Starbucks New Rewards Program Requires Me To Spend $62.50 for a Free Cup of Coffee

February 24, 2016 by Kyle

I’ve talked a lot about how to save money at Starbucks in the past, from Starbucks menu hacks to more obvious ways to save. But their new loyalty program makes it a real pain in the ass, and hardly worth the effort, to get a free cup of coffee, especially for brewed drinkers like me who don’t spend much. Here’s how it works.

Starbucks logo

Stars Will be Earned on Money Spent

Currently, if you’re a Gold Star member, you earn 1 star for every visit, visit 12 times and you get a reward. Pretty cool…but those days are coming to an end in April. Starting in April, you’ll earn 2 stars for every $1 spent at Starbucks. Earn 125 stars and you’ll get a free drink or food item.

So basically you have to spend $62.50 to get a free cup of coffee. Also, it’s worth noting that the new program will have 2 levels, instead of 3, which the company hopes will make the program easier to understand.

Be on the lookout for monthly “double star days” as a cheaper way to rack up stars.

Sucks for Actual Coffee Drinkers

Because many Starbucks loyalist order $5 milkshakes, it won’t take long for them to rake up 125 stars.

But for actual coffee drinkers like me who order a $1.75 cup of coffee, the new loyalty program entitles me to a free cup of coffee every couple years. Big deal…not really a loyalty card any more.

Push-Back Against “Transaction Splitters”

Apparently, one of the other reasons for the new program is to fight-back again “Transaction Splitting”.

This is when a customer asks a barista to split up purchases into separate transactions to rack up stars, and thus rewards, quicker.

C’mon, really people? If you’re doing this, take a close look at yourself, you might have a caffeine addiction.

Ask the Reader: Does the Starbucks loyalty program seem like a good move? How will it affect you, or will you choose to stay home and brew your own coffee?

By Kyle James

Photo by m01229.

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Kim, Tampa
Kim, Tampa

Now I will get more credit for all the 12 oz. bags I buy at grocery store and the 32 Oz. bags from BJ’s rather than 1 star each.


I can go to McDonald’s and get every 7th coffee free.

Dave Beamier
Dave Beamier

I would say you put an interesting spin on this by calling this # 1 customer demand. Who really benefits from this. I say we boycott Starbucks one day a week and see if we can catch someone’s attention.

dale henkel
dale henkel

for us seniors on fixed income the reward program does not work for me. now I have to wait more than twice as long for a free drink. shame on starbucks.


The word is “their” not “there”.
The rewards program used to be fun but now it’s obscene! Who do they think will buy that much there?!? I doubt my Gold Card will stay valid for long.