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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  • Gayle

    @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.

  • Gayle

    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.

  • Kevin

    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.

  • Emily

    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

  • Megan C.

    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!

  • Melissa L. McLaughlin

    I agree! That’s a great idea.

  • Kuikhill

    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.

  • Melody

    @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.

  • Jeanette

    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.

  • Heidi

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

  • Anthony Johnson

    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

  • Jesse

    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.

  • Len

    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.

  • sam choi

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

  • Valerie

    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.

  • Melissa L. McLaughlin

    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

  • Olivia

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

  • AlissaH628

    Here in Central FL the minimum reload amount is $5

  • Ginny

    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.

  • Valerie

    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.

  • Lydia Neustaedter

    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.

  • Joe

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

  • Valerie Schonewald

    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.

  • J B

    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?

  • Valerie

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

  • Sara

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

  • Valerie

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

  • Sarah

    I also want to clarify the “at participating stores”

    I work at a licensed Statbucks within a grocery store and we have a 50 cent refill policy as long as you stay within the store.

    I have people coming in off the streets, purchased their drink at another corporate Starbucks and try to get a free refill!

    I explain to them that they can not because one they lost the free refill once they left that particular store and my store is a licensed store therefore our refill policy is based off the owner of the license (my grocery store) and therefore if they purchased from my store they would get their refill for 50 cents regardless even if they are not a green or gold member.

    If someone orders a premium drink they can still get a 50 cents refill on the original size of iced or hot coffee or teas *no lemonade*.

    Our store like many licencesd stores do not have the rights to have the Starbucks software and we can not process the rewards or free refills.

  • Val

    For those asking if you can get a refills on your original drink, we know we can’t but what I do is get my whatever drink I like right now usually a psl and ask for a free refill of brewed coffee and pay for a pump of pumpkin then add some half and half & some cinnamon at the end it tastes pretty much the same and only paid about 60c for it

  • Julie

    I believe this statement, ” 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.” is outdated. Well, at least for the locations in Orange County, CA. I got an iced vanilla latte and when I asked if I could get a passion iced tea, they told me I cannot get a refill. If I want a refill, I HAVE TO purchase either iced tea, iced coffee, or hot brewed coffee (whatever is listed in the original post). And the refill fee is 50c for all of them. :/ And they were pretty upset about me asking. I was not even demanding for one lol. I just wanted to know the policy. Eh, oh wells.

  • Melody

    @Julie – I am sorry this happened to you. Your stores in Orange County got it wrong. I highly suggest you talk to the store manager of the store, or if that doesn’t work, the district manager. Can you tell me which store? I’m curious.

  • Brenda Mullins

    I have been getting not only a grande skinny vanilla latte ($4.25) in the mornings, but I get at least 2 venti passionfruit iced teas per day. Of course I noticed when the policy on refills became not 50 cents, but 10 cents off the original price of $2.75. Today the cost went up to $2.95. This is basically water folks. I think I’ll just drink water from now on. And use my Keurig in the mornings. Tired of supporting Starbucks.

  • amy

    i have a question about refills at Target only. When i bought a cup at Target, the lady said that i could get 50 cent refills in that cup at Target only. i used to do that a lot, but then i quit starbucks for a long time. so, is that still the way it is at target? or no?

  • Robert

    I bought venti coffee at starbucks in Daly City yesterday morning then back at the same store at about 8pm for refill. The chinese lady told me that refill is available only if you stay in the store and you must present the receipt. I paid my morning coffee thru my phone app. Is this a starbucks policy?

  • Melody

    @Robert – I recommend you read the policy and read this article. YES. You were told correctly. I wrote the last few sentences of this article just for customers such as yourself!

  • John

    @Robert why is there a need for you to say “the Chinese lady” you could have just said barista or lady

  • paul

    Just wondering, if I step outside for a phone call that I need privacy, or maybe a smoke, leaving my bag and computer inside charging, and my coffee cup inside as well, then come right back inside, is that considered leaving the store?? The policy says leaving the store and coming back later, but I’m not coming back later, to me I’m either coming back now, or really didn’t leave at all cause all my stuff is their store along with my coffee?? What does everyone think or is there documentation on this???

  • Jane Maoirin

    Starbucks has the worst coffee in the world, at first I thought it was only a NYC phenomenon but then I went to star bucks in Chicago, Michigan,Pennsylvania and it sucks in all of them. I only buy starbucks because during study days its cheaper to go and sit at a starbucks and get free refills on your coffee as compared to sitting in a college library where coffee is crazy expensive and the environment isnt that great. In NYC I have been denied refills at the floral park starbucks for no reason. They say you cant “play” the system. WTF? then dont offer the stupid refills. What was the point of working all the way to gold just to get denied refills. I had to destroy my taste buds with thier god awful coffee just because Im a student on a budget trying to get budget coffee. I am planning to rethink my strategy and I will probably just make coffee at home. Also Dunkin donuts seems to have really good coffee now, I usually pay a dollar or two for lattes and machiatos, so good riddens star bucks you just lost a loyal customer because of your BS.

  • drew curry

    Page 12 of the Starbucks Beverage Resource Manual states that coffee mistos are included in the refill policy. I took a picture of that page as i encounter about half the stores proclaiming that i am not entitled to a refill.

  • Valerie Schonewald

    You are. It used to say that for a misto, there was just the milk charge which used to be .50. I’ve been retired for a year now so that may have changed. When I trained baristas I made sure they knew it by heart. I’m finding that part of the current training to be slack.

  • Nancy McCarthy

    I get charged 53 cents every time an I ask for a refill on my hot dark roast. I am a gold card member and I keep a balance of money on my card. There need to be a uniform policy across the board. I live in Florida

  • S p

    I am a manager; the refill policy stays the same throughout the store. Anyone who has a problem in store, should contact customer service immediately and conplain. Anytime a complaint is made, $25 gift cards are taken out using the store’s income.

    The refill policy is ONLY good in store. No time limit, no cap on refills.

    It is ONLY good for iced teas, hot tea, iced coffee, cold brew, and hot coffee, and now, cafe mistos.

    You cannot expect a refill when you come through a drive thru. It won’t happen. IN STORE only.

    No, we do not allow anyone to get a free refill on handcrafted beverages. If your store is doing that, they’re essentially stealing profits from the company (which our handbook policies state this).

  • Melody

    @Sp – Thank you for your comments. I’ve never heard of the gift cards being so high, but then I have little experience with customer service.

    The tricky part is that you can switch drinks: You can order a tall Mocha and then ask for a Tall Iced Passion Tea as your refill. That’s still a “yes”.

    I know it’s a tough policy to manage. But the right answer is almost always creating great experiences for the customer with a “yes.” Any retailer can throw milk and espresso in a cup. Only Starbucks creates the Starbucks Experience.

    I will say, given that this has created hundreds of comments, and given the massive problems that the refill policy causes (there are 2 big problems – First baristas saying “no” to situations that should be a “yes” that involve switching drinks when a person stayed in store, and second, customers asking for a refill when they have not been in store) – I would almost support getting rid of the refill policy all together.

    There are too many baristas saying “no” to things that should be a “yes.” There are too many customers that (for one reason or another) don’t get the “in-store” concept.

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