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The Secret’s Out: 10 Guaranteed Ways to Sip Starbucks without Spending a Dime!

  • Post author:Bob Haegele
  • Post last modified:March 29, 2024

“You had me at “free Starbucks” – am I right? If you’re anything like me, coffee is pretty much a requirement just to function at a basic level. But coffee can be expensive. That’s why this post is all about how to get free Starbucks!

Whether you like iced coffee or hot coffee, there’s something here for you.

By the way, I should mention that even if you do everything listed here, it’s not like you’ll never have to pay for Starbucks again. I mean, you might think getting a free drink is pretty nice, but in a way, it’s a fallacy to call it “free.”

There’s an old adage that’s often associated with economics:

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” -Unknown

The idea here is that even if you get something for free, someone pays for it, whether it’s the taxpayer, a loved one, or, in this case, a company.

Of course, we live in a largely capitalistic society, and companies aren’t willing to give you a free drink unless they get something in return. For example, one thing we’ll cover is Starbucks Rewards – loyalty programs have been shown to increase sales by as much as 22 percent.

The figure might be different for Starbucks, but you certainly aren’t getting 22 percent of what you spend in free drinks with Starbucks Rewards.

The point here is that loyalty programs tend to increase sales by more than they increase expenses for companies. Spend money to make money, as it were.

Now that the groundwork has been laid, let’s get into ways to get free Starbucks, shall we?

1. Get Free Starbucks with Gift Cards

There are a variety of ways to earn free gift cards, and most of them include Starbucks gift cards as an option (in addition to other major retailers).

One of the easiest ways to earn said gift cards would be to get paid to walk or complete surveys for cash.

Getting free gift cards this way is good because it doesn’t require you to spend a dime. What it does require you to spend, though, is time. Indeed, these methods usually take quite a bit of time relative to what you actually earn.

But what if you want/need a less time-consuming way?

Cash-Back Credit Cards

Cash-back credit cards are always a good option if you want to rack up some points toward free gift cards without spending a lot of time doing so.

Personally, I love using my Citi® Double Cash Card for earning cashback. If you aren’t familiar with this card, it lets you earn two points on any dollar you spend, regardless of where you spend it. You get one point per dollar when you spend money, and one point when you pay it off.

You always have the option to redeem your cashback for actual cash, or you can convert them to ThankYou points. Then, you can claim a free Starbucks gift card.

Of course, there are other credit cards that have this option, but this is one I have personally used and can recommend.

2. Use Survey Junkie to get Free Starbucks

I did touch on this above, but Survey Junkie is another awesome way to potentially earn some free Starbucks

One of the great things about Survey Junkie is you only need 1,000 points to be able to redeem them – the equivalent of $10.

Survey Junkie

And it’s pretty great because all you have to do is share your opinion about the products you normally buy. Sign up, share your opinion, earn points, redeem for gift cards.

And then claim your FREE Starbucks. Pretty darn cool. And, in addition to free Starbucks gift cards, you can also get free Amazon gift cards, free iTunes gift cards, and lots of others.

The site has a community of over 10 million users who get paid to share their opinion. All you have to do is sign up for Survey Junkie and you could start earning up to $75 per survey.

3. Starbucks Rewards

Not to brag or anything, but I’ve been a member of Starbucks Rewards for a loooong time. Maybe too long…

You’re welcome, Starbucks!

For me, it’s a no-brainer. As much as I love hitting up the local coffee shops for an iced coffee or specialty drink, there isn’t always one close to me at any given moment.

Sure, I could drive an extra 15-20 minutes to go to a local shop instead…or I could just go to Starbucks. I’m busy, okay!?

If you want free Starbucks, then Starbucks rewards is a great way to make that happen.

But the larger point here is that, depending where you are, you may have few (if any) options other than Starbucks. So if that’s where you’re going to get your caffeine fix, why not earn a few stars in the process?

How Starbucks Rewards Works

The way the rewards program works is pretty straightforward. It used to be more complicated; for example, you needed the Gold card ($150 spent) to earn free drinks.  

But that is no longer the case. Now, all you need is a plain ol’ Starbucks card.

Nowadays, it’s much simpler. How it works is:

  • Earn two stars for every $1 spent
  • Redeem for freebies starting at 25 stars

Yes, it’s that simple. Earn stars; redeem them for a free Starbucks drink.

Free Starbucks Items
Image courtesy of Starbucks.

At the low end are things like flavor shots and other drink customizations. At the high end, you have reusable cups and bags of coffee.

All in all, it’s a pretty good deal – provided you don’t become part of that 22 percent stat!

4. Starbucks Double-Star Days!

I know Double-Star Days are one of my favorite days to go to Starbucks. I mean, how could they not be!? By the way...hover over the star for a fun animation. 🙂

Double-Star Days are a great way to get free Starbucks.

As we learned above, you normally get two stars for every $1 spent – which, by the way, translates to 2% cashback. That is already a reasonably good rate in the cashback world.

But, as you can probably guess, Double-Star Days will net you four stars per dollar spent. In other words, 4% cashback!

This is a great way to earn some free Starbucks. The only downside is that you can’t really plan around them because they happen once a month on a random day.

If you have the Starbucks® app or are subscribed to Starbucks’s mailing list, you’ll get a message a couple of days beforehand giving you a heads-up.

5. Starbucks Happy Hour (BOGO)

Starbucks Happy Hour is a little different from Double-Star Days, but both of them offer you a chance to double up on what you spend at Starbucks.

