decisions and send a text for delivery of some illicit substances but he misses my text, which is probably a good thing ...