By Louis DeNicola, Cheapism.com
Coffee is a big and competitive business in the United States -- Statistic Brain reports that consumers spend more than 18 billion dollars a year on specialty brews alone -- and coffee shops are working hard to build loyal followings. Some do so with exceptional service and delicious drinks and others rely on low prices. Another tactic: a coffee rewards program. Independent coffee houses likely do this with a stamp or punch card while some larger chains have embraced the plastic gift card.
Related: Best inexpensive coffee makersAll of the largest brewed-coffee companies gave a free drink at the start of membership.
We looked at the coffee loyalty programs at six of the largest brewed-coffee purveyors and found that a free drink is just the beginning. Some coffee rewards programs give away snacks, refills, upgraded sizes, and extra credit for reloading gift cards.
- My Starbucks Rewards is the largest and most well-established coffee rewards program. Members who register a gift or credit card and make one purchase earn one "star"