In this case, you buy one, get one free! We call these BOGO deals.

How it works: buy one Starbucks drink (grande or larger) and get a second one free. Starbucks® Happy Hour typically runs from 2-7 p.m.

Note: ready-to-drink beverages and Starbucks Reserve beverages are not eligible.

Grab the Starbucks® app on iOS or Android for notifications about the next Starbucks® Happy Hour.

6. Get Free Starbucks On Your Birthday

This is a really nice way to get a free drink! Every year, you’ll get one free birthday reward. Who doesn’t love a handcrafted drink from your local Starbucks store?

I initially took “free treat” to mean you can only get a pastry or something, but that’s not the case. You can get a free food item, yes, but you can also get a free Starbucks drink.

You also have the option for a bottled beverage (though I’m not sure why you would pick that option).

In any case, it’s not much, but it’s something! Also, note that you must claim your birthday reward on your birthday.

7. Free Refills at Starbucks

For whatever reason, I don’t often hear people talk about this sneaky way to get free Starbucks drinks.

Why? I’m not really sure, but my best guess is that Starbucks Coffee Company doesn’t exactly advertise it all the time – for obvious reasons.

Free refills are a great way to save money at Starbucks.
Free refills are an excellent way to save money at Starbucks.

How it works: you must use a registered Starbucks card (linked to your account) or the mobile app to buy brewed coffee or tea at a Starbucks location. Then, during that same visit, you can get refills (plural) regardless of the original beverage.

So this is similar to Starbucks Happy Hour except that there is no time range and you can get as many refills as you want.

Have a ton of work to do and want to camp out at Starbucks all day? I mean, that sounds mildly depressing, but you could easily get three or four refills during the day.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

8. Pop-Up Parties at Starbucks

This doesn’t appear to be something Starbucks does regularly, but I thought I would mention it in case it happens again. In the past, Starbucks has hosted parties where they gave away drinks.

At the time of writing, this only happened a few months, and I never heard a word about it. So, I’m sure I’m not alone.

However, there were 1,000 pop-up parties across the country, and, yes, Starbucks was giving away free drinks. From the linked story:

Customers who visit a participating store will receive a free tall handcrafted espresso beverage of their choice, hot or iced, including Peppermint Mochas, Iced Toasted White Chocolate Mochas, lattes, macchiatos and more (one per customer).

Free tall handcrafted beverage? Works for me.

If you’d like to be sure you’re in the know if Starbucks ever does this again, I would recommend updating your contact preferences.

Then, you’ll either get a notification in the Starbucks® app or in an email – or both!

9. Surf the Web and Complete Tasks for Points

There are so many other ways you can earn redeemable points that can be claimed for free Starbucks coffee.

For example, you could pretty easily score a few redeemable points by completing some tasks on Swagbucks or MyPoints. This is a pretty frickin’ sweet way to get free Starbucks because a lot of the tasks that reward point are thing you would be doing anyway.

Like, ya know, watching videos or searching the Google.

Related post: Swagbucks Review: How to Earn Free Gift Cards (+ Get Paid via PayPal)

And although this post is mainly about free Starbucks drinks, I like some of the things offered on MyPoints. Like donating to the ASPCA for example.

I’m a huge dog lover, so any chance to save some furry friends always finds a soft spot on my heart. 🙂

10. Save Some Change (and the Planet) by Using Your Own Cup

You guys – I used to have one of the cheaper reusable Starbucks mugs, but I lost it. Lame, right? Except it’s not all bad.

I ended up getting one of the more expensive double-walled reusable cups:

Double-Walled Starbucks Reusable Cup

They aren’t the cheapest, but I think it’s totally worth it. This one is leak-proof, and the cheaper one would “sweat” all the time when I get my iced drinks – this one doesn’t since it’s double-walled.

By the way, I haven’t seen them in every store, so if you can’t find them in a brick-and-mortar location, I was able to these Starbucks cups on Amazon.

Keep in mind that the reusable cup discount is 10 cents, so it’ll take a while for this cup to pay off. Still, I really like it and think it’s worth buying overall.

About Starbucks Coffee Company

Starbucks was founded in 1971 in Seattle, Washington. Since its founding, it has become a global company with over 30,000 locations.

The CEO is Kevin Johnson; Howard Schultz was the CEO until he stepped down in 2017. Schultz still serves on the board as chairman emeritus.

At your local Starbucks store, you can get a handcrafted beverage and even get a free drink using the methods above.

How Many Stars for Free Starbucks?

One of the nice things about the rewards program is you don’t need a certain number of stars. All you need is to have enough to buy the thing you want.

In other words, it works exactly like cash.

Just use your registered Starbucks card (Gold card if you have it) or the mobile app and tell your barista you want to redeem stars. Then get a handcrafted drink, cold brew, or whatever you want for free.

Stop in your local Starbucks store and save money!

How Do You Get Free Starbucks?

Whether it’s a cold brew or a hot coffee, there are lots of ways to get free, ready-to-drink beverages.

I’ve tried to cover all the ways to get a free drink at Starbucks, but have I missed any obvious tricks? If I forgot something, let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for new ways to save money!


How to get free Starbucks
Get free drinks at Starbucks using these strategies

Hey there. My name is Bob Haegele and I'm a personal finance writer who has been freelancing since 2018. Since then, I've built a six-figure career as a freelance writer. My work has been featured in Business Insider, Forbes Advisor,, USA Today, and many other outlets. Interested in starting a blog of your own? Check out my post on starting a blog.

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