Update: Today is the last day to redeem 125 stars for a free handcrafted drink. You’ll need 150 stars starting tomorrow.
Originally posted on 3/20:
Starbucks used to have a fantastic rewards program. Green level members got free substitutions and additions like Soy Milk and Syrup. Gold level members got a free drink for every 12 stars and every purchase got a star, even if the purchase was just $1.
On 4/12/16 they took out a page out of airline mileage devaluation by moving from a frequent visitor star earning program to a revenue based star earning program. They started requiring 125 stars for a free drink, which in the new program meant that you would need to spend $62.50 for a free drink after you earned Gold status.
A free drink will go up to 150 stars, which means you’ll need to spend $75 to get a free handcrafted drink.
Starbucks is spinning this as an improvement as you can now also use 25 stars for each substitution and addition like Soy Milk and Syrup (which used to be free in the last version of the program), 50 stars for brewed hot coffee, 200 stars for a lunch item, or 400 stars for a bag of coffee or coffee cup.
Yes, if you spend $200 at Starbucks you’ll be rewarded with a cup.
Starbucks is also getting rid of elite tiers, though they have been giving those away for free in recent years. It’s downright puzzling why they wouldn’t want to create more meaningful elite tiers and benefits to generate more marginal spending from their most loyal customers.
Once again this just confirms that the three certainties in life are death, taxes, and reward program devaluations. Which is why I earn and burn and try to save points in bank programs rather than individual airlines and hotels.