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Here's where you can score a free cup and save on the next one

In honor of National Coffee Day, here are 4 ways to save money on your next cup of coffee.

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The National Coffee Association reported last year that Americans are drinking more coffee than ever and lean toward convenient, on-the-go options. And since Sept. 29 is National Coffee Day, there is no better day to talk about saving money on coffee — especially since the average American spends $1,100 per year on coffee, according to research from investing app Acorns.

In honor of the holiday, Circle K is offering a free coffee to all customers on Sept. 29 at participating locations. All you need to do is text "FREE" to "31310" to receive a digital coupon for a free cup of coffee.

In addition, Starbucks is offering a free iced or hot Pike Place coffee when you bring in a clean, reusable cup, up to 20 fl oz. And Dunkin' customers can get a free medium hot or iced coffee with any purchase.

Hopefully, this free cup will take some of the sting out of rising coffee prices. According to the Consumer Price Index, coffee prices are up 5% since November 2020. What's more is coffee futures, which are agreed-upon prices that buyers pay for coffee when it is received in the future, have skyrocketed in recent months. In simpler terms — the price on your next cup of coffee may be going up.

While you enjoy your free cup today, here's how you can save money on your next cup of java — whether that's at home or on the go.

Here's how you can save money on coffee

1. Don't overlook fast-food and gas station options

While your local coffee shop might have a better soundtrack, more and more fast food restaurants and gas stations are getting into the coffee game, and they're much more affordable.

Panera Bread offers the MyPanera+ coffee subscription, where you can score unlimited coffee and tea for $8.99 per month, and the first three months are free. Circle K launched its own similar service: for $5.99 per month you can get one drink (including soda) each day.

So rather than paying upwards of $7 for one cup of coffee, consider one of these services if you are a regular coffee drinker who likes to grab their joe on the run.

If you are a regular at a coffee shop...

Be sure to ask if there's a rewards program of any kind. Large retailers such as Starbucks and Dunkin' each have a rewards app that awards points for every purchase you make so you can redeem later for free items. And it's likely that your local cafe still has an old-fashioned punch card so you can earn a free coffee after a certain number of purchases.

2. Consider purchasing a French press, or another method

There are several ways to make coffee at home, on the cheap. My favorite way to make my morning cup of coffee is with a French press. I paid about $11 for mine, and it is super easy to use and clean.

Other options for cost-effective coffee brewing are:

  • Chemex
  • Pour-over
  • A traditional drip coffee machine
  • AeroPress

Each of these require no more than a $30 investment, and when you buy your coffee in bulk, you can start making endless cups of coffee for next to nothing.

Looking for more DIY options? Check out these recommendations for the best coffee makers and the best affordable espresso machines.

3. Buy your coffee in bulk

If you have a membership — or a helpful friend or family member with one — to a wholesale store such as Costco, consider buying your coffee in bulk. Because regular coffee drinkers will eventually work their way through the entire bag, it makes sense to get the best bang for your buck.

I personally buy the Kirkland Signature Medium House Blend for roughly $13 for 2.5 pounds of coffee. However, because it takes a while to work through, be sure to invest in an airtight container to hold the coffee. I got mine on Amazon for roughly $8.

Don't miss our roundup of the best cards to use when shopping at Costco.

4. Consider a rewards credit card

With the right credit card, you can be earning points or cash back on every coffee purchase. Here are a few credit cards to consider:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you 3X points per dollar spent on dining, which includes coffee shops. And the card is currently offering a 60,000-point welcome offer after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of card membership.

If you prefer the more budget-friendly approach of making your coffee at home, the American Express Gold Card is an excellent travel rewards credit card that is great for supermarket purchases. With the AmEx Gold Card, you can earn 4X points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X point per dollar thereafter. The card is currently offering new cardholders the chance to earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership. Terms apply.

Bottom line

For many people across the world, coffee is practically a necessity. However, while it can seem like a small cost, it's something worth budgeting for.

Whether you enjoy your $6 Frappuccino from Starbucks or a simple cup of coffee at home, there are ways to be able to afford your daily cup of joe, without breaking the bank.

So on National Coffee Day — enjoy!

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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