Best and worst value coffee loyalty schemes including McDonald's, Starbucks, Cafe Nero and Costa
SEVERAL high street cafe chains offer free coffees to their loyal customers – but which retailer has the best value loyalty scheme?
The Sun has compared offerings from some of the most popular coffee chains to work out which is the best value and which give you the most free hot drinks for your cash.
For ease, we've compared each café's scheme using the cost of a regular Americano/ filter coffee but of course what you buy and how much it costs could impact how quickly it takes to build up points and unlock freebies.
It comes as Starbucks has this week revealed plans to shake-up it coffee loyalty scheme – although loyal customers will now have to spend more to gain freebies, and it's now the least generous of all the major chains.
Here's how each loyalty scheme compares.
Caffè Nero: £19.35 spend = free coffee
Coffee lovers at Caffe Nero collect stamps for every drink they buy either in real-life via a paper stamp card or on the free mobile app.
After you purchase nine drinks, the tenth drink is free.
It includes the full barista made drinks menu from espressos and lattes to Frappe Crèmes.
If you take the cost of a regular Café Americano at Caffè Nero to have in, which is £2.15; this means you will spend £19.35 before getting a freebie.
For takeaways, this comes down to £2.05 so you will spend £18.45 before you get that free drink.
However, you can bring this total down even further if you use the app and bring a reusable cup. Every time you do this, you get two stamps per coffee.
Helpfully, stamps don't never expire although completed cards must be redeemed within 18 months.
You can also transfer paper stamps to the app if needed. Just ask a barista.
Find your nearest Caffè Nero using the Caffè Nero branch locator.
Costa Coffee: £48.40 spend = free coffee
Costa Coffee's loyalty card scheme works by giving you points for every purchase you make, including food.
This counts on purchases made in branch or at all Costa Express machines.
You collect points either with a physical plastic card or through the free Costa Coffee Club app.
For every £1 you spend, you get five points back. Each point is worth 1p.
A medium Americano will set you back £2.20 or 220 points.
So if you take the five points for every £1 spent it means you would have to purchase 22 drinks at £2.20 a time – £48.40 in total – to reach 220 points for a freebie.
You can join the scheme by picking up a card in store or downloading the app to your mobile.
There are more than 2,400 Costa stores across the UK and Ireland. Locate your nearest shop using the Costa website.
McDonald’s: £4.95 spend = free coffee
In July, McDonald’s dropped the price of its black and white coffee to 99p making it one of the best value coffee joints on the high street.
The fast-food chain has two coffee loyalty card schemes.
One runs on the free My McDonald’s app and gives you a sixth hot drink for free after buying five.
All you have to do is order your hot drink on the app (or scan your QR code at the ordering screen, counter or Drive Thru).
Stamps are awarded for each purchase. Get five stamps and a free regular hot drink will appear in the deals section
To redeem, all you have to do is go to the deals section in the My McDonald’s and add it to your order.
The other loyalty scheme is the physical one where you collect stickers from coffee cups in store.
Collect six stamps to get your seventh hot drink for free.
This means if you regularly purchase a black and white coffee at 99p in total it will cost you £4.95 to get a free McCafe coffee.
The offer includes all regular-sized hot drinks in the McCafe. Prices range from 89p to £2.09.
It’s worth collecting the physical stamp stickers as well as the virtual ones as you are allowed to collect and use both, and the trick means you can get two free coffees instead of one.
That's because you'll eventually end up with five virtual stickers on the app, giving you your sixth drink free AND your sixth physical sticker needed to get another free cuppa.
McDonald’s is also offering new app users a free coffee – so it costs just £3.96 to get another free coffee, as you only need to purchase four in total.
Find your nearest McDonald's on this list of branches.
Greggs: £10.50 spend = free coffee
With the free Greggs rewards mobile phone app, you get a stamp when you buy a hot drink of any size.
You have to buy seven hot drinks to get the eighth for free.
A regular Americano from the chain costs £1.50, setting you back £10.50 before you can claim that all important free drink.
The hot drink reward expires 31 days after it is applied to your account.
Register and download the app from the Apple and Android store or online.
Signing up to the app also ensures you get a free cake or sweet treat on your birthday.
Locate your nearest branch using the Greggs website.
Pret: £14 spend = free coffee
Pret offers customers a free coffee after they purchase eight through its free app.
A regular Americano costs £1.75. That works out at a cost of £14 to get a freebie.
However, you get a 50p discount on hot drinks in all shops when you bring in a reusable cup.
Find your nearest branch using the Pret store locator.
Starbucks: £50 spend = free coffee
Starbucks is making changes to its free My Starbucks loyalty scheme – although it hasn't confirmed when they'll take force yet.
Under the current scheme, you get one "star" for every transaction made through the Starbucks card or app, regardless of how much you spent.
New members start out with a Green level membership. Here, to get a free drink you had to earn 15 stars from 15 transactions.
For example, if you bought 15 Grande (equal to a medium size coffee) Americanos at £2.25 each you would spend £33.75 to get a freebie.
To reach a Gold level membership, where you get various other perk such as free whipped cream and syrups, you had to make 50 transactions over 12 consecutive months.
This would cost £112.50 if you were only buying Americanos.
But Starbucks Rewards' new scheme will instead reward members for how much they spend rather than how often they visit a store.
Members will get three "Stars" for every £1 they spend on food, coffee, at home products and merchandise in participating stores.
According to the chain, members with 150 Stars can redeem a free barista-prepared drink of their choice. But that works out at a whopping £50 spend before you get a free drink.
Under the new changes those who earn 450 Stars over a year reach Gold level status.
You can ask a barista in store for a My Starbucks Reward card or get one through the digital app. You have to preload £5 onto the card to activate it.
The Starbucks UK App is available to download from app stores for iPhone and Android devices.
The new programme also has the added benefit of allowing customers to redeem their Stars at a time that suits them best, without the previous 30-day limit.
A Starbucks spokesperson said: “The new Starbucks Rewards programme responds to the most frequent feedback we’ve received from members over the years – they want to collect Stars for what they buy rather than how often they visit.
"The change will make it even easier for members to get free drinks fast, with the average member now able to save five weeks to get their next free drink."
To find your nearest Starbucks, use the online store locator.
Supermarket loyalty schemes – which has one?
MOST UK supermarkets have loyalty schemes so customers can build up points and save money while they shop.
Here we round up what saving programmes you'll find at the big brands.
- Iceland: Unlike other stores, you don't collect points with the Iceland Bonus Card. Instead, you load it up with money and Iceland will give you £1 for every £20 you save.
- Morrisons: Morrisons' More gives customers five points per £1 spent in store. When customers earn 5,000 points they receive a £5 voucher.
- Sainsbury's: While Sainsbury's doesn't have a personal scheme, it does own the Nectar card which can also be used in Argos, eBay and other shops. You need 200 Nectar points to save up £1 to spend on your card. You need to spend at least £1 to get one Nectar point.
- Tesco: Tesco Clubcard has over 17million members in the UK alone. You use it each time you shop and build up points that can be turned into vouchers – 150 points gets you a £1.50 voucher. Here you need to spend £1 in Tesco to get one point.
- Waitrose: myWaitrose also doesn't allow you to collect points but instead you'll get access to free hot drinks, and discounts off certain brands in store.
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