The refill policy at Starbucks: Refills are regardless of original beverage purchased.

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!

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350 Comments

  1. tony
    Sep 17, 2014 @ 13:55:39

    Can u get a free hazelnut ice coffee as a refill? Ice coffee I understand

    Reply

    • isp
      Sep 23, 2014 @ 16:13:12

      I have observed that stores do allow refill for coffee with syrup. it’s matter of weather they charge you the cost for the syrup or not, which most let you have free. But some do charge you for the syrup tho.

  2. Chris
    Sep 26, 2014 @ 06:52:48

    My question is can my free refill include a green tea latte? I always get an unsweetened green tea latte with whole milk. If I purchase this hot or iced and I am at the green level can I get the exact same thing for my free refill? Or does it have to be a plain brewed tea? Thank you!

    Reply

  3. Melody
    Sep 28, 2014 @ 06:08:25

    @Chris – There are only four things that are ever available as a “refill” price; Iced coffee, iced tea (not tea lemonade), hot tea, and hot brewed coffee of the day. You latte isn’t ever eligible for a refill price.

    http://customerservice.starbucks.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1882

    After drinking your green tea latte (and assuming you have not left the store), you can get one of the 4 things mentioned above as your refill. But there are no lattes of any kind on the refill policy. It’s 4 things: Hot coffee, iced coffee, hot tea, iced tea (plain – one of the 3 standard iced teas such as green, black, or passion tango tea.).

    Reply

    • Jessica
      Oct 29, 2014 @ 16:33:17

      Actually, the tea lemonade is available at a refill price (not free however). I think it was 80 cents CAD extra for the lemonade part (Venti).

  4. Jeff
    Sep 28, 2014 @ 23:20:59

    I found this blog b/c of the “Starbucks refill policy on hot tea -teabags included or not” search I did online. I’m a bit surprised that there aren’t more posts/articles online about this “nuance” of the refill policy. I prefer tea to coffee, but refills on hot teas have become a very unpleasant experience for me. My understanding is that hot tea refills include a new tea bag (or two, I’m assuming, if it’s a Venti size) and not just a refill of hot water. In the Reno/Sparks, NV, area, the response I receive half the time (depending on the barista) is that a new tea bag(s) will be an extra charge; and when I try to explain what I understand the policy is, it feels like they think I’m trying to pull a fast one on them and I get the “this one time” reply (which seems belittling to me … like you’ll be lenient with me and allow me to get away with something like this one time). Tonight, the barista told me that she had looked up the policy in the past and that it was only hot water. I asked her if I could see the policy, and she said that it was only on their portal which wasn’t available to the public. There’s no way to try to counter something that I, as the public, am not allowed to take a look at. (Though about a month ago, a different barista at a different location, actually came up to me about an hour later and said that she had looked at the policy, that a new tea bag(s) is included, and that she would make sure to let the whole store team know – so I don’t understand how two baristas looking at the same policy can come to such opposite conclusions – unless it’s not written clearly).

    I’ve had many unpleasant experiences with this refill policy (including some pretty rude responses by baristas that, it seemed, thought I was trying to pull a fast one – the refill policy is a Starbucks policy, and I really don’t want to be put down by a barista while asking for something that Starbucks offers). I hope that Starbucks would clarify this for the customer and for the baristas – if I’m mistaken, I’d appreciate being made aware of that – and give the customer some official language and where the baristas can find it to point them to so that it doesn’t become such a big issue.

    Reply

  5. Starbucks lover
    Nov 01, 2014 @ 14:49:28

    Can i get a refill with a fraupaccino

    Reply

    • Geant
      Nov 03, 2014 @ 09:50:31

      No. You can’t get a free refill or even any special refill price. You’d have to pay for an entirely new Frapp.

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