Starbucks Changes Loyalty Program

Giorgia Close ’16

Starbucks loyalty program has been in place for about 6 years now. Anyone can join, and all you really need is a gift card. You can register your gift card online and immediately start earning. When you register your card, you start out in the ‘Welcome’ level. This gets you a free drink on your birthday, but it isn’t hard to move up to the other levels.

The rewards program is based on ‘stars’. You earn 1 star based on every purchase you make with a registered gift card, or with every star code you peel off coffee packages. After 5 stars earned, you move up to the ‘Green’ level, which gets you free refills on brewed coffee, iced coffee, and all their iced teas.

When you hit 30 stars and your wallet and trust funds are completely emptied out after making 30 purchases, you hit the coveted ‘Gold’ level, where I’m at now. This gets you all the benefits of the ‘Green’ level, as well as 1 free drink every 12 stars you earn. You get a personalized gold Starbucks card with you name on it, and the Starbucks company even gives you one whole cent to start your journey of gold membership.

Recently, however, Starbucks changed their program. Now you will receive 1 star for every dollar you spend, and to get a free drink you need 125 stars, or spend $125. This is terrible for small spenders like me. My coffee usually costs around $2.15 for a Grande Dark Roast with two pumps of vanilla flavoring. Before, I could earn the free drink pretty fast and I would cash in for the most expensive drink you could buy/make, but now, if I buy a coffee every day, it will take be at least 2 months of constant spending.

For people who aren’t gold card members, you now need 300 stars to get there, rather than 30. The idea of a star every dollar is nice if you make large purchases, since one purchase used to be 1 star regardless of price, but the amount it takes to get a reward is insane for small spenders and people who drink plain coffee on the daily.

Starbucks is listening to complaints and are potentially going to change the amount of stars it takes to get a reward, but who know when that will happen?

Find out more about Starbucks’ rewards program here.

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