Starbucks’ new rewards program might make it harder for you to redeem freebies

Starbucks revamps its rewards program, making redeemable coffee and snacks require more stars (Image via Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Starbucks revamps its rewards program, making redeemable coffee and snacks require more stars (Image via Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

In an unexpected turn of events, Starbucks is revamping its rewards program starting next month. The Washington-based coffeehouse is changing the way members earn 'Stars' (reward points), along with the number of stars required to redeem freebies.

As per leaked memos on the internet, starting February, reward members may need to accumulate an even greater number of stars to redeem freebies including coffee, snacks, and more. Currently, reward members earn points in the form of 'Stars' which can be redeemed for free beverages and other freebies at Starbucks stores.

The alleged leaks suggest that the coffeehouse chain is doubling the number of stars required to redeem freebies. Starting next month, free hot coffee, tea, or baked snacks will require 100 stars, while you can redeem them for as low as 50 stars right now. Though some items will now require more stars to redeem, other pricier items like iced coffee, iced tea, etc will now be available at a star requirement of 100. Other packaged snacks, croissants, plastic cups, and more will also be redeemable under the 100-star tier.

Is the revamped Starbucks rewards program advantageous for customers?

Starbucks will continue to reward customers with one star for every $1 spent at the store, and two stars for every $1 spent through a pre-loaded Starbucks card, but the way you redeem those stars will surely change by the coming month. As of now, a customer can get free coffee after spending as low as $25 through a pre-loaded card, but starting next month you will have to shell out more for those freebies.

Considering the basic investment and returns formula, the revamped rewards program does give off a 'pricey' feel, but for regular customers, accumulating those stars won't be too difficult. The revamped Starbucks rewards program taking effect on February 13 changes the star requirements for the following items:

  • Espresso Shots, Syrup, or Alternative Milk - 25 stars (unchanged)
  • Free hot coffee or tea - 100 stars
  • Baked goods - 100 stars
  • Iced Coffee, Iced Tea - 100 stars
  • Packaged snacks - 100 stars
  • Ham and swiss croissants - 100 stars
  • Plastic to-go cups - 100 stars
  • Cold brews, Lattes - 200 stars
  • Handcrafted drinks - 200 stars
  • Hot breakfast items (Sandwiches, and more) - 200
  • Lunch items (Sandwiches and salads, and more) - 300 stars
  • Packaged Coffee (self brew at home) - 300 stars
  • Starbucks Merch - 400 stars (unchanged)

Though rewards programs are usually the way fast food chains express their gratitude to customers, they often have to cut corners to keep up with the market. Considering the recent changes in the national economy and the fast food industry, many other fast food chains have also revamped their rewards programs in a similar fashion, thus increasing the cost of redeemable items.

Chipotle, for instance, has increased the reward point requirements for its redeemable items by upto 16%. Dunkin' Donuts, on the other hand, has almost doubled the reward point requirements for free beverages and lattes.

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Edited by Sayati Das