Here’s How to maximize Starbucks Rewards now that they’ve made it a lot more expensive to earn free food and drinks and to reach Gold status.
I’m not a big Starbucks drinker. In 2015 I made 5 purchases totaling about $25 and bought one $10 full price gift card for bonus points. I made these purchases only when there were Bonus Star offers and/or discount drink offers so I reached Gold in early March 2016.
I didn’t keep track of how I did that so I thought I would this year.
The first thing is you have to be signed up to receive email offers. I look at the cost of each offer (including tax and tip) and the number of points earned so I have a cost per point. Then I will only make purchases with the lowest cost per point. To date I have earned 199 stars by spending $27.65 plus I got a free breakfast sandwich (value $4.50 and it was very good) and free menu item.
I won’t waste your time going through all the offers that I’ve received. The best offer was Buy a Carmel Macchiato (I bought a grande), warm sandwich (tomato and mozzarella) and any frappuccino blended beverage (grande) during a five day period and earn 150 star bonus. Cha-ching.
The fall frappuccinos were $3 during that period so I spent a total of $14.72 (with tax) for 176.4 stars or about eight cents per star. And of course I earned a free menu item also. This is the lowest cost per star of all the offers I’ve received in the past few months.
So to maximize your value from the program look for the offers that reward you (125, 150 stars) if you buy multiple items and try to stack it with a discount drink offer. Also try to only reload your card with these types of offers. That’s the only time I reload my card so in reality I’ve actually spent less.
The worst offers were double points day, buy one drink for 25, 50 stars, etc. Forget the frequent low points offers.
Also ask for a receipt. I do and surprise here’s what I got recently. It’s worth about $2. You may not use it but it’s always good to check.
Here are the changes to the program:
If not here they are:
- The old program issued one point per purchase and after 12 visits you got a free beverage on your 13th visit. This set-up benefited people who spent very little per visit then cashed in for a pricey beverage on visit 13. If you were previously buying low cost drinks like tea at $3 you only had to spend $36 to get a free beverage.
- Effective April 12 you will:
- Earn 2 Stars for every $1 spent on coffee, food, drinks, mugs—and more.Your change counts towards partial Stars. They will keep track of all your partial Stars and apply them to your total Stars. For example, if you spend $6.20 (not including tax, tips, alcohol or other exceptions), you will earn 12.40 Stars. The .40 is not always visible but you can always view your Stars and purchase history online or in the mobile app.
- New members will automatically be Green level (since there will no longer be a Welcome level), but you need to earn at least 1 Star a year to be eligible for all your benefits.
- A Green member must earn 300 Stars in 12 months to reach Gold Status or spend $150.
- Once users spend $150 they’ll maintain Gold Status for a year.
- Gold members will receive a reward, for anything on the menu, after earning 125 points or spending $62.50. Some restrictions apply. Rewards may be redeemed at participating stores only and exclude alcoholic beverages and multi-serve food and beverage items. Stars (including partial Stars) earned toward free food and drink rewards expire 6 months after they are earned. Stars may not be earned on purchases of alcohol and Starbucks Cards. Taxes, tips, donations, and fees (such as delivery fees, shipping and handling fees, gift wrapping fees and bag fees) may also be excluded. Mobile Order and Pay may not be available at all locations. See starbucks.com/terms for details.
- Gold members will have access to monthly Double-Star Days (earn four stars for every $1 spent on eligible purchases).
- Rewards now expire six months after they’re earned instead of after five weeks.
- Birthday rewards have not changed.
The best way to earn rewards with the new program is to participate in special offers sent via email, purchase Starbucks products in grocery stores, and visit Starbucks on monthly “Double-Star Days,” when Gold members can earn four stars for every $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Starbucks may be releasing, by the end of 2016, a prepaid Visa card that allows customers to earn rewards points every time they use the card.
What’s the same?
- Free birthday drink or food.
- Free brewed coffee and tea refills.
- Order and pay ahead on phone.
- Pay with phone at register.
- Special offers through email and in the Starbucks app.
- You will earn 6 Bonus Stars to your account for every friend that signs up. Your friend will receive a free drink. Friend must register a Starbucks card and opt-in to receive email from Starbucks. A maximum of 2 referrals per day and 8 per month are eligible to receive Bonus Stars.
- You will still earn Stars when purchasing specially marked Starbucks coffee in your grocery store. Enter the Star code online.
- You’ll maintain your Gold Status (if you already have it).
- Member only events and exclusives.
In 2015 I made 5 coffee purchases totaling about $25 and bought one $10 full price gift card. I made these purchases only when there were Bonus Star offers or discount drink offers so I reached Gold earlier this month. With the devaluation of the program I don’t see that ever happening again!
(Also except for the aforementioned $10 gift card I only reload with these type of discount offers).