Ultimate guide to free hot drinks
If you’re a tea or coffee addict then you’re probably aware that for something that costs only a couple of pence to make at home, it’s a very expensive habit to maintain.
If you buy a single Tall Starbucks Latte (£2.25) on every working day for a year you’ll be racking up almost £570 in coffee debt - it’s no joke, you could get eight years of Netflix subscriptions (or a new iPhone 6S - with £30 change) for that!
However, there are plenty of sneaky methods to get your daily caffeine fix for free, and we’ve written what we’re sure is the most in depth guide to grabbing a free brew in existence.
Totally free tea & coffee
It’s always worth keeping a close eye on our free stuff page as well as our food and drink page for more short lived freebie teas and coffees. Starbucks frequently hand out free beverages, but the offers usually only last a single day, so do keep checking!
Straightforward freebies from cafes
Sign up for a free MyWaitrose card, and you can get a totally free cup of tea or coffee EVERY DAY - no purchase necessary. There are a couple of “catches” (and they’re not even that bad):
- Once you pick up your free drink you can’t just walk out with it, you have to take it to a till and hand over your MyWaitrose card.
- You can’t get a free drink and sit in a Waitrose cafe with it, you have to take it to go if you don’t want to pay for it.
And that’s it! This is easily the most generous free hot drink programme out there, and if you live, work or study near a Waitrose you’re very lucky.
Not near a Waitrose? If you live in North West England then the regional supermarket Booths offers the same deal with its Booths Card, a free tea or coffee, every day, no purchase necessary!
Privilege Card members can get a free tea or coffee Monday - Friday at the Welsh/Midlands homeware store.
When you signed up to a My John Lewis card in the past they sent out a voucher for six monthly free cake and hot drinks from a John Lewis cafe to everyone. The policy changed and they no longer send them out to everyone, but we’ve seen a lot of people get these through the post, so it’s still worth signing up.
O2 Priority Moments
You can very often pick up a free hot drink from Caffe Nero through O2 Priority Moments, at the moment every Tuesday you can grab a freebie in store and you don’t even need to be on O2 to get the app. Find out here how to get it on any network.
Benugo (B’ham and London only)
PAUL (London, Birmingham & Oxford only)
Pick up a free croissant and a coffee when you pick up a La Carte Noir loyalty card in store and register it online. Find out more details here.
Harris + Hoole (London and the South East only)
Download the Harris + Hoole loyalty app and you get a free coffee straight away.
Slightly sneaky free hot drinks
Everyone who gives blood is offered a free hot drink and a biscuit, plus there’s the big bonus that you might have just saved someone’s life. Find out how to go about giving blood here.
If you’re still feeling charitable why not have a look at our ways to save a life for free.
Trying out coffee machines
If you go into a store that sells fancy coffee machines (Nespresso, Krups, Tassimo etc), you’re quite likely to be offered a sample of the coffee. We have it on good authority that this always happens in the Nespresso flagship on Regent Street, but we’ve seen samples being handed out in John Lewis and Selfridges before.
Smiling at the people in Pret
Staff at Pret a Manger are allocated a certain amount of free coffees to hand out to their favourite customers, and according to the CEO around 28% of people leave with a free coffee. Pretty good, hey? Find out more about it here.
The famous tea shop Whittards of Chelsea are always handing out free samples of teas, coffees and hot chocolates to people in shops. If you’re only after a shot glass of builders’ then this could be a good option.
Battle of the loyalty schemes
Loyalty schemes seem great, they give you freebies and it helps the company ensure that you keep coming back for more. However some of these schemes are extremely stingy, requiring you to buy up to FIFTEEN cups of tea before you get anything back. We’ve put the schemes head to head to see what’s really worth signing up to.
Big coffee chains
Costa coffee offers five points per £1 spent, and each point is worth 1p. Essentially it means you’d have to spend £20 to get a measly £1 credit on your card - boo! However, they offer 100 points free when you initially register your card, so it’s only another £9 spend before you earn enough for a small Americano. Learn more about getting a Costa card here.
Caffe Nero have a more straightforward stamp card you can pick up in store where nine stamps (or nine drinks) equals one free hot drink - not bad!
Starbucks is the most difficult loyalty scheme to get a free drink out of. First of all you need to sign up for a My Starbucks Rewards card - it isn’t a loyalty card, it’s a payment card (or app) that needs to be topped up and used to pay for your order. After you’ve done that and topped up at least £5, you’ll be awarded a star for every transaction you make at Starbucks through the scheme. Only when you’ve bought something 15 times do you get a free cup of joe. Not good, Starbucks!
Fast food restaurants
Cafes aren’t the only players in the coffee loyalty scheme game, fast food restaurants are actually pretty generous with their freebies.
Every hot drink cup from McDonald’s comes with a card and a little coffee bean sticker, just peel off the stickers from six cups and put them all on one card for a free drink. Bargs.
Get a Subway Subcard and you earn 10 points for every pound you spend, and you only need 100 points (a £10 spend) to get a free hot drink.
The KFC loyalty card and app awards a stamp every time you spend over £3, and you only need three stamps to pick up a free hot drink - plus, you get a free stamp when you register your card online, so it’s only really two.
Greggs Rewards customers get a free coffee after they buy seven coffees and scan their app each time.
Loved this? You’ll love these freebies even more.