So I just returned to the civilized world after being in backcountry for a week doing a course. When I arrived home I was happy to be created with a cool little enevlope from Starbucks that contained my super special “Gold Level” membership card. My Starbucks reward card is one of the few rewards programs that isn’t travel related that I use at least a few times a month, and much like frequent flyer programs the saves do really stack up.
Now I must admit before going into this post that I absolutely hate this overwhelming need for stores to have all finds of different rewards programs for its customers. I would be so much easier to just have a single card that every single company on the planet uses as a reward card. Perhaps a card we already carry all the time anyways like I don’t know your drivers license. Granted this gets into the whole conversation about Universal ID’s and privacy and what not, but I am not going to bother getting into that heated debate today.
Since every store insists on using there own stupid cards for rewards programs, I have added a wonderful little application called CardStar, which keeps all my different rewards card in one easy spot on my iPhone.
WARNING VIDEO CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE
Now Starbucks like every other store out there has a rewards program, the program is based on earning stars. Stars are not based on a dollar amount of spend but simply the number of transactions you do with starbucks. The program is divided into three levels: Welcome, Green & Gold.
When you enroll in the program you are at “Welcome Level” at this level you basically getting absolutely nothing except a free drink on your birthday.
After you have earned five (5) stars you are upgraded to the Green Level. At “Green Level” you get a couple of other little benefits such as: Free Syrups & Soy Milk, Free Iced Coffee & Iced Tea refills and lastly every time you buy a pound of bagged coffee you get a free tall drink.
For Starbucks junkies after earning thirty (30) stars in a calendar year you become a “Gold Member”, as a gold member instead of having the very trendily coffee cup sleeve as a status symbol of your starbucks coolness you also get a super special status indicator plastic card with your name printed on it. In addition to the other benefits you get at lower levels you also get a free drink of your choice for every fifteen (15) additional stars you earn and get special offers and coupons via email.
So here are a few little tricks to racking up your free drinks and earning gold status super fast.
- First and foremost download the Starbucks App to your iPhone and use it absolutely every time you make a purchase at Starbucks. This is sometimes a bit annoying because it means before you make your actual purchase you are going to have to load some money onto your Starbucks card. Its worth noting they can do this at the register.
- Remember that stars are earned not by spending a certain amount of money but based on your number of transactions. So if you purchase two drinks and a breakfast sandwich you get one star. If you have them ring up each item on its own you get 3 stars. SO HAVE EACH ITEM YOU PURCHASE RUNG UP AS AN INDIVIDUAL TRANSACTION.
- Buy preloaded Starbucks cards from places like Costco. At Costco you can purchase a preloaded $100 Starbucks card for $80, saving you $20.00.
- Give Preloaded Starbucks Gift Cards (not rewards cards) as gifts. Before you give the card out link the card to your rewards account. Remember a rewards account and gift card are not the same thing. Doing this will result in you earning the rewards points for your friends purchases for as long as they use the card (remember that Starbucks Gift Cards can be reloaded by the person you give it to). As long as they do not end up attaching the card to there own rewards account you will continue to get the stars they would have earned by being a member. Do this enough times and you will have your own little army of caffeine junkies earning you free drinks.
Now personally I find Starbucks to be one of largest rip offs on the planet when it comes to coffee. $5.00 for a coffee is complete bullshit, granted I will give them credit for being a great company that takes care of its employees extremely well but paying $5.00+ for a cup of coffee is still insane. Here are a few simple ways you can bring the cost of your coffee down and save some money on your starbucks addition at the same time.
- Join the Rewards Program and get Gold Level Status as mentioned above.
- If you want espresso, avoid the options already on the menu board. Americanos cost just a little more than a cup of brewed coffee, but packs more of a caffeine punch because it’s espresso and hot water. It tastes like coffee and you can sweeten it just like you would your normal cup of coffee. More bang for your buck. If you want an extra shot, don’t ask for one. Ask for a “grande Americano in a tall cup”. That way, they charge you an extra 30 cents, instead of an extra 70 cents for the shot of espresso. This works because Grande Americanos get three shots. Same would work for a Venti.
- If you like iced drinks, asking for a triple espresso in a Venti cup over ice, and then filling it with milk after the fact at the condiment bar is a great way to get an iced latte for about 2 dollars. Even adding a flavor (which is 40 cents extra) still saves you about 50% but if you are a Gold Level in the Rewards program flavor syrups are free.
- If you and a friend are out and want a Frappuccino, ask for a Venti split into two tall cups. Iced venti cups are 24 oz. Tall are 12. Viola. Two talls would cost you about 6 bucks, a venti, 4.
- Make friends with a barista. They will most likely hook you up with free drinks a lot. Further more, if you get to be really good friends, Starbucks baristas get a weekly coffee/tea/VIA markout. You could make your life easy and just Marry a barista then you get a free pound of coffee at home every week, and your family now gets great insurance at a very low cost. As a note I do not suggest getting married just because your a cheap ass and want to save a few bucks on coffee. The budgeting for this would not work out in the long run and just end up costing you a ton of money.
- Bring your own cup and save $0.10 on your drink.
- Order a shot of expresso and vanilla over ice. Now go to the condiments stand and add milk. Now you have a Iced Latte. Remember Vanilla is free for Gold Level rewards members.
- If you happen to work next to a Starbucks order a “short” coffee for $1.15 and get refills through out the day for only $0.50 per refill. If you are “Gold Level” in the rewards programs you get the refills for free. Remember that every 15 transaction you will also get a completely free drink which you can now use on one of those fancy spancy $12.00 drinks. So basically doing this will result in a free drink simply by drinking your $1.15 endless supply of coffee fifteen times: total spend $17.25 and you get a free drink. Its worth noting that it is possible to spend over $20 on a single drink meaning that Starbucks is now actually paying you to drink there coffee. $20 on a single drink, yep thats right Logan Warren actually managed to produce a drink that was $23.60! I am going to try my hand at beating this amount with my next free drink coupon.
Did I miss any of the super money savings tricks at Starbucks? Use the comments section to tell me your secret drink orders.