The Starbucks Barista Hack That Gets You Cheaper Dirty Chai Lattes

If you've ever felt "out-of-the-loop" at your favorite restaurant or café, you're not alone. Some customers are well versed in chains' secret menus, no more evident than at Starbucks, often leaving many to wonder "how do I get what they're having?" But, the creative menu options at the coffee brand often come with a price, with the customization often leading to additional fees.

Depending on how your beverage is input into the register determines how much you are going to pay, sometimes leading to drastically different prices for similar drinks. Luckily, there's a way to get around the system, and save a few dollars in the process — and thanks to baristas sharing tricks on TikTok, we now know a way to save on a dirty chai latte.

If you a craving a dirty chai (which is the black tea concentrate and steamed milk with shots of espresso added in), you could ask for a chai latte with two shots of espresso, which will roughly cost you $8.64 for a grande size — however, if you order a cafe latte with four pumps of chai syrup instead, you'll only pay $6.38 on average. You get the same beverage with all the warming chai spices and a kick of espresso, but for $2 less.

Hacks to save on other Starbucks lattes, too

Dirty chai lattes aren't the only type of drink you can find savings hacks for at Starbucks. Whether you're placing an order at your local café or on the mobile app, one of the easiest hacks for ordering cheaper lattes is by requesting a plain hot or iced coffee or tea without dairy and then customizing your drink with milk choices to get the beverage you desire.

Starbucks allows you to add up to 4 ounces of coconut, oat, soy, whole, or non-fat milk to your beverage at no additional charge. That makes a shot of espresso and a shot of espresso with a bit of milk the same price: on average, $2.95. Keep in mind though, that depending on the size of the cup or whether it's iced or hot, the milk may not fill up the cup completely. When you're using the app, customize your order under the "add-ins" menu by adding creamer to your beverage. The chain even lets you combine several types, including steamed milk. 

If you want a sweet drink, consider using one of Starbucks' free sweeteners instead of syrup. You can take as many packets of raw sugar, sugar substitutes, honey, and liquid sweeteners as you want, without paying a cent more. As opposed to each pump of syrup that will add $0.80 to your order. Some types of milk, like coconut, are sweeter than others, so you can also experiment with the dairy you put in, too.

More ways to pay less at Starbucks

If you frequently hit Starbucks for a caffeine jolt, it makes sense to join its free Rewards program. Each time you make a purchase, you accumulate points towards discounts and free drinks and food. And, if you're sitting at the café for a bit, Rewards members get free coffee and tea refills while dining in. You even get a free drink or food item on your birthday. Also, be on the lookout for "Double Star Days" and "Bonus Star Challenges" to earn points faster. 

You can also save a few bucks when Starbucks promotes a new product. The chain frequently runs promotions to encourage customers to discover a new favorite or stop on by. Several times a year, that includes BOGO offers and $3 drinks specials.

Another easy way to save some money and help the environment is to bring a clean, reusable cup. At participating U.S. and Canadian locations, you can get $.10 off your drink when you use a personal cup (which need not be from Starbucks). Plus, U.S. Rewards members receive additional bonus stars just for being green. Don't worry if you forgot your travel mug. Customers staying in the café to enjoy their coffee can request one of the location's reusable ceramic cups to get the same perk.