Loophole: Get a month's worth of smoothies, frappes, coffee etc at Pret for free
Or keep a subscription going, and many can save anyway
Coffee and sandwich chain Pret a Manger has a subscription service where you can get up to five coffees – or other drinks – a day, for £20 a month. It offers the first month free, and we've checked terms, you could just cancel after you've had that – without paying a penny.
What is Pret's subscription service?
Register for the Pret Coffee subscription service and sign up to the £20/mth subscription, and you're emailed a unique QR code to scan at the checkout when you order your drink in store. The offer's available in almost all Pret shops across the UK, excluding just five – South Mimms Services, Cherwell Valley Services, Rugby service station, University of Warwick and Southgate service station.
You can redeem up to five barista-made drinks a day – but only one at a time, every 30 minutes. This includes any hot or cold drink that's been made by a barista, including smoothies, frappes, coffees, teas, hot chocolates and iced drinks (it won't work on any bottled or canned drinks you can buy). Milk alternatives, syrups and extra shots are also included with the subscription.
These drinks can range in price from about £1-£3.50 each, so in theory you could get up about £17 worth of totally free drinks a day, for a whole month.
What it doesn't include though is any food or bottled cold drinks – it's just barista-made drinks.
How the first free month works and how to cancel
New users signing up get the first month for free. You'll need to enter your payment details at the checkout, but you won't be charged until your next payment is due a month later. I signed up on Fri 18 June, and my account tells me my £20 payment will be taken on 18 July.
- You can cancel at any point during your first free month as long as it's before the renewal date, and you shouldn't be charged for the next month.
- Cancellations can be done from your online account or via the app, under the 'manage subscription' section.
- You still receive your free drinks until your renewal date, so if you're doing this just for the loophole, cancelling sooner will help you remember, and be sure it's done.
When the service first launched, we saw reports of users struggling to cancel their subscriptions (see our November 2020 Pret a Manger coffee subcription customers hit with £20 fee MSE news story) yet we've since heard the cancellation process has become easier.
My flatmate had the subscription for a few months and recently cancelled without any issues or being incorrectly charged. While a sample of one – it's a good sign.
A thought from Martin – is this fair to do?
“Loopholes have been the lifeblood of MSE since I started it back in 2003. Yet rightly, we had a lot of discussion in MSE Towers about whether, if in the light of pandemic and the impact on city centre food retailers, this was fair to do right now.”
“Pret is a major retailer, owned by a multi-billion pound German conglomerate, not a small independent. This service was launched post-pandemic, designed for current times. The ‘one-month free trial’ option is a common, usually profitable, subscription model, based on our innate human dislike of losing things once we have them (see my the real reason why companies offer free 1mth trial blog for a full explanation).”
“Ultimately too, the subscription deal is a good one for some, as Laura explains below. So it’s also likely even some regular MoneySavers will sign-up for it having read this.”
“So in the end we decided our job is to provide you with info and a choice. Yet I wanted to overtly raise the ethical question, to give you a pause for thought, so you can have the info but make a decision for yourself as to how you feel about doing this right now.”
This subscription is a doozy for those who always buy 2+ barista drinks a week, in which case don't cancel, keep going
Of course, buying drinks from a coffee shop isn't the most MoneySaving way to get your caffeine fix. However, if you will buy anyway and can't find a cheaper coffee shop near you, and are happy to stick to Pret, this subscription is a good deal and could save you money in the long run.
When the subscription first launched in September 2020, we calculated in our Pret launches £20/month coffee subscription service MSE News story, that you could get £100s worth of drinks for £20 if you maxed out the offer.
Though realistically – and more health consciously – here's a breakdown of how prices compare if you're buying 1-3 coffees a week:
|How many coffees bought||Monthly cost without subscription||Saving with £20/mth subscription|
|One a week (four a month)||£11||N/A (£9/mth MORE)|
|Two a week (eight a month)||£22||£2/mth|
|Three a week (12 a month)||£33||£13/mth|
As the table shows, if you're buying at least two coffees (or smoothies, frappes, etc) a week, it actually works out cheaper to keep the subscription.
For other ways to save on your favourite hot drinks, see our Pay £1, get up to 50p off most Costa, Pret & Starbucks drinks EVERY time blog.
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