Ways to Hack the Starbucks Rewards Program That Might Surprise You

Updated March 27, 2024 by Kyle James

Starbucks coffee is expensive. But thanks to the Starbucks Rewards program you have some options when it comes to saving money and even getting some cool freebies. Brew from home? No worries as these hacks will also help you score some free Starbucks from time to time. Let’s break it down…

Ways to Hack the Starbucks Rewards Program That Might Surprise You

First Off, How Do I Sign-up?

Joining the Starbucks Rewards program is simple.

Just follow this LINK and get signed up for free.

To make it happen all you need is a Starbucks gift card which you’ll then use on all your purchases moving forward.

You’ll earn 1 stars for every dollar spent OR 2 stars per $1 when using a Starbucks Card within their app.

When you reach gold status (300 Stars in 12 months) and earn 200 stars, you’ll get your first free Handcrafted drink.

1. Maximize Those Free “Reward Drinks”

Speaking of free drinks at Starbucks, did you know you can order ANY beverage as your “reward drink”?

It baffles me when I see someone use their free reward on a tall cup of drip coffee.

Instead, you’d be wise to order a Venti or Trenta size of one of their specialty drinks that you enjoy.

Those easily top out in the $6 dollar range making them a great way to enjoy a drink you might not otherwise order.

Word of warning, you probably can’t order one of these ridiculously expensive drinks.

2. Only Visit “Stand Alone” Starbucks Locations

When trying to build up your stars balance, try to visit stand alone locations.

Typically, Starbucks locations located within stores like Barnes & Noble, Target, and Safeway DON’T hand out reward stars when you buy a cup of joe.

See Also: Smart Starbucks Menu Secrets That’ll Help You Save

3. Beware…Stars Do Expire

Stars do Expire

Don’t hoard those stars for too long as they do indeed expire.

Specifically, they expire six months after they are earned on the first day of the month.

The Starbucks app is a great way to track your stars so you know when to use them up.

4. Use Starbucks Rewards to Score Spotify Deal

If you’re a Starbucks Rewards member you can score Spotify Premium for only $0.99 for 3-months PLUS get 125 free stars.

This is only available for new Spotify Premium members. I’m not sure how long this offer will last so jump on it.

Update: As of 2022, Spotify and Starbucks no longer have this agreement.

5. Look For Specially Marked Starbucks Bags

Starbucks stars on bags

Update: As of 2022, bags of Starbuck coffee no longer have a “free stars” peel off sticker on them.

When shopping at the grocery store for Starbucks ground or whole bean coffee, keep an eye out for bags that offer free reward stars.

Many have peel off stickers with codes attached that you can enter into the Starbucks app.

Many items are worth a single free star but some are worth up to 10.

Collect enough and you can get a free drink on Starbucks.

See Also: Starbucks Gold Card: What Is It, How to Get It, and Is It Worth It?

6. Visit on “Double Up” Star Days

Double Star Days

Keep an eye out for Monthly Double Days at Starbucks where you’ll get double reward stars.

A $5 order will net you 10 stars instead of the normal 5.

They happen once a month and make for a great time to build up a ton of stars.

Keep in the know by signing up for Starbucks email alerts. More on that later.

7. Maximize the Birthday Treat

Birthday treat

Perhaps the biggest no-brainer for joining their rewards program is the free drink you get on your birthday.

All rewards members score this cool freebie and it’s redeemable for almost anything on the Starbucks menu.

So be sure to order the 24 oz. Venti for hot drinks and the 31 oz. Trenta for cold drinks.

I like to use the Starbucks app as it’ll notify me 2 days before my birthday that I have a free treat waiting for me.

You can also opt for a free food item, but does any caffeine junky ever actually do that? Guessing not.

8. Don’t Ignore the Email Offers

When signing up for their rewards program be sure to opt into their emails.

Starbucks will regularly email you ways to collect free stars so your balance can grow quickly.

I understand that most folks hate getting promotional emails but the ones Starbucks sends are actually worth the time.

You’ll also know about double star days this way as well.

9. Grab a Free Refill

Lastly, don’t forget about those free coffee refills before you leave.

Make your purchase with the Starbucks app or gift card and the barista will hook you up with a free refill before you exit.

Starbucks is banking on you forgetting to take them up on this, so don’t FORGET your free refill.

Only works with hot and iced brewed coffee or tea.

Ask the Reader: How do you hack the Starbucks Rewards program to earn free coffee and treats?

By Kyle James

Photo credit to Starbucks and Mike Mozart.


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Rhonda Rushin

Thanks for sharing the info.


They stopped having star stickers on bagged coffee years ago….fyi

Crystal Bishop

I order on the app while im waiting in line for my coffee. It gets you 2 visits instead of one.

No no

Please explain what you mean. This is a weak, flawed, and poorly founded claim


Crystal’s hack was actually very common under the old program- note that she wrote the comment years ago. Stars used to be rewarded based on the visit. IE, I would get 1 star per visit whether I ordered 1 item or 10. So what she did was order on the app which got her one star and then at the counter, getting her an add’t star. Drink rewards “cost” fewer stars at the time (10? 20? I can’t recall exactly.). Starbucks then switched the program so you earned stars based on spend so it didn’t matter if you split purchases. So before the program modification her claim was actually strong, accurate and well thought out.