Starbucks Rewards Planning to Devalue, Move Closer to Revenue-Based Redemption

It’s only been three years since Starbucks devalued their rewards program by moving towards revenue-based points earning. Gone was the ability to get outsized value from the program, for instance, by ringing up each item you’re purchasing separately.

Now we know that Starbucks is going to devalue the program again by moving closer to revenue-based redemption. Word is that redemptions will work as follows:

Rewards will soon be changed to different tiers

25 stars – will get you modifications for your drinks like an extra shot, up to 1$

50 stars – will get you any size cup of coffee, tea or bakery item

150 stars – will get you any handcrafted beverage or breakfast sandwich (previously 125 stars)

200 stars – will get you lunch sandwiches, salads, or protein boxes

400 stars – will get you packaged coffee or merchandise for a single item up to $20

This change is like Delta SkyMiles which give you low value rewards for fewer points but make high value rewards harder to get. Hilton Honors works this way too.

It’s easier to get cheaper-priced items like drip coffee, more expensive to get higher-priced items like four dollar drinks (“Fourbucks”) and even more expensive to get food items.

We don’t yet have the date that this change will go into effect. Redeem your Stars for fifteen shot drinks and sandwiches now!

(HT: Doctor of Credit)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. For us it’s a negative change. We ALWAYS use 125 stars for items that give us the biggest bang for our buck – sandwiches, salads, or protein boxes – and never use them on less expensive beverages.

  2. @ Gary — This program is pretty much not worth any effort. The only thing one should be buying at Starbucks is regular coffee (everything else is mediocre and overpriced), so I call this massive improvement.

  3. As someone who actually buys mostly just coffee at Starbucks, I approve of this change. I rarely buy fancy drinks or major food and find myself redeeming my stars for coffee way too often as they are about to expire. I’ll get 5 cups of coffee for every 2 I used to get. Works for me.

  4. I’m…400 stars for $20 is…5 cents/star?

    That’s a pretty good value if there’s “merchandise” that you find worthwhile at the $19.99 price point?

    As an addendum, it would be awesome if a gift card counted as “merchandise” 😉

  5. SBUX is so big that I expect someday customers will be able to redeem for other things, like iPads. The same direction the airline programs are going.

  6. The main advantage to me is the free refills. I generally have drip Blonde roast each morning while I read the paper

  7. 400 stars for $20 merchandise/packaged coffee? I’m guessing that the price of those items will go up significantly. This week Shop-Rite is selling 12 oz. packages of Starbucks coffee for $5.99. I’m sure that is cheaper per oz. than buying at a Starbucks store.

  8. Major downgrade for me. I generally redeem for a quinti-venti, i.e. five shot large mocha. Sometimes, I go for as many as eight shots of expresso. However, I’m ready to phase out Starbucks anyway.

  9. Since I usually treat myself to a $10 salad with my free item this is a downgrade. They already. took away free flavor syrup and soy/almond milk. Hope they leave the Birthday drink alone!

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