Starbucks Rewards Are Getting Faster

Starbucks is adjusting its Rewards program, making it “faster.” What’s that mean? Starting on October 16, Gold level members get free drinks after earning 12 stars instead of 15 currently. Instead of waiting for your freebie via a postcard in the mail, you’ll get faster access with your physical card or smartphone app. The freebie is no longer limited to beverages with food items now eligible. Here’s the official announcement.

Subtracted from the program is the free additions of flavored syrups and soy milk. And did you know you were entitled to a free tall coffee when you purchased a bag of coffee beans? I never used that promotion, and now it’s gone. There are more nuances to the updated Rewards program, and Starbucks has a comprehensive FAQ.

Some commentary…

12 Stars

I’m liking the change to 12 stars for a free drink. I’m not sure if the recent 12 Star Dash was a final test case. I doubt it, but looking at my Starbucks habit, I did learn that getting 12 stars in 2 weeks wasn’t that easy. During the Dash, I spent about $57 in 13 transactions (stars). Using that as a baseline, with the update to the Rewards program, I’ll also get a free drink which could roughly be 10% ($5) of what I spent.

The Postcard

I have mixed feelings about this. While it did feel archaic to get a postcard via snail mail, it was a treat when opening the mailbox. Getting an electronic delivery feels more cold and detached. Will I remember to redeem my free drink before it expires? This is a tricky one. At least the postcard was a physical reminder. Sure, I could have forgotten to bring the postcard or worse, have lost it. At the same time, I think about all the electronic Groupon and Living Social vouchers that I forget about until the expiration date is upon me.

Food Stuff

The addition of getting free food is a good move. I don’t pay much attention to the food, but now I might. On Starbucks’ side, giving away a free pastry is more economical since these cost less than $3 vice a $4-5 coffee drink.

Bonus Star

Did you catch the new Bonus Star? Here’s the description:

Periodically, the My Starbucks Rewardsâ„¢ program will offer Bonus Stars as a promotion to our members. During the promotional period, when you purchase one of the featured products, you will receive a Star for the transaction (as normal) and an extra Star for the specified product. This is another way we are helping you earn Stars and free drinks and food faster!

All in all, these are welcomed changes to the Starbucks Rewards program.

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3 Responses to Starbucks Rewards Are Getting Faster

  1. Yoda808 September 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Starbucks just as much as the next guy (ok well, maybe not as much as you man 🙂 ), but I can’t help but think that every time they “improve” or change the program that they actually make out better than we do.

    I still maintain that the the previous system (buy in for $25 a year get 10% off everything) was still the best the program has ever been (for consumers). Then they changed over to the star system, which was still pretty good, but now you mainly got free drinks (in addition to other perks like a free drink for your birthday & free syrup and soy upgrades). Now they’re loosing these upgrades in order to give us free drinks and now food “faster.”

    I mean I get it, they’re trying to give value to us while at the same time save money for themselves. While I will still patron them, I can’t help but think that their loyalty rewards program is slowly starting to erode.

    • Gee Why September 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

      Yeah, I do concur. I think the consumer did lose out in the grand scheme of program benefits, but it was at the fringes, not at the core. The 10% discount was too good to last. I never took advantage of the free syrups so I don’t mind losing that perk.

      I am happily surprised that they even offer a loyalty program. 🙂


  1. The Faster Starbucks Rewards Debuts Tomorrow - October 15, 2012

    […] 15, 2012 On Tuesday, October 16, 2012, Starbucks launches its revamped Rewards Program. As you recall, this program is now faster. Get a free drink after accumulating 12 stars vice 15. Freebies are […]

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