There's only one thing better than coffee, and that's free coffee. Read on to discover how to get a free hot drink at Starbucks, Costa, Caffè Nero and more.

Credit: Monkey Business Images (background), Chutima Chaochaiya (Starbucks) – Shutterstock

Given that you can make a coffee at home for next to nothing, we'd usually advise against heading to Starbucks, Costa and the like for your routine caffeine fix.

But it's a totally different story when, rather than next to nothing, you can get a barista-standard coffee for nothing at all.

So, put your money away and drink in these tips for getting free coffee.

Supermarket cashback apps will often have offers to get free or cheap coffee in your weekly shop, too.

How to get free coffee

Here's how to get free coffee at all your favourite coffee shops:

  1. Costa Coffee

    costa coffee logo

    Costa is the biggest coffee shop chain in the UK, with well over 2,500 outlets across the country.

    So, with that many branches to choose from, there's no excuse not to try these ways to get a free Costa coffee:

    Collect Costa Club beans

    As many coffee shops do, Costa has a loyalty card scheme (Costa Club) that allows you to collect stamps for every purchase you make.

    You'll get one stamp (or 'bean') for each drink you buy, including at the Costa Express machines you'll often find in supermarkets or service stations. Once you've collected eight beans, you'll have enough for a free Costa coffee.

    However, there's an even quicker way to get your coffee for free. If you bring your own reusable cup (like one of these), you'll get a bonus bean, as well as 25p off the cost of your drink.

    At two beans per purchase, you'll only need to buy a total of four drinks with a reusable cup before you get your free coffee – and you'll be reducing your carbon footprint, too.

    Refer a friend to the Costa Club

    We love a referral scheme here at Save the Student, and we love them even more when the reward is free coffee.

    Invite a friend to the Costa Club and both of you will earn a whopping five beans once they've made their first "bean-earning purchase" (full T&Cs here). Eight is the magic number of beans that you're aiming for, so you only need to invite two friends before you can get a free Costa coffee through invites alone.

    Need more than a few beans to convince your friend to sign up? Check out our loyalty card guide for the Costa Club lowdown, including the special birthday freebie.

    Earn free Costa Coffee vouchers

    With so many branches of Costa Coffee in the UK, there's a fair chance you're within walking distance of one. But what if we told you that you could use that journey to help earn a free Costa voucher?

    As we explain in our guide to making money from walking, there are a handful of apps out there that'll pay you for your steps. One of our favourites is winwalk, which converts your steps into coins. Once you've accumulated enough coins, you can purchase gift cards to use at a whole range of shops – including, you guessed it, Costa Coffee.

    Check out this list of apps that pay you to walk for more info.

  2. Pret A Manger

    pret a manger logo

    Although the vast majority of their stores are in London, you can still find Prets outside of the capital.

    And that's just as well, because Pret has one of the best free coffee offers of all…

    One month of 'unlimited' free Pret coffee

    We weren't lying – Pret's free coffee offer really is hard to beat.

    The coffee aficionados among you may already be aware that Pret has a subscription service whereby you can get up to five drinks a day, every day, for just £20 a month. This works out at 155 drinks in a 31-day month, hence why most people regard the subscription as giving you access to 'unlimited' coffee.

    Given that a single coffee already costs upwards of £3, you could argue that once you've had five or six drinks on this £20 subscription, you'll be drinking free Pret coffee for the rest of the month anyway. But there's a way to cut the cost even further – to absolutely nothing, in fact.

    Pret offers a one-month free trial of its subscription plan, meaning you can get up to five free Pret coffees every single day for an entire month. Just make sure you cancel before the trial is up, otherwise it'll automatically renew and you'll be charged £20 (get more info on our deals page).

    Get a free coffee from a Pret barista

    You may have heard the rumours that Pret baristas are allowed to give out free coffees to whomever they like, but we're here to tell you that it's more than just a rumour: it's official Pret policy.

    We got in touch with Pret and they confirmed that this initiative, known as 'random acts of kindness', allows their staff the freedom to give a customer something on the house. That could be free coffee, free cake or free anything (as long as it's on the Pret menu, of course).

    There's no rhyme or reason to who gets the free stuff, but the consensus seems to be that regular customers, as well as those who are polite and friendly, are most likely to get a free Pret coffee.

  3. Caffè Nero

    caffe nero logo

    We're big fans of Caffè Nero, and not just because of their incredible Hot Chocolate Milano (although admittedly that helps).

    No, the main reason is just how many ways there are to get free coffee at Caffè Nero, and just how generous their loyalty card scheme is…

    Get a free drink every week with O2 Priority

    Anyone on O2 will know how good some of the Priority offers are, and this is no exception. Every week, O2 Priority users can grab themselves a free drink from Caffè Nero including, of course, a free coffee (the full list of drinks and more details on the offer are available here).

    If you're not on O2, worry not, as we have a hack for getting O2 Priority on any network. Or, if you're considering switching to O2, check out our mobile phone comparison tool as well as our list of the best SIM only deals.

    Use Caffè Nero's loyalty card app

    On the face of it, Caffè Nero's loyalty card app is pretty much par for the course – buy nine hot drinks and you'll get the 10th free. But dig beneath the surface and you'll find there are loads of ways to get your free coffee sooner.

    For starters, as soon as you download the app using our link and make your first purchase, you'll get a voucher for a free hot drink.

    Similarly, once you place your first Click & Collect order via the Caffè Nero app, you'll get another voucher for a free hot drink.

    And if you have your own reusable coffee cup, make sure to bring it along with you – every time you use it, you'll get a bonus stamp and bring yourself even closer to that fabled free coffee.

