What are the best-value coffee schemes on the high street?

What are the best-value coffee schemes on the high street?

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to buying a cup of coffee. Now, most high-street coffee shops are offering loyalty schemes. We look at which offer the best value and could save you some money.


Pret a Manger  

Pret a Manger prides itself on serving fresh food and organic coffee. RecentlyPret has announced a new loyalty scheme that offers customers up to five ‘free’ barista-made drinks per day. The subscription costs £20 each month.   

The details: 

  • You can choose any drink of your choice that is made by a barista. This includes tea, coffee, or a frappé (not soft drinks or juices)  
  • You must wait for half an hour between each free drink you get. That means you can’t go in and pick up five drinks all at once  
  • If you sign up, the first month is free, but you’ll be paying £20 every month after that  
  • You don’t have to pay a cancellation fee and you can cancel your subscription in the app or through your account 

Currently, at Pret a Manger, the most expensive drink you can buy is £2.95 (a frappé). So, if you were to collect all five of your free drinks each day at this price, you would be saving approximately £14.75 per day.  

Or if you get just one frappé a day (Monday to Friday), you’ll save almost £40 a month – once your subscription is deducted. 

While this does seem like a decent chunk of cash, it’s worth assessing a few factors before you consider signing up. For example, if you don’t live close to a Pret, will you have to travel or drive to pick up your coffee? If you do, you’ll risk spending unnecessary money travelling for something that might be considered a non-essential item 

Bear in mind that you’ll need to wait at least half an hour between each one to fulfil your quota of five drinks for the day (though you don’t have to drink that many). 

It’s also worth asking yourself, how often do you drink hot or blended drinks? If buying coffee is something you can’t see your morning without, then it could be a good investment. If it’s just a treat for yourself every now and then, it might be better to skip the subscription altogether and buy a coffee every so often instead.  

You can read more about the subscription or sign up here. 

Starbucks Rewards  

Starbucks is probably what springs to mind for most when it comes to high-street coffee as it’s one of the most well-known chains. Recently, they’ve developed their own loyalty scheme called Starbuck Rewards’Unlike Pret Manager, it’s a point collecting system rather than a subscription. It’s all run on an app that you’ll need to download and sign up to.  

The details: 

  • For every £1 you spend in Starbucks you’ll collect three ‘stars’ 
  • Each time you collect 150 stars you’ll receive a free drink 
  • When you earn 450 stars, you’ll hit the ‘gold’ level 
  • When you get to the ‘gold’ level you can get more freebies such as extra espresso shots, syrups, whipped cream and dairy-free milk as well 
  • You can also claim a free drink on your birthday  

On average, a standard coffee such as a latte costs around £2.95 from Starbucks. Based on this price, you’d need to buy approximately 17 coffees to get that free drink. This equals around £50 worth of coffee 

While this doesn’t seem as good a deal as Pret a Manger’syou should consider how much coffeyou would normally buy. If you like to grab a Starbucks every couple of weeks, then this point system could be worth it. You’re not paying anything to join, just collecting points as you go, so you’ll manage to get something free occasionally 

One thing to remember is that they don’t include ‘limited time offer’ drinks – such as the seasonal coffees they bring out at Christmas. So, if that’s what you’re saving your points for you won’t be able to cash in on this.  

Costa Coffee  

Like Starbucks, Costa Coffee runs its own point collecting scheme called ‘Costa Coffee Club’. It’s a similar premise where you download an app, collect your points and earn freebies. When you sign up you automatically collect 100 points.  

The details: 

  • For every £1 you spend at Costa, you earn five points (which is equivalent to 5p) 
  • E.g. If you spend £10, you get 50 points = 50p to redeem 
  • You can also collect 200 points (or £2) for each person you invite to join the club 
  • If you use the express machines’ you see in supermarkets, you can collect points from these purchases as well 

At Costa Coffee, you can get a latte for around £1.81, which is much cheaper than both Pret and Starbucks. However, you’d need to buy approximately 20 coffees to get one free, which works out at around £36.20 

Like Starbucks, you pay nothing to sign up and just collect points as you go.  If you’re a coffee fanatic then this might not be the best value scheme for you, however, you won’t be paying anextra to collect the points should you choose to sign up. 

Caffè Nero  

When it comes to Caffè Nero, they have a more traditional loyalty scheme. You can either get a physical stamp card or use a virtual one on an app to earn a free coffee.  

The details: 

  • Every 10th hot drink is free 
  • You can claim your reward on any hot drink, such as tea or coffee 
  • You can collect points on an app on your phone, or you can use an old-fashioned stamp card which a barista will mark for you every time you buy a coffee 
  • If you have multiple stamped cards, you can ask a barista to combine these for you as well 

It costs approximately £2.45 for a standard latte at Caffè Nero, meaning you’d need to spend around £22.05 to get that free coffee (that’s 10 drinks for the price of nine) 

Like Costa and Starbucks, you don’t have to pay extra to be part of their loyalty scheme and it’s simply a collect-as-you-go situation. There’s also nothing stopping you from collecting stamps on their card and having an app that belongs to another coffee shop as well.  

The bottom line... 

While each coffee shop has their own unique deals and may seem like you could be saving money at each, it’s worth assessing how much they’d charge you for your favourite hot drink and how often youd buy it, before you sign up 

If you get something every day before you head to work, then a coffee subscription at Pret could help you save some money. However, if you don’t usually do this, it’s probably better to collect some points and earn a free coffee that way instead  

DISCLAIMER: Prices vary depending on location in the UK. You should check with your local coffee shop for prices near you.  

If you're keen to save on things other than coffee, check out these loyalty card schemes. 

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Sarah Neate

By Sarah Neate

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What are the best-value coffee schemes on the high street? What are the best-value coffee schemes on the high street?