The Starbucks Rewards Program Is Changing and Some People Are NOT Happy About It
Starbucks is preparing to roll out some changes to its popular customer loyalty program, Starbucks Rewards. The coffee chain promises to make it more, well, rewarding, but we want to know: Are you excited about the new direction?
Currently, You Get a Free Item Every 12 Visits
Under the current rewards program, there are three levels: Welcome, Green, and Gold. Customers receive one star per transaction, regardless of how much they purchase. Meaning a $2 cup of coffee is worth the same as picking up $5 lattes for all your friends.
In order to redeem these stars for a free drink, you must first get to Gold level membership. To do so, you have to earn 30 stars, which can be done in 30 visits. After that, for every 12 stars you earn, you receive a free item. Sounds simple enough, right?
Since the current system rewards you based on how many transactions you make, regardless of what you spend, basic coffee drinkers come out ahead since they can spend the least and receive the same freebies as their latte-drinking brethren.
Coming Soon: Free Items Faster, Theoretically
Beginning in April, the new rewards program will change to two levels: Green and Gold. Every transaction will equate to 2 stars per dollar spent, regardless of what you buy. As a bonus, change on your order will go towards partial stars, which will accumulate to whole stars. This gives more rewards heft to the customers who spend more on pricier drinks, since they'll get more stars than drip coffee drinks.
But that means that it might take longer for some Starbucks fans to reach the Gold level and, as a result, those free drinks; in addition to changing the point system, the chain is also instituting changes to rewards redemption. In order to reach Gold membership status under the new program, you'll have to earn 300 stars. That comes out to roughly $150 to become a Gold member. If you were spending $5 per drink under the old system, then this still equates to about 30 visits. But it will take much longer for standard coffee drinkers to get to that level.
And to maintain that Gold status? Be prepared to rack up another 300 stars the next year. Plus, after that you won't receive a free item until you accrue another 125 stars, or spend another $63 (approximately). That's a lot of coffee, although Starbucks has said that Gold status members will be able to take advantage of "double star days."
Despite these changes to the program, Green and Gold status members can still receive free refills on coffee and tea!
Do You Participate in Starbucks Rewards?
We want to hear from you. Are the upcoming changes something you're looking forward to? Or will you find another coffee shop with a different loyalty plan?