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Starbucks Announces Changes to Rewards Program Effective April 16

March 19, 2019
3 min read
Grande Starbucks to go cup on table
Starbucks Announces Changes to Rewards Program Effective April 16
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Starbucks confirmed much-anticipated changes to its rewards program on Tuesday.

The new program starts on April 16, and changes the flat-rate reward system to a new tiered structure in which customers can spend their points, or Starbucks Stars:

  • 25 Stars: Extra Espresso Shot, Dairy Substitute or Additional Flavor
  • 50 Stars: Brewed Hot Coffee, Hot Tea or select Bakery Items
  • 150 Stars: Handcrafted Drink, Hot Breakfast or Yogurt Parfaits
  • 200 Stars: Lunch Sandwich, Protein Box or Salad
  • 400 Stars: Select Merchandise or Packaged Coffee

Previously, members of Starbucks rewards had to reach Gold Level (300+ Stars) to receive rewards, which were given out at a flat rate every 125 Stars. As a refresher, you can earn 2 Starbucks Stars per dollar when you load a credit card or gift card into the Starbucks app, and you use it to pay for Starbucks menu items.

"We are providing options and choice," Starbucks' global chief strategy officer Matt Ryan said in an interview with TPG, noting that customers like to spend their points in different ways. The new program offers benefits both "for those people who want to spend right away, or there are lots of people who like to amass lots of points; I personally have thousands of stars in my account," Ryan said.

The new tiered system means that members can earn enough Stars to redeem a free reward for the first tier within as little as two to three visits. That's good news for those eager to immediately burn their Stars (or who don't visit Starbucks as often). And for all the points hoarders out there, under the new program Stars earned by Starbucks Rewards Visa Credit and Prepaid members will no longer expire for as long as the credit/prepaid card accounts stay open.

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Stars previously expired six months after they were earned. The change means customers can feel safe to save Stars toward bigger future purchases. For example, "if someone wants to pool their points and purchase a bunch of mugs at Christmastime, we’re happy to have them do that," Ryan said.

According to Ryan, the program has already seen double digit growth in the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, increasing 14 percent year-over-year in the US to 16.3 million members.

While you're earning those Stars, don't forget to use the best credit card for Starbucks purchases to rack up even more points, like the Citi Prestige® Card (5x points), American Express® Gold Card (4x points at restaurants) or Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x points).

The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.