Wednesday, October 7th, 2015
Home » My Starbucks Rewards » The refill policy at Starbucks: Refills are regardless of original beverage purchased.
My Starbucks Rewards

Just a short lesson on what a refill is at Starbucks:  I think this is valuable information for many people!

If you order a  Starbucks tall latte, and then want Pike Place Roast as a refill, the answer is “yes.”  I should clarify, the answer is “yes” only if you have stayed inside the store.  Once you leave the store, when you return, you will be paying full price for your beverage again.  The refill price is available only for same store visits.  The refill only becomes free if you are paying for your beverage with a registered Starbucks Card, at the green level of benefits.  And there is no refill price for any handcrafted beverages. Iced tea, iced coffee, and hot brewed coffee all have a refill price available to them.  In other words, if I drink a grande Frappuccino, stay in the store, and want grande iced passion tea as a refill, then I should be charged the refill price for the passion tea, not the the full price of the iced passion tea.  However, there is no way to order a Frappuccino as a refill.

I bring this up because I noticed (thanks to a comment in another blog article!) that Starbucks has finally updated their website to truly clarify the refill policy.  This had been in an area, where in the past, the website had had ambiguous language.  Thank you Starbucks for this!  Here’s the official Starbucks page on the refill benefit.



In previous articles, I have talked about the theories behind the refill policy.  As many people know, iced coffee, iced tea, and brewed coffee are beverages that are low cost to the business.  Furthermore, those who stay inside the store are more likely to linger and purchase food or other items as well.  Also, it makes no sense to tell customers, you must only purchase the lowest cost beverages to be able to receive the refill price.  In other words, there’s no logic to saying that a customer who spends a premium for a handcrafted drink may not receive a refill because he or she didn’t start out with a cheaper beverage.  And of course, there is never a refill price for drive-thru customers.

And you really do have to stay in the store to get a refill.  If you have left the store, and you return later in the day with your cup, the baristas should tell you there is no refill price available.

Hope that my readers find this helpful!

About the author


  1. Gayle says:

    @Tatum @Valerie
    I am looking at a printed copy of the refill policy sent to me by a Sbux Cust Svc Rep and it SPECIFICALLY states, “There is no time or refill limit as long as it is within the same store visit.”
    That being said, I think there are some Managers who like to create there own rules, then they train their staff accordingly, those baristas then transfer to other stores, sometimes other cities and the bad/incorrect information is spread around. I have spent time reeducating young baristas in my city, showing them the policy direct from Customer Service. (I have a mini version that I reduced to a 3″x3″ card and laminated, to carry in my wallet next to my Sbux card….I just hand it to them to read for themselves.) Clears things up quickly….and without the “attitude” that I world often get from baristas telling me I was wrong. Corp says I’m correct.

  2. Gayle says:

    A 30 min time limit would seriously drop the number of visits I make to Starbucks in a year. It takes me an hour or more to drink a Frappuccino…to avoid brain freeze. I’d never get a refill. Heck, it even takes me an hour or more to drink any iced drink….I’d probably drop to Green level and Starbucks would lose about 200+ Venti or Trenta drink purchases a year from me and double that when who I go in with stops going because I stop…they go because I choose it…..not to mention all of the extra stuff I purchase…like food, gifts, cups, seasonal merchandise. I say leave the time limit as is.

  3. Kevin says:

    Refills should just be tied to the card and be all day long whether you leave or not. If I care enough to come back, you might sell me on something else. No stress for anyone, better customer service, more loyalty, probably more money.

  4. Emily says:

    I just experienced this problem at a store in Ohio – ordered a frappe and wanted a refill of tea but the barista refused to give it to me. I showed her on the Starbucks website the refill policy and she said ‘I understand and have read that but Brandon (a manager I’m guessing?) printed out a policy that we all had to sign when we started working here to not give refills on frappes.’ I called corp and they got on it immediately contacting the DM – and I was correct. I think Starbucks needs to have an undercover agent going to different locations to check up on them – I know I would like to do that!! :-) I’ve had this refill problem before in various locations (I’m travel a lot) and there are some managers out there that decide to make their own policy concerning the refills. Crazy! But corp is always so helpful and they appreciate any calls! Best customer service

  5. Megan C. says:

    I had a girl once tell me the refill had to be within 20 minutes! This thread is actually the reason how I found Starbucks Melody! And so happy I did!

  6. Melissa L. McLaughlin says:

    I agree! That’s a great idea.

  7. Kuikhill says:

    Hi, I am kinda new to this refill thingie and I would like somebody to help me figure this out. If I ask for a white chocolate mocha hot or iced. Do I get a free refill on those or do I have to choose something else.

  8. Melody says:

    @Kuikhill – This may help.
    There are just 4 items that are ever offered as a special refill price.
    Iced tea.
    Hot tea.
    Iced coffee.
    Brewed hot coffee.

    But before you get a refill, you had to have drunk some first drink. That can be anything.

    Now you’d like a refill priced beverage. Has to be on the list of 4 things to get the special refill price.

    And, you can’t leave the store. There are no refill if you’ve left the store.

    There are no refills in the drive thru.

  9. Jeanette says:

    I can understand all the frustration everyone is having! Went through the same thing myself. But I have to tell you, Starbucks has excellent customer service. Instead of saying something to the barista, because the charge was nominal, $0.15, and due to my confusion, I wrote an email to Starbucks via their questions section on their website. Someone investigated and got back to me in 24 hours and credited my account $1.00. So although some baristas may be misinformed and wrongly trained, to avoid the attitude and frustrations at the stores, take advantage of their customer service.

  10. Heidi says:

    Hi. if a order a green tea latte in store and didnt leave. Can I get a hot tea as refill?

