My wife was a Starbucks Gold card member before that was common, she had a Gold card when the ‘elite’ level Starbucks cards first came out (and there wasn’t even a reference yet at Starbucks.com). She and always got looks at the counter when she paid with it. I don’t know if that’s a mark of distinction or not. Probably it’s not…
Well, it takes 30 transactions a year to reach Gold and 30 to retain it, I think it used to take only 15. And Gold status isn’t all that valuable. The “Green” level which used to be just for registering a card now takes 5 swipes and gets you free syrups, miles, and a brewed beverage when you buy whole beans (which I wouldn’t do from Starbucks since the beans are too oily). Gold only provides a free beverage every 15 purchases as an incremental benefit over Green.
There’s a great thread on Milepoint, Starbucks Tips and Tricks, my one contribution to the excellent advice about secret off-the-menu items and whatnot is naturally about earning status. They don’t award a credit (or “Star” as they call it) based on the number of items you purchase. They award a credit — towards achieving status, retaining status, and getting your next free drink — for each swipe of the card. So if you’re buying two drinks, pay for them ‘separately’ with the same Starbucks card. Three drinks? Pay with three separate swipes. You’ll earn free drinks faster.
But here’s the thing that finally hit me over the head this morning. Milepoint co-founder and MegaDO organizer Tommy Danielsen emailed me this morning,
On my way to NYC this morning and I handed the Starbucks lady my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to pay for my coffee. The only card that gives two miles per dollar spent at Starbucks
And I whacked myself on the head like in one of those V-8 commercials.
I recently made my wife sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The 40,000 point signup bonus and fee waived the first year was enough of a reason, thinking I could transfer the points over to my United or Hyatt accounts (hah!). Points transfer also to British Airways, Marriott, Priority Club, Amtrak, and Korean Airlines as well but United/Continental and Hyatt offer the best value. And of course points transfer to whomever you wish, in my experience instantly.
There’s double points on all travel spend and also on dining. Plus access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall which seems often to have the best earning of any of the mileage portals.
Here’s where I describe Chase Sapphire Preferred as the king of credit cards currently. It’s the one I’m making everyone in my office get. And when the cards arrive, my co-workers show up in my office door giddy about just how sexy the card is with its extra weight and without any embossed numbers on the front. (They don’t quite ‘get’ that the card is all about the points earning, but if it happens that the card is good looking, and that helps get them to use it, well then they’ll have more good points available when they come asking me to help them book their family vacations!)
For all my love of the card, it never occurred to me that Starbucks was ‘dining’ although of course it is!
Here’s the trick. Spending at Starbucks with the card earns double points. “Auto” reloads to not. But re-loading a Starbucks card at a Starbucks store does. Here’s why.
In store spending (including reloading a Starbucks card) is categorized as “Restaurants – Fast Food” while online reloads are categorized as “Merchandise – MISC FOOD STORE, SPECIALTY, CONVENIENCE” — the former category earns double points, the latter category does not.
Naturally, I don’t want to ask my wife to give up her elite status (or her free drink certificates). So the change to habit is that she now gets to reload her Starbucks card in-store.
She’s been earning less valuable points, and only a point a dollar to boot, for a long time. That’s my fault. Your humble View from the Wing blogger is far from perfect! Of course once realized, it’s easy to fix, she already has her marching orders for her Starbucks account.
This may have been completely obvious to everyone out there, but I pass it along because when Tommy emailed me I realized just how obvious (and for my family, fundamental) this was … and how I completely hadn’t realized it.
Now, in the interests of disclosure, if you decide to get this card using my link I do get a referral credit for it (which I very much appreciate). It’s a card that I have and use, made my wife get and use, and recommend to my friends and co-workers as well. But I do want you to be transparent.
Update: Tommy follows up with another email,
Oh, and I just used my Chase sapphire card to pay for the cab