Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Starbucks raises prices: How do I limit my coffee/latte expense?

Starbucks announced today that it is raising prices of its already pricey drinks in atleast 2 parts of the US. They are charging more for select drinks in the Northeast and Sunbelt regions. Excludes California and Southern Florida.

The average price hike is 1% across the two regions. The two drinks that are exempt from this price hike are grande brewed coffee and grande caffe latte (note grande). The price hike will help them offset rising commodity costs in 2012.

I have to admit I am a Starbucks fan and I own a Starbucks gold card. However I try to not go overboard with Starbucks. Here is how I indulge while not going overboard, and you can too

  • I limit my Starbucks budget to $20 per month. I usually get their short or tall chai tea latte or green tea latte (not a coffee person).
  • I signed up for their rewards program (loyalty card) as soon as they came out with it back in 2008. After continued use, back in 2010 I got upgraded to their gold card.
  • I preload my gold card at the beginning of each month with $20. This works out to around 4 or 5 tall specialty drinks per month or one Starbucks drink per week.
  • If I run out of $20 before the end of the month I dont indulge in Starbucks at all - back to my home or office beverages - not too shabby.
  • I make sure I always swipe my gold card and not a random credit card or pay with cash. This ensures that I can keep my gold card and gold level benefits with every swipe. 30 stars within 12 months gets you to the gold level and another 30 ensures your gold level for the next year. It is unclear what defines a "star", but it seems to me like one swipe on my gold card equals one star.
  • Since I am now at the gold level, I get one free drink every 15 stars. A free drink means one extra indulgence that month or some balance carryforward to the next. I also get a free drink on my birthday and personalized offers and coupons. When they introduced their cake pops and oatmeal, I got free coupons for each. You can also get free refills on regular coffees and teas in the same visit. It also entitles you to free syrup and milk options.

If you are a Starbucks fan make sure you sign up for their rewards program and swipe your card every single time. Spending less on coffees and lattes also makes for a great new year's resolution ;)

Image: Paul / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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