Your guide to UK coffee shop loyalty programmes

Sep 12, 2020

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It’s been tough, but I managed to survive without flying for several months in lockdown this year. However, one thing I cannot survive more than a few days without is a good cup of coffee. I stumbled through making my own at home during the depths of lockdown, but now that the major chains have reopened, I’ll happily fork over a few quid for a proper barista-made flat white.

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, some well-known coffee chains have their own loyalty programme to reward you for all those cups.

Related: 6 of the best independent coffee shops in London

In This Post

Costa Coffee Club

You will receive 5 points for every £1 you spend on anything in-store at Costa. These points are worth 1p each, so 5 points are worth 5p towards your next free coffee. Note that Costa only award points for a full £1 spent, so a £1.90 purchase would only earn 5 points.

You can either use a physical stamped card or its app. The app can also be used to order in advance and skip the queue.

My Starbucks Rewards

Probably the world’s best-known coffee loyalty programme, My Starbucks Rewards has status levels in the U.K. — Green and Gold. These won’t give you lounge access and extra checked luggage. However, at the base Green level, you will receive a free drink after every 15 purchases. You can use a physical card or the Starbucks app.

The app is also handy for ordering in advance to skip the queue.

If you buy at least 50 hot drinks in a year, you move up to My Starbucks Rewards Gold status. If you thought this would mean free coffees, unfortunately, it doesn’t. Here’s what Gold status does give you:

  • Free selected syrups;
  • Extra shots of espresso;
  • Top your beverage with whipped cream;
  • Free non-dairy alternatives — Soya, Coconut, Almond & Oat; and
  • A combination of the above, for example, your vanilla latte with an extra shot of espresso, pay with your Starbucks card and get both the vanilla syrup and extra shot free.

You will need to purchase at least 50 hot drinks each year to maintain Gold status, otherwise, you will drop down to My Starbucks Rewards Green status and lose the perks above.

Related: 6 mistakes tourists make in London

Cafe Nero

You can collect a stamp each time you purchase a coffee and your tenth coffee is free — any size or style you like. You will earn an extra stamp per coffee if you bring your own reusable cup, which is a great option for both you and the environment.

You can either use a physical card or download Cafe Nero’s app. If you invite a friend using the app, you will earn two free coffees and they will earn a free coffee for using your loyalty code.

Greggs Rewards

You will receive a stamp with any hot drink purchased, and when you have just seven stamps, you can then collect any hot drink of your choice. This means you could potentially collect your stamps for cheaper, more basic drinks and then redeem them for a more expensive, deluxe hot drink.

You’ll need to download and join the Greggs app and show it each time you make a purchase.

Shell Go+

A petrol station might not be the first place you would think of for a great coffee, but if you’re filling up on fuel and want to grab a quick hot drink, there’s a loyalty programme for that, too. Shell Go+ requires you to spend either £10 on fuel or £2 in-store each visit to benefit from 10% off all hot drinks.

You’ll also receive 10% off hot food and car care and car wash products in-store, as well as a discount on your fuel after every 10 visits.

Related: Is it really safe to drink aeroplane coffee?

McDonald’s McCafe Rewards

Yes, even the Golden Arches has a loyalty programme. Oddly, McDonald’s has two separate but different coffee loyalty programmes running simultaneously.

The first one’s a bit fiddly. There are physical stamps stuck to the outside of McCafe hot drink cups. When you have six stamps, you can exchange them for a regular hot drink.

The second programme is only running until 31 December 2020 and is through its My McDonald’s app. You will receive a digital stamp with each hot drink purchase you make by ordering through the app or swiping it at the register. After collecting five stamps, you can exchange for a regular hot drink.

Because the two schemes are separate, you can collect a stamp in programmes for the same drink. Swipe your app and then peel off the physical sticker and earn your rewards twice as quickly.

swissphoto via Twenty20
(Photo by Swissphoto via Twenty20)

Bottom line

Most of these programmes and simple and rewarding. Like an airline or hotel loyalty programme, they are designed to reward you for choosing a shop for your coffee routine, which can mean daily business. If you find a coffee you like and a location that fits with your routine, you can expect regular free coffees by finding one with a good loyalty programme and maximising it.

Featured image by Kellyprincewrites via Twenty20

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