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Published 16 October 2023
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5 minutes

Coffee Loyalty Schemes – How to Make it Pay

How can you save money on your seasonal coffee this autumn and what are the best coffee loyalty schemes? We take a look at whether rewards at local coffee shops could be cheaper than some of the bigger brands and whether a more eco-friendly approach to your coffee fix could save you money.

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When you’re buying your next pumpkin-spiced latte or mocha as the weather starts to turn, have you ever considered how much those Monday morning coffees could cost? The price of your seasonal coffee can easily add up when you sit down and crunch the numbers. 

On average, people in the UK consume around 98 million cups of coffee a day according to the British Coffee Association. Of these coffee drinkers who buy their fix in coffee shops, 80% do so at least once a week and 16% make daily visits to buy a coffee. 

So if you buy a coffee every day, or even weekly, it’s likely you already make use of coffee loyalty schemes. We take a look at some of the offers available to help you save on your seasonal coffee. 

Cut the cost of a cup of coffee

One way consumers could save money on their drink of choice is to consider sustainable options. Many of the big coffee chains offer discounts to customers who bring their own, or purchase, a reusable cup. 

For example, bakery chain Greggs gives customers who buy a reusable cup their first drink for free, while coffee drinkers who bring in any reusable cup (not just a Greggs one) to store will get 20p off. 

Other big chains that offer additional perks to those who bring their own reusable cup include Costa, which offers a free drink for every 10 purchased. Its rewards scheme is even more generous for those thinking about sustainability. 

“We want to encourage and reward our customers to use reusable cups wherever possible,” said Patrick Steele, head of global loyalty and consumer engagement at Costa Coffee in an email to NerdWallet. “Customers earn an extra Bean [loyalty point] via the Costa Club when purchasing any hot or cold handcrafted drink in a reusable cup in store. That means customers can receive a free drink after purchasing just five drinks.”

Local coffee shops can also offer rewards to customers choosing a sustainable way to consume their seasonal hot drinks. One example of a sustainable scheme that fulfils this across many independent coffee shops is from Huskee. 

The HuskeeCup is a swap-out product, allowing anyone who drinks multiple hot drinks a day to not worry about carrying around a dirty cup and reusing it for future drinks. Participating coffee shops can swap them out for a clean one and add the used cups to the washing-up. These cups are made from a byproduct of coffee, and if they ever get damaged they can be recycled and sent back to Huskee to be remade. 

“The key to encouraging sustainability for take-out coffee is to financially incentivise guests to be more mindful of the environment,” said Michael Wells, owner and manager of Harvey’s Coffee House in Cambridge over email. Those who drink from their own cups, including Huskee cups, at this coffee shop will receive a 10% discount.

Go local and save

Many of the loyalty schemes offered by big companies are app-based, but smaller local schemes may also offer app-based rewards to explore. Apps such as Squid link up lots of local businesses, not just coffee shops, and allow customers to earn rewards on their purchases. These rewards for multiple places can then be viewed all in one place for participating stores. 

“Squid app is fantastic for so many reasons,”  Wells was keen to point out. “It is great for making the best of your local coffee shops, you don’t have to have a wallet filled with forgotten-about loyalty cards. You can travel to new cities and discover other independent businesses that use it and have promotions on, too.”

Other discounts Wells mentioned included student discounts. For those who are students, asking for any student discounts available when buying your seasonal beverage of choice is always something to be encouraged. 

Other discounts that may be offered include to those with a Blue Light Card, a discount scheme for people working in the emergency services, army, social care or NHS. Starbucks for example gives Blue Light Card holders 10% off their entire bill – not just their seasonal beverage.

3 tips for seasonal savings

If you want to save on your drinks this spooky season, here are a few tips to bear in mind.

1. Download apps to unlock rewards

Make sure you sign up for any active rewards schemes where you regularly buy your drinks. This can include bonus birthday rewards, discounts and monthly treats. Although you may still be able to use a physical loyalty card/stamp system, most larger coffee chains do allow these rewards to be collected using their apps. 

2. Check out local schemes when on the go

If you like to buy your coffee from independent stores when travelling, loyalty rewards apps can allow you to search for participating businesses via the app, so make sure you check ahead and don’t miss out on the opportunity to collect rewards – even when you’re away from your go-to spot.

3. Bring your own cup

As the examples mentioned above show, bringing your own reusable cup, purchasing a reusable cup or visiting a shop that is participating in a swap scheme can also mean savings. Research before you go or ask the shop assistant when purchasing. You get the added bonus of doing something good for the environment too.

Image source: Getty Images

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