    Refer a friend to the Caffè Nero app

    Think one of your nearest and dearest might enjoy all the perks of using the Caffè Nero app too? Why not be totally selfless and invite them to use it?

    Every person you successfully refer to the Caffè Nero app will get a free hot drink once they've made their first purchase. Crucially, however, once they've done this, you'll get not one, but two free hot drinks for yourself too.

  4. Starbucks

    Starbucks logo

    Although it's not quite as popular here as it is in America, it's hard to argue with the fact that Starbucks is still the iconic coffee chain.

    But before you pop into your local branch and have them misspell your name on your cup, make sure you use one of these tips to get free Starbucks coffee.

    Use the Starbucks Reward Card

    Starbucks isn't alone in having a loyalty card scheme, but its Reward Card is certainly a little different to the others we've featured so far.

    The main thing to point out is that you'll need to load money onto the card in order to use it and collect Stars. That puts a lot of pressure on you to shop at Starbucks and could lead to you wasting money, so we'd recommend only topping up a small amount at a time.

    Nonetheless, the opportunity is there to get coffee for free, so it's not without its redeeming qualities. You need 150 Stars to get a free drink, and you'll earn three Stars for every £1 spent. If we assume a coffee costs about £3, you'll need to buy 15–20 hot drinks to get one for free. Not quite as generous as Costa or Caffè Nero's loyalty schemes, but better than nothing.

    Get a free coffee on your birthday

    If and when you've signed up to the Starbucks Reward Card, you'll notice that another big way in which it differs from other loyalty schemes is the fact that it has tiers.

    Accumulate 450 stars and you'll be admitted into the Gold Level of membership. As well as free extra shots of espresso, dairy alternatives, selected syrups and whipped cream, being a Gold member also gets you a free drink on your birthday.

    Get unlimited free refills of filter coffee

    Reckon you'll be spending a good few hours in Starbucks, perhaps writing an essay away from the distractions of your bedroom? Then this is the tip for you.

    If you opt for a filter coffee, which usually costs around £1.50, you can get unlimited free refills. That means you can rock up in the morning, buy your drink, and then live off free Starbucks coffee for the rest of the day as you rush to get your work finished. It's no great surprise that this is one of our top hacks for getting free Starbucks.

    Earn free Starbucks vouchers

    Remember earlier when we explained how you can convert your steps into Costa Coffee vouchers? Well, Starbucks are in on the fun too – so, check out our guide to earning money from walking and get your hands on some free Starbucks vouchers.

  5. Greggs

    greggs logo

    Greggs is so well known for its sandwiches and baked goods that you could almost be forgiven for forgetting that it does hot drinks too.

    But it does, and there's even a way to get a Greggs coffee totally free. The perfect way to wash down that flaky pastry goodness.

    Download the Greggs app

    Another coffee shop, another app. However, unlike some of the others on this list, you don't need to make a purchase before getting a freebie from the Greggs app.

    Instead, the good people over at Greggs have decided that you deserve a free hot drink just for taking the time to download the app. Simple as that.

    And the free stuff doesn't stop there. The Greggs app has a loyalty card scheme that's split into categories, meaning once you've bought nine of a given type of food or drink (like sandwiches, bakes and, yes, hot drinks), you'll get the 10th free.

    But, as if all that wasn't enough, the Greggs app will also surprise you every now and again with a little treat. Exactly what you can get will vary, but we have known them to give away a free coffee in the past.

    Head over to our list of ways to save money at Greggs for more great tips.

  6. McDonald's

    mcdonalds logo

    Coffee may not be the first drink you go for at McDonald's, but it certainly has its place.

    In fact, if you're ordering a Maccy's breakfast and not getting at least some kind of hot drink with it, you're simply not doing it right. So check out this tip, give it a go, and thank us later.

    Collect McCafé stickers on the My McDonald's app

    Before the My McDonald's app existed, each coffee cup would come with a McCafé sticker to place on your loyalty card. Once you'd collected six stickers, you'd get a free hot drink.

    Then the app was launched, armed with a McCafé feature which, for a while, allowed you to essentially double up on the number of stickers you were earning for each drink: one physical and one digital. At the time, it was one of our favourite McDonald's hacks.

    Fast forward to the present day and, while the physical McCafé cards have been completely phased out, the digital version lives on. As gutting as it is that it's no longer possible to get two stamps per hot drink order, there is a small silver lining: you now only need to buy five hot drinks before getting your free McDonald's coffee.

  7. PAUL

    paul logo

    If you're not in London, there's a fair chance you won't have come across PAUL before – at least not in the UK, anyway.

    Either way, it's worth knowing how you can get your hands on a free PAUL coffee, just in case you ever find yourself nearby.

    Download the PAUL UK app

    PAUL's app has a few ways for you to get a free coffee. First up is the classic points-based loyalty system: for every nine hot drinks you buy, you'll get the 10th free.

    What's more, like Greggs, PAUL also likes to treat its customers to a surprise freebie every now and again – one of which might just be a free coffee!

    Head to our deals page for more details, including the other ways to get free food at PAUL.

  8. Benugo

    benugo logo

    Benugo is probably the smallest chain of coffee shop on this list, with the majority of their cafes based in London.

    That said, all of their outlets are in stunning locations and, most importantly, they have a free coffee offer too.

    Sign up to the Benugo newsletter

    Benugo's free coffee deal is very straightforward. All you need to do is sign up to their newsletter and they'll email you with a voucher for a free coffee, redeemable at any of their high street stores.

    It really is that simple, so get the ball rolling and sign up now.

Now you're set for life with free coffee, it's time to discover all the best ways to get free food.

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