  11. I agree with Kevin, “Refills should just be tied to the card and be all day long whether you leave or not.” As a Gold Member I do like the free drinks, but not the leave store policy. #change-starbucks-refill-policy #washingtondc #goldmember

  12. Jesse says:

    Why I think I will give up Starbucks… One of the things I need to start my day is coffee. Usually in the morning I have Coffee at home. (And sometimes later in the day out and about.) This morning I decided to go to Starbucks. The way to offset the outrageous prices is the free refill while in-store for gold card members with a balance on the account. I purchased a $5 refill on my card and used my gold card to order a tall iced coffee and toasted bagel with butter. $3.95 deducted from my card. Sat down in Starbucks for about 15 minutes (probably even in less time). Spread the butter on the bagel. Ate and had the iced coffee rather quickly as it is mostly ice. I thought I was making great time and might make it to work a bit early. (Wishful thinking) I get up from my seat and wait in a long line to get my free refill. Finally I go to the Barista to place my refill. Only to be denied the refill and given the quote about how you have to remain in the store and ask for a refill within 2 hours. I told the barista how I was in the store for about 20 minutes and never left. Even pointed to where I sat. Then was told NO I SAW YOU LEAVE THE STORE AND COME BACK. I then asked to speak to the manager. He then said I am the manager. I repeated to him I never left the store I know the policy and I am entitled to my refill of Iced Coffee. He then continues with the store policy again shouting at me and I shout back at him how I know the policy and I never left the store. I then demand his name because I want to report him to corporate. He gave me a business card saying store manager. I don’t know if he even was the store manager or not. I was disgusted at being told I was trying to get a free coffee when I wasn’t entitled to one. I really do not function right if I do not start off with a good amount of Coffee. I called corporate very disgusted by the rude barista/manager. (They linked my Starbucks billing history for over 10+ years.) They offered to put $5 store credit on my Starbucks card. I told them to look at the video tapes I was in the store the entire time. I told corporate $5 store credit is an insult. Please just refund my debit card the $5 instead. I no longer want to buy coffee from you again. Your staff has no right accusing me of attempted theft. I’ve been a customer for well over 10+ years. $5 store credit is like excuse my language but it is like an F.U. to me the customer. The rep from corporate said she will have a technician come to the store. I guess to look at the video tape. Maybe my actions for boycotting Starbucks might be a bit extreme. But for being a long time Starbucks drinker (Probably pushing 15+ years…) and being treated like I was trying to steal a single cup of coffee… and the sorry I get is a lousy $5 store credit? Really??? I mean REALLY? Look at the tape. See that your Barista/Manager or whatever clown shit he is working for needs to go… I’m only worth $5 to Starbucks for being accused of trying to steal Coffee.

  13. Len says:

    If you honestly think they are going to dispatch a human to the store to review a video tape regarding your complaint about a refill, you need to get a grip on reality. Perhaps it would be best if you don’t purchase at Starbucks again, it sounds like you would be happier.

  14. sam choi says:

    Hello.. Does anyone know if the new cold brew is eligible for a refill? Some stores do and others do not. Thank you.

  15. Valerie says:

    Sam-I’ve been retired since October but I have checked with the managers I know here locally in SC. They’ve said that nothing specific was said so they just charge a refill price. That being said, the cold brew is made in limited quantities. I can fully understand if it is not offered as a refill. One customer can put a substantial dent in your days’ supply. One of ours would get a Trenta iced coffee and stay long enough to get for 5 refills. I would say that this is a “call Corporate” for the official word.

  16. Melissa L. McLaughlin says:

    I would like to know how you were able to put a $5 reload on your card, because here in San Diego, the minimum reload is $10.00

  17. Olivia says:

    Melissa I am not sure who told you the minimum reload amount is $5 because that is not true!

  18. AlissaH628 says:

    Here in Central FL the minimum reload amount is $5

  19. Ginny says:

    I am in San Gabriel Valley about 20 mins. from downtown LA & I have been told that the minimum is $5 to reload as well. Including surrounding cities! I have gone to about 15 locations.

  20. Valerie says:

    The minimum reload in store is $5 but on my app, the minimum is $10. I’ve loaded thousands of $5 gift cards in my 11 years.

  21. Lydia Neustaedter says:

    I will never buy coffee at starbucks. I was an excellent customer. For many years I was buying a venti hot coffee in the morning and I was returning in the evening to get a fefill for 50 cents. However, yesterday I was told that I could not get a refill because I had to stay in the lobby to get a refill. Since, I did not know the policy, I should still have been given the refill for this time and I should have been told that next time, I will nott get it. This is not good customer service. Starbucks lost a customer. The refill policy should be written in the store. I agree with the person who said that refill for hot coffee should be all day long whether you leave the store or not. Anyway, the cups are not very strong and it will not be possible to get more than one refill.

  22. Joe says:

    Disable people that can’t go inside the store what about us

  23. Valerie Schonewald says:

    If your store knows you, I’m sure they understand the circumstance. But if you go through DT and leave the parking area, I’d feel that the same rules apply. If you drink your beverage on the patio/porch or I’ve watched people stay in their car, to me there’s no question about the validity of asking for a refill and being able to get one. It’s just I’m fuzzy about what your particular circumstance would be.

  24. J B says:

    Quick question- I buy a coldbrew grande coffee and I purchase white mocha for 60 cents. I have had several different answers from several starbucks on this. Is white mocha included in the free refills?

  25. Valerie says:

    Any syrup or sauce is additional cost since it’s not part of the coffee recipe.

  26. Sara says:

    If you order a caramel frapp can you get another free refill on a frapp if you don’t leave the store?

  27. Valerie says:

    No. You can get a free iced coffee or iced tea refill with your frappuccino purchase but it isn’t like for like.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *