UK Coffee Shop Loyalty Schemes – There’s an Unexpected Leader..

You love Coffee so you want FREE Coffee. You don’t have to explain this one to me.

There’s so many different loyalty schemes, but which one is best? I mean, surely, one of them has to be better than the rest, right?

Well, I’ve asked each of the following Coffee Shops about their Loyalty Scheme and this is what I’ve found.

For comparison purposes, I’ve worked calculations out using the price of a large latte (from each shop) as a guide. Be mindful that many Coffee Shops are franchises and this means they set their own prices, within a range, so the prices quoted here may differ.


Scheme Name: My Starbucks Rewards

Requires sign up? Yes.

Physical Card or App? Both.


Just to be complicated, there’s two levels of rewards at Starbucks. There’s Green Level and Gold Level.

Green Level

Everyone starts off at green level. Every time you make a purchase (for anything) you’re awarded one star. Every time you reach 15 stars, you’ll earn a free drink reward.

Gold Level

When you’ve collected 50 stars in a 12 month period, you’ll be ‘upgraded’ to Gold level rewards. There’s no separate queue for you. You’ll still get the free drink every 15 stars, but now you can add syrups, whipped cream, an extra espresso shot or add coconut milk at no extra charge. If you want to maintain Gold level, you’ll need to continue to earn 50 stars in a 12 month period. This is just shy of a visit to Starbucks once a week for the year. Easy for any Coffee addict, right?

How much do you pay before being rewarded?

Large Latte is £2.85.

If you buy 15 large lattes and nothing else, you’ll pay Starbucks £42.75 before you get a free drink. To maintain your 50 stars, you’ll be spending £142.50 a year.

Do rewards expire? Yes.

Reusable Cups: You’ll receive a 25p discount at Starbucks for using your own cup. This doesn’t affect your ability to collect reward stars. If you use a reusable cup every time, you’ll only pay £39 before you receive 15 stars and a free drink.

Bonuses? Starbucks will often run promotions and giveaway bonus stars for specific purchases.

Costa Coffee

Scheme Name: Coffee Club

Requires sign up? Yes.

Physical Card or App? Both.


For every £1 you spend, you’ll collect 5 points. Each point is worth 1p when redeemed. Interesting to note here, that you’ll only earn rewards on full £1 spends. So, if you spend £2.99, you’ll only earn 10 points.

How much do you pay before being rewarded?

Large Latte is £2.65.

If each point is worth 1p, this means you’ll need 265 points to get a free drink. To earn £2.65 in points, you’ll need to spend £53. It’s likely that you’ll spend more than this too, because of the ‘whole £1’ system. £53 is the exact price of 20 large lattes.

Do rewards expire? No. Your points are your points to keep or spend as you wish.

Reusable Cups: You’ll save 25p if you use your own mug. This could mean less points however, as points are awarded according to your spend..If you’re only buying a large latte, it’ll still be advantageous to use your own cup, as you’ll still only earn 10 points. If you use a reusable mug on every purchase, you’ll only have to spend £48 before you have enough points to buy a large latte.

Bonuses? Costa will regularly run promotions where members can claim double points during specific periods or when buying specific products.

Caffè Nero

Scheme Name: It’s nameless..

Requires sign up? Yes (with the app version)

Physical Card or App? Both.


Collect a stamp for each hand-made drink you buy, which obviously excludes other food and drink. Interestingly, you’ll be awarded an additional stamp for using a reusable cup! When you’ve collected 9 stamps, you’ll be entitled to a free hand-made drink of your choice, any size too! If you’re using the paper card, you’ll surrender it for your drink. If you’re using the app, it’ll give you a voucher to scan.

How much do you pay before being rewarded?

Large Latte is £2.75 (or £2.65 if you take out)

In order to get 9 stamps, you’ll need to buy 9 drinks. We’re using large lattes for comparison, so it’ll cost £24.75 (£23.80 on take out) before you get all 9 stamps.

Do rewards expire? Only in the app. When you’ve been awarded a FREE drink voucher, you’ve got 18 months to redeem it. That’s not going to be a problem for me..

Reusable Cup: If you’re using a reusable mug, you’ll earn double stamps so you’ll only need to spend £13.75 (£13.25 on take it) before you get a free drink!

Bonuses? Caffè Nero will from time to time, run promotions and you can earn stamps on other products.

I think Caffè Nero has just become my new favourite Coffee Shop…

Although not specifically Coffee Shops, there’s a couple of other brief mentions to be made here. These places are last resort Coffee stops for me, like if I’ve been at a crime scene for 20 hours and NEED Coffee now.


Scheme Name: McCafe Loyalty Card

Requires sign up? No.

Physical Card or App? Physical Card.


Each time you buy a hot drink, there’s a bean sticker on the side. Collect six of these stickers and swap them in for a free regular hot drink.

How much do you pay before being rewarded?

Large latte is £1.99.

In order to collect 6 stickers, you’ll spend £11.94.

Do rewards expire? Yes. The stickers have an expiry date, normally the end of that year or the next.

Reusable Cup: I’m sure you can probably use your own mug, but it’s likely to confuse the hell out of the person serving you and don’t expect a discount.

Bonuses? Apart from being able to grab a cheeseburger at the same time? None. Oh, and if you’re game, you can pull the stickers off of discarded cups!

Pret A Manger

Pret don’t offer a loyalty scheme, but instead their staff are able to award anyone they like a FREE drink. This is their ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ scheme. You’ll also earn 50p off if you use a reusable cup.

Don’t forget all of your local, small and family owned Coffee Shops who will most certainly also offer some form of loyalty scheme for returning customers. There’s so many and they’re so local, it’s difficult to cover them here.

I’m off to find out where my nearest Caffè Nero is..


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