6 places tired parents can get free coffee - you're welcome!

Find out how to get a free coffee and treat yourself to a guilt-free pick-me-up

woman savouring coffee in coffee shop
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The thought of a free coffee can be particularly appealing when you’re a tired parent and money is tight. In fact, how to get free food in general might be high on your agenda.

Thanks to the high cost of living, many families have been making cutbacks in recent months. But if this has resulted in reducing the amount you spend on takeaway coffee, the good news is many high street coffee chains offer loyalty schemes that can enable you to get a coffee for free. 

Goodto.com’s Money Editor, Sarah Handley, says: “Being a parent can be very rewarding, but it can also be extremely tiring. So if you’re on the hunt for your next caffeine fix, you certainly won’t be alone. Fortunately, there are plenty of places where you can enjoy coffee for free, so you don’t need to feel guilty about spending money.”

If you’re avoiding caffeine for any reason - perhaps because you’re breastfeeding - most coffee chains will include decaf coffee or an alternative hot drink as part of their offers. So in this case, it’s less about waking yourself up and more about treating yourself to something nice (for free) when you’re knackered. 

But it might be that your not getting enough sleep and your baby is waking up at 5am and as far as your concerned, caffeine is much needed.

Be aware that terms and conditions will apply to the offers mentioned below, so make sure you read the small print carefully when you sign up to any loyalty scheme. If you like freebies (and who doesn’t?), don’t forget to also check out our round-up of free birthday offers, how to get free Percy Pigs, or how to get free Deliveroo Plus, to help you save even more money.

1.  Costa Coffee 

If you sign up to the Costa Club via the app or online, for every eight drinks you buy, you’ll get one free. What’s more, if you bring your own reusable cup, you only need to buy four drinks before you can claim your freebie.

You’ll earn ‘Beans’ for any sized barista-made drink (hot or cold) that you purchase from any Costa coffee store or Costa Express machine, provided you either scan your Costa Club card or the mobile app. You’ll earn one Bean for each drink purchased or two Beans per drink if you’ve brought your own cup. Once you’ve collected eight Beans, your next handmade drink (of any size) is on the house.

If you’re signing up to this scheme, be aware that Beans will expire if you don’t use your mobile app or your Club Card to either earn Beans or redeem free drinks for 12 months after the last transaction. 

As an added bonus, you’ll also get a free cake on your birthday once you’re signed up to the scheme.

  • Can you get decaf? Yes
  • Can you get a coffee alternative? Yes
  • How much are you saving each time? Depends on the drink you buy, but could be as much as £3.85.

2. Caffe Nero 

Caffe Nero has been offering its loyalty scheme since 1997. But as well as its traditional paper stamp card, it now offers a digital version of the scheme which you can access by downloading the Caffe Nero app. 

Each time you buy a coffee at Caffe Nero, you’ll get one stamp. This rises to two stamps if you take your own reusable cup. Once you’ve collected nine stamps you  get your 10th coffee free.

Stamps can be earned for any of Caffe Nero’s handmade drinks and your free drink can also be any handmade drink of any size. Stamps you earn never expire, but any fully stamped card reward you have will expire 18 months after receiving it. 

If you collect Nectar points, you can also get a free hot drink at Caffe Nero for 350 points. 

  • Can you get decaf? Yes
  • Can you get a coffee alternative? Yes
  • How much are you saving each time? Depends on the drink you buy, but could be as much as £4.

mum holding two takeaway coffee cups while partner carries their child

Sometimes parents just need a little treat for themselves without impacting family finances

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Starbucks 

Starbucks also offers a loyalty scheme, but it’s a tad more complicated. To join, you’ll either need to pick up a Starbucks Card or download the Starbucks app. You’ll need to swipe or scan this whenever you pay.

For each £1 you spend in Starbucks, you’ll collect three ‘Stars’ and for every 150 Stars you earn, you can get a free barista-prepared drink of your choice. However, this means you’ll need to spend £50 in total before you can get your freebie. If you were buying a coffee for £3, that means buying around 17 of them before you get a free one - not quite as generous as Costa or Caffe Nero.

If you earn 450 Stars, you will reach the Gold Level which means you’ll get extra shots of espresso, selected syrups and whipped cream included. You’ll also get a free birthday drink when you reach Gold Level.

Each Star has an expiration date of two years.

  • Can you get decaf? Yes
  • Can you get a coffee alternative? Yes
  • How much are you saving each time? Depends on the drink you buy, but could be as much as £4.

4. Pret 

This one’s a little different but if you’re a real coffee fiend, you can enjoy five ‘free’ barista-made drinks per day if you join Club Pret for a cost of £30 a month (£15 for your first month). That’s around 150 free drinks each month!

You can only redeem your subscription on one drink every 30 minutes, so you won’t be able to get a round in for your friends. But you’ll also get a 10% discount off all other Pret products at most stores (excluding some service stations).  

 

  • Can you get decaf? Yes
  • Can you get a coffee alternative? Yes
  • How much are you saving each time? Pret says its subscribers save an average of £50 a month.

woman smiling while holding coffee cup

Catching up with friends is essential for new parents - better still if you can do it for free

(Image credit: Getty Images)

5. Greggs

Firstly, you’ll get a free regular hot drink of your choice just for downloading the Greggs app. On top of this, you can also collect stamps through the app whenever you buy an item and this can lead to even more freebies. 

Collect nine stamps in any category - whether that’s a sandwich, sweet treat or a coffee - and you’ll get the 10th item free. Once you’ve qualified for a reward, it will appear in the ‘wallet’ section of your app and you can show it to a member of staff the next time you’re in Greggs.

  • Can you get decaf? Yes
  • Can you get a coffee alternative? Yes
  • How much are you saving each time? Depends on the drink you buy, but could be up to £2.

6. McDonald’s 

MyMcDonald’s Rewards is a relatively new loyalty scheme from the fast-food chain and to qualify, you must download the McDonald’s app. You’ll then be given the option to opt-in to MyMcDonald’s Rewards. 

The scheme enables you to earn 1 point for every penny you spend on the McDonald’s menu when you use the app at participating restaurants. You’ll need to earn 1,500 points to get a free regular McCafe drink, which means spending £15. 

Note that points can only be collected on the first 10 transactions you make each day, up to 40 transactions per week. Your points will expire on the last day of the 12th month after you have earned them.

  • Can you get decaf? No
  • Can you get a coffee alternative? Yes (must be in the McCafe menu)
  • How much are you saving each time? Depends on the drink you buy, but could be between £1 and £2.70.

If you're having a baby, check out our guide if you fancy a freebie but aren't sure if you can drink coffee while pregnant.

Rachel Wait
Personal finance expert

Mum of two, Rachel is a freelance personal finance journalist who has been writing about everything from mortgages to car insurance for over a decade. Having previously worked at Shares Magazine, where she specialised in small-cap stocks, Rachel developed a passion for consumer finance and saving money when she moved to lovemoney.com. She later spent more than 8 years as an editor at price comparison site MoneySuperMarket, often acting as spokesperson. Rachel went freelance in 2020, just as the pandemic hit, and has since written for numerous websites and national newspapers, including The Mail on Sunday, The Observer, The Sun and Forbes. She is passionate about helping families become more confident with their finances, giving them the tools they need to take control of their money and make savings. In her spare time, Rachel is a keen traveller and baker.