Starbucks is America's favorite coffeehouse, with U.S. sales placing it in the nation's top 50 retailers of 2014, according to the National Retail Federation. In fact, the Seattle-based corporation has become almost synonymous with java.
Without a doubt, Starbucks' popularity is a result of its quality. Millions of Americans cannot imagine starting their daily grind without their Frappuccino, Iced Caramel Macchiato or White Chocolate Mocha.
However, that cherished routine comes at a rather steep price. In fact, a cup of joe at Starbucks costs so much more than its home-kitchen-brewed counterpart that many personal finance gurus now cite the daily "latte factor" as an obstacle to riches.
Just give up those trips to Starbucks and other coffeehouses, they say, and you will soon be flush with green.
While that may be an oversimplification, it is true that daily trips to the coffee giant can put a dent in your savings. But rather than giving up a ritual that you love and cherish, we've uncovered five ways to save at Starbucks.
1. Bring your own cup (BYOC)
Any personal cup qualifies for the discount. If you bring in a competitor's paper cup, we'll offer to replace it and apply the discount when we pour your drink in a new Starbucks paper cup.
You can also shop for Starbucks tumblers and travel mugs at the company website. Or, if you want to save even more cash, purchase a reusable cup for just $1.
2. Take advantage of free refills
Some people love Starbucks so much that they occasionally stop there before and after work (talk about déjà brew!). Such a routine can really put a hit on your wallet.
An alternative is to buy your drink in the morning, then get a free refill. You qualify if you join Starbucks Rewards. (More on that below.) This refill offer applies to brewed hot or iced coffee or tea.
When you need to scratch that coffee itch in the afternoon, simply reheat your favorite Starbucks drink in the office microwave. If your refill was iced coffee or tea, it can wait for you in the company fridge.
One caveat: You'll have to drink your original cup in the store before requesting a refill. According to Starbucks:
Once you leave the store, your visit has ended and any subsequent coffee or tea refill thereafter would be considered a new purchase.
It's a good thing the leading coffee chain offers free unlimited Wi-Fi at all its company-owned U.S. locations!
See photos of Starbucks cups through the years:
3. Join the Starbucks Rewards Program
As a member of this rewards program, you will earn stars that can be redeemed for free food and beverages.
Membership includes the following perks:
Two stars per $1 spent
Free drink on your birthday
Option to pay by phone
Option to order ahead
Once you reach gold status — after you earn 300 stars in 12 months — you will be eligible for monthly double-star days and a star reward free drink for every 125 stars you collect.
The program was revamped earlier this year, and a lot of customers are not happy about the changes, with many complaining that the new program is less generous.
That may be true. But if you love Starbucks, participating in the company's rewards program will still save you cash.
You can sign up via the Starbucks app, a Starbucks gift card or a Star code found on a Starbucks product purchased at a grocery retailer. Think of it as a whole latte savings.
4. Think before you order — and be creative
The internet is full of little hacks that can help you get more for your buck at Starbucks. For example, this Business Insider video suggests ordering two shots of espresso in a venti cup over ice. Then, walk over to the condiment bar, fill the cup with milk and shake it up.
Voila! You've just shaved a couple of dollars off the price of a regular venti iced latte.
Other hacks include asking for the ice for an iced drink in a separate cup – which means more coffee in the original cup — and asking for an extra cup and splitting your drink with a friend.
5. Get discounted Starbucks gift cards
A Starbucks gift card is one way to get access to the rewards program. And you can save a little on that gift card if you purchase it from a discount gift card site.
Although such savings may seem small, they can definitely add up over time.
Do you have more tips for saving at Starbucks? Share them in our Forums. It's a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.
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