Starbucks is Making it Rain (Before the Storm)

New Starbucks Rewards

I recently posted about how you can acquire a Starbucks Gold card for about $50.  I followed my own advice and reached Gold status last month (the card is delivered 4-6 weeks after) which comes with pretty cool perks.  After every 12 purchases you get a free drink of any size and not to mention the occasional 25% off and other assorted coupons that arrive regularly in your inbox.  Since I typically buy a small coffee (~$2) and redeem my award for a very large frappuccino (~$6), the Starbucks Gold card was pretty valuable to me.  Almost predictably, Starbucks announced within two weeks of me receiving Gold stats that this gravy train was coming to an end in April.

I’ve previously posted about how the new program will award one star per dollar spent (previously one star per purchase) but it will take 125 stars to redeem a free drink and 300 a year to keep your Gold Card.  This change is bad for folks like me who acquire stars with small coffee purchases; currently I receive a free $6 drink for every $24 dollars I spent (12 stars x $2 coffee).  Under the new system I would need to buy 63 small coffees to receive the same $6 drinks–no thanks.

All the Stars

Like me, I imagine many other folks were about to write off the Starbucks Gold program in 2016 until they received this email in their inbox:

Starbucks

The email claims to be targeted but I imagine it went out to all folks who currently have a Gold card (both of my friends with Gold cards confirmed they received this email).  Starbucks is practically giving away a 2016 Gold card renewal because it doesn’t want to lose a ton of it’s most loyal customers.  If you’re interested in this offer, make sure you check your inbox for the email and click “Join the Star Dash” before making a purchase.

Starbucks didn’t stop there.  Yesterday I received an email announcing more star opportunities:

Starbucks 2

Will these programs I will enter April with about 36 stars, good for three free drinks.  Accordingly to TTM Contributor Allie who commented on my last post, Starbucks will multiply your stars by 11 when the new program takes effect, leaving me with 396 stars.  Starbucks still has not announced if it will round up purchases when assigning stars for purchases under the new system (will a $5.01 purchase earn 5 or 6 stars).

Points and Miles

Even though Starbucks stars–unlike Citi ThankYou Points, Amex Membership Rewards, and Chase Ultimate Rewards–don’t transfer to any other programs, you can still maximize the amount of points that you earn while shopping at Starbucks.  First, you need a credit card that earns points.  I recommend either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or my current card, the Citi Prestige, for making purchases.  Next, you can buy discounted Starbucks giftcards from CardPool or CardCash for approximately 10% off.  Certain cards may give you a bonus for shopping at CardCash which is an “office supply store.”  Once you buy the gift cards, you can load them onto your Starbucks account.  Once loaded, purchases made with those cards will earn stars.

But it gets better.  You can click through an airline’s shopping portal to earn miles on purchases at the online Starbucks Store.  The American Airlines Shopping Portal and Chase Shopping Portal are currently paying out 2 miles/ points per dollar spent at the online store (pictured below).  Periodically you will receive coupons for the online Starbucks store but you may not be able to earn portal miles and redeem the gift card in the same transaction.  While you cannot load a gift card by using this portal, you can buy coffee beans and other goods that may come with redeemable stars.

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Conclusion

While the changes that Starbucks is making to its Gold card program are bad for a ton of people with Gold cards (those who spend under ~$5.25 per transaction), there are a few remaining generous opportunities to earn stars and points before the new program takes effect in April.

 

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