What Are Drink Chips? (Explained)

What Are Drink Chips?

If you are thinking of chips as snacks, then sorry to disappoint you, but you are dead wrong there. Contrarily, if you are thinking of poker chips, you are relatively close, as these chips serve quite the same purpose but for a different service.

Drink chips originated in the middle of the 20th century and became all the rage quickly. But recently, the concept of drink chips isn’t as popular as it used to be, probably due to a couple of reasons, but the biggest one is the advancement of technology.

But all this gives a vague idea of what these chips are, so it brings us to the question of what drink chips are.

Drink chips/bar chips or chits are tokens similar to poker chips. These may be made from plastic, wood, and metal, but are usually round in shape, with a bar logo, and indicate that you have a free drink pending, or you can use it to buy someone else a free drink.

The article will discuss all there is to know about drink chips/chits and how you can use them for advertising purposes to keep the customer influx.

Drink Chips and Their Purpose

Drink Chips And Their Purpose

Pub tokens, bar chips, drink chits, and more are all the same thing, so you don’t have to be confused about these names thinking they serve a different purpose.

These chips serve an array of functions, ranging from ensuring the customer comes back to a unique way of advertising your bar and as a way to make some extra cash from collectors.

1. As a Source of Advertisement

The most common reason for using bar chips is to attract people to your bar. It is some form of exonumia, which is several times more effective than your run-off-the-mill advertising strategies.

Paper advertisements, billboards, and even online ads are bound to be forgotten once passed, and paper/cards are usually misplaced, while bar chips carry the same effect as keeping money. So, it ensures that the customer visits again to your establishment for more drinks.

2. Effective for 2-for-1s

Events or one-time deals when you offer two drinks for the price of one (with these tokens) make these bar chips shine the brightest.

Instead of offering both drinks readily and letting temperature and ice ruin the flavor, these bar tokens ensure your service stays the best. Also, it prevents your customer from chugging down the drink without enjoying it, in fear of ruining the flavor of the second one.

3. As a Way To Increase Revenue

Drink chips serve their advertising purpose, but these chips help boost revenue too. How, right? The cost of these chips is between 25 cents to a dollar at most. Most collectors pay much more than that to get these chips.

Not only that, but when you take these chips home and lose them along the way, you pay three-four times the cost of a single chip, which is quite often the case.

That’s not the end; you can give discontented customers these chips instead of a discount on their total bill, which saves quite a bit of cost and maintains trust, all while ensuring the customer returns and spends more.

Some tokens are same-day exchangeable, which increases your sale. Also, it prevents pocketing of money from serving staff, as it keeps track of the money influx by keeping one return point.

Editor’s Note

Some places use an upside-down shot glass (placed by the bartender in front of you), a golf ball, and such to signify an upcoming free drink for you.

Colored Chips and Designs

Colored Chips And Designs

While bar chips vary based on the establishment you visit, it is not uncommon for a single bar to have varying colored chips, sometimes even in different designs.

Drink chips usually come in round, square, or hexagonal shapes, and in some rare cases, their design can be as wild as you want, e.g., in the style of your bar mascot. But these are a rarity and cost a lot in the making.

Also, while most bars carry single-colored chips, there are always exceptions, e.g., bronze, silver, and golden-colored distinctions in chips. In other places, the same as poker chips, red, green, and black colored chips, each related to a specific liquor.


Lastly, now you know all there is to know about drink/bar chips, and these tokens are still present in some bars but not as prevalent as they used to be.

Also, it is impolite to go into a bar and ask for bar tokens as the first thing. Order a drink first, take your time, and then ask whether they have drink chips/bar tokens.

Regardless, bar tokens or drinks chips symbolize a drink for free and can be retained for another visit. These are usually wooden, plastic, or metallic chips, with the bar logo printed on these tokens. Before wrapping up, the fancier the bar token, the more people will collect it.