Starbucks Is Changing Its Rewards Program — Here's What You Need to Know

It's not all bad news.

Starbucks announces changes to rewards program, cost of a ‘free’ drink is increasing

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Starbucks is changing its rewards program and will soon require customers to spend even more before receiving a free drink.

In December, the coffee giant emailed its rewards users to share the news that starting on Feb. 13, 2023, it will require more points (known as Stars) to redeem free drinks and other goodies. 

According to Today, a customer hoping to score a free hot coffee, tea, bakery item, or packaged snack will need 100 Stars, marking a 100% increase in the Stars previously required. 

In its updated terms and conditions, Starbucks explains that customers will need 200 Stars to redeem “any handcrafted beverage (such as a latte or Frappuccino blended beverage) or any hot breakfast item (such as a breakfast sandwich or oatmeal).” Customers will also need 300 Stars to redeem “one packaged salad or lunch sandwich or one packaged protein box, or one packaged coffee item (such as whole bean coffee).” 

As of November, Starbucks reported it has 28.7 million members, marking a 16% year-over-year increase in users. However, despite the growth in users, a spokesperson for Starbucks told Axios, “We occasionally need to make changes to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Starbucks Rewards program and to meet the changing needs of our members.” 

However, not all the news was bad. As Today noted, rewards members will only need 100 Stars to redeem a free iced coffee or iced tea (previously, they needed 150), and customers can continue to use 25 Stars to add a pump of their preferred syrup, espresso shot, or alternative milk to customize their drink. 

And, Axios noted, packaged coffee has also moved down a tier, from 400 Stars to 300, while select merchandise items are now 100, down from 200.

Furthermore, customers can still continue to earn points for travel. In October, Starbucks and Delta announced members of both loyalty programs (Delta SkyMiles and Starbucks Rewards) can link their accounts and earn rewards at both companies at once. For every $1 spent at Starbucks, users can earn one mile at Delta, which doesn’t appear to be shifting in the new Starbucks update.

Of course, like all good things, restrictions apply, so make sure to read the fine print. 

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