Starbucks Rewards Are Changing

When I first saw the email with the subject “Say hello to the new Starbucks Rewards”, I can’t say I was surprised. Reading through the email I wasn’t exactly happy with the changes but it made me think if this was really a devaluation.

Current Starbucks Rewards

Here are the main points of what will change with the current rewards program:

  • Earn one star per item purchased, multi-item purchases count as one star. This caused people to split their transactions into multiple single-item purchases. According to Starbucks, these split transactions account for 1% of of their overall transactions.
  • Achieve Starbucks Gold status when 30 stars are earned in a rolling 12 month period
  • With Gold Status, every 12 stars earned a free food or drink item reward is earned

So basically after achieving Gold status, you can buy 12 ‘tall’ brewed coffee for ~$3 each which would earn you a free item.  that item can be an expensive drink that would be $7 or so.  If you wanted to be creative, that free item could be a lot more, like some of these adventurous people. So basically you could spend about $36 for a free drink.

The Changes

  • 2 stars earned per $1 spent
  • Free item after 125 stars earned (with Gold status)
  • (unconfirmed) Confirmed: Gold Status achieved after 350 300 stars earned

This comes out to $62.50 for a free food or drink item, after $150 spend to get Gold status.  Multiple single-item transactions are no longer needed.

My Thoughts

For those people that go in before work and get a tall coffee, this is bad news. There’s no getting around that. For the average people who might get a more expensive drink and a pastry, it might only be slightly more expensive – if not a little cheaper to earn a free drink. However, this is an absolute win for those people that buy more than that.

Personally, this isn’t really a big devaluation for me. My average Starbucks purchase is probably about $5-6 so I’m spending about $60-70 per free item anyway.

What are your thoughts?

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