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.
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.

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