(post contains affiliate links: see disclosure)
I know it seems like an oxymoron to use the words ‘thrifty’ and ‘Starbucks’ in the same sentence, but to me being thrifty means cutting corners where I can so that I can enjoy a few splurges now and then at the lowest cost.
Starbucks and I go way back to when my sister got a job there just out of college while she was waiting for a position in her field. She introduced me to all sorts of different Starbucks coffee drinks while she worked there.
Now Starbucks is where I go to meet a friend and catch up or hang out solo and get some blogging work done.
Starbucks, however, doesn’t quite fit in the budget…at least it didn’t until I found creative ways to make it fit.
5 Ways Thrifty People Enjoy Starbucks
1. We splurge using gift cards earned through Reward Programs
Here is a secret: I rarely pay cash for my Starbucks drinks. 95% of the time they are paid for by gift cards I earn through online point reward programs, survey companies, or apps.
Here are a few places to earn Starbucks gift cards
Point Reward Programs offering Starbucks gift cards as payment
- Swagbucks (here is a tutorial I wrote on making the most of your Swagbucks account)
- InstaGC (here are my top 4 ways I like to earn at InstaGC)
- PrizeRebel (here are 9 ways to earn gift cards with PrizeRebel)
- Bing Rewards
- MyPoints (here is my guide on how to earn gift cards with MyPoints)
Survey Companies offering Starbucks gift cards as payment
Apps offering Starbucks gift cards as payment
- Ibotta (here is my step by step guide to Ibotta )
- Berrycart (here is my tutorial on how to use BerryCart)
- Shopkick (here is my step by step guide to Shopkick)
2. We are active members of My Starbucks Rewards
My Starbucks rewards (follow the blue link to sign up and opt in for emails [trust me–you want them] and you’ll get a free drink! plus I get 6 bonus stars towards a free one for me.) is a program that offers frequent Starbucks consumers benefits for their loyalty. You don’t have to be a huge consumer to benefit from this program.
To sign up for the program you need a Starbucks card to register (earn one from the list in point one). Once you have a card registered keep transferring the balance of your newly earned cards, or those you get as gifts to your registered card.
Through that card Starbucks will track when you buy a drink and give you a star for each one.
The program has 3 levels
- Welcome: Free drink for signing up and a free birthday drink or food item.
- Green: You obtain green level after 5 stars in a 12 month period, and it allows you to get free refills on hot brewed coffee or iced coffee (I like the vanilla iced coffee).
- Gold: After 30 stars obtained in a 12 month period you move on to Gold status. You get the benefits of the first 2 levels plus a free drink after every 12 stars.
Each level includes emails that contain special offers, coupon codes and heads up for upcoming sales.
(thrifty tip: these stars are also found on bags of Starbucks coffee that you buy in store, simply enter the code at the My Starbucks Rewards website)
3. We share our thrifty finds and are rewarded for it
Starbucks now has a referral program for their My Starbucks Rewards program and it is a benefit for both the receiver and the sharer.
If a friend should sign up through your referral link (and the words in blue are mine) they get a free drink when they sign up for the program and opt in for the email and you get a code emailed to you worth 6 stars as a thanks for sharing bonus.
Once you reach Gold Level, that equals a free drink for every 2 people that sign up. There is a maximum referral limit of 2 people per day and a monthly maximum of 8 new referrals per month.
4. We keep our eyes out for Starbucks sales
Starbucks has sales a few times a year that reduce certain drinks to 1/2 price. This is when I like to treat my daughter to some mom and Starbucks time.
When you join the My Starbucks Rewards programs you also get special codes for reduced price drinks or food in the emails they send.
5. We bring our own cups
The discount for bringing your own cup is only .10 cents but I love doing this when I remember because it reduces my carbon footprint too. A win for me and a win for the environment.
Bonus tip: If you don’t want to work for your Starbucks gift cards through rewards programs, surveys and apps, you can still save 5% or more by snagging a discounted gift card for Starbucks through Cardpool.
I mentioned just a few point programs in this post but there are many more!