We Can't Decide If We Love or Hate the New Starbucks Rewards Program

Ahh, Starbucks. Nary a day goes by when I don’t step through the industrial-modern black doors of my local Starbucks, welcomed into the coffee mermaid’s open arms as I order up a much-needed venti iced coffee (with soy, no sugar) from the very friendly baristas who, I am pleased/ashamed to admit, know me by name. That also means I rack up a lot of Starbucks rewards points (2 Stars for every $1 spent) and regularly redeem them for some free java, but with the announcement of Starbucks’ new rewards system, there are some pros and cons all dedicated customers will have to face.

First off, the bad news. It’s a little glossed over in the press release, but it will now take 150 points to get a free handcrafted drink, instead of the former 125. That means I’ll have to spend $12.50 more in order to get to enough stars to redeem my usual drink.

However, some might actually like the change. That’s because you can now get certain rewards with less points, or save your points for even bigger rewards. Here’s what the new system looks like.

25 Stars: Extra Espresso Shot, Dairy Substitute or Additional Flavor
50 Stars: Brewed Hot Coffee, Hot Tea or select Bakery Items
150 Stars: Handcrafted Drink, Hot Breakfast or Yogurt Parfaits
200 Stars: Lunch Sandwich, Protein Box or Salad
400 Stars: Select Merchandise or Packaged Coffee

It’s definitely a more flexible reward system than what was in place before, with people being able to get more value with both less and more points than before. The only people really taking a hit are those whose regular drinks aren’t hot coffee or hot tea, as they’ll now need to wait to get to 150 points to get their beverage for free.

Starbucks also used to make customers reach an initial 300 points, or Gold status before they could start earning points redeemable for free drinks. Now, those who sign up for the rewards program through the company’s app will start earning stars right away, meaning they can start enjoying the benefits of membership much sooner than before.

The new program will launch on April 16th, so if you’ve almost got 125 stars and want to redeem them for a free handcrafted drink, now’s the time. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until you get to 150, and honestly who has that much time to wait for free caffeine?

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