Customers who just want a cup of coffee are furious about Starbucks’ new rewards program

Starbucks is making a huge change to its insanely popular rewards program.

The coffee chain announced on Monday that customers will earn reward “stars” based on the amount of money they spend at Starbucks starting in April. Currently, customers earn one star per visit with My Starbucks Rewards, no matter how much money they spend.

With the new program, rebranded as simply Starbucks Rewards, customers will earn two stars per every dollar spent, receiving a free reward after earning 125 stars. That’s more complicated maths than the previous program, which required just 12 stars (the equivalent of 12 visits) to get a free drink or food.

Starbucks claims that the change is based on customers’ desire to earn stars based on each item ordered, instead of per visit. However, this clearly isn’t great news for Starbucks customers who regularly purchase inexpensive items like a $2 cup of coffee at the chain.

While once thrifty customers could spend $24 and get a free drink after 12 trips to Starbucks, soon they will have to spend $62.50 to get a free item. That’s 32 cups of plain coffee.

Some customers are already venting their anger and confusion on Starbucks’ Facebook page.

“Gotta spend $75 to earn one free drink…you guys need to look into Dunkin Doughnuts rewards program,” reads one comment. “So much better, you actually get rewards that are worth it.”

Starbucks responded to the comment saying that it only takes $62.50 to earn a reward, but most customers “will get there faster because there are so many other ways to earn Stars.”

These other ways to earn stars include participating in special offers, purchasing Starbucks products in grocery stores, and visiting Starbucks on monthly ‘Double-Star Days.’


“If you occasionally buy a food item — like breakfast, lunch or a pastry — with your usual beverage, you’ll likely earn free rewards just as fast or faster than you do today,” reads Starbucks’ website explaining the new program.

Basically, the new program benefits customers who spend more at Starbucks, whether that be by purchasing elaborate lattes or ordering food.

Starbucks is determined to grow its food business, with COO Kevin Johnson saying in October that the chain was becoming a “food destination.” The chance to earn a few extra stars may be the encouragement certain customers need when deciding whether or not to buy a cookie or breakfast sandwich with their coffee.

In January, Starbucks reported that the My Starbucks Rewards program had 11.1 million members in the US, an increase of 23% from a year ago. The popularity of the rewards program has helped boost the chain’s mobile sales, which now account for about 6 million orders per month.

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