A couple years ago, before I blogged, I made a discovery and posted it on RedFlagDeals about how you can get Starbucks Gold Card status for $0.30. To my knowledge, this trick still works. It’s a lot of work, and probably isn’t worth it (you know, Starbucks is also known as Charbucks for their over roasted coffee 😉 )
Under the Starbucks Gold program rules, you have to collect 30 “stars” in order to achieve Gold Card status:
How does one get a star? The program rules state: “For each transaction [emphasis added] made at a participating Starbucks® […]” The key word here is transaction. A transaction doesn’t have a minimum amount. Indeed, any sort of sale, between $0.01 and beyond will give you 1 star. So, how do you get gold status for only $0.30?
You make 30 transactions for $0.01 (I know the math is challenging 😛 ). What can you buy for $0.01 at Starbucks? 1 (or a little more, depending on the scale) coffee beans. The POS terminal has an option for the agent to enter an exact weight for sale. The idea here is to get to the minimum weight that tips the scale and charges you $0.01. Some scales are calibrated differently, and will require more than 1 bean.
Note that this only applies to corporate stores. Some Starbucks, often found in hotels, are not managed by Starbucks, but by a different company. Their POS terminals don’t give you the option to buy by weight.
I did this a couple years ago. It worked. I recently spoke to someone who also did it, and it worked again. Just know that this is a dick move. If you’re going to do this, make sure it’s at night when the customer agent is bored. Indeed, when I did it, I had an agent who was thrilled with the idea, and did 20 something transactions, until another customer walked in.
Now, why would you do this? Well, after you reach Gold Card status, for every 12 stars you get, you can get a free drink loaded onto your card, which can be used on anything, including the juices. So you’re basically buying a drink for $0.12, and these free drinks come in handy on a layover. If you ever have a layover and the Starbucks is empty, I’m sure you could convince the bored minimum-wage worker to sell you 12 beans to get your drink cheap, so you needn’t even invest that much time.
This isn’t something I do anymore, nor something I encourage. However, if you’re interested, it’s a fun way to get drinks for $0.12. And most significantly, it shows how the knowledge you gain from the ‘travel hacking’ game can translate into a number of other areas in